Imatges de pÓgina

herited from the Middle Ages. The Greek soul is at home in its body. The Greek intellect does not despise the body with its sensations and its emotions. This is why sculpture is the natural medium of Greek


Civilization with its growing emphasis on reflection disturbed the unity of mind and body which existed among all the earlier forms of human life. In the face of the Hermes of Praxiteles there is a baffling look, an abstracted gaze, a mental detachment, which is not seen in the earlier Greek statues. It is the reflection in art of the Socratic spirit. The world had begun to look within. Aristotle speaks of the new epoch that was opened when reflection brought to light intelligence or knowledge as the greatest thing in the world.

This Socratic point of view resulted in a new estimate of man. Men ceased to describe and estimate the shoulders, thighs, chests, arms, and legs after the manner of Homer. They ceased to go to the gymnasium to improve and train the body. They went rather to the mental gymnasium of Plato or Aristotle. They estimated their fellows not by their ability to overcome their enemies in physical combat but by their superiority in reasoning. Not in one's use of the spear and the sword but in one's manipulation of the truths of mathematics and logic was to be found the proper criterion of value. Men began to think of themselves as primarily mental beings.

The old days when a religious group could dance itself into an overpowering consciousness of its god (II Sam. 6:16, Psa. 18:29) were in a distant past.

Not through instinct and emotion but through an inner spiritual knowledge, through the universal truths of the reason, had men come to find God.

This focusing of the mind on reason shifted the place of the bodily life in thought and conduct. Greek thought influenced by the Orient reorganized Roman and Christian and, in part, the Old Testament thought. The Book of Wisdom declares that the body weighs down the soul. The Christian conscience turned from the ideals incarnated in Greek statuary because the consciousness of the body had come to be associated with a sense of shame. St. Paul declares that in the flesh dwelleth no good thing. The marble baths which were symbolic of the glory of Greek and Roman life were taboo to the Christian mind. The philosopher Plotinus would not recognize his birthday because it symbolized his association with his body. Even Plato shared this mood at times and spoke of the body as the prison of the soul.

Perugino painted arrows in the beautiful body of his St. Sebastian thereby symbolizing the mediæval contempt for the flesh. An orientalized Greek philosophy had taught the world to find the real man in a spiritualized form of mind. The body had come to be a piece of coarse and vulgar clay.

Since the conscience of the West had professedly identified itself with the mind which was in Christ, since it had identified itself with the dying and bleeding body of its Lord, how could it dance like David or like the pagan Pan? If the hands and feet of the Lord of the new conscience were pierced with nails, if his breast was pierced with a spear, how could the Chris

tian world think of their bodies as did the pre-Christian Hebrew or Greek world? St. Paul boasted that he always carried about in his own body the dying of the Lord. And St. Francis with his blessed stigmata only experienced more gloriously what every sensitive Christian in his poor way felt to be true.

The art of Fra Angelico in which the mediæval spiritualization of the body reached its culmination aimed to express the ideal of pure form with the least possible concession to the physical body. Dürer's "Praying Hands" portrays the ideal of a soul struggling through asceticism to climb above the limitations of the flesh.

But the medieval dualism only served to augment an already accentuated consciousness of the human body. The brain that organizes the relation of the organism to its environment without a consciousness of strain has very little awareness of body as a physical thing. But consciousness, knowledge, art, arise only where a screen of imagery intervenes between the mind and its world. The brooding introversion of the mediævalists polished the mirror of introspection until the problem of mind and body was reflected with a clearness not known before.



The Newer Conscience Compromises with the State

From the fourth century to the Reformation the organized Catholic Church was the official religious organ of western civilization as embodied in states and empires. While the earlier world-denying type of Christianity lived on in the monastery there arose in the papacy an organization whose function it was to infuse the new Christian ideal into the institutions of society transmitted through Greek and Roman civilization. The Catholic Church was all that was left of the Roman Empire in which was conserved the culture of the ages.

Christianity with its abstract spirituality logically would have kept aloof from the forms of organized society, the state, the family, science and industry, because the predominant Greco-Roman bases of these social forms were contrary to the inner, spiritual freedom of the Christian man. This would have been the logical ideal; but this did not happen. The separation of the Christian Church from the actual social and political world could only be theoretical. What really happened was that the great historical civiliza

tions of the Greeks, Romans, and Germans furnished the medieval church with the forms through which it could partially interpret and express its new ideal. Christianity did not remain aloof from the social and political world as it did in the days of Paul, when it looked for the immediate coming of an inner spiritual kingdom. The Christian world soon came to be largely controlled by the intellectualistic type of Greek philosophy which was associated with the downfall of the Greek state. The ideal of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle was the social good, but their dialectic method was disintegratory in its bearing on the old social ideal. And the later Greek philosophic schools, the Stoics, the Epicureans and Sceptics, emphasized the doctrine of the independence of the so-called external world. It was this type of Greek philosophy that so largely controlled the ideal of early Christian thought. But as the Christian community gradually evolved into the Christian Church as an organization, this abstract separation from the social and political world became more theoretical than actual. Christianity was unable to maintain its attitude of independence of the world. The passage of these early centuries shows that the Christian Church was simply overawed by Roman law and by Greek culture, and that later on she received new vigor from the fresh, strong, social life of the Germanic people. "When Christianity 1 began to develop as a permanent historical form of life, when the expectation of an early end of the world failed to be realized, the positive elements were unfolded." The Christian ideal began to permeate the forms of the 1 Paulsen's Ethics, p. 168.


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