28 Jun

A Forgotten Prophet

Category: What We're Reading
By: Ken Myers
Published: 06/28/07

The name Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy shows up now and then in books and essays I read, but for a long time I knew almost nothing about him or his apparently brilliant ideas.

Now Peter Leithart provides readers with a glimpse (summary isn't the right word for such a deliberately unsystematic thinker) of the fertile and generous ways of Rosenstock-Huessy's mind. In The Relevance of Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, posted on the First Things blog, Leithart shows how Rosenstock-Huessy (1888-1973) anticipated various postmodern insights, in much the same way (it would seem) as did Michael Polanyi.

Here is a paragraph from Leithart's essay:

To take a more extended example: During the modern period, he writes in The Christian Future (1946), people believe that all large organizations are rational, legal, and mechanical as well as logical and systematic. At the center of modern institutions, there stands a typewriter (a machine, and specifically a machine for generating plans and reports). Moderns are puzzled by the perfectly unsystematic, irrational, antilogical institution, the poorest organization on earth but yet fully alive--the family, which to the modern mentality seems a colorful folly. At the center of the family is not a typewriter but a bed and a stove, the unquenchable illogicality of the family perturbs planners with a blueprint for the future.

Posted 6/29/07 by Ken Myers.