The Problem of Human Life - As Viewed by the Great Thinkers from Plato to the Present Time by Rudolf Eucken

Book Review : The Problem of Human Life - As Viewed by the Great Thinkers from Plato to the Present Time

By Rudolf Eucken

  • Publication Date: 2015-10-26
  • Genre: Philosophy

Book Review

What does our life mean when viewed as a whole? What are the purposes it seeks to realise? What prospect of happiness does it hold out to us? To ask these questions is to set ourselves the Problem of Life, nor need we stay to justify our right to ask them. They force themselves on us to-day with resistless insistence. They are the cry of an age rent inwardly asunder, its heart at enmity with the work of its hands. The labour of the preceding centuries, nay, of the last few decades, has indeed been immeasurably fruitful. It has given birth to a new culture and to new views of the universe. But its triumphal progress has not implied a simultaneous advancement of the inward life; its dazzling victories have not been won for the spirit and substance of man. With relentless energy it has driven us more and more exclusively upon the world without us, subduing us to its necessities, pressing us more and more closely into the service of our environment. And the activities of our life ultimately determine our nature. If our powers are wholly concentrated on outward things and there is an ever-diminishing interest in the inner life, the soul inevitably suffers. Inflated with success, we yet find ourselves empty and poor. We have become the mere tools and instruments of an impersonal civilisation which first uses and then forsakes us, the victims of a power as pitiless as it is inhuman, which rides rough-shod over nations and individuals alike, ruthless of life or death, knowing neither plan nor reason, void of all love or care for man. 

A movement of this nature, the disintegrating influences of which affect so closely the feelings and the convictions of the individual, cannot subsist long without reaction. In matters such as these, the problem is no sooner felt than the reaction . . .

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