Scholastic Thought to Dull the Mind

Hugo of St. Victor, Didascalion:

Book I, Chapter I

On the Origin of the Arts

“Of all the things to be sought in this world, the first is wisdom, in which the form of the perfect good consists. Wisdom illuminates a person so that he may know himself, who was similar to others when he did not understand that he was made before others. Indeed, the immortal soul, illumined by wisdom, looks back upon its origin and recognizes how indecent it is, so that it seeks beyond itself for something for which that which it itself is could be enough. It is read on the tripod of Apollo, ‘gnoti sauton,’ that is, know thyself, because unsurprisingly if a person is not unremembering of his own origin, he may recognize everything which is subject to change, though it be nothing.

The approved opinion among philosophers holds that the spirit is composed from all parts of nature. The Timaeus of Plato formed “actuality” out of divided and undivided and mixed substance, and in the same way out of the same and diverse nature, and a mixed nature from both. For it catches both the initial elements and those things which follow the initial elements, because it comprehends the invisible causes of things through its intelligence, and it collects the visible forms of actual things through its sense impressions, and once it has been divided, it collects movement into two spheres, because it either moves out of the senses to sensible things, or it ascends to invisible things through intelligence. Then, pulling the similarities of things to itself it circles back, and this is because the same mind, which can take universal things, is put together from every substance and nature, because it represents the figure of similitude. For, it was the Pythagorean belief that similar things are comprehended by similar things, as clearly the rational soul could in no way comprehend all things unless it were composed of all things. In support of this, someone says

‘We comprehend the earth with our earthly being, the aether with flame, humor with liquid, and the air with our breath.’

LIBER PRIMUS

CAPUT I

De origine artium.

Omnium expetendorum prima est sapientia, in qua perfecti boni forma consistit. sapientia illuminat hominem ut seipsum agnoscat, qui ceteris similis fuit cum se prae ceteris factum esse non intellexit. [741D] immortalis quippe animus sapientia illustratus respicit principium suum et quam sit indecorum agnoscit, ut extra se quidquam quaerat, cui quod ipse est, satis esse poterat. scriptum legitur in tripode Apollinis: gnoti seauton, id est, cognosce te ipsum, quia nimirum homo si non originis suae immemor esset, omne quod mutabilitati obnoxium est, quam sit nihil, agnosceret. probata apud philosophos sententia animam ex cunctis naturae partibus asserit esse compactam. et Timaeus Platonis ex dividua et individua mixtaque substantia, itemque eadem et diversa, et ex utroque commixta natura, quo universitas designatur, entelechiam formavit. [742A] ipsa namque et initia et quae initia consequuntur capit, quia et invisibiles per intelligentiam rerum causas comprehendit, et visibiles actualium formas per sensuum passiones colligit, sectaque in orbes geminos motum glomerat, quia sive per sensus ad sensibilia exeat sive per intelligentiam ad invisibilia ascendat. ad seipsam rerum similitudines trahens regyrat, et hoc est quod eadem mens, quae universorum capax est, ex omni substantia atque natura, quo similitudinis repraesentet figuram, coaptatur. Pythagoricum namque dogma erat similia similibus comprehendi, ut scilicet anima rationalis nisi ex omnibus composita foret, nullatenus omnia comprehendere posset, [742B] secundum quod dicit quidam:

Terram terreno comprehendimus, aethera flammis, Humorem liquido, nostro spirabile flatu.

One thought on “Scholastic Thought to Dull the Mind

  1. I think it’s wonderful that someone is translating texts like Hugh of St Victor, but I think there are a very inaccuracies in the translation that you need to address. I would translate it in this way:
    “Of all the things to be sought in this world, the first is wisdom, in which the form of the perfect good consists. Wisdom illuminates a person so that he may know himself; he was similar to the rest since he did not understand that he was made before the rest. Indeed, the immortal soul, illumined by wisdom, looks back upon its origin and recognizes how unsuitable it is to seek something beyond oneself, to whom the fact that oneself exists should be enough. On Apollo’s tripod, we read ‘gnoti seauton,’ that is, ‘know thyself’, because unsurprisingly if a person be aware of his own origin, he would recognize that everything which is subject to change is as nothing.
    The approved opinion among philosophers holds that the soul is composed from all parts of nature. The Timaeus of Plato formed “actuality” out of divisible and indivisible and mixed substance, and in the same way it is the same and diverse, and its nature is a mixture of both, whereby is is designated a “totality”. For it receives both the initial elements and those things which follow the initial elements, because it both comprehends the invisible causes of things through its intelligence and collects the visible forms of actual things through its sense impressions, and once it has been divided, it collects movement into two spheres, because it either proceeds through the senses to sensible things, or it ascends to invisible things through intelligence. Then, drawing the likenesses of things to itself, it returns, and this is because the same mind, which is capable of universals, is fitted together out of every substance and nature so as to represent the form of likeness. For it was the Pythagorean teaching that like understands like, so that unless indeed the rational soul be composed of all things, it could in no way understand everything. About this someone says
    ‘We comprehend the earth with our earthly being, the aether with flame, humor with liquid, and the air with our breath

Leave a reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s