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Full text of "I And Thou"

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THE history of the individual and that of the human
race, in whatever they may continually part company,
agree at least in this one respect, that they indicate a
progressive augmentation of the world of It.
In respect of the history of the race that is called in
question; it is pointed out that the successive realms
of culture have their beginning in a primitive state,
whose colour may differ, but whose structure is constant.
In conformity with this primitiveness these cultural
realms begin with a small world of objects. The life
not of the race but of the particular culture would thus
correspond to the individual life. But, apart from the
apparently isolated realms, through the historical in-
fluence of other pre-existing cultures they take over,
at a certain stage, the world of It belonging to these
cultures. This stage is not reached early, but neverthe-
less precedes the generation of the heyday. It may take
the form of direct acceptance of what is contemporary,
as Greece accepted the Egyptian world; or it may take
the form of indirect acceptance of what is past, as western
Christianity accepted the Greek world. These cultures,
then, enlarge their world of It not merely through their
own experience, but also through the absorption of
foreign experience. Only then does a culture, thus
grown, fulfil itself in decisive, discovering expansion.
(For the present let the paramount contribution made
by the perception and acts of the world of Thou be left
out of account.) Hence, in general, the world of objects
in every culture is more extensive than that of its
predecessor. Despite sundry stoppages and apparent