Socrates Great Thinkers on Self-Education: During his life, Socrates often disrupted the status quo by questioning the public and creating controversy. His views on knowledge and truth have influenced the way many people view learning. Eventually, Socrates was accused of failing to recognize the gods of the city and corrupting the youth through his teachings.
Though Renaissance writers seemed to be quite on the side of "order," the theme of "disorder" is much in evidence, suggesting that the age may have been experiencing some growing discomfort with traditional hierarchies.
According to the chain of being concept, all existing things have their precise place and function in the universe, and to depart from one's proper place was to betray one's nature. Human beings, for example, were pictured as placed between the beasts and the angels. To act against human nature by not allowing reason to rule the emotions--was to descend to the level of the beasts.
In the other direction, to attempt to go above one's proper place, as Eve did when she was tempted by Satan, was to court disaster. Yet Renaissance writers at times showed ambivalence towards such a rigidly organized universe. For example, the Italian philosopher Pico della Mirandola, in a work entitled On the Dignity of Man, exalted human beings as capable of rising to the level of the angels through philosophical contemplation.
Also, some Renaissance writers were fascinated by the thought of going beyond boundaries set by the chain of being. A major example was the title character of Christopher Marlowe's play Doctor Faustus. Simultaneously displaying the grand spirit of human aspiration and the more questionable hunger for superhuman powers, Faustus seems in the play to be both exalted and punished.
Marlowe's drama, in fact, has often been seen as the embodiment of Renaissance ambiguity in this regard, suggesting both its fear of and its fascination with pushing beyond human limitations.
Political Implications of the Chain of Being The fear of "disorder" was not merely philosophical--it had significant political ramifications. The proscription against trying to rise beyond one's place was of course useful to political rulers, for it helped to reinforce their authority.
The implication was that civil rebellion caused the chain to be broken, and according to the doctrine of correspondences, this would have dire consequences in other realms.
It was a sin against God, at least wherever rulers claimed to rule by "Divine Right. In Shakespeare, it was suggested that the sin was of cosmic proportions: Before Halley's theory about periodic orbits, comets, as well as meteors, were thought to be disorderly heavenly bodies. The need for strong political rule was in fact very significant, for the Renaissance had brought an end for the most part to feudalism, the medieval form of political organization.
The major political accomplishment of the Renaissance, perhaps, was the establishment of effective central government, not only in the north but in the south as well.
Northern Europe saw the rise of national monarchies headed by kings, especially in England and France. Italy saw the rise of the territorial city-state often headed by wealthy oligarchic families.
Not only did the chain of being concept provide a rationale for the authority of such rulers; it also suggested that there was ideal behavior that was appropriate to their place in the order of things.
It is no wonder then that much Renaissance literature is concerned with the ideals of kingship, with the character and behavior of rulers, as in Machiavelli's Prince or Shakespeare's Henry V.
Other ideals and values that were represented in the literature were even more significant. It was the intellectual movement known as Humanism that may have expressed most fully the values of the Renaissance and made a lasting contribution to our own culture.The Making of Modern Economics: The Lives and Ideas The Lives and Ideas of the Great Thinkers.
with a delightful introduction of the lives and intimate /5(53). Great Theosophical teachings of Annie Besant and C.W. Leadbeater. First Section The After-death Life THE THEOSOPHIST AFTER DEATH. THE RELATION OF THE DEAD TO EARTH. Home is the hub of a Connected Life – so a living room and kitchen welcome you into the space.
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yet accessible introduction to the major economic philosophers /5(53). Typically, great thinkers have been included in encyclopedic works on the basis of reputation and historic influence.
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