The Puritan Mind

The Puritan Mind

The Puritan Mind

The Puritan Mind

Excerpt

The perspectives of history are ever shifting, for human experience, being itself continually subject to change, affords no fixed point of reference for the mind. Not only does each generation find itself compelled to interpret a more or less alien past by the categories of the present, but even this specious present is itself unintelligible unless it be illuminated by the past. Neither the mental world nor the physical has a center and a circumference. The motion of bodies must be measured from points themselves in motion, and the meanings of events are themselves events in a constantly shifting scene. History is, therefore, a world of dark objects pretending to shine by their own reflected light. Past and present are in themselves alike mysterious, but they mysteriously illuminate each other; and though things are never intelligible in themselves, they nevertheless make each other intelligible. This ancient paradox of the human understanding has been celebrated by philosophers from time immemorial. Had they accepted the paradox as a fact, instead of celebrating it as a mystery, the world might contain more wisdom and less philosophy. It may be, as Emerson claims, that "the invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common," but it cer-

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.