The modern clercs have created in so-called cultivated society a positive romanticism of harshness. The have also created a romanticism of contempt.
Since the Greeks the predominant attitude of thinkers towards intellectual activity was to glorify it insofar as (like aesthetic activity) it finds its satisfaction in itself, apart from any attention to the advantages it may procure. Most thinkers would have agreed with … Renan’s verdict that the man who loves science for its fruits commits the worst of blasphemies against that divinity. … The modern clercs have violently torn up this charter. They proclaim the intellectual functions are only respectable to the extent that they are bound up with the pursuit of concrete advantage.julien benda
The true clerc is Vauvenargues, Lamarck, Fresnel, … Spinoza, Schiller, Baudelaire, César Franck, who were never diverted from single-hearted adoration of the beautiful and the divine by the necessity of earning their daily bread. But such clercs are inevitably rare. … The rule is that the living creature condemned to struggle for life turns to practical passions, and thence to the sanctifying of those passions.julien benda