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Bruno Snell – How can there be pleasure when we are imperfect?

August 15, 2014

“Just as today every football player wants to be a good football player, so in those times [in ancient Greece] every man wanted to be a good man. But when reflection starts to take the word seriously and teaches how to distinguish between what is truly good and what only seems to be so, then what is good begins to depart from this world and to become something unattainable. It approaches the realm of the divine, and the chasm between men and gods becomes all the larger. Man then exerts increasingly greater efforts to feel at ease and at home on this earth, which he had always known to be imperfect. But once imperfection is taken as a moral issue, once the actions and deeds of man prove to be paltry, then pleasure in this world is more thoroughly embittered.”

(from Poetry and Society: the role of poetry in ancient Greece [1961])

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