"Man Is Not Man As Yet"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Having aspired to know infinitely, Paracelsus discovers that he had relied too much on intellect and consequently had forgotten how to love or to recognize beauty. After a period of melancholy, Festus, his close friend and only associate, gives him the confidence to aspire a second time; this time to love infinitely, a desire that is just as futile as his first aspiration. Defeated because he cannot join the drive to know and the urge to love, he loses his mind as he dies. In his final ravings, however, he discovers the truth of the human condition: man's nature is twofold, consisting of the mutually exclusive drives of the emotions and the intellect, and man, torn by these drives, can find no peace on earth. But he also sees the ultimate hope of suffering man: as he continues to evolve, he will slowly progress closer to the harmony of God, the full union of contrary drives that was shown in the Incarnation. Paracelsus thus dies knowing that he has failed but confident that failure such as his will help mankind reach the final stage of evolution.

–And this to fill us with regard for man,
With apprehension of his passing worth,
Desire to work his proper nature out,
And ascertain his rank and final place,
For these things tend still upward, progress is
The law of life, man is not Man as yet.
Nor shall I deem his object served, his end
Attained, his genuine strength put fairly forth,
While only here and there a star dispels
The darkness, here and there a towering mind
O'erlooks its prostrate fellows: when the host
Is out at once to the despair of night,
When all mankind alike is perfected,
Equal in full blown powers–then, not till then,
I say, begins man's general infancy.