This Edward Carpenter Reader includes Civilisation: Its Cause & Cure And Other Essays, and Intermediate Types among Primitive Folk: A Study in Social Evolution. What these writings show is Carpenter’s concern for the inner and outer life of the human being, parallel to the state of the individual and society. These were his dual streams – how to nurture the inner life of the individual in harmony with the need for developing the outer, social life. One can clearly see that whilst some of the vocabularies has altered, the very same argument is still ongoing today – and perhaps with greater urgency in terms of our rapid technological advancement.
In the end, Carpenter’s cure for civilisation rested in a mode of consciousness that combined integral thinking, wholesome understanding, human yearning, and inner revelation.
CIVILISATION: ITS CAUSE AND CURE
The friendly and flowing savage, who is he? Is he waiting for civilisation, or is he past it, and mastering it?—WHITMAN.READ MORE
WE find ourselves to-day in the midst of a somewhat peculiar state of society, which we call Civilisation, but which even to the most optimistic among us does not seem altogether desirable. Some of us, indeed, are inclined to think that it is a kind of disease which the various races of man have to pass through—as children pass through measles or whooping cough; but if it is a disease, there is this serious consideration to be made, that while History tells us of many nations that have been attacked by it, of many that have succumbed to it, and of some that are still in the throes of it, we know of no single case in which a nation has fairly recovered from and passed through it to a more normal and healthy condition. In other words, the development of human society has never yet (that we know of) passed beyond a certain definite and apparently final stage in the process we call Civilisation; at that stage, it has always succumbed or been arrested.