The fate of man in the modern world (I)

“(Nicolas Berdyaev’s) The Meaning of History is particularly worthy of study since it alerts one to the signs, conditions, and terrors of our present fate and to the pattern of our moral and spiritual declension. Our modern “slavery to fallen objectified time” is characterized by the extremisms of technique, organization, and the
productive processes discerned early on
by Berdyaev, when assertions of the will
to life are interlinked with promises of a
“false eternity.” For Berdyaev, the passage from culture, with its sacred patrimony and symbolic character, to technical “spirit-slaying” civilization, is strewn with great hazards to an organic relationship between man and nature, to man’s social environment and ultimate destiny, to what Solovyov termed a “metaphysics of all-unity.” The inveterate enemies of the permanent things especially thrive in an industrial and mechanistic environment that revolves around universal domination and organization.” -Revisiting Nikolai Berdyaev, by George A. Panichas


Readings from Nicolas Berdyaev (1874-1948)

 Berdyaev: the meaning of history, 1936
The end of the renaissance | the crisis of humanism: the advent of the machine

“The era we are now entering is for me synonymous with the end of the Renaissance period of history… the triumphant advent of the machine constitutes one of the greatest revolutions in human history. The advent of the machine brings about a revolution in all spheres of life. It rips man away from the bowels of nature and changes the whole rhythm of his life. Formerly, an organic tie had existed between man and nature, and his communal life had been governed by a natural rhythm. The machine radically modifies this relationship. It steps between man and nature; and it conquers not only the natural elements for the benefit of man, but also, in the process, man himself. It both liberates and enslaves him once again. If man had formerly depended on nature and had, as a result, lived a meagre life, the invention of machinery and the resultant mechanization of life while in some ways enriching him yet impose a new form of dependence on him, a dependence, perhaps, even more tyrannical than the exercise of nature.

Further reading and resources:

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