— Isn’t it strange how people never form a whole?
— In what way?
— They never come together. They remain separate. Each goes his own way, distrustful and tragic. Even when they’re together, in big buildings, or in the street… Don’t feel like talking?
☛ Jean-Luc Godard, Bande à part (Band of Outsiders), 1964, 01:33:00:00. English subtitles from the Criterion Collection edition.
– Vous n’avez jamais eu l’impression que c’est étrange, que les gens ne fassent pas un tout?
– Oui. Qu’ils ne s’amalgament pas ensemble, qu’ils restent séparés, ils vont chacun de leur côté, méfiants et tragiques. Même quand ils sont ensemble dans les grands immeubles ou dans la rue… Vous n’avez pas envie de parler?
This sequence could serve as an illustration of Immanuel Kant’s paradoxical conception of human being’s “unsocial sociality” as exposed in his 1784 essay “Idea of a Universal History on a Cosmopolitical Plan” (Idee zu einer allgemeinen Geschichte in weltbürgerlicher Absicht). See specifically the fourth proposition:
The means which Nature employs to bring about the development of all the tendencies she has laid in Man is the antagonism of these tendencies in the social state—no farther, however, than to that point at which this antagonism becomes the cause of social arrangements founded in law.
By antagonism of this kind I mean the unsocial sociality of man,—that is, a tendency to enter the social state, combined with a perpetual resistance to that tendency which is continually threatening to dissolve it. Man has gregarious inclinations, feeling himself in the social state more than Man, by means of the development thus given to his natural tendencies. But he has also strong anti-gregarious inclinations, prompting him to insulate himself, which arise out of the unsocial desire (existing concurrently with his social propensities) to force all things into compliance with his own humour,—a propensity to which he naturally anticipates resistance from his consciousness of a similar spirit of resistance to others existing in himself. (translation Thomas de Quincey, in The Collected Writings of Thomas de Quincey, Vol. 9, 1890, pp. 428-444; the translation originally appeared in London Magazine for October 1824)
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