Jan Smuts

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Most of us experience happiness when we are enjoying life and feeling free, enjoying the process and products of our creative and intellectual processes, enjoying the ecstasy of transcendent oneness with the universe.
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Jan Smuts, circa 1919

Jan Christiaan Smuts (24 May 1870 - 11 September 1950) was a South African statesman, general, and intellectual. Amongst the offices that he held, he was Prime Minister of South Africa and Field Marshal in the British Army.

Holism and Evolution (1926)

On Holism

  • In all the previous cases of wholes, we have nowhere been able to argue from the parts of the whole. Compared to its parts, the whole constituted by them is something quite different, something creatively new, as we have seen. Creative evolution synthesises from the parts a new entity not only different from them, but quite transcending them. That is the essence of a whole. It is always transcendent to its parts, and its character cannot be inferred from the characters of its parts.
  • ... the tendency in nature to form wholes that are greater than the sum of the parts through creative evolution ...

On Nature

  • Having no human companion I felt a spirit of comradeship for the objects of nature around me. In my childish way I communed with these as with my own soul; they became the sharers of my confidence.
  • The intimate rapport with nature is one of the most precious things in life. Nature is indeed very close to us; sometimes closer than hands and feet, of which in truth she is but the extension. The emotional appeal of nature is tremendous, sometimes almost more than one can bear.


On the British Empire

  • The British Empire is the greatest stimulant of organised freedom which the world has ever known. By geography, by experience, by practical idealism, by political maturity, by character, the British have a part to play which no other race could do so well.

On Monarchy

  • If a nation does not want a monarchy, change the nation’s mind. If a nation does not need a monarchy, change the nation’s needs.

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