“There is an implication to calling eros a mediative power that unites the lowest with the highest in man; that links the natural, sensual, ethical and spiritual elements; that prevents one element from being isolated from the rest; that preserves the quality of true humanness in all the forms of love from sexuality to agape. The implication is that none of these elements can be excluded as inappropriate to man, that all of them “belong”. The great tradition of Christendom even holds that those aspects of man which derive from his nature as a created being are the foundation for everything “higher” and for all other divine gifts that may be conferred upon him. “It is not the spiritual that comes first but the sensuous-earthly and then the spiritual”–if one were unfamiliar with this quotation, one would scarcely guess that it comes from the New Testament (1 Cor 15:46). Furthermore, Thomas Aquinas, the last great teacher of a still undivided Western Christendom, says that were natural love (amor), or eros, not something good in itself, then caritas (agape) could not perfect it. Rather, agape would have to discard and excluded eros (which Anders Nygren asserts that it does). That same tradition we call “Western” in the specific sense of being not unworldly but rather characterized by a “worldliness” founded on a religious and theological basis–that tradition speaks with complete matter-of-factness of sexuality as a good. It says, with Aristotle, that there is something divine in the human seed. And unresponsiveness to sensual joy, insensibilitas, is treated not only as a defect but also as a vitium, a moral deficiency. On the other hand, the underlying conception implies that all of man’s powers, and especially sexuality, can remain “right” and “in order” only in their natural place, which is to say, within the wholeness of physical-spiritual-mental existence. Once again we call to mind the mediative and integrating functions of eros. (more…)
Archive for July, 2007
“O God, who has prepared for them that love thee such good things as pass man’s understanding; Pour into our hearts such love toward thee, that we, loving thee above all things, may obtain they promises which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
MANY lands saw Zarathustra, and many peoples: thus he discovered the
good and bad of many peoples. No greater power did Zarathustra find on
earth than good and bad.
No people could live without first valuing; if a people will
maintain itself, however, it must not value as its neighbour valueth.
Much that passed for good with one people was regarded with scorn
and contempt by another: thus I found it. Much found I here called
bad, which was there decked with purple honours.
Never did the one neighbour understand the other: ever did his
soul marvel at his neighbour’s delusion and wickedness.
A table of excellencies hangeth over every people. Lo! it is the
table of their triumphs; lo! it is the voice of their Will to Power.
It is laudable, what they think hard; what is indispensable and hard
they call good; and what relieveth in the direst distress, the
unique and hardest of all,- they extol as holy.
Whatever maketh them rule and conquer and shine, to the dismay and
envy of their neighbours, they regard as the high and foremost
thing, the test and the meaning of all else. (more…)