The unmade bed’s diktat

In a similar way civilisation is approximated by its opposite. Which occurs in a passage which I quoted in a debate a few years ago, from the Spanish Baroque writer Baltasar Graciana:

“Man is born barbarian, and she is saved from being a monster through the acquisition of culture. Culture is thus what creates man, and the greater her culture, the greater the individual she is.”

For Graciana, there appear to be two sides of man. On the one hand, we are creatures of flesh and blood, which, in our worst and most primitive moments do not differ significantly from animals. On the other hand, we have spiritual aspirations, the desire for goodness, truth and beauty, recognising the importance of dignity, humility, justice and love. For people in the 1600s Spain it was perhaps not a difficult choice to take a stand for the hallmarks of civilised man. At such close quarters there was barbaric behaviour, so that no room was ...

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