‘We are being weighed in the balance at this moment’

by reestheskin on 27/09/2016

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Knowledge is not a looseleaf notebook of facts. Above all, it is a responsibility for the integrity of what we are, primarily of what we are as ethical creatures. You cannot possibly maintain that it informed integrity if you let other people run the world for you what you yourself continue to live out of a rag bag of morals that come from past beliefs. That is really crucial today. You can see it is pointless to advise people to learn differential equations, or to do a course in electronics or in computer programming. And yet, 50 years from now, if an understanding of man’s origins, his evolution, his history, his progress is not the commonplace of the schoolbooks, we shall not exist. The commonplace of the schoolbooks of tomorrow is the adventure of today, and that is what we are engaged in……

It sounds very pessimistic to talk about western civilisation with a sense of retreat. I’ve been so optimistic about the ascent of man; and I going to give up at this moment? Of course not. The ascent of man will go on. But do not assume that it will go on carried by Western civilisation as we know it. We are being weighed in the balance at this moment.

The Ascent of Man, Jacob Bronowksi 1973.