Saturday, February 19, 2011

In Praise of Pagans

Vox recently ran this quote, and I admit, I love it.

"As for those who go in for self-indulgence and are slaves of their own bodies - people who measure everything they should seek and avoid in life by the yardstick of pleasure and pain - even if they are right (and there is no need to take issue with them here) let us tell them to preach in their own little gardens and let us ask them to keep away for a little while from any participation in public life, an area of which they know nothing and have never wished to know anything....

What can be more certain than this, that no one should be so stupid and arrogant as to believe that reason and intelligence are present in him but not in the heavens and the world? Or that those things which are barely understood by the highest intellectual reasoning are kept in motion without any intelligence at all? As for the person who is not impelled to give thanks for the procession of the stars, the alternation of day and night, the regular succession of the seasons, and the fruits which are produced for our enjoyment - how can such a person be counted as human at all?"

Cicero, one of the 'virtuous pagans'. And quotes like these help to illustrate why I have utter disdain for atheists and materialists, but feel more at home with sincere pagans, pantheists, panentheists, and more despite important disagreements. Being able to appreciate the world as the workings of a mind - even with greater particular metaphysics put aside - is central. It's not a rigorous argument that Cicero is laying out, but it has both its place and its power.

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