Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Intellectual Movement

I've been inspired by the words of the Pope's talk at Ragensburg. And it made me think of to where we see the greatest intellectual movements in the history of man. And sure enough, they all fall within 3 great periods. The following is from an e-mail I sent to a friend...May we all embrace Faith and Reason.

When one looks back at history, one sees the greatest achievements in history in times in which Faith and Reason are embrassed in their fullest. It is interesting to note to that the great cultural movements of Western History are all surrounded with the creation of schools.

The first period is the Patristic which the great Fathers of the Church defended the True Faith not using just Faith (as many of our Protestant brothers and sisters think) but with Reason. The greatest, of course, is St Augustine who states that belief is what gives rise to a proper use of reason. As St Anselm, in the later Middle Ages states "I believe so that I may understand". Faith is, of course, first, but faith is NOT irrational, but is in fact purely rational...for the Divine Logos, the Word, the Divine Reason, Christ, came down to Earth and took on human flesh. It is in the Incarnation that Reason and Faith come together...for before Christ, we see great thinkers like Plato and Aristotle who attained great truths with the use of reason, but were not able to come to THE TRUTH without the aid of faith. Now, it is easy to note that there were no "schools" during the Patristic period...things were still too scattered, but there were great centers of thought, especially in the East. The school was in the Church, in which the great homilies were given by the greatest of Saints. It is no surprise that St Augustine is ALWAYS studied as one of the greatest minds of history. St John Chrysostom, the Golden Mouth, taught people in the setting of the Church and through his writings as was not in a formalized school, but the Church existed to educate those in the faith they accepted.

The next period is the 9th century Renaissance which, in my humble opinion, begins on Christmas Night in the year 800 in which Charlemagne, Charles the Great, or, as I lovingly call him "Chuck" was crowned by the Pope as the Holy Roman Empire. This was the light that the West needed. There was no such thing as a "dark ages", for that implies a total lack of advancement. Indeed, the period between 500 and 800 AD had less achievements, but that was due to the isolation of towns. There were still great thinkers like Boethius and Pseudo-Dionysius who had a great impact on thought in the Western Tradition, but I am getting off my topic here....

Chuck saw a problem. He saw lack of education in the clergy, he saw a lack of use of the gift of reason in the people in general in fact. It is thanks to Chuck that the idea of a formalized schooling system first comes into place. Chuck is responsible for the creation of the Liberal Arts...the study of Mathematics, Philosophy, Geometry and so forth, in which the Liberal Arts came under 2 titles, the Quadrivium and the Trivium (4 and 3 respectively). In order for the proper training of the priests, Chuck created the ideas of Cathedral Schools, the first VERY formal schooling system (though it MAY be possible to prove me wrong on that, but I argue for it). It is thank to him that we have Capital and minuscule letters in our alphabet and spacing in order to have a better flow on our page...there were numerous other advances as well, including an embracing of Classical thought and a re-immergance of the copying of scripts, to which we can thank for many of the books we have in our possession nowadays.

The next period is the 12th Century Renaissance, and guess which intellectual institution takes its rise from this great cultural advancement? The University. THe ideas of Law (to which the University of Bologna was so popular for), the philosophical and theological and many other traditions have their roots in the University. In fact, it's because our legal system has lost its roots in the Western idea of law (to which BXVI has been warning us so drastically about, the distancing ourselves from our Western roots) that our legal system is now in trouble, because it is so far beyond its original purpose.

The ideas about just wages, fair trade, and many other ideas we take for granted all have their roots in the 12th Century Renaissance, to which was all formed in the, you guessed it, the intellectual sphere of the University. It is there that ideas were formed and molded and put into practice. The thinkers formed the ideas for the way to live life for everyone. And this was all done in the name of truth.

In fact, the greatest common thing between these 3 periods is the fact that there was one common purpose: To discover the Truth in all things, because God who is the Logos, the Divine Reason, came into the world, and so, necessarily, there is a reason to everything in the world. By faith in the Logos, we use our reason to come to the great truths of everything.

I argue to that our society has yet to see such a remarkable and exciting time as those 3 periods. We can reach it again, if we listen to the cry of Pope Benedict, and unite ourselves in our true Western Roots, which is the Divine Logos, and thus would be able to pursue, once again, reason through the guidance of faith in the Truth, which is Christ and His Church.



Anonymous said...

Harrison, Harrison, Harrison...

You better hope that Dr Haskett doesn't read this blog. "Holy Roman Empire?" Tsk. Tsk. Tsk.

Also, you created a list of the greatest intellectual movements of all time and you left off Classical Athens? The movement which created the giant on which the Medievals stood, how can be it ignored?

Harrison said...

First...I shoulda put "Holy Roman Emperor" least when I took Haskett's class, he said this was a perfectly valid view of history...I don't see the problem...

Secondly, though they were rooted in the thought of those in the Middle Ages, there is no fruit from their thought in the time they don't see great cultural advancements due to the thought of Plato and Aristotle in Athens, while you do in, for example, the 12th Century Renaissance. It is in that period that things changed because the intellectual life flourished and so did society...I am yet to read anything that states that the life of Athenians flourished due to Plato and his school...very limited, while the 3 I talk about were widespread.