Idealism took as its premise God, the supreme ideal, above the universe, of which this physical world was mere imitation. Plato, the supreme Idealist, also recognized that ideas, themselves, contribute to our understanding, but also fall short by omissions whereby they fail to include the totality of evident fact. He therefore suggested the duty of tolerance. It is true, it seems, that our ideas which are grounded in experience, are mere apprehensions (or imitations) of that experience. But the source of that apprehension or imitation is not an ideal existing above the world, but rather the experience, itself, within this world. Language symbolizes experience, exemplifies it, and even intensifies it. Language never equals experience.
(Personal note 7‑23‑90.)
Idealism and suffering
But not withstanding these helps from God, I found myself a man encompassed with infirmities; the parting with my wife and poor children hath often been to me in this place as the pulling of the flesh from the bones; and that not only because I am somewhat too fond of these great mercies, but also because I should have often brought tomy mind the many hardships, miseries, and wants that my poor family was like to meet with, should I be taken fromthem; especiallymy poor blid child, who lay nearer my heart than all beside. Oh, the thoughts of the hardships which my oor blind one might undergo, would seem to break my heart in pieces. Poor child, thought I, what sorrow art thoy like to hae for thy portion in this world! thou must be beaten, must beg, suffer hunger, cold, nakedness, and a thousand calamities, though I cannot now endure the wind should blow upon thee. But yet, recalling myself, thought I, I must venture you all with God, though it goeth to the quick to leave you. Oh, I saw in this condition I was a man who was pulling down his house upon the heads of his wife and children; yet, thought I, I must do it, Imust do it; and now I though on those two milch kind that were to carry the ark of God into another country, and to leave their calves behind them. I Samuel 6:10 ‑ John Bunyan
NOTEON BUNYAN: Born to a tinker in 1628, his formal education was but two elementary school grades. He had a serious guilt‑complex, ever suffering under the burden of his weighty sins. His first wife was deeply religious and introduced him to pious literature. He became a deacon, and two years later began to preach, first against Quaker mysticism. His first wife died, and he remaried. One of his children was a blind daughter whom he loved tenderly. In November 1660 he was imprisoned, where he made shoe laces to support his family, gave religious instruction to his fellow prisoners, and wrote books, including Pilgrim’s Progress. In prison he said: “If you would let me out today, I should preach tomorrow!”
Campbell tells of overhearing a social philosopher in Japan ask a Shinto priest, “We’ve been now to a good many ceremonies and have seen quite a few of your shrines. But I don’t get your ideology.” “I don’t think we have ideology,” the priest answered. “We don’t have theology. We dance.”
Joseph Campbell, Introduction to The Hero’s Adventure
Man transfers his own passions and qualities to the idol. The more he impoverishes himself, the greater and stronger becomes the idol. The idol is the alienated form of man’s experience of himself. . . . The contradiction between idolatry and the recognition of God is, in the last analysis, that between the love of death and the love of life.
Erich Fromm, You Shall Be as Gods
The Talmud says: “Whoever denies idolatry is as if he fulfilled the whole Torah” (Hullin 5a).
Erich Fromm, You Shall Be as Gods
Immortality believed in for the sake of comfort is not genuine immortality. . . . It is imposed on people from the outside. They soon forget about it, preferring to stifle their fear of death by refusing to think about it. But the man who dares to live his life with death before his eyes, the man who receives life back bit by bit and lives as though it did not belong to him by right but has been bestowed on him as a gift, the man who has such freedom and peace of mind that he has overcome death in his thoughts ‑ such a man believes in eternal life because it is already his, it is a present experience, and he already benefits from its peace and joy.
No one has ever come back from the other world. I can’t console you, but one thing I can tell you, as long as my ideals are alive I will be alive.
Inquisition, the rack
J. Bronowski, The Ascent of Man, quotes William Lithgow’s account of his experience on the rack, tearing sinews of joints: I was brought to the rack, then mounted on the top of it. My legs were drawn through the two sides of the three‑planked rack. a chord was tied about my ankles. as the levers bent forward, the main force of my knees against the two planks burst asunder the sinews of my hams, and the lids of my knees were crushed. My eyes began to startle, my mouth to foam and froth, and my teeth to chatter like the doubling of a drummer’s sticks. My lips were shivering, my groans were vehement, and blood sprang from my arms, broken sinews, hands and knees. being loosed from these pinnacles of pain, I was hand‑fast set on the floor, with this incessant imploration: ‘Confess! Confess!’
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