The Greek attitude during the Golden Age was marked by a driving spirit to learn and develop an understanding of the world. The Greeks were able to reach a profound clarity of thought driven by a motivation that sought balance and oneness in the world – the whole instead of the parts.
We see in their accomplishments fact and beauty working together: in the tragedies, ideas and emotion; in the sculpture, reality and ideality; in the temples, logic and simplicity. Moreover, the Greeks were able to live with what is seen and unseen – geometry and the gods in balance.
What happened to this balanced human point of view?
Since the time of the Greeks, man has been unable to produce the same balance between mind and spirit. With the fall of antiquity and the rise of the Christian point of view, man retreated into a spiritual world, full of fear, without logic and science as his companions. Antiquity was denounced as pagan and unclean, so the accomplishments of the Greeks were discarded.
With the advent of the Renaissance, the pendulum swung radically in the other direction. Man discovered himself, began to think again, and sought control over his life. Reality replaced the ideal and living overcame morality. The Reformation attempted to reassert morality on mankind, but denied beauty in the process.
The next stage began in the late nineteenth century with the triumph of science and the discarding of art, the power of the spirit, and religion. Man looked to science as the truth would carry mankind forward and create the perfect world. But science can be corrupting and expensive; its morals defined only by the intentions of the worst of man.
Now we reach the final stage, which involves the disintegration of national unity – a loss of oneness to accompany the loss of balance. There are those with the aim of expanding the mind and those who possess the spirit, but few possess both. The mind is used for profit and the spirit to resist it – the anti-capitalist obsession.
Few in America speak for the whole these days, as we evolve toward the ultimate relativism, the special interest group. There is no whole, but only the parts that do not add together. Each has its own agenda and no one looks for what’s common in all.
The end of relativism can only be produced by a unity by common cause, a reset of the individual in favor of the whole. Its seems that only a catastrophe will get us there, because we no longer possess the spirit and will to see its value on our own.