Thursday, November 15, 2012

Happy feast of St. Albert the Great!

On this day when we recall one of the truly great minds of history, a great scholar, writer, historian, naturalist - a scientist in so many ways - we should pause and think about education - yes, education writ large, as Father Jaki liked to phrase it. For Science is just the Latin word for knowledge, and education is about communicating knowledge to others. Since I have a lot going on just now, I will give you some meat from Chesterton to chew on. In the first, he is rebutting Shaw's wacky view about the Middle Ages - a view far too many people have even now: is not true, to begin with, that mediaeval education was not a release, or was not an invitation to participate. It is rather particularly and peculiarly untrue. If ever men did regard learning as a release, I should say it was those eager students of Paris and Oxford who found the whole world illuminated for them by the universal sun of Aristotle. If ever men were invited to participate it was those crowds of poor scholars who came to the feasts of Abelard and Albertus Magnus. Nobody with the least living logic in his head can read the greatest of the Schoolmen without realising the true relish of intellectual activity; the appetite for the abstract. Nobody with the least popular sympathy in his heart who reads of those ragged crowds, living on crusts and onions at the Sorbonne and the other colleges, solely for the sake of the wine of words to be poured into them, can fail to recognise the one historic case of real popular education. To represent this learning as a leaden and crushing dogma, imposed by priests, is to go against every detail, every humour, every song, every satire of the period. It was perhaps the only period in which the word "grammar" had a fresh and festive sound, as of the flowers of spring. The mood was most certainly not one of subjugation; and the mind was only subjugated in the sense that the mind was instructed. And what else can you do with the mind, except leave it uninstructed, or give it some particular kind of instruction? For the real question here is not that of mediaeval education but of modern education, or any education. If a man really objects to every kind of subjugation of the mind, his consistent and respectable course would be to object to any kind of education.
[GKC ILN Sept 25 1920 CW32:96]
Just one other brief quote - which is so descriptive of the truths of that great era - and also so suggestive about what may someday come for us who love Albert and Albert's work - and Albert's Lord:
...the greatest of all German Professors, Albertus Magnus, was himself one of the glories of the University of Paris; and it was in Paris that Aquinas supported him.
[GKC St. Thomas Aquinas CW2:444-5]
St. Albert the Great, pray for us, and lead us to the supreme knowledge taught by the One Teacher.

Oh yes, by the way, I have today released the eighth part of my Saga: Os Olhos do Condor. See here for more information or to order it.


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