Monday, March 22, 2010

240: The Middle Ages Revisited

if you have the impression that during the Middle Ages political thinking was shaped by christianity, then I have to correct this opinion immediately.

It is more the case that christianity was like a glove that fitted perfectly on the hand, which was offered by Greek and Roman thinking. Just listen to the next words:

True law is right reason in agreement with Nature; it is of universal application, unchanging and everlasting … there will not be different
laws at Rome and at Athens,

or different laws now and in the future, but one eternal and unchangeable law will be valid for all nations and all times, and there will be one master and one ruler, that is, God, over us all, for He is the author of this law, its promulgator and its enforcing judge.
-End quote

The identification of law with reason must be noticed in this process; reason carries its own claims to the individual’s obedience. The final sanction of law and authority is placed here outside the collectivity altogether, in the Deity.

Whose words are these, do you think? Some Church Father, like Augustine or a great scholastic like Thomas Aquino? No, these are the words of Cicero, Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, who died 43 BC.

The belief that there is a universal and eternal moral ordering which is common to all men and which therefore carries weight on certain issues in every collectivity is a widespread ethical and religious notion.

The source most often favored, however, is the religious-philosophical sect of the Stoics, who took their name from the stoa, or porch, before which Zeno, their reputed founder, preached and taught in Athens soon after the time of Aristotle, about 390 BCE.

Stoicism was brought to Rome during the classical generations of Roman republicanism, and it continued to be a system widely accepted, although changing in content,

from the time of the Scipios (about 100 BCE) until the closing of all philosophy schools in 529 AD by order of the Emperor Justinian I, who perceived their pagan character to be at odds with his Christian faith.

But this attraction could only be there because this christianity was congenial from a Stoic perspective and probable also because christianity was a growing worldly power as well.

Old Judaic thinking played an important role too in the development of Medieval political thinking, based on christianity.

Significant was the Judaic sense of the chosen people, the people led by the hand of God through the wilderness because they had an enduring purpose and being.

Whenever Christian political theorists thought of the people as having a voice in the appointment of a king or a regime, or of the king as having a duty to his people, their model was the peculiar people of Israel.

European kingship was also conceived in biblical terms, and the tribal hero-king whose actions committed the people before God and whose power came from God can be seen behind the western European dynastic regimes.

In De Regimine Principum (Of the Rulership of Princes) and other works Thomas Aquino (died 1274) presented his theory of the relationship between pope and emperor, which had already preoccupied Christian Europe for centuries and would continue to do so until the end of the medieval period.

He developed the traditional distinction of regnum and sacerdotal, secular and spiritual jurisdiction in Aristotelian terms, in terms of ends, the ends of humanity. Here the teleological interpretation of Nature by Aristotle was perfectly integrated in christian theology.

The doctrine of the distinction and interrelation of two great spheres of human life, the sphere of the secular and spiritual power, within one single society established the Christian society, respublica christiana.

Political philosophy tries to interpret and analyze mankind in its collectivity and the medieval situation provides the extreme example of territorial political relationships,

in which the psychological mechanism usually called religious
can be seen most clearly at work in providing the consensus on which such collective action as went forward had to rely.

Any properly empirical account of how a collectivity in fact works, at any time, has to recognize that this mechanism is still very much in operation.

What I wanted to show you is that it was not just christianity that shaped our political thinking. Its roots go much deeper into history far beyond christian thinking.

A second thing is that we learn of a psychological mechanism that made the collectivity work and it may be questionable that in our time this mechanism is replaced by rational-technical cooperation.

The Discussion

[13:20] herman Bergson: quod dixi dixi ㋡
[13:20] herman Bergson: if you have remarks or questions..plz feel free...
[13:20] Alaya Kumaki: what does quod dix dixi mean?
[13:20] Gemma Cleanslate: good ?
[13:21] Kiiko Karu: It sounds like stupidity was well rooted in europe before it found a god figure to justify itself
[13:21] herman Bergson: I have spoken would be a proper translation, but literally it means what I have said I have said ㋡
[13:21] Gemma Cleanslate: ok
[13:21] Alaya Kumaki: thank yu
[13:21] Gemma Cleanslate: should be dici dici?
[13:22] herman Bergson: hmm..Gemma...
[13:22] Gemma Cleanslate: nto sure
[13:22] herman Bergson: What do you mean Kiiko?
[13:23] herman Bergson: I bet on dixi.... 100L
[13:23] Gemma Cleanslate: lololl
[13:23] Repose Lionheart: hehe
[13:23] Gemma Cleanslate: if i lose you get no tip lololl
[13:24] herman Bergson: that isnt fair... ㋡
[13:24] Alaya Kumaki: what is the difference between the collectivity in term of psychological versus the rational -technical
[13:24] Gemma Cleanslate: i think you are right anyway
[13:24] herman Bergson: Well Kiiko...what about this European stupidity?
[13:24] Cherry Cupcake whispers: Enjoy!
[13:24] Alaya Kumaki: according to aristotle , model
[13:25] herman Bergson: Hello Sarte
[13:25] Sartre Placebo: hey everyone
[13:25] herman Bergson: Ah..Ayala...I get it....
[13:25] Kiiko Karu: Western thought has always baffled me. It is not rooted in rationalism as far as I have seen but something closer to Zeroastrianism. "Thinking" really only seems to occur after a person can either form a judgement rather than propose a probability to what -might- have been observed. So for a few thousand years the more expansive thoughts of the Classical Societies / Civs. persisted then the Christians ( apparently like a street cult) took hold at a time when the Roman gods (then the standing dominant faith)
[13:25] herman Bergson: What is meant is that the collectivity is driven by religious like ideas to come to consensus...
[13:26] herman Bergson: while we think to believe that our democratic procedures are a rational-technical chouice of us to get to consensus
[13:26] Kiiko Karu: weren't felt as particularly influential to people's lives. Maybe some concern for Jupiter but not as much an impact as might be expected.
[13:26] herman Bergson: Hold on...
[13:26] Kiiko Karu: sorry yes
[13:26] herman Bergson: Kiiko plz read the rules behind me... ㋡
[13:26] herman Bergson: no offense
[13:27] Kiiko Karu: *checks*
[13:28] Alaya Kumaki: we pretend that we change the model when its not, just because we become very tecnical? is it the reign of technocrate?
[13:28] Kiiko Karu: sorry
[13:28] herman Bergson: Kiiko, with all due respect but what you open up here needs a thorough studybefore I ever could respond to that ㋡
[13:28] herman Bergson: respond
[13:28] Kiiko Karu: nope, that makes sense
[13:29] Kiiko Karu: I wouldn't have made the comment if I'd read the rules but I didn't see them till you mentioned them. Ignore it. too much clutter
[13:29] Repose Lionheart: the development of a world religion is a complex thing :))
[13:29] Gemma Cleanslate: perhaps need to be shorter but a good thought to think about
[13:29] herman Bergson: The thing is Alaya, that we might be willing to believe that our societies are no longer driven to consensus based on religious like beliefs
[13:30] herman Bergson: But by rational desicions only
[13:30] herman Bergson: However, Islamitic countries show you the opposite
[13:30] herman Bergson: for instance
[13:30] Repose Lionheart: rational and secular?
[13:30] herman Bergson: yes Repose
[13:31] Repose Lionheart: might be secular and irrational, too ㋡
[13:31] Repose Lionheart: or subliminal
[13:31] Repose Lionheart: mythic subtexts persist
[13:31] herman Bergson: For instance..the Crusades were possible because of a religion based consensus
[13:31] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:31] Gemma Cleanslate: yes with the approval and funds of the kings
[13:32] herman Bergson: Well Repose..even in world politics irrationality is present....
[13:32] Repose Lionheart: and they stopped as that consensus eroded?
[13:32] Repose Lionheart: yes, Prof
[13:32] herman Bergson: just read the history books...
[13:32] Kiiko Karu: Today's "discontent" with the status quo in many regions and rumor are similar too
[13:32] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:32] herman Bergson: negotiations went wrong because individual persons didnt like each other, tho they wer enegociating about (world)peace
[13:33] herman Bergson: Yes Kiiko
[13:33] Zinzi Serevi: het blijven mensen
[13:33] Zinzi's translator: the people continue
[13:33] herman Bergson: It makes me think how the US wants the Iraqi people to vote
[13:33] Alaya Kumaki: yes all crusade , colonisations, were on that model, and it didnt change, it s also , given to the merchants, the corps today, the power to rule if they serve previously, the king& popeor bishop interest,, meaning taxes income maximums and developement, same as middle age now
[13:34] herman Bergson: a rational - technical solution
[13:34] Kiiko Karu: blind faith in rumor without accountability (fact checking) seems to be the dominant source of ignorance
[13:34] Alaya Kumaki: i tried to make it shorter, i coudnt ,resume in short terms
[13:34] oola Neruda: YES
[13:35] herman Bergson: Yes Kiiko...a often used trick to mainpulate the masses
[13:35] oola Neruda: good example right her in the US
[13:35] herman Bergson: which one oola?
[13:35] Alaya Kumaki: well, their believes was the social rulers, while others were merchants and rulers
[13:35] Repose Lionheart: Fox News? ㋡
[13:35] Zinzi Serevi: that is religion
[13:35] Zinzi's translator: that religion is
[13:35] oola Neruda: yes
[13:35] oola Neruda: for one
[13:36] Repose Lionheart: hehe
[13:36] Repose Lionheart: agree
[13:36] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[13:36] herman Bergson: oh my...Fox News....dont the call Obama Hitler or almost the same?
[13:36] Gemma Cleanslate: oh yes
[13:36] Gemma Cleanslate: and more
[13:36] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:36] Gemma Cleanslate: well the commentators do
[13:36] Kiiko Karu: briefly, that was why I brought up my comment in frustration regarding european development. It does seem as prevalent in Asia.
[13:36] Repose Lionheart: even worse -- a socialist
[13:36] Alaya Kumaki: well maybe the bishop is behind that
[13:36] herman Bergson: What is your point Ayala
[13:36] Alaya Kumaki: the archbishops
[13:37] herman Bergson: I didnt get that well enough Ayala
[13:37] Alaya Kumaki: well they never completely disposed of their power, from england according to the religions in us,,, only economic independencies
[13:37] Gemma Cleanslate: who they
[13:37] Alaya Kumaki: in us
[13:39] herman Bergson: Well, what I wanted to make clear today is that our political philosophical thinking isnt shaped by christianity.
[13:39] herman Bergson: the ideas lived already much longer in European thinking
[13:39] Gemma Cleanslate: well may not be shaped but is bolstered sometimes
[13:39] herman Bergson: and that is amazing....
[13:39] Repose Lionheart: yes, it is
[13:39] herman Bergson: Yes Gemma..christianity took over completely...
[13:40] herman Bergson: but what it took over were tons of ideas from the pagans
[13:40] Gemma Cleanslate: ys
[13:40] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[13:40] Gemma Cleanslate: reinterpretation
[13:40] herman Bergson: but wht is more amazing is this continuity in thinking...
[13:40] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:41] herman Bergson: as I said...christianity was only a glove that fitted perfectly on the hand of greek and roman thinking
[13:41] herman Bergson: So... what will be the future..... man freeing himself from that thinking?
[13:42] herman Bergson: Machiavelli might be one of the first perhaps
[13:42] Kiiko Karu: A great example: when buddhism moves into an area is waits for acceptance, when christianity moved in it tried to snuff anything else out. Roman was a lot like that
[13:42] herman Bergson: We'll meet him in our next lecture
[13:43] herman Bergson: If you have any question left..plz let me know ..otherwise I thank you for your participation ㋡
[13:43] Gemma Cleanslate: ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:43] Iboya Cortes: well. thank you so much :-)
[13:43] Zinzi Serevi: thank you Herman
[13:43] Zinzi's translator: thank you Herman
[13:43] Repose Lionheart: Thanks, Prof. Fascinating!
[13:43] Gemma Cleanslate: hope we will be better on tuesday but think not
[13:43] Kiiko Karu: it was a great class! Thanks for it!
[13:43] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[13:43] herman Bergson: thank you all
[13:43] Iboya Cortes: cu you all later...
[13:43] Iboya Cortes: ciao
[13:44] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[13:44] herman Bergson: Yes Repose...I was fascinated by the literature I studied for this lecture myself
[13:44] Repose Lionheart: yes. Cicero seems prescient
[13:44] herman Bergson: this widening the horizon
[13:44] herman Bergson: historical depth
[13:45] Repose Lionheart: but the ideas must have been "in the air" for Christianity to rise to dominance so quickly
[13:45] herman Bergson: yes Repose it was....
[13:45] Kiiko Karu: do you think our civilization (globally) will be able to overcome our entropy toward novalty?
[13:45] oola Neruda: i am thinking that some of Islam has a similar link to that same past
[13:45] herman Bergson: Stoic philosophy was very close to christian thinking
[13:45] Repose Lionheart: novelty may be anti-entropic ㋡
[13:45] Repose Lionheart: never knew that prof
[13:46] herman Bergson: entropy?
[13:46] Repose Lionheart: will check it out ㋡
[13:46] herman Bergson: what is that?
[13:46] Repose Lionheart: oh, yes, islam
[13:46] herman Bergson: if it means ..we crave novelty..?
[13:47] herman Bergson: I would say...we'll never be freed from that
[13:47] Repose Lionheart: preserved the ancient sources i've heard
[13:47] Alaya Kumaki: yes this is what i meant , by bishops or such, its not really christian but roman descandancies
[13:47] Repose Lionheart: must have been influenced by them ㋡
[13:47] oola Neruda: Mohammed had Christian friends...
[13:47] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:47] herman Bergson: Islam is a completely different story
[13:48] herman Bergson: copmpletely alienated from other cultures
[13:48] Repose Lionheart: interesting
[13:48] oola Neruda: Herman you did not mention Judism
[13:48] Alaya Kumaki: i thought that the real christian were treated a s pagan, by the romans?
[13:48] herman Bergson: I did mention Judaic thinking in my lecture oola
[13:48] Kiiko Karu: lol christians, pagan once and pagan again
[13:49] Repose Lionheart: yes, Jewish sources for kingship
[13:49] oola Neruda: sorry... will have go reread
[13:49] Repose Lionheart: bye, guys ㋡
[13:49] Kiiko Karu: i have to go soon as well, be safe!
[13:49] herman Bergson: Bye Repose
[13:49] Docka Yven: Thanks Prof it was very interesting to listen to you
[13:49] Docka's translator: Thanks Prof it was very interesting to listen to you
[13:49] herman Bergson: Nice you could come Docka ㋡
[13:50] Docka Yven: bey all
[13:50] Docka's translator: bye all

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