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Letters by a modern St. Ferdinand III about cults

Gab@StFerdinandIII - Plenty of cults exist - every cult has its 'religious dogma', its idols, its 'prophets', its 'science', its 'proof' and its intolerant liturgy of demands.  Cults everywhere:  Islam, the State, the cult of Gay and Queer, Marxism, Darwin and Evolution, 'Science', Globaloneywarming, Changing Climate, Abortion....a nice variety for the human-hater, amoral, anti-rationalist to choose from.  It is so much fun mocking them isn't it ?

Tempus Fugit Memento Mori - Time Flies Remember Death 

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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Jacob Burckhardt and the Renaissance

Slandering the Middle Ages. Fantasy as fact.

by StFerdIII

 

Modern interpretations of the 'Middle Ages' as being a 1000 year period of dark, inferior civilisation, and the Renaissance as being an epoch which magically appeared and was divorced from and superior to the 'Middle Period' between the slow death of the Roman empire and the establishment of a renewed civilisation in Italy, begins with Jacob Burckhardt, the 19th century Swiss historian. Burckhardt's stature is incomparable, in spite of the fact that his entire thesis is nonsense. It would be as if later generations accorded Michael Moore saintly status as a modern-day Diogenes and truth-teller, a Socratic Victor Hugo, or an insightful Rabelais of the American experience. Doubtful. As a supposed historian Burckhardt did no primary research and simply believed what the Enlightenment 'thinkers' offered. There is no critical analysis within Burckhardt's reasoning, nor does he offer us any empirical evidence to support the idea that there was a 700 year period of infernal stupidity and barbarism within European development. The thousands of evolutions and revolutions between 500 and 1500 AD would put a lie to that idea, developments which are obvious to anyone with enough energy to do some investigation.

Yet Burckhardt's vision of the medieval period, wrong, unbalanced, critically flawed, unreasonable, destructive and idealized as it is, is the one taught in schools. There must be a psychological impairment in the educational psyche to pick out the most irresponsible theories and parade them as facts. Consider what Burckhardt offers us regarding the medieval period [from his book, 'The Civilisation of the Renaissance in Italy', 1890]:

-”In the Middle Ages both sides of human consciousness – that which was turned within as that which was turned without – lay dreaming or half awake....The veil was woven of faith, illusion, and childish prepossesion....”

-”Man was conscious of himself only as a member of a race, people, party, family or corporation...”

-”But at the close of the 13th century Italy began to swarm with individuality; the charm laid upon human personality was dissolved; and a thousand figures meet us....Dante's great poem would have been impossible in any other country in Europe...”

Burckhardt's thesis is clearly simplistic. According to his account prior to the 1200s Europe was a collection of mindless communalists, attached to either dogma or a group. Thousands of exceptions could be listed to refute this statement. According to this view magically in the 13th century some fairy dust blew in, with many academics telling us that the winds of change and reform emanated from scarred, bloodied, Islamic Spain, a geography in which millions of Christians had been killed, enslaved, and forcibly converted to Islam. Burckhardt does not state how the 13th century was transformed or by which agents but that somehow it all changed. This might be true enough. But the antecedents for Europe's Renaissance reach back to the 6th century after the fall of Rome.

Historian Peter Burke is quite right when he says:

In the first place, there are arguments to the effect that the so-called Renaissance men were really rather medieval. They were more traditional in their behavior, assumptions and ideals than we tend to think.....Hindsight suggests that even Petrarch, 'one of the first truly modern men', according to Burckhardt, had many attitudes in common with the centuries he described as 'dark'....

In the second place, the medievalists have accumulated arguments to the effect that the Renaissance was not such a singular event as Burckhardt and his contemporaries once thought and that the term should really be used in the plural. There were various 'renascences' in the Middle Ages, notably in the twelfth century and in the age of Charlemagne. In both cases there was a combination of literary and artistic achievements with a revival of interest in classical learning, and in both cases contemporaries described their age as one of restoration, rebirth or 'renovation'.”

The above is perfectly correct. The Christian scholastics of the 13th century such as Oresme and the 'Paris' school of innovators in science and logic, can trace their own intellectual development back through St. Thomas Aquinas to Augustine of the 5th century. The Church had long incubated and produced a marvelous array of innovations and changes in the social, business, agriculture and even political orders. Oresme who anticipated Copernican ideas by some 200 years did not appear out of nowhere. Neither did Dante. This is not to state that all was wonderment in the Middle Ages and bliss. But it certainly was period no darker than our own – one beset by irrational stupidities and cult worship.

Keep in mind as well that the medieval European had to fight off 4 waves of Barbarians in a civilisational fight to the death. The Moslem cult attacked from the south spreading war, slavery and socio-economic devastation for 1000 years. The Vikings descended from the north over a 200 year period plundering and murdering and even linking up with the Moslems in the white-slave trade. The Avars and Central Asian-Turkic invasions lasted 400 years in various waves and could easily have wiped out most of central Europe. In the 13th century the Mongols could well have conquered to the Rhine if not for the timely death of their Khan thus saving Europe from the Mongolian yoke. In spite of these military and civilisational challenges Europe endured, evolved and prospered. By 1000 AD it was the richest and most advanced society on the planet. One poised to rule the world. This is in spite of Burckhardt's interpretation and that of the 'Enlightenment'. Facts are indeed stubborn things.

 


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