#Accelerate, 109–130


The Two Modes of Cultural History


For our analysis we shall define culture in the following way: Culture is the attempt by man to realize the conceivable in the possible. Man’s consciousness of himself within his environment distinguishes him from the lower animals, and turns him into the only animal capable of culture. This consciousness, his highest faculty, allows him to project mentally states of being that do not exist at the moment. Able to construct a past and future, he becomes a creature of time—a historian and a prophet. More than this, he can imagine objects and states of being that have never existed and may never exist in the real world—he becomes a maker of art. Thus, for example, though the ancient Greeks did not know how to fly, still they could imagine it. The myth of Icarus was the formulation in fantasy of their conception of the state ‘flying’…