Book: The End of the Modern World
Author: Romano Guardini
Henry Regnery Co., Chicago, pp.133
Excerpt from Introduction:
From Pascal's life and thought emerge questions about the nature of his age and about his engagement with it. What happened to the Western world when the Middle Ages collapsed and a new world came into being? How did Pascal adjust himself to the disappearance of the one and the growth of the other? In attempting to answer the question, I have sketched with broad strokes the medieval conception of the world; moving then to the vision and temper of modern thought, I have tried to delineate the picture of existence which the latter produced. This task was easily undertaken — as such a task would not have been for men of other periods — because in all crucial respects of the modern world has come to an end. Since the spirit of an age becomes wholly clear only when it has begun to vanish from the face of the earth, it has been possible to draw a picture of the modern world without falling victim either in spirit of admiration or of hatred to the thing represented.
Of itself my work led me into further studies which threw a shaft of light onto the epoch which is coming but is still unknown. It disclosed how deeply penetrating is the change everywhere passing over the world; it intimated the tasks which man will then have to face.
Excerpt from Book:
The new order must be rooted in the virtues of earnestness and gravity, both grounded in the truth. . . . . For earnestness must will to know what is really at stake; it must brush aside empty rhetoric extolling progress or the conquest of nature; it must face heroically the duties forced upon man by his new situation.
The virtue of gravity will be spiritual, a personal courage devoid of the pathetic, a courage opposed to the looming chaos. This gravity must be purer and stronger even than the courage man needs to face either atom bombs or bacteriological warfare, because it must restrain the chaos rising out of the very works of man. . . .
Still we must add a third virtue: asceticism. . . . . Only the freedom won through self-mastery can address itself with earnestness and gravity to those decisions which will affect all reality. . . . These deep virtues could breed a spiritual art of government through which man could exercise power over power, through which he could distinguish right from wrong and ends from means. . . . . Such a government would be an art, would indeed be power.
Table of Contents:
I. The Sense of Being and the World Picture of the Middle Ages
II. The Birth of the Modern World
III. The Dissolution of the Modern World and the World Which Is to Come