Sunday, July 21, 2002

"For the 'ordinary' person of limited intelligence nothing is easier than to imagine himself an exceptional and original person and to take delight in this delusion with no misgivings. It has been enough for some of our young ladies to cut their hair short, put on blue eyeglasses, and call themselves Nihilists for them to persuade themselves that, in putting on their spectacles, they immediately acquired 'convictions' of their own."
-Dostoevsky, The Idiot, p. 481

Wednesday, July 03, 2002

"The essence of virtue consists in the good rather than in the difficult."
-St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica II, ii, 123, 12 ad 2
The middle Ages drew a distinction between the understanding as ratio and the understanding as intellectus. Ratio is the power of discursive, logical thought, of searching and of examination, of abstraction, of definition and drawing conclusions. Intellectus, on the other hand, is the name for the understanding insofar as it is the capacity of simplex intuitus, of that simple vision to which truth offers itself like a landscape to the eye. The faculty of mind, man's knowledge, is both these things in one, according to antiquity and the Middle Ages, simultaneously ratio and intellectus; and the process of knowing is the action of the two together. The mode of discursive thought is accompanied and impregnated by an effortless awareness, the contemplative vision of the intellectus, which is not active but passive, or rather receptive, the activity of the soul in which it conceives that which it sees.

-Josef Pieper, Leisure: The Basis of Culture

if "to know is to work," then knowledge is the fruit of our own unaided effort and activity; then knowledge includes nothing which is not due to the effort of man, and there is nothing gratuitous about it, nothing "in-spired," nothing "given" about it.

The Christian conception of sacrifice is not concerned with the suffering involved qua suffering, it is not primarily concerned with the toil and the worry and with the difficulty, but with salvation, with the fullness of being, and thus ultimately with the fullness of happiness: "the end and the norm of discipline is happiness."

There can be no such thing in the world of "total labour" as space which is not used on principle; no such thing as a plot of ground, or a period of time withdrawn from use. There is in fact no room in the world of "total labour" either for divine worship or for a feast: because the "worker's" world, the world of "labour" rests solely upon the principle of rational utilization. A "feast day" in that world is either a pause in the midst of work(and for the sake of work, of course), or in the case of "Labour Day" or whatever feast days of the world of work may be called, it is the very principle of work that is being celebrated--once again, work stops for the sake of work, and the feast is subordinated to "work." There can of course be games, circenses, circuses--but who would think of describing that kind of mass entertainment as festal?

"A man who needs the unusual to make him "wonder" shows that he has lost the capacity to find the true answer to the wonder of being. The itch for sensation, even though disguised in the mask of Boheme, is a sure indication of a bourgeois mind and a deadened sense of wonder."