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Struggle of Faith and Reason: A History of Intolerance and Punitive Censorship

Part II: From Mediaeval Cathars to Giordano Bruno and Lucilio Vanini

Juhani Sarsila

Humanists look up to Hellas as the cradle of European culture. The book spans nearly five centuries of a later epoch of this worthy tradition. Starting with the awesome high-mediaeval Cathars, the exposition proceeds in chronological order. Eventually, we meet Giordano Bruno and Lucilio Vanini, both of them red-letter heretics. The work affords cognisance of a neglected branch of learning. History of morals in general, and that of the struggle of faith and reason in particular, provides in-depth insights into the allotted fate of dissentient man. A potentially fateful nexus appears to be interweaving between book and author. Organised religion is evermore based on the politically beneficial idea of anthropomorphism or metaphysical projection. For has Man not made God in his image?

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An exponent of Ancient Skepticism, Sextus Empiricus had effrontery enough to articulate that the mills of the gods grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly fine. Praisers of facebook-age rationalism and a cohort of technolatrous optimists jointly suggest that Sextus’ rhetorical argument means that justice may turn out to be slow; yet it will come eventually, no matter whose justice it would be all about. At any rate, one could argue for sure that Sextus, as a matter of course, failed to hit the nail on the head. Namely, the antipodal opposite is at least as weighty an argument: When it comes to the lot of close to all mortals, they, as a rule, remain short of frequent blessings of justice – or a number of continual pleasures, sensual, or intellectual, let alone great prosperity and the subsequent envy of gods.

On the other hand, howbeit, justice is to be adjudged the most superlative social virtue, rarely manifested by historical man. The same applies to the three other cardinal virtues, tellingly prudence, temperance and, last but not least, fortitude, all of which date back to Socrates and Plato’s moral philosophy. These four qualities of the soul or spirit come to the fore in the present volume, as they were fated to do so in the first volume, released on March 9, 2020, fortuitously aside with the covid-19 pandemia that has since lingered over my person and my work, denying me the access to libraries! Besides each virtue, displayed...

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