INTRODUCTION TO SECTION I

To steal, to give birth to an idea, to break away from world parents in order to carve out a life for oneself requires an heroic or Promethean personality. Such patterns of behavior have been experienced on a creative level by inventors and innovators during the course of the centuries, and psychologically by those who seek to earn their independence from forces that would overwhelm them to become integrated individuals.

Promethean "fire stealers" are nourished by a "divine" flame that compels them to burn through the fabric of the known world into the preformed or the void. In this penumbra they extract their "ideas" from infinite possibilities. They steal their "treasure" from the world of the absolute, or God's domain, and return with it to the phenomenological sphere while uprooting established values and norms.

Prometheus may be considered the prototype of those who desire to learn God's secrets, to become His equal either consciously or unconsciously, and to break out of the finite realm into the infinite. It is the Promethean element that causes certain persons to seek beyond the known--to look for the elixir of life, the philosopher's stone, God's wisdom. This Promethean syndrome compels them to become "creators" not only of things but also of beings such as an automaton, a robot, or an homunculus. By nourishing the idea that through certain religious disciplines man may evolve into a more perfect individual to experience and understand the domain of the absolute, that he may also be able to create man, diminishes his sense of powerlessness and encourages him to believe he has the ability to transcend his finitude.

Promethean types are not lacking in the Middle Ages, either in the realms of theology or science or both, because at the time, theology was considered a science. Men such as Albertus Mag

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The Prometheus Syndrome
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • By the Same Author ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Table of Contents vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes 10
  • Chapter 1: Prometheus 11
  • Notes 49
  • Section I Man as Creator *
  • Introduction to Section I 51
  • Chapter 2: Albertus Magnus 55
  • Chapter 3: Paracelsus 75
  • Chapter 4: Rabbi Judah Loew 97
  • Chapter 5: Goethe's Faustian Physics and Metaphysics (1749-1832) 133
  • Section II the Ordeal of Reason *
  • Introduction to Section II 155
  • Chapter 6: Voltaire's Micromégas 161
  • Chapter 7: Balzac's in Search of the Absolute (1799-1850) 185
  • Chapter 8: Hermann Hesse 207
  • Section III Toward Integration *
  • Introduction to Section III 237
  • Chapter 9: Malraux 239
  • Conclusion 267
  • Selected Bibliography 271
  • Index 279
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