Friday, March 6, 2009

The Passion of Knowledge

Lothar Bickel, a student of Constantin Brunner (1) wrote the following to end his wonderful book The Unity of Body and Mind. I think he was describing his teacher and himself. But the quote describes, in general terms, a central aspect of what drove Alfred Korzybski as well.
Our convictions…are, in general easily overthrown and they hold their ground only when they correspond to those vague judgments of our interests that are carried along by our drives and feelings.

The situation is different for the few whose lives are dependent upon the affirmation and negation of cognition, whose existence is centered in the ebb and tide of cognitive processes as vitally and genuinely as it is in that of feeling and volition. Their insights and judgments are powerful existential forces that can well compare with those of common drives and affects. Those men who come upon important truths of science or philosophy have no need of injecting in them the power and strength of repressed emotions in order to make them the most vital concern of their inward lives. From the very beginning the warmest blood of their lives pulsates for their truth which becomes their strongest passion from the very time it first takes root in them. This passion for truth also accounts for the stamp and fortitude of their characters. Self-acquired insights are genuine activities of life-maintainance, and as such they become motions or forces especially in those individuals whose lust for life (“the essence of man itself”) cannot do without knowledge. These few will find in knowledge the fulfillment of their existence. (2)
(1) You can find a Brunner link in the right sidebar of this blog under "Web Page Links."

(2) Lothar Bickel, The Unity of Body and Mind pp. 164-165.

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