by Henri Wald

Any assertion implies negation. There is no assertion prior to negation. The first word proper that the child utters is "no!" and again "no" is the word marking off the final transition of anthropoid to man. Man is the outcome of the greatest revolt in the history of matter. By devising the tool and the speech, man succeeded in negating nature and asserting culture. In nature there is only attraction and repulsion. Negation and assertion are the tools of culture. Man is the only being that has succeeded in using his limbs and mouth not only to assimilate nature, but to contradict it, too. By means of the tool and the speech man has adjusted himself to nature and started changing it, he has stepped off the biosphere and started building the noosphere. By his materiality, man obviously belongs to nature but by his spirituality he has transcended nature and added culture to it. Through man, the world has acquired its second dimension: spirituality. Spiritual, not biological, power has permitted man to tame nature and impart human meanings to it.

The spirit has emerged from man’s opposition to nature. The spirit is an act of opposition. But spirit does not negate nature in an absolute manner. By negating, it asserts. Without assertion, negation degenerates into negativism. The spirit refuses confinement to the sensitive mirroring of phenomena in order to mirror ever deeper essences, it refuses to stay bound to the present in order to prospect an ever more distant future, it refuses to linger in the concrete in order to build up ever higher abstractions, it refuses to stoop to successful achievements in order to make further progress. The spirit is the highest form of expression of man’s disagreement with what already exists.

Spirit is not reducible to reason, to the logical forms of thinking, it is the process whereby man’s aversions and aspirations have been converted into ideas. Spirit is the "field" extending between man’s sensory and intellectual activities. Its genesis starts the moment when man, with the help of the means of production and communication, succeeded in outdistancing the phenomenon, the present, the concrete and kept reality at an increasingly longer distance. Spirit does not come from some other world, it is the outcome of a dual world — nature and culture — the outcome of man’s struggle against his environment. Man’s power over the environment grows bigger with his extending and expanding the spiritual "field" between experience and intellect. The history of culture would never have existed had man not "seen" the silex knife in an unchopped stone and the metaphoric strength of speech in the warning cries. The better the "understanding" of the intellect of what experience "perceives", the greater the force of spirit over matter.

The opposition between man and nature generates spirit, but what enables the spirit to understand the world is the unity between nature and man. Control of events implies knowledge of laws. It is only phenomena that man can negate. Essences must be found. Ignoring essences makes human practice destroy nature and avert it from culture building.

More serious, however, is ignoring the unity between technical means and moral aims. We are living an historical moment when man’s creations tend to negate man himself. Contemporary man is compelled to check out with ever greater care the very negation through which it has been formed. The discrepancy between the overdevelopment of man’s material force and the underdevelopment of his spiritual force must be urgently negated.

SOURCE: Wald, Henri. Introduction to Dialectical Logic. Bucuresti: Editura Academiei; Amsterdam: B.R. Grüner B.V., 1975. (Philosophical Currents; v. 14) Chapter 1, section 5, pp. 10-11. [Emphasis added by R. Dumain]

See links below and ...

Singer, Alexandru. “Henri Wald’s contribution to Romanian culture and philosophy,” Studia Judaica 11-12 (2004), pp. 220-225.

Wald gets only a brief mention (p. 135, below) but the larger repressive national context can be found here:

Tismaneanu, Vladimir. “From Arrogance to Irrelevance: Avatars of Marxism in Romania,” in The Road to Disillusion: From Critical Marxism to Post-communism in Eastern Europe, edited by Raymond Taras (Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 1992), pp. 135-150.

[....] through its unabashed support for the reemergence of rightist, ethnocentric groups and formations, Ceausescu and his clique made a mockery of their own passionate plea for the preservation of the "sacred values" of historical materialism and internationalism. For example, in the early 1980s when philosopher Henri Wald tried to publish a Marxist Reader, which included young Marx's early philosophical inquiries, he encountered opposition from precisely those official “instructors” who were supposed to watch over the ideological purity of Romanian cultural life.

Philosophical Rehabilitations: Humor
by Henri Wald

Mass Media and Creative Thinking
by Henri Wald

"On Trends in the Status of Dialectical Logic:
A Brief Study of Lefebvre, Ilyenkov and Wald
by Claude M. J. Braun

Henri Wald’s Contribution to Romanian Culture and Philosophy
by Alexandru Singer

Selections from Contemporary East European Philosophy,
Revolutionary World, B. R. Grüner Publishing Co, & Related Publications:
Bibliography & Web Links

Salvaging Soviet Philosophy (1)

Positivism vs Life Philosophy (Lebensphilosophie) Study Guide

Marx and Marxism Web Guide


Henri Wald - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Wald, Henri
by Andrei Corbea-Hoisie, trans. Anca Mircea
(The YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe)

Henry Wald - 80 (Romanian Jewish Heritage)

Henri Wald (1920 - 2002) Manuscripts archive

East-West Dialogues
ed. Paul K. Crosser, David H. Degrood and Dale Riepe

Introduction to Dialectical Logic
by Henri Wald

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