The Sarabite: Towards an Aesthetic Christianity

There is a continuous attraction, beginning with God, going to the world, and ending at last with God, an attraction which returns to the same place where it began as though in a kind of circle. -Marsilio Ficino

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Letting the Laws Sleep

From Pierre Hadot's book, The Inner Citadel

"....the formula 'to let the laws sleep' was a proverbial expression, meaning that, in case of serious crises, we must resign ourselves to silencing our moral principles." (p. 13)

"When Apollonius died before Marcus became emperor, the latter was deeply grieved, and wept abundantly. The courtiers reproached Marcus for his demonstration of affection, probably because they considered his philosophical pretensions to be a joke, and wanted to show him that he was being unfaithful to his own principles. However, the emperor Antoninus Pius said to them: 'Let him be a man. Neither philosophy nor the Empire can uproot affections.'" (p. 15)

Since the rise of absolutist ideologies, we moderns (or post-moderns) have become more and more inflexible about our supposed "principles". Any breech of logic or behavior is taken advantage of and used in polemics against others. True, this is merely part of fallen human nature. We, however, through psychoanalysis and other modern tools, have exalted it to an art.

As I have cited, the knowledge of our own weaknesses is the starting point of true wisdom. We are human beings first, not pawns in ideological or theological games. You have to be a human being before you can be a saint or a sage, and I don't think people understand that anymore.

This is all a question of balance, of course. But we are indeed in a time of crisis, and will have to let the laws sleep more and more.