Recollections from The Odyssey and Other Works. (Proceeding to “The Inversion of Consciousness, from Dante to Derrida.” ~Curtler)

by BeingQuest

“The Odyssey of Heart”

As doonning faces for the shift of things

Accommodation serves a Passing Rite

To open-up upon true faith, condign

For right and wrong; whence given’s, always nice.

Such hours begun, in times of proving worth

Thence tend for certain, as both night and day

Defining gauntlets, now ordained by birth

Initiating to humanity.

Weather comes fair or foul that ever lives

Between what was, perhaps that which  shall be

When nothing’s yet received, nothing given

Except that proven by integrity.

Some prudent heart, in seeming self discerns

What loss to own, what gains to yet forgo.

(pg 52)


to an Historical Criticism

“By every criterion the vast majority of human beings have used to judge well-being, we moderns of the West enjoy a life our ancestors imagined only in their myths and dreams.”

“The success of science and technology seemingly validated an epochal assumption: that all reality is material, and that the spiritual reality all humans for millennia had experienced and expressed in various rituals and religions, myths and legends was an illusion of the human race’s childhood. A whole dimension of human identity and experience had become cloud and vapor, and we were now mere things in the world, as was nature too….stuff of matter was accidental, a consequence of vast material forces and laws without direction or meaning….journeyed into a world filled with nothing but the brute blind forces moving matter [night and day], our puny selves included, to an ultimate extinction.”

…the death of God…”A morality once sanctioned and validated by transcendent reality has now lost its moorings, and we vainly wait for science to fill the void. ..[all attempts of interpretation based on Determinism, comprising] our humanity by ignoring our reducing those aspects of our experience that many of us feel to be quintessential: love, altruism, beauty, mystery, creativity, particularly our freedom to choose.”

“Moreover, we feel the pain of having the heart torn out of our mystery….Surrounded  by a thousand excitations and sensations…straining to hear through the din of modern prosperity the voice of the transcendent telling us what it all means, and where we might, or should , be going.”

“…the solitary self simply cannot bear this burden….And how could it, when the dominant discourse of meaning, science, tells us that we are only bundles of genetic chemicals…hurtling toward extinction?”

“The story of how we came to this pass is perhaps the most important we should know…a portrait of the lost world of transcendent meaning as captured by Dante in Divine Comedy,….trac[ing] the slow extraction of deity and spirit from human consciousness…the many consequences of  that fateful decision to split our world and selves between reason and faith,…show[ing] us too those who revolted against this reduction of the intricate, complex mystery of human life and consciousness…end[ing] with a portrait of our times and the various movements that with varying degrees of coherence (shame on U, Professor!?) attempt to come to terms with our fragmented times and our anxious souls…a balance of reason and faith…our best hope for recovering a life that fulfills all aspects of our humanity.” Impressive.

~Professor of Classics and Humanities at California State University, Bruce Thornton.

Tell US a Story, Professor.


“It is right, then, that we should go some distance into the past in our search for the root of ideas which rule our world today.” ~Maritiain

“…there are, indeed, more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in philosophy (more than theology also, perhaps?)…wonder and a deeper sense of mystery.”

“ethical relativism of the modern world…self-preoccupation…ignorance of simple manners…attraction to things material…comfortable and pleasant ways…teenagers…radio turned up loud…”stuff we have purchased, and the titlesof books selling well (not me!)…living at a time when the Self is paramount: the Other, and the world we share, have become marginalized (periphery interests?).”

“..human beings…selfish, compulsive…human ego has become “hermetically sealed” against a world it has “hammered into a sheet.”

“…worlds reflect our lost sense of piety…romantic meaning…an empty universe….human consciousness becoming fixated upon the subject itself…a world no longer inherently interesting…a world become the World-for-me…lost intrinsic worth…no longer directed outward to a world of beauty…consciousness become directed  at [mere’ perception of the world, and everything in it was filtered through the lenses of personal reactions.”

“…I turned repeatedly to the poets, who have always seen more clearly and more deeply than the rest of us.”

Narcississm as a development of “inverted consciousness,” whereby the subject itself becomes the principal object of human awareness.” …answers  from the “poets and visionaries who were sensitive to the same phenomena and as concerned about their implications as I was.”i

“…how a condition so widespread and even possibly dangerous could be avoided–if at all….take an effort of will, greater perhaps than any of us is able to perform, to wrest human consciousness away from itself and turn it again toward the world…will require a balance bwetween feeling and intellect, a balance we have lost in turning in on ourselves, reducing self, as Jung saw it, to mere ego, “which naturally produces a hopeless conceptual muddle….But a self comprises infinitely more than a mere ego, as the symbolism has shown from of old. …the deeper connections that join all of us in one human community (has been lost), and the spiritual dimensions of human experience that surround us but no longer seem to interest us. We have lost that deep sense of piety that was commonplace for eons and is still present in “primitive” communities [and solo artists], but missing among the sophisticated…[whom] we like to think we are [Western man]…the romantic revolt, consequent to the loss, and the excessive claims of science and the hubris of intellectualism.” Descarte’s assertion: Cogito, ergo sum. Not factual until Proven. Novelty is the Invention of Emerson’s “hob gobblin” of the rational, historical mind: consistency.

The “Attack.”

“….given birth to the movement known as “postmodernism,” which has assailed modernism, human reason, and Enlightenment values.” And why not?

“…intense, hysterical, result[ing] in numbers of armed camps within academia, that refuse to acknowledge one another’s legitimacy…filtered down into the lower grades…a peculiar aggressive form of “multiculturism”…a mood [of] “repressive tolerance,” [and] blind acceptance of the new orthodoxy and the a priori rejection of opinions that are deemed heretical.” An overstatement, as what is a priori would have apodictic necessitation, or acknowledged certainty, methinks.Maybe a logical fallacy here. A fine criticism, though…under the circumstances.

“…in its attempt to fill the void within itself with the aid o the latest trendy fad, it has become increasingly enamored of “pop-psychology” (some would argue is Jung and offshoots, as others would argue against Freud and his cocaine addiction)…a soporific that helps us ignore the problems rather than address them seriously…continued to flounder in the “hopeless middle.”

Here comes “…an adventure in the history of ideas and the philosophy of culture (distinct from the Reflections upon Culture, no doubt?), attempting to understand the sources of our present malaise and to point in the direction of possible solutions. …how our inverted consciousness focus on the Self, leading us to forget the Other (the colonization of the soul?)…not a book in religigon…not advanc[ing] any particular religious perspective…cross[ing] the forbidden boundaries (of orthodoxy?) that separate philosophy from religion, [that] does not hesitate to mention God.”

“…lost our sense of piety…abuse of earth, other people and well-being…scoff[ing] at the warnings so clear to ancient, primitive peoples who learned the difficult lessons of inflated pride (hubris?). …the exaggerated claims of science and reason, not falling into the romantic trap of blind reliance on feeling…profound minds…pondered why this happened…[as] I shall draw upon their ideas [proceeding] to ponder and make sense of the complex phenomena we oversimplify at our own risk…contrary to the bloated opinion we have about ourselves…not as smart as we think…having yet a deep need to ancohor our lives on something outside ourselves. (Other?)

“…the notion of “inverted consciousness,” whereby the subject (itself[?]) becomes the principal object of human awareness…a compilation of my reflections on what they [poets] had to say” of this phenomena.

“As a consequence…we have lost our sense of mystery, the deeper connections that join all of us in one human community, and the spiritual dimensions of human experience that surround us but no longer seem to interest us. We have lost that deep sense of piety that was commonplace for eons…in primitive communities, but [apparently] missing among the sophisticated [modern man] that we like to think we are.”

“The Odyssey of Heart”

O laws of Learning, sum of thinker’s best

How magnified, ensconced upon the powers

Of social wealth and privileged, native dower;

Once ruled by You, the earth pleads for redress!

No scruple sought, to reservation found

To staunch against Your certifying will

Which point of Iron Stylus now furrows

The world at large as Object for the kill.

So cart away your pleading victims, mired

In sleazy wallows of concupiscence

And faith deny, self-dubbed the doubtless squire-

Errant usurper of the human quest!

How dignified, the rake of YOUR ambition

That promises perpetual division.

(pg 21)

Chapter One

Dante’s Medieval World

“It was the tortured logic of medieval jurisprudence that a pledge of licensed violence for the future canceled the stigma a unauthorized crime of the past.” Claims to the Reformation to come, or “in play” perhaps?

“Beer was basic ingredient of everyone’s diet, children as well as adults…every member of the population, man, woman, child, consumed almost forty gallons per year, i.e., nearly a pint a day.” !

“…his fears are not simply of things imagined…though what he imagines terrifies him.”

“…although every man naturally desires revenge for an injury done him, the clerics (academy of the day) as we see, permit themselves to pursue revenge more eagerly than other men, although they preach patience and above all things commend the forgiveness of others.”

The ‘warfare’ of the Church, “..especially the high-ranking Church officials…are generally held in high regard by the popular opinion…men “of blood, strenuous in slaughter, prone to bloodshed and wanton in incendiarism…viewed by contemporaries as “…spiritual monsters and beast with many heads…in many parts of Europe it was considered  bad luck to meet a priest, or t o pass one by one by on the right side.” Plague of Thought and Belief.

“Nonetheless, to the medieval mind, “the unworthiness of the persons never compromised the sacred character of the institutions.” …which allowed the masses of men and women to “loath the individual priest and still desire his spiritual gifts.”

Conflict. “…an imbalance “rendering both individuals and masses liable to violent contradictions and to sudden changes.””

“Everywhere the flames of hatred arise and injustice reigns, Satan covers a gloomy earth with his somber wings.”

“…since he is born a poor member of the “third estate,” as most are, he will almost certainly remain poor for the duration of his life.”

“…the world is not what it seems; it must be interpreted in terms of a complicated set of static images placed in the rigid hierarchy….into this world the poet casts his masterpiece…The Divine Comedy, which sought to deliver medieval men and women from their fears of justifying the ways of God to man.”…like human existence itself, in a world of allegory everything the poet said meant something else: the words and images suggested and revealed certainties to those willing to take the time to interpret” Criticism.

“William James may have put it best in describing such a complex world of symbols and hidden meanings when he observed that “the outward face of nature nee not alter, but the expressions of meaning in it alter. It was dead and alive again. It is like the difference between looking at a person without love, or the same person with love….When we see all things in God, and refer all things to Him, we read in common matters superior expressions of meaning.”

“For Dante, all reality is symbolic: the higher allegory is only the inner truth of reality.”

“Carl Gustav Jung decries the modern mind with its inability to see things symbolically, its loss of connection with its deeper self and with the collective unconscious.”

“…the mind of the poet, the savage and the child, sees things otherwise.”

“These terms are not used derisively, but descriptively to portray a mind unlike our own…not worse or better, simply different. Such was the mind of Dante. Though it was deeper and more cultured than the mind of the man {commonly known}, for whom Dante would have had utter contempt, it bore important similarities in its fears, suspicions, and beliefs [to his own]. Above all else it was similar in seeing things symbolically.”

“Symbols allow us to organize and harmonize an otherwise incomprehensible world…an image of the world distinguished by impeccable order, architectonic structure, hierarchical subordinates….each implies a difference in rank or sanctity…connected with some third thing of a higher order.” Symbols. “This sense of order, reflecting hierarchical schemata that were as old as ancient Greece, permeates Dante’s journey through Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven.’

“For Dante, all reality is symbolic; the higher the allegory is only the inner truth of reality.”

Definitions of “primitive” and “childlike.” Non derisively, but descriptively given…not worse or better, but different only.

Symbolism defined.

“Symbolism allows us to organize and harmonize an otherwise incomprehensible world.”

“Symbolism’s image of the world is distinguished by impeccable order, architectonic structure, hierarchical subordination.” “…each symbolic connection implies a difference in rank or sanctity; two things of equal value are hardly capable of symbolic relationship with each other unless they are both connected with some third thing of a higher order.”

“Almost literally, nothing was left o chance” in Dante’s poetic scheme, imagined order imposed upon the welter and chaos of his age’s symbolic and ideational superstructure of meaning…mathematical, astrological, hierarchical, permeated with ranks of being and experience, more or less profound.

(Day 2)

“Intro canto…foreshadows the major levels of Hell…a vestibule plus nine circles of progressively greater sin…reflective of the degree of sinners’ gradual abandonment of reason and love…both of which were necessary for human redemption. “

“The presence of Virgil, who represents human reason, somewhat ameliorates Dante’s misgivings (of the guided tour?)…will guide through Hell and Purgatory to be replaced by Beatrice, who represents the faith and love which must augment reason if Dante is to see God.”

“Dante spent much of his life in philosophical speculation and concluded that reason is not enough (to see God?). So he turned to poetry and religion…reminding us and him of the limits of human reason.”

“As they enter the ninth circle, they encounter four giants…”sons of earth, embodiments of elemental forces unbalanced by love, desire without restraint and without acknowledgment of moral and theological laws. They are symbols of the earth-trace that every devout man must clear from his soul, the unchecked passions of the beast.”

“Dante is scolded several times by Virgil for showing sympathy for the sinners: after all, who is he to second-guess the judgment of God, which is infallible and terrifying in its exactness? Dante’s God is merciful only to sinners who repent, and those sinners are found in Purgatory, not Hell.”

“On the basis of these brief encounters, then, Beatrice became Dante’s muse, “a miracle” representing everything good about women…chaste, virginal, and pure. This was the predominant view of women in a period that “loved virgins but hated women.” …his guide in Paradise…she became the source of wisdom based on faith and love and transcending reason.”

Chapter Two

The Birth of Modernism

“Imagine yourself living in the thirteenth century confronted by a young man who, though only twenty, looks fifty….”

“Bellamy reports that “not one investigator has been able to indicate even a few years of effective ‘policing’ between 1285 and the end of the fifteenth century.” Matters became so bad at times that authorities paid criminals protection or simply hired thieves and brigands to work for the. “It was the tortured logic of medieval jurisprudence that a pledge of licensed violence for the future canceled the stigma of unauthorized crime of the past.””

“In addition to his insecurity and fear of death, our man’s head is filled with superstitions, fear of ghosts, demons, the devil and his torments, and unappeased Saints [or Parents).”

“In most instances, however, the parish priest is barely distinguishable from members of his congregation, living with is wife or concubine, drinking heavily, unable to read more than a few words, and struggling to survive on a pittance.”

“Giovanni Boccaccio “decameron”…”all clerics are more avaricious than women, an at daggers drawn with liberality. And although every man naturally desires revenge for an injury done…they permit themselves to pursue revenge more eagerly than other men, although they preach patience and above all things commend the forgiveness of offenses.”

“The result of this conflict was an imbalance “rendering both individuals and masses liable to violent contradictions and to sudden changes.”p 9. Bleak primitive existence, “not yet fully Christianized.”

“The medieval cosmos is fixed and static in its hierarchical arrangements. This applies not only to the three estates of humankind; it applies to all of God’s creation from God himself down to the most insignificant inanimate object. (no Platonism?) “This has dreadful implications for men such as the one before us: since he is born a poor member…so shall remain the duration of his life.”

“Into this world Dante cast his masterpiece…which sought to deliver medieval men and women from their fears and justify the ways of God to man.”

“The abundance  of images in which religious thought threatened to dissolve itself would only have produced a chaotic phantasmagoria, if symbolic conception had not worked it all into a vvast system where every figure had its place.” cite “Dante describes in detail just such a system, drawing on the philosophy of Aquinus and the dogma of the Church, permeated throughout with pagan mythology and medieval superstition, informed by Dantes’ poetic imagination, and inspired by his muse, Beatrice. ” curt

“Most important of all, it made sense of an otherwise baffling and terrifying world. And, like human existence itself, in the world of allegory everything the poet said meant something else: the words and images suggested and revealed certainties to those willin to take the time to interpret.”  Interpretation or assertion?

“In everything he saw (medieval man that stands before us and his culture)Dante sought to provide superior expressions of meaning through allegory.” curt “For [Dante] all reality is symbolic; the higher allegory is only the inner truth of reality” cite. did insert or assume Dante here in this cite?

“Calr Jung decries the modern mind with its inability to see things symbolically, its loss of connection with its deeper self and with the collective conscious. Not so medieval men and women. The medieval mind saw through things, or past them, to what they meant in a terrifying, but ordered and intelligible world created by a beneficent God.” Really? Beneficent? What EXACTLY does CJ think the collective conscious is that it should speak symbolically?

“Their sight was different from ours in kind; accepting a more inclusive concept of reality, they saw more than we do.” erickson cite

“The degree of sinfulness reflects…rings of hell…progressively greater sin…the sinner;s gradual abandonment of reason and love, both of which Dante would have agreed with Aquinus, were necessary for human redemption.”

The presence of Virgil, who represents human reason, somewhat ameliorates Dante’s misgivings.” p 12

“The order and coherence of the medieval cosmos was determined by triples of three and also seven. The planets moved in perfect circular orbits. The predictability of the entire scheme comforted fearful medieval minds and rendered it extremely difficult to dislodge, as we shall see.” Curt  13 (And today we carry Circles on our wrists, whose hands go Round and Round, determining almost our every waking hour’s deliberations to get ‘er Done).

“The first level of Hell, marked by the three circles of limbo, carnality, and gluttony, was peopled by men and women “who betrayed reason to their appetite.” The odd group here is that of unbaptised infants and virtuous pagans, whom we find in limbo. Dante tends to ignore the former, but the presence of t he virtuous pagans bothers him and he will question this principle when he reaches Paradise (XIX). At this point we must simply accept that their sin was just that they lived before the birth of Christ; they are no punished, strictly speaking, except that they, too, lived without hope. It may well be that Dante has answered his own question about the virtuous pagans by depicting Virgil as disoriented in Purgatory….Dante is not altogether consistent in placing pagans in limbo, as we find some unvirtuous pagans deeper in Hell…and even Tiresius…apparently some sins were so obvious in Dante’s eyes that even those without the benefit of Church instruction should have known better. In the case of Epicurus, who argued for the mortality of the soul, Dante was targeting as heresy that was prevalent in his time.” Curt 14

“Usury one of many faces of avarice (“the source of all evil”) nad a very dark crime…became central issue in Protestant Reformation…”

“The principle that Dante uses throughout the Inferno, for the most part, is to allow sinners to fully experience what they thought they wanted during their lifetimes….If we were to object that some of these people did not deserve to be punished  because they did not know what they were doing, Dante’s answer would be swift and pointed: they should know what they are doing.(check tense) The medieval sense of responsibility was most exacting, and medieval justice was unflinching and blind to the point of excessive cruelty-and countless errors, no doubt.”

“The grafters are in the eighth circle, along with seducers, flatterers, simoniacs, fortunetellers, hypocrites, thieves, evil counselors, sowers of discord, and falsifiers (such as alchemists [or jungians?]). These are the sins of fraud, which is worse than violence because of the role played by reason corrupted and aimed to deceive [one corrupts reason by the use one makes with it”? Sounds like a dangerous germ you’d hope never to catch] and Vi.

“As they enter the ninth and final circle, Dante and Vigil encounter four giants who represent, according to Ciardi, “sons of the earth, embodiments of elemental forces unbalanced by love, desire without restraint and without acknowledgment of moral or theological laws. They are symbols of the earth-trace that every devout man must clear from his soul, the unchecked passions of the beast.” cite 15

Sinners in Hell are merely the unrepentant who cannot chose or attempt the High Calling to set aside one’s life and move to live as much or more in others as in one’s self, loving and being loved, a sure sign that Heaven walks among men…for they have refused forgiveness while under the Sun and would not embrace their own and others’ tears, so well deserved and sometimes made worse for the cruel denials.

The circles “Above all else, it makes sense and applies the principle that men and women must accept responsibility for their deeds (none of the sinners make excuses, for example, and some are even proud of their actions–pride being a common denominator in all sin). Dante is scolded several times by Virgil for sowing sympathy for the sinners: after all, who is he to second-guess the judgment of God, which is infallible and terrifying in its exactness? Dante’s God is merciful only to sinners who repent, and whose sinners are found in Purgatory, not Hell.” See Aquinus’ work on judgment and Durandus’ retort.

“In Dantes’s numerology such correspondence , interplay of number and symbol throughout the poem attests  to the determination to explain all things to the careful listener/ reader. This sort of “explanation satisfied on such a deep level that none other was required.” curt 16

“Beatrice became Dante’s muse, “a miracle” representing everything good about women–chaste, virginal, and pure. That was the predominant view of women in a period that “loved virgins and hated women.” ….Most important for our purposes, she became the source of wisdom based on faith and love and transcending reason.” curt 17

“Interesting enough, Dante was not the first to try to piece together this chaotic world into a coherent whole…”

“Except for the fact that Dante’s pilgrimage took place in time…and the fact that his Christian morality is blended with Aristotelian, rather than Platonic, philosophy and science…intelligent men share a world-view that makes sense and enables them to deal with the anxieties and fears of an uncertain age…most clearly seen in Dante’s final leg of his journey.” curt 19

“Dante’s task, to say the unsayable [in symbolic projection, represent moral reality, destiny, free will and the bondage of ignorance and pride to its own, unregenerate fate].”

“Dante’s was, indeed, “a marvelous architectonic…so majestic in the whole design, so exquisitely proportioned  and interrelated in all its parts…Dante was profoundly prejudiced in favor of the structural symmetry of things, even asserting it in the face of obvious fact.” cite Fletcher 21

Dante merely “would have responded that he simply put the pieces of the puzzle together; the poem is a marvelous synthesis of elements of Church dogma, suggestions in the Old and New Testaments, fragments from St Thomas’ ST, and even prescient inspirations from the ancient myths and poetry. Unquestionable for Dante and his readers and listeners, the end product expresses the certainty of the believing mind–given the sources. And this certainty in the midst of a world in chaos impresses us most and marks Dante’s as the highest and most eloquent expression of the late-medieval mind.”

“In drawing on those sources Dante’s thought evidenced an extremely conservative strain, adhering strictly to dogmatic theology and Thomistic philosophy, for example, at a time when the rest of medieval world was beginning to ask fundamental questions. ..wrote Comedy at he very beginning of the fourteenth century, the dawn of the Renaissance….a thoroughly medieval poet, fighting essentially a rearguard action at a time when cracks were already appearing in the grand edifice the Church had built to protect medieval men and women from their fears [or to promote them].”

“I think it is a mistake to reject the wisdom of Dante’s poetic vision, as it is to ignore the healing power of Dante’s spiritual universe. I refer to the “healing power” of that universe advisedly since, despite the depth of terror medieval men and women felt in their day-to-day lives, there can be no doubt that at the center of those lives was the Church, which provided them with the unshakable conviction that after this life there would be another and if they lived well they would be rewarded. [cult]. The depth of this conviction cannot be overstated, since virtually everyone in this period believed in God.  Lucien Lefebvre argued convincingly that in the medieval period “there was simply no conceptual space for athiesm.” We need to remember this as we seek to grasp the medieval min and gauge its distance from our own.” curt 22

(day 10)

“For nearly a thousand years the Church had taught men and women to believe that their misery was divinely ordained. As we saw reflected in Dante’s poem, there could be no question but that everything that occurred made perfect sense and all was for the best: their suffering would be rewarded. Their world sat in the midst of a well-ordered universe in which physical and moral laws were laid down by a beneficent God. The good were rewarded and the wicked were punished.”

“…faith was replaced by religion, living convictions by creeds and platitudes. The causes of this are complex, but we can readily identify several.” :

“The fifteenth century would mark the beginning of a profound remaking of Western man’s world-view.”

“Luther…Printing/Books to read…Copernicus and heliiocentrism…economic shift from medieval guild to modern production by capital and wages…wealthy merchants…new power was given to the life of the individual, of the nation, and the third estate. Other generations have seen one revolution take place at a time, the sixteenth century saw three, the rise of Capitalism, the end of the Renaissance, and the beginning of the Reformation.” cite 24

“I would add the Scientific Revolution…”

“Newfound wealth, a growing confidence in the powers of the human mind, and a concern for things of this world inevitably sowed traces of doubts and reaction.”

“…speculat[ion] as to why the massive edifice of the Church was crumbling.”: curt

“Church corruption culminated in the Great Schism in the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries…contempt for a corrupt papacy.”

“Machieavelli observed in his Discourses: “Nor can there be a greater proof of the [decadence of the Church] than to witness the fact that the nearer people are to the Church of Rome, which is the head of our religion, the less religious are they. And whoever examines the principles upon which that religion was founded, and sees how widely different from those principles its present practice and applications are, will judge that her ruin or chastisement is near at hand.”

“In any event, it is certainly the case that the Schism a century earlier prepared the way for the Protestant Reformation…we should remember that Luther’s rebellion was simply the latest in a series of heresies “hoping to recover the pure Biblical belief and to build a truer worship around it.”” curt, cite 25

“These heresies, which the Church persecuted with greater or lesser success, led to the burning of John Huss in 1415 for writing against abuses by the clergy and the supremacy of the Pope in matters of faith…that Huss failed where Luther later succeeded was due largely to timing and the fact that Luther had powerful secular allies, such as Frederick, Elector of Saxony. But Huss and others like him who called attention to the corruption of the Roman Church prepared the ground in which Luther later planted the seeds of rebellion…” curt

“…I would like to point out other probable ’causes’ of the Church’s drift away from the center of human existence [criticism]. Of ‘singular’ importance…is the invention of movable type [Printing vs Transcribing]. By 1500 the printing press had produced 9ml books, “as against the few score thousand manuscripts that lately had held all the precious lore of the time.”” cite.


“…huge number of Bibles [literacy] reaching the hands of countless eager [?] readers who no longer needed to rely on others for religious direction. ..furthermore, availability of new ideas in a multitude of books resulted in a greater sense of independence, self-assurance, and individuality than the world had seen since the height of the Roman Empire.” curt 26 Averroes would be a good start to a short story in another direction.

“Along with the increase in the number of books…the spread of universities, from only two in 1200 to more than twenty by 1500…and “academies” established informally outside the purview of the universities, providing the setting for various scientific discoveries and the discussion of many unorthodox issues. Also, the times saw an increase in secular power as nation-states emerged, in particular England, France, and Spain…not to mention the powerful Republics of Germany.” curt

“Luther’s insistence on “salvation by faith” and his stress on the priesthood of all men appealed to the growing sense of independence and self-worth among the populace. Four our purposes, it is important to recognize the nascent redirection of consciousness away from the world and toward the self. As Jacques Maritain has noted in this regard”: Human nature will only have to throw off an empty theological accessory the cloak of meaningless grace and turn its faith-trust onto itself, and it will become that pleasant, liberated beast whose continual and infallible progress delights the universe today. And thus in the person of Luther and in his doctrine, we are present at the Advent of the Self. [sarcasm?]

“What the Reformation accomplished, among other things, was to bring into preeminence the “middle class” of merchants made wealthy by embracing the doctrine of Protestant thinkers such as John Calvin….protestant work ethic…stress on industry and frugality–a curious reading of his doctrine of the “elect,” whom God has foreordained to be saved…suddenly wealth was regarded as a sign of God’s favor, and not something to be avoided on pain of eternal damnation.” cite 29

“Individuals were beginning to see themselves as autonomous agents with a moral will, living in a world in which they could improve themselves and rise to levels they had previously thought reserved for a few who were inherently better than they. The static hierarchy of the medieval period was breaking apart, and modernism was awakening with its ideal of progress and the promise of happiness on earth.” curt. [?]

“…one of the major factors contributing to the birth of what came to be called “modernism” was the scientific revolution, which was, in its way, as important to establishing self-confidence among frightened men and women…”

William of Occam, Duns Scotus…Nominalism/Realism…”The issue ultimately involved is whether there is a source of truth higher than, and independent of, man; and the answer to the question is decisive for one’s view of the nature and destiny of humankind. The practical result of nominalist philosophy is to banish the reality which is perceived by the intellect and to posit as reality that which is perceived by the senses.” cite 30 Weaver [Concepts]

“Man become a wealthy-seeking consuming animal”…whose attention has been diverted not only away from transcendentals to the world, but eventually, almost exclusively to himself…a journey begun with Occam…but given impetus by the founder of natural science…”

“From Bacon’s perspective, there were four major obstacles, or Idols, that blocked scientific progress…the Idols of the Tribe, Cave, Marketplace, and Theater. Each in its way interfered with the intellectual growth which was necessary not only for progress but also “for the benefit and use of life.” The idols were “tendencies to adhere to theories uncritically or defend them dogmatically, either avoiding counter-evidence, or ignoring it when it presents itself, or finding ways round it when it cannot be ignored.”” curt, cite 31

“The very idea of scientific “progress” was itself alien to the medieval mind, of course, because the Church had been convinced for centuries that it had all the answers, and the most science, or “natural philosophy,” could do was to work out some of the details…Bacon: We find no one who has spent a proper time on things themselves and actual experience.” We can see in this remark the typical Renaissance attempt to redirect man’s heavenly gaze earthward, an attempt reflected not only in nat phil but in painting and sculpture. What is happening at this time is a radical reorientation o human thought and concern, from achieving salvation after death to achieving happiness here on earth.”

“Bacon, saying in The Great Instauration that he hoped to provide “help for mankind and a long line of inventions which will in some part alleviate man’s wretched and needy condition.””

“…we cannot discount the importance of inventions in turning human attention away from God and toward the world, and eventually toward itself.” cite 32

“Bacon…the first systematic empiricist, tireless collector of facts, laying the groundwork for induction and experimental method…insistence upon experimentation, critical advance (over Aristo) on predecessors…had a decided effect on Descartes…turned the latter’s attention toward the issue of method, which occupied Desc between 1619-1625.” curt

“Bacon’s radical separation of faith from reason was central in the development of modernism…doubtless resulted from his living in Protestant England where the Inquisition never quite got a foothold.” curt 33

(Day 12)

“Galileo, like Bacon, saw no conflict between the realms of religion and science: on includes matters of faith, the other of [experience] [‘}science[‘]”

“Galileo’ss attitde, was that theologians should not muck about in matters of science, but should spend their time interpreting Scripture in light of the findings of natural philosophers….science has the upper hand when it come to matters of cosmology…religion conform to in a letter to Bellarmine Jesuit General: “It may be that we will have difficulties in expounding the Scriptures, and so on: but this is through our ignorance, and not because there really are, or can be, insuperable difficulties in bringing them into accordance with demonstrable truth.” cite 35

“This was the central issue…Galileao/RC, Copernican rev. as no mere hypothesis, but a “demonstrated truth.”

Galileo: “it being true  that two truths cannot contradict one another, it is the function of wise expositors to seek out the true senses of scriptural texts.” No ‘thing’ can Be and Not Be at the same moment.

“But the rift between the Church and science had been widened because of Galileo’s efforts and, ironically, the Copernican hypothesis , with modifications, eventually came to be acknowledged as “demonstrated truth,” even by the RC. eating crow

“Because of Galileo’s encounter with the Inquisition, which became widely known, Descartes proceeded with great caution. ..convinced of the truth of the Cop ‘theory’ …Descartes carefully hiding his most deeply-held views in a cloud of theological jargon….his moral philosophy is “non-religious in principle and perhaps deliberately hostile to religion.” cite Caton 37

“Descartes redirected discussion away from thoughts about the world to thoughts about the self. Truth was now to be determined by “clear and distinct ideas,” a variety of intuitive insight that relies on self-evidence as determined by cognition rather than by authority. “

(Day 13)

“Starting with Descartes, human reason, coupled with the tools of mathematics and experimentation, will show us the path to certainty. God is an unnecessary appendage. The key for Descartes, as it was for Bacon, was to find the right method.”

“The problem of method which both Bacon and Descartes addressed arose because the procedures of Aristotle, as they were handed down by the schoolmen, were incapable of yielding new knowledge.”

“For Descartes, the paradigm for all human knowing was mathematics; he sought to develop a method that made it possible to begin with sensory experience and, through measurement, rise to the level of mathematical certainty.?

“Common to all natural philosophy at the time…is the reliance on sense experience (which was new) and the attempt to devise methods to quantify that experience in order to achieve greater certainty (which was also new). Bacon thought this could be done by correct use of mechanical devices; Descartes thought it possible by the correct us of his own discovery, analytical geometry.” curt 38

“Descartes in large measure replaced metaphysical questions with epistemological questions, and placed the knowing subject at the center of his philosophy. This point cannot be overly stressed for the purposes of this book. By focusing attention on reason as my reason, Descartes…fires “the opening shot of the Enlightenment.” cite 39 …the “completion of the tendency toward secularization which from the very first was implicit in the Reformation.”

“In a word, human consciousness has begun to look within for the sources of truth: the subject has taken center stage.”

“From the perspective of philosophy, by developing the Stoical notion of skeptical doubt Descartes paved the way for new approaches that were less speculative and more systematic. He was, indeed, the first “modern” philosopher, by which I mean the first systematically critical thinker since the time of the ancients to refuse to accept truths on authority.”

“Modernism is an attitude of mind rather than a period of time, and Descartes was exemplary in his modernism.”

“Andre Malraux characterized the contrast between the medieval and modern worlds with both accuracy and precision: “What Christian culture [in the Modern period] was discarding was more than one or another of its values and something even more vital than faith; it was the notion of man oriented toward Being–who was soon to be replaced by the man capable of being swayed by ideas and acts; Value was being disintegrated into a plurality of values. What was disappearing from the Western World was the Absolute.”

“A small coterie of intellectuals struggled mightily against this disintegration as they sought to maintain the centrality of spirit in an increasingly hollow world. These were the Romantics and their struggle is not yet over.” curt 40

Chapter Three

The Romantic Revolt