Sunday, August 12, 2012


Purpose remains an inescapable element in human life. Human beings do entertain purposes and set out to achieve them. The immense achievements of modern science themselves are, very obviously, the outcome of the purposeful efforts of hundreds of thousands of men and women dedicated to the achievement of something that is valuable - a true understanding of how things are. A strange fissure thus runs right through the consciousness of modern Western man. The ideal that he seeks would eliminate all ideals. With dedicated zeal he purposes to explain the world as something that is without purpose. And, as I have suggested, this fissure becomes visible in two ways: in the dichotomy (one of the outstanding marks of a "modern" society) between the public and the private worlds, and in the dichotomy in thought between what are commonly called "facts" and what are called "values." The public world is a world of facts that are the same for everyone, whatever his values may be, the private world is a world of values where all are free to choose their own values and therefore to pursue such courses of action as will correspond with them.

From Foolishness to the Greeks: the Gospel and Western Culture, by Lesslie Newbigin, chapter 2.
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