Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Got it in One, I'd Say

From an obituary for Dr. Philip Rieff:

"Dr. Rieff argued that traditionally the primary function of culture was to integrate individuals into a larger corporate body. He showed how art and literature weren't just aesthetic pursuits but tools to teach people morality. To see Hamlet was as much an object lesson about duty as a leisure activity.

In modernity, Dr. Rieff wrote, this has been supplanted by the idea that culture is there merely for our gratification. This, he said, teaches that we have no ultimate goals or a higher good, except an obsession to maximize individual advantage and pleasure."

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