Woods Hole Lecture 1
Notes started: July-98
1.”Man is a fearful animal. And it always takes a society, a group, a family, a friendly circle to put him at rest. Before man can think, he must be offered a situation in which thinking is not threatening him with loss of position, outer danger, or any other threat from the outside. ” (p.1)
2.What are the necessities for man to think objectively? This is the fundamental problem posed in this essay.
3.Man lives in society where most experience is full of anarchy! We are told what is reality, and if we do not believe it we go crazy because then we do not know who we are! (p.3)
a.ERH quotes Oedipus, “I am oedipus because I am called Oedipus.”
b.He points out that Christ strove for his whole adult life, and was put to death in the process of getting rid of his name, “Jew.”
4.Man must believe two things, as an heir and as an ancestor. As an heir, he must believe what he has been told about himself; as an ancestor, he must believe that he can change, that he may be transformed. “… because the future must not look like the past.” (p.5)
5.Two demands are made on us, from the past and from the future, and the present is in collision between the two. We know our past and our destiny (to die); WHAT WE DO NOT KNOW IS WHAT MUST BE DONE IN THE PRESENT. This is collision between our ancestry and the way man must be transformed into an ancestor of the future.
6.A fundamental question related to differentiating leader from subordinates or followers, is how much should the leader reflect the character of the followers. The answer is, “not at all;” leadership requires a different role than that of followers.
7.In sum, space (the inner space of thought and the outer space of nature) never exists separately from mankind’s sense of time, which demands that we confront the battle between past and future;
Unless we decide perpetually between these four ways of being, truth loses our [its?] hold on us. Only those who fight for the future, for the past, for the outer order, and the inner peace, alternatingly, may represent the spirit of man. (p.10)
8.Four latin phrases represent these four fronts to reality:
a.Cogito ergo sum; I think therefore I am.
b.Mensurare possum, quia sum; measure for power, because it exists
c.Audio ut sim; “I must hearken to God’s voice before I come into being.”
d.Respondeo etse mutabor; I respond although I will be changed.
Rosenstock-Huessy has many descriptions and explorations of his Cross of Reality as a basic structure for a new science of society. Each says the same thing in many different ways and with greater or lesser detail depending upon the length, and each offers a different shade of insight. This short piece is a tightly woven, succinct statement of the core concept.