12 June 2011

ELEVENTH


A.  During the wintertime, an ant was living off the grain that he had stored up for himself during the summer. The cricket came to the ant and asked him to share some of his grain. The ant said to the cricket, ‘And what were you doing all summer long, since you weren’t gathering grain to eat?’ The cricket replied, ‘Because I was busy singing I didn’t have time for the harvest.’ The ant laughed at the cricket’s reply, and hid his heaps of grain deeper in the ground. ‘Since you sang like a fool in the summer,’ said the ant, ‘you’d better be prepared to dance the winter away!’  —  Aesopica (Perry 373)
B.  ”Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”  — Matthew 6:19-21
C.  Descriptions of the “state of nature”, i.e. the condition of man with all civilization removed from him, make the mistake of believing first that there is some definite bottom at which an uncivilized man will settle, and second that this stripped down condition is somehow indicative of human nature in its true form.  Hobbes’ vision of uncivilized man is the best, but of course the condition he describes is a departure from human nature, since nature is a formal quality of things, a quality by which a species is differentiated through the order of its parts in their various activities.  To eliminate the proper order from human action is to violate human nature, not to reveal it.  Likewise, with Descartes, to eliminate the proper order of human thought, for example by supposing the world to be imaginary or oneself to be insane, is to maim reason and taint it with madness, rather than reveal its pure form.