On the gate of the most famous sanctuary known to ancient Greece, are words which, translated, mean: Know Thyself! This was the great request of a civilization for which self-knowledge, reason, order, proportion and beauty were supreme ideals. To know oneself is, if the knowing goes deep and far enough, to realize clearly and objectively, without illusion or confusion, what one is; but it should also be to realize, to the best of one's ability, what one is for. It is to sense, however dimly and uncertainly it may be at first, the purpose of one's existence.
I look at a chair; I can describe it and analyze all its parts and the way they fit with each other. I know then the structure of the chair; yet the purpose of the chair may escape me entirely. If I were a thinking bird able to describe a chair on a sun porch, still I would not know what the chair is for, even after perching on it and investigating it in a birdlike manner. If I have never seen or heard of an airplane, I can describe minutely a propeller which I find lying on the ground, yet never realize the purpose for which it was given its particular structure. The purpose of the object becomes clear to me only as I discover how this object relates itself to other objects within some larger construction — and particularly how it acts when it fits dynamically within the activity of an established group or community of related objects.
I can hold an acorn in the palm of my hand; but analyzing its form and what it is made of will not reveal to me its purpose unless I am aware of the relationship of this acorn to the oak tree on which it grew and to the whole species of trees to which it belongs, as a seed. The acorn's purpose can be defined satisfactorily only in terms of the oak species of trees; its function is to serve the purpose of the species; that is, to insure the species perpetuation and, if possible, expansion.
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Sex, Love & Business
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