Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Pushing the Reset Button

Strikes me that one symptom of a major change in culture—from a religious age to a secular—is that thinkers of the era find it necessary to start at the beginning again. This occurred to me while reading that absolutely delightful book, Leviathan, by Thomas Hobbes. I’m not done yet, but the early chapters have all the charm of a precocious child explaining what the world is all about in plain English, as it were, sometimes pointing out the cumbersome nonsense that the adults have said, and how befuddled they’d become. That bright-child image is there, for me, despite the fact that Hobbes was 62-63 as he was penning those lines. He is a contemporary of Descartes who, a little earlier, had done the same sort of thing by discovering that he is because he thinks. If my reading of the stages of Greek civilization are more or less correct, then Aristotle made his monumental effort to explain all things known, starting with the basics, as it were, at the same stage of that culture that Hobbes and Descartes occupied in ours. Going the other way, from a secular age to the religious, has a quite different character—largely hidden from view by vast clouds of chaos that surround the decline and fall of the secular.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, you're reading Hobbes... As I get caught up on my favorite blogs, and read LaMarrote, I'll watch for specifics from that exercise.

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