Tag Archives: reason

Sense, Sentiment, and Civilization

"Inferno, Canto XVIII" by Boticelli (c. 1500)
“Inferno, Canto XVIII” by Botticelli (c. 1500) illustrates the circle of fraud in Hell

Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics and Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy: Inferno examine ideals of morality, friendship, and happiness in ways that still ring true. Aristotle’s model is centered around the concept of kosmos (order) and telos (end or purpose), with nothing in excess. Human passions and desires are to be tempered by reason; likewise, human rationality is made complete by proper desires and sentiments. Dante follows Aristotle’s ideas and brings them further, demonstrating that passion— or as he terms it, love—is a good thing so long as it is directed toward its appropriate object and in proper measure. In both the Ethics and the Divine Comedy, true fellowship is found among the virtuous, who order their passions and sentiments according to what is good. In order to develop a wise and gracious character—from which springs wise and gracious discourse—one must learn to love and value the good in its appropriate measure, and to approach every subject with a humble understanding of one’s own limitation. Continue reading Sense, Sentiment, and Civilization

Developing the Habits to Learn: Logos, Thumos, and Eros

“The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts. The right defense against false sentiment is to inculcate just sentiments. By starving the sensibility of pupils we only make them easier prey to the propagandist when he comes.” – C. S. Lewis

Learning is a developed habit. Often, the university is viewed as a place that imparts an education aimed at the mind alone, or logos, reason. Developing a student’s ability to think clearly is the stated goal. But a person who thinks rightly (logos), and does not have a right spirit within them (thumos), or develop a virtuous appetite (eros), is not a whole person. A learned person, a whole person, is thus one who has learned to use reason, desire what is good, which can only be moderated by a right spirit. This is a tall order, especially if university education is conceived as only occurring in the classroom. Continue reading Developing the Habits to Learn: Logos, Thumos, and Eros