The Drive to Be Right

Musil has touched on the will to life. He now speaks on another fundamental urge, the will to be right.

Leo came to know on how many points people can have difference of opinion. The drive to be right, a need almost synonymous with human dignity, began to celebrate excesses in the Fischel household. For millenia this drive has produced thousands of admirable philosophies, works of art, books, deeds, and partisan alliances, and when this admirable, but also fanatical and monstrous, innate human drive has to make do with ten minutes on practical philosophy or a debate on the basic principles of the household, it cannot fail to burst, like a drop of molten lead, into innumerable sharp splinters that inflict the most painful wounds. It burst over the question of whether a maid was to given notice or not, and whether toothpicks belonged on the table or not; but whatever made it burst, it had the capacity to reconstitute itself immediately into two infinitely detailed opposing views of the world. (I,220)


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