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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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8. Possible sources of Comenius’s conception

Extract

At the very conclusion of the present volume, it only remains to discuss the phil- osophical and theological sources of Comenius’s remarkable anthropology. Comenius’s pre-pansophic and pansophic view of man as a being defined by reason is essentially Aristotelian. It reached Comenius through his teacher Johann Heinrich Alsted. There are a number of striking similarities between Comenius’s treatises from the aforementioned periods and Alsted’s works, simi- larities related to anthropology and several other aspects.866 Comenius’s works of consolation are clearly indebted – in terms of both form and content – to the works of Justus Lipsius, Johannes Valentinus Andreae, and Jakob Böhme.867 With regard to Comenius’s anthropological pessimism and his early concept of resignatio, we might consider the influence of Sebastian Franck, Johann Arndt and Valentin Weigel.868 Comenius’s late conception of man, however, deserves much more attention. In addition to the impulses we touched upon earlier in the present volume, the ideas about the dignity of man’s free will and the open-endedness of man’s des- tiny (as well as a number of other important anthropological considerations) had already been articulated by the founding fathers of Christian philosophy.869 In his treatise De ressurectione, Pseudo-Justin says that man is a triune being composed of soul, spirit, and body (however, an antecedent to this can already be found in the Scripture, see e.g. 1 Thess. 5:23). Similar assertions appear in Irenaeus’ Adversus heareses, in which we can find, for example, the idea that if man lives for his body alone, he remains corporeal...

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