Saturday, February 26, 2011

Nobility of Man

The Revolt of the Masses
The Revolt of the Masses 

As one advances in life, one realizes more and more that the majority of men - and of women - are incapable of any other effort than that strictly imposed on them as a reaction to external compulsion. And for that reason, the few individuals we have come across who are capable of a spontaneous and joyous effort stand out isolated, monumentalized, so to speak, in our experience. These are the select men, the nobles, the only ones who are active and not merely reactive, for whom life is a perpetual striving, an incessant course of training.  
- Jose Ortega y Gasset, The Revolt of the Masses (pp. 65-66)

In my reading of The Revolt of the Masses I would emphasize Ortega y Gasset's discussion of the new world (circa 1930) as one of "practically limitless possibilities".(p 61) This is a view that he contrasts with the past where the masses felt themselves limited, and rightly so. If anything, eighty years after the first publication of this book there are even larger groups of people that have the possibility of fewer limits on the progress of their lives. However he does not see any guarantee that progress will be the result and later in his book he discusses the danger of the modern state as a limiting factor. Even in western democracies we have seen the power of the state grow over the past eighty years since Ortega y Gasset's observations. I wonder if the nobility within mankind will be able to continue to move forward and not be limited by the masses of average men.

See: Faust and Nobility (May 12, 2009)

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