The Scale of Perfection, Book 2, Part 1 – Chapter 1

dohpeterchina's picture

SECTION I: That a Man is the Image of God after the Soul and not after the Body; and how he is restored and reformed thereto that was misshapen by Sin
SECTION II: That Jews and Pagans and also false Christians are not reformed effectually through the virtue of the Passion through their own Faults

These are chapters 1 to 3 of The Scale of Perfection – Book 2 in Middle English:
This chapitle scheweth that a man is seid the image of God aftir the soule and not aftir the bodi.
Hou it nedide to mankynde that oonli thorugh the passioun of oure Lord it schulde be restorid and reformed that was forsaken bi the first synne.
That Jewes and paynymes and also fals Cristene men are not reformed effectuali thorugh vertu of this passioun for here owen defaute.

jnwarren's picture


    For the record, I did not say you were blind, or imply it. Those were two different posts from two different people.

Yes-- I suppose I was trying to kill two birds with one stone--sorry if that came off directed towards you: it was not.

    The part of your post, which is rich with excellent points and ideas, which interests me the most, is where you highlight religion as continent upon history and society, inseparable from empirical or material elements. But what isn't? What human endeavor is not? Technology certainly is not separate, as you pointed out. Science certainly is not separate. The philosophies--which you seemed to dismiss out of hand because the connotations of language change over time--of Plato, Nietzsche, Kant, and uncounted others are likewise contingent upon history and society. Why do you esteem the political and philosophical writings of individuals but dismiss religion or religions as simply finite expressions bound to space and time and therefore inadequate to fixing human problems? It sounds like you're judging religion based on a modern socio-political/philosophical criteria which falls victim to its own analysis, at the precise point where it determines that finite expressions of infinite perception are inadequate expressions demanding redress.

No, this is not always the case: I learned much more from Wittgenstein in regards to this than anyone else. I was directed to read him by an acquaintance on a left-radical Internet forum which I joined last year as I first began reading Marx. She is an avid writer and author of several lengthy essays on the nature of traditional historical problems, which she addresses from a Wittgensteinian perspective. I am reading her third and thirteenth essays at the present, which cover objective truth and the idea of meaning respectively. I encourage you to take a look: hereand here

This is true, to an extent; some heavyweight somewhere suggested that the one universal constant is change, a paradox--religion of course changes, even if dogmas attempt to prevent that change from happening.

Yes, I believe that was Jean-Paul Sartre: don't listen to him. Someone forgot to feed him one day and he broke out of his cage. His "Critique of Dialectical Reason" makes about as much sense as the back of a cereal carton (and at least you get a pair of cut-out 3D glasses from those!).

    Mysticism is in a sense precisely this--the perception that religion, the forms and manner of religion, its images and persons, its theologies and dogmas, are finite expressions of the infinite, and that to perceive the infinite and to become the infinite you must transcend those limited and limiting doctrines.

Again, Wittgenstein would argue that this belief--in a "representation of the 'infinite'" stems from a misuse of the word 'infinite', and that this mistake has led to huge errors in reasoning by philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, Aurelius, Anselm, Augustine, Aquinas, Eriugena, Descartes, Leibniz, Kant, Fichte, Hegel and many others. They've been clutching for thousands of years to belief in the same nonsensical abstraction as if it were their most valuable possession!

    You might like Huston Smith's "The World's Religions." There's some great stuff about mysticism across religious lines in there.

I'll check it out.

    But the monkish orders which you mentioned, the Franciscans and the whatnots--there is no reason to assume that all monks or nuns hid from the world; rather we could say that many of them found the internal world to be more "real" than the overarching political entities which binds human society together.

But, again, they are making the same error in reasoning that led many Marxists to the failed project of "Dialectical Materialism": a belief that there exists a world "above" and "outside of" the world of mere appearances-- an irremediable logical fallacy! (In this regard, I advise you to read section 4 of Rosa's third essay, which i have linked to above.)

    Finally, you say you've heard many intellectual arguments for Christianity, and find them inadequate. So do I. Christianity is not only an intellectual pursuit. It is an experiential activity, and an existential one. It is necessary to separate what men say is Christianity from the spiritual material presented in Jesus Christ. This means not an unthinking embracing of a particular scriptural canon, a particular Christian orthodoxy or hierarchy, but--an easy task for someone like you--an examination of the historical and philosophical developments which led to the rise of a religion fusing together Judaic theology with Graeco-Roman cosmology and socio-political clout.

Well then, I would examine the reality of the history which the Church has led us to and realize that it has caused alot more harm than it has good and that, furthermore, the concept "God" is empty of meaning (taken in the specific definition of or relating to reference, as opposed to "I mean this" or "that means alot to me"), not that this is all that important ultimately. Nonetheless, I find the struggle for political representation and economic equality for the poor, oppressed workers a more important and substantive task, and, if those workers believe in views that are logically contradictory and irrational, then they will never divest themselves of their own exploitation, which is equally irrational, and, furthermore, tied to those beliefs! As far as regards religion, I think silence is much more effacatious tahn alot of rabble, and I would much rather devote my struggles to those aforementioned productive tasks tah contemplate this or that aspect of orthodoxy, as is so often the case in the Church.

    Christianity is not a set of doctrines from some denomination. Christianity is the suggestion that religion changes, and changes according to the divine impulse which dwells in the part of us that is eternal and immortal, the part that is subject to constant change.

Can you point out this divine impulse? Your theism is just as irrational as Heidegger's atheism, and full of just as many holes!

    I like what you said about situation ethics--and in a sense, you can find the same principle in Pauline epistles.

But Paul also condemned homosexuality, and said women should be subservient to their husbands! Would you listen to someone who said that today?

    The philosophies of men have not come as far in 2000 years as we sometimes like to think.

We finally agree on something.