A View from the Fringe
By Yvor Winters
I am pessimistic about the human race. Few men are born with sufficient intelligence to profit by more than a small part of the tradition available to them. The practical mind, the mind which conquers, rules, invents, manufactures and sells, has dominated every civilization and ultimately has destroyed every state. The great philosopher, the great poet, the great painter or musician has almost always lived precariously on the fringe of the state, sometimes as the servant or dependent of the "great," sometimes in poverty, sometimes in the priesthood, in our times as one of the most contemned members of the academic profession. But he has created and preserved civilization, often while working in the rubble of a collapsing state. Alexander of Macedon conquered the known world, but any mark that he has left on later times would be hard to identify. Aristotle, his tutor and his father's servant, remains as one of the fundamental rocks on which our civilization is built.
Forms of Discovery (Swallow Press, 1967)
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