Dominique Misein

At the Center of the Volcano

Reason, Passion and the Revolt Against the Catastrophe of Progress

Although put to a difficult test by the multiple catastrophes that weigh upon humanity, the deep-seated conviction that all History has developed following a progressive route that is more or less constant if not really regular endures in its mind. This idea of progressive evolution is not an odd opinion if it is true, as it is true, that having left the caves we have now reached the point of traveling in space. Today is better than yesterday - and worse than tomorrow. But what was the point of departure for this unstoppable course? One of the fathers of cultural anthropology, L.H. Morgan, in his study on the lines of human progress from the savage state to civilization, divides the history of humanity into three stages: the primitive state, the stage of barbarism and that of civilization. Morgan claims that this last stage began with the invention of a phonetic alphabet and with the spread of writing. 'In the beginning was the Word' the Bible says. It has been discourse that has facilitated the course of humanity, allowing it to conjecture, argue, retort, discuss, agree, conclude. Without discourse the tower of Babel of the human community could not have been built. In the persuasive force of the word, Reason manifests itself and thus becomes the technique for the creation and government of the world, making sure that human beings do not wear themselves out in turn, but rather contrive an understanding in the way deemed best. And Reason, as a Roman sage said, is the only thing by which 'we distinguish ourselves from the brutes.'