Saturday, August 9, 2014


"If I am correct, the signs of the past thirty years or more indicate that man's relations with nature are changing. Nature is no longer experienced wondrously as a rich source bestowing harmony on all things, as wisely ordered of itself, as benevolent with its favors. Man today distrusts nature, he cannot speak of "Mother Nature." Nature has become alien and dangerous to man. The religious sentiments expressed calmly and clearly by Goethe as he stood before nature are not the sentiments of man today. Nor are those expressed by the Romantics or those expressed dithrambically by Holderlin. Man has been sobered, perhaps by the disappearance of the modern sense of the infinite. Although science continues to measure distances ever more enormous in scope or more minute in detail, these measurements are always finite. And man is aware of their finiteness. The "infinity" of Giordano Bruno and of German idealism was more than a concept to express measure; it was preeminently a concept for expressing quality. It signified the godhead of the world whose being was inexhaustible, triumphant, the very origin of all things. This experience of infinity declined as the modern age drew toward its end. Today man experiences his world as finite, but a finite world cannot inspire the devotion which was inspired by the limitless cosmos of the recent past. The new sense of the finite refers not only to a limitation in expanse but also to a limitation in the core of being, at the heart of matter. Since the world is finite, it is fragile; since the cosmos is expanding, its very being is a venture. It is menaced and endangered on every side and becomes the more glorious and precious. Man now feels responsible for his universe; man must now take care of being. We feel that man has taken the universe into his own heart; we know that this act spells mystery. It seems as though some powerless force in being were groping for the hand of man. It seems as though some drama as yet undefinable were being prepared at the heart of the world, a drama which needs the heart of man."

Guardini, Romano. The End of the Modern World.