Nothing is unthinkable, nothing impossible to the balanced person, provided it comes out of the needs of life and is dedicated to life's further development.
Balanced Human Beings
Topic: Creativity, Culture, & the Arts
“Nothing is unthinkable, nothing impossible to the balanced person, provided it comes out of the needs of life and is dedicated to life’s further development.”
Lewis Mumford (1895-1990)
Humanism, Arts and Sciences
The Conduct of Life
Mumford, Lewis. The Conduct of Life. Vol. 4, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1970, [Lewis Mumford, The "Renewal of Life" series, Vol. 4 "The Conduct of Life", "The Way and the Life"].
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Lewis Mumford’s critique of Modern Architecture
Mumford’s essays on modern architecture elaborate on the failure of architecture, an art we cannot avoid experiencing. If the materials, techniques, processes and profits dominate our purpose in creating architecture, rather than the well-being of those who must use, work in, and experience architecture, then this art has failed in its cultural and human purpose…. Mumford emphasizes the need for art to be ordered in reference to the centrality of the human purpose:
“If modern architecture is not to continue its disintegration into a multitude of sects and mannerism—international styles, empiricists, brutalists, neo-romantics, and whatnot—it must rest on some principles of order and that order must ally architecture to an equally coherent theory of human development. The notion of mechanical progress alone will not do, because it leaves out the one element that would give significance to this progress: man himself; or rather, because it makes the human personality a mere tool of the process that should in fact serve it.” –[Lewis Mumford]
–Mose Durst [Unification Culture and the Twenty-First Century. HSA-UWC, 1991, p. 85 (Donald L. Miller, ed., The Lewis Mumford Reader)] p. 81.
Additional Lewis Mumford Quotes
“If we are to create balanced human beings, capable of entering into world-wide co-operation with all other men of good will—and that is the supreme task of our generation, and the foundation of all its other potential achievements—we must give as much weight to the arousal of the emotions and to the expression of moral and aesthetic values as we now give to science, to invention, to practical organization. One without the other is impotent. And values do not come ready-made: they are achieved by a resolute attempt to square the facts of one’s own experience with the historic patterns formed in the past by those who devoted their whole lives to achieving and expressing values. If we are to express the love in our own hearts, we must also understand what love meant to Socrates and Saint Francis, to Dante and Shakespeare, to Emily Dickinson and Christina Rossetti, to the explorer Shackleton and to the intrepid physicians who deliberately exposed themselves to yellow fever. These historic manifestations of love are not recorded in the day’s newspaper or the current radio program: they are hidden to people who possess only fashionable minds.”
–Lewis Mumford [Lewis Mumford, Values for Survival (1946)].
“The segregation of the spiritual life from the practical life is a curse that falls impartially upon both sides of our existence.”
–Lewis Mumford [Faith for Living (1940)] p. 216.
“Because of their origin and purpose, the meanings of art are of a different order from the operational meanings of science and technics: they relate, not to external means and consequences, but to internal transformations, and unless it produce these internal transformations the work of art is either perfunctory or dead.”
–Lewis Mumford [Art and Technics].
“A day spent without the sight or sound of beauty, the contemplation of mystery, or the search of truth is a poverty-stricken day; and a succession of such days is fatal to human life.”
“Ritual, art, poesy, drama, music, dance, philosophy, science, myth, religion are all as essential to man as his daily bread: man’s true life consists not alone in the work activities that directly sustain him, but in the symbolic activities which give significance both to the processes of work and their ultimate products and consummations.”
–Lewis Mumford [The Condition of Man].