Julien Benda - Man Quotes
9 Sourced Quotes
Christianity exhorted man to set himself up against Nature, but did so in the name of his spiritual and disinterested attributes. Pragmatism exhorts him to do so in the name of his practical attributes. Formerly man was divine because he had been able to acquire the concept of justice, the idea of law, the sense of God; today he is divine because he has been able to create equipment which makes him the master of matter.
Since the Greeks the predominant attitude of thinkers towards intellectual activity was to glorify it insofar as (like aesthetic activity) it finds its satisfaction in itself, apart from any attention to the advantages it may procure. Most thinkers would have agreed with … Renan's verdict that the man who loves science for its fruits commits the worst of blasphemies against that divinity. … The modern clercs have violently torn up this charter. They proclaim the intellectual functions are only respectable to the extent that they are bound up with the pursuit of concrete advantage.
Philosophy, which formerly raised man to feel conscious of himself because he was a thinking being and to say, 'I think therefore I am, now raises him to say … I think, therefore I am not, (unless he takes thought into consideration only in that humble region where it is confused with action).
What these thinkers despise in the man of study is precisely the man who … does not predicate the capture of its environment by the species, or who, if he does predicate it, as the scientist does by his discoveries, retains for himself only the joy of knowledge and abandons the practical exploitation of his discoveries to others.