Instrumental Behavior

People ceased to exist within a panoramic environment, an uninterrupted sequence of immediate events; instead, human beings for whom the outside world was now a thing, the object of deliberate goals and purposes, learned to confront the environment as perspectivistic subjects. To achieve their goals and purposes, they needed a highly developed, highly controlled arsenal of behavior that would permit them to perceive and subdue the “objective world” with increasing efficiency. But as their affective relations to the external world were increasingly obstructed, parceled off, and made “instrumental,” people became more and more puzzling to themselves.

The more precisely they came to “know” objects – that is, to fit them into ordered, axiomatic systems – the more clouded their perceptions of themselves became. Up to this point, human emotions had poured out over the earth’s body in a relatively uncontrolled, intense, and perilous fashion, allowing people to experience themselves; now the emotional “ground”- in the truest sense of that word – had been pulled out from under their feet.1

  1. Klaus Theweleit, Male Fantasies: Women, Floods, Bodies, History, p. 328, pub. A.D. 1987 []
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