Saturday, October 14

Dante and the Doctrinal Fart

Aristotle is one of our Great Thinkers. Dante is one of our Great Writers. Dare I step up and contradict either of them on a moral basis?

Of course, my family will say 'yes!' because they are willing to hear all and sundry by the bar of experience and the truth we hold in common. My friends will only mumble 'well, you are going to anyway; you may as well do it out loud' and I sympathise with them even though I am not going to have mercy. This is my blog, after all.

Ok, down to business: Aristotle says that knowledge is 'l'ultima perfezione de la nostra anima'--the ultimate perfection of our soul. Dante, in his Convivio, says that he agrees with Aristotle (it's somewhere in the first paragraph). Yet, we know that Dante held beliefs of such a morality that allows only for love (not knowledge) to be the highest perfection of our souls.

If it isn't a doctrinal fart, we must assume that Dante was too easily tempted to opt out of a life of selfless dishwashing and rolling bandages. He lived a life of scholarly devotion which he defends throughout the Convivio as a part merely of his nature--therefore also avoiding responsibility for this decision to refrain from making himself vulnerable.

I have a tiny inkling of what it is like to struggle between a life of academics and a life of manual selflessness (if you really want a good essay on this try Dorothy Sayers' Gaudy Night). It isn't easy for those of us who are not naturally gifted conversationalists, who have not developed our abilities of graciousness and gracefulness (see Austen's Pride and Prejudice or get one of your girlfriends to recite the piano scene for you), who often find more of a spiritual connection to people through books than through the nitty-gritty of daily living. It is not easy, this struggle. There is some nobility in study, and to love studying is not wrong . . .

Read it on a wide demographic of blogs, whisper it to yourself when you are in pain, smell it in the steam off of home-made chicken soup: LOVE IS ALL WE HAVE!

2 comments:

anna. said...

psh. you stole that last line from the Beatles. :D

Anonymous said...

Don't listen to Anna, the correct line would have been "LOVE IS ALL WE NEED!" So you're safe.

-Geoff

P.S. Who farted doctrinally?