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The Conception of Man in the Works of John Amos Comenius

Series:

Jan Čížek

This book maps the entire development of Comenius’s considerations on man, from his earliest writings to his philosophical masterwork. Although this book primarily offers an analysis and description of the conception of man in Comenius’s work, it may also serve the reader as a more general introduction to his philosophical conception. The author shows that, in spite of the fact that Comenius has received no small amount of academic attention, funded studies or monographs in English language remain in single figures. Thus, a range of Comenius’s remarkable ideas are still unknown to the wider public.

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6. The conception of man in the works of the preparatory and pansophic periods

Extract

Having described Comenius’s conception of man embodied in the works of the panorthotic (later) period, we shall now focus on the Comenian anthropology of the earlier periods. We said that in its mature form, Comenius’s conception of man was based on the idea of a being defined (but not limited) by his na- ture, endowed with a free and unconquerable will, from which stems the open- endedness of human existence. The main defining feature of man’s nature was the mind: a tri-unity of central faculties – the will, reason, and agency, of which the most excellent was the unlimited will. We also pointed out that in the texts written after 1635 and during the first years of the following decade, Comenius still held his older anthropological views. For example, in Via lucis or in Panau- gia, man was described as a being defined not by the will, but by reason. We also saw that the definition of the human things (and of the problems that beset them) and the idea of universal emendation only crystallised during the 1640s. We shall now focus on Comenius’s initial anthropological views and on how they had developed before acquiring their mature (panorthotic) form that we have seen in the Consultatio catholica. 6.1 Theatrum universitatis rerum Comenius’s monumentally laid-out but unfinished and partially destroyed ency- clopedic work Theatrum universitatis rerum gives evidence of the author’s earli- est philosophical and theological views.749 Comenius probably worked on the treatise between the years 1616 and 1618, while drawing on...

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