Worth Keeping in Mind

When we say that a man belongs to a philosophical tradition, we do not mean that he merely repeats ideas that have come down to him in a mechanical sort of way—in such a case we could scarcely call him a philosopher. We mean that he accepts certain ideas of the past and restates them in terms of the significance that he ascribes to them. In interpreting his masters and predecessors he translates their doctrines into new language, reconstructing them according to his own views, altering them in more-or-less numerous details, now omitting, now adding certain essential elements. In the development of a philosophical tradition basic ideas are not merely repeated and passed along; they are continually adapted to the changing intellectual problems and needs of successive periods and thinkers.

-Paul Oskar Kristeller


3 thoughts on “Worth Keeping in Mind

  1. What’s interesting to me about finding this here on your blog is that you’re attracted to one approach for philosophy and an opposite approach to worship and theology (as explained in your recent post regarding the Regulative Principle.)

    Well, maybe you’re translating the Regulative Principle into new language. But the Regulative Principle itself as you’ve expressed it doesn’t allow for a “language of worship” to have expressed the content of the scriptures in the centuries of Christianity’s cultivation.

    I think this illustrates why culture itself can never be saved by Puritans. Puritans have this contradiction at the heart – the good life compromising with the savage religion. I say “savage” advisedly – Puritanism is the first “retreat to primitive” movement (everything that appears in culture begins in religion) but no one can retreat to a primitive state from a state of cultivation. Every retreat to primitive states just works out to savagery.

    I think it’s savage – and indecorous – to approach God without incense, if you can afford incense and have people who know the art of making incense. They’ve got incense in Heaven.

    I say this all in the friendliest spirit, believe it or not.

    1. I take your meaning; you think my friendliness makes me receptive to things I ought to reject.

      While I believe that no one can accurately reject the false until he has received the true; thus reception is the higher faculty.

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