What did Robert Louis Stevenson mean when he said “Man is a creature who lives not upon bread alone but principally by catchwords.”?

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What did Robert Louis Stevenson mean when he said “Man is a creature who lives not upon bread alone but principally by catchwords.”?

In: Culture
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We are fickle. We base ourselves heavily on changing concepts without knowing if they’re true, only that they’re popular. In a way, that manner of being fuels the human existence.

It’s important to understand that this quote is a *reference*. The phrase “Man does not live on bread alone” is from the bible, and it’s a common phrase to see repeated. It’s in some Shakira lyrics, for example. The original meaning of the statement is that *faith* is as essential to human existence as bread. This is building on the body-spirit duality that is a common theme in Christianity, with bread sustaining the body and faith sustaining the soul, and so on and so forth.

The full quote (in one translation) is “‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” So, in the original context, we’re already seeing the idea of “living on words” that’s in Stevenson’s statement. But, of course, different types of words.

Without knowing a lot about Stevenson or his politics, I think he’s saying that political catchphrases have replaced faith for many people, and are the main source of intellectual/spiritual nourishment that they use as a basis for their existence.