The Little World

Montaigne on the fabrications of philosophers: “There is no more retrogradation, trepidation, accession, recession, reversal, in the stars and heavenly bodies, than they have fabricated in this poor little human body. Truly they had good reason therefore to call it the little world, so many pieces and facets have they used to plaster it and build it. To accommodate the impulses they see in man, the diverse functions and faculties that we sense in us, into how many parts have they divided our soul? How many seats have they assigned to it? Into how many orders and stages have they split this poor man, besides the natural and perceptible ones, and into how many functions and occupations? They make him an imaginary republic. He is a subject that they hold and handle; they are allowed full power to take him apart, rearrange him, reassemble him, and stuff him, each according to his fancy; and yet they still do not have him. Not only in reality, but even in daydreams they cannot so regulate him that there will not be some cadence or some sound that escapes their architecture, prodigious as it is, and patched with a thousand false and fantastic bits.” (Frame)

Jacques Barzun on the fabrications of social scientists: “Removing man from the science of man is much harder than removing him from the science of nature… Equally unsatisfactory is the method of keeping man in view but splitting him into as many separate ‘men’ as he has functions, and then dealing with each slice as if it belonged to a class of similar pieces. How does one discern them in the first place? How does one name them, classify them? … After ‘economic man’ had been split off, boxed, labeled, and told how he would infallibly behave, the subject had no difficulty disregarding the ‘laws’ he was supposed to exhibit.” (Science: The Glorious Entertainment, 1964)