Conservatives Want to Return to the Middle Ages
Since I've been on a tirade against the religious right for the last few weeks, I thought the following quote from W.T. Jones's A History of Western Philosophy: The Medieval Mind
presented an excellent contrast between myself (and the founding fathers) and the conservatives of the religious right.
Jones notes that even after Aquinas (who gave Reason back its respectability) philosophical thinking "was limited by the concept of orthodoxy. However rational and acute philosophical analysis might have become, it still had to operate within the strict limits set for it by transcendental truths, truths that were above reason and immune to analysis." He then provides a penetrating analysis of the difference between the medieval mind and the modern mind, which the religious right is fighting to destroy in favor of the medieval:
Perhaps the principle element of [the Christian] world view was its sacramental outlook. What made Augustine, Aquinas, and the other medieval thinkers so fundamentally alike was this outlook they shared. What distinguishes the modern mind so sharply from the medieval mind is that modern men have largely lost that outlook and now share the basically secular point of view of the Greeks. To say that medieval men looked on this world as a sacrament means, first, that they conceived this world to be but the visible sign of an invisible reality, a world thoroughly impregnated with the energy, purpose, and love of its Creator, who dwells in it as He dwells in the bread and wine on the altar. Second, it means that medieval men conceived of this world as a sacrifice to be freely and gratefully dedicated to the all-good, all-true giver. Thus, whereas for us (and for the Greeks) the world by and large means just what it seems to be, for men of the Middle Ages it meant something beyond itself and immeasurably better. Whereas for us (and for the Greeks) life on earth is its own end, for medieval men life's true end was beyond this world.
It can hardly be denied that this sacramental point of view was a block to progress-progress in knowledge of how to control the environment and utilize it for this-worldly purposes. To many it seems equally obvious, now that this viewpoint has disappeared, that men have rid themselves of much that was a liability-ignorance, superstition, intolerance.
If only this world view had truly
disappeared. If the conservatives have their way, it will be the Greek, secular viewpoint that will disappear. This is the danger we face, this is the point of view (which the Islamic radicals share 100%) that must be defeated. If we wish to free, indeed if we wish to live, we must uphold, embrace and defend the Greek, secular view of life.
POSTED BY THE GENERAL AT 1:10 PM