The Multiformity of Man

by Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy. Argo, 1973.

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In his introduction, Rosenstock-Huessy writes: “The basis for the following chapters was formed by the lectures which, in 1935, I had the privilege to deliver at the Lowell Institute in Boston. Lectures and books try to formulate the new riddle laid before man by his own achievements. Man has succeeded in mechanizing his world. He has organized nature. For its very effectiveness, his deed raises the issue of man’s own position in nature with new acuteness.”

Rejecting the 19th-century obsessive focus on the individual, Rosenstock-Huessy declares that in the industrial era, “man” exists at different times in a variety of states, all of which must be recognized and reconciled to describe “man.”

He formulates “ecodynamic laws” to define each of the four states, and then expresses each state as a paradoxical mathematical equation:  the team member who must act in solidarity with two other shifts in work around the clock is recognized in 3 x 1 = 1; the member of a community or a mass movement in =1; the  friend or lover in 1 + 1 = 1; the individual soul, in 1 = 1. If “man” is given a chance to be recognized in all four states, he is one, both complete and multiform.

Wipf and Stock, 2013. Paperback, 100 pages.
(A PDF of the 2000 Argo edition may be read here.)