quinta-feira, 29 de agosto de 2013

Tradição, Renascimento, e Hannah Arendt


We need no longer be concerned with [the] scorn for the “educated philistines”, who all through the nineteenth century tried to make up the loss of authentic authority with a spurious glorification of culture. To most people today this culture looks like a field of ruins which, far from being able to claim any authority, can hardly command their interest. This fact may be deplorable, but implicit in it is the great chance to look upon the past with eyes undistracted by any tradition, with a directness which has disappeared from Occidental reading and hearing ever since Roman civilization submitted to the authority of Greek thought. [... <—]

The discovery of antiquity in the Renaissance was a first attempt to break the fetters of tradition, and by going to the sources themselves to establish a past over which tradition would have no hold.

Hannah Arendt. (1968) Between Past and Future: Tradition and the Modern World. Penguin. P28/25


Humanists of the fifteenth century [...] articulated an entirely new, lay view of Christian society that fused traditional Christian values with the civic values of the ancient pagan world. While they offered no direct challenge to the ecclesiastical polity of the Church and evaded issues of church and state, much of what they said had the effect of undermining the political claims of the late medieval Church. Often hiding behind the personæ of interlocutors in their dialogues, humanists called into question the ideological bases of clericalism, hierarchy, monasticism and the subordination political to religious ends. Sometimes humanist criticism of contemporary Christianity presented itself as a movement of reform, an attempt to return to the supposedly purer Christianity of the ancient world; sometimes it appears that preserving clerical orthodoxies was of less concern to humanist intellectuals than recovering the glories of classical civilization. In any case, it is clear that, at least in some matters, lay Christians were beginning to mount a serious intellectual resistance to the tutelage of their clerical superiors.

The emergence of a new humanist vision of Christian society had one other effect that is significant for the history of political thought. Humanist cultural criticism presented its audience with a choice between a powerful, united and highly civilized Golden Age in ancient Italy and a weak, corrupt and divided contemporary world. When preening themselves on their own achievements or flattering a prince, humanists praised the triumph of classical values over 'medieval' or 'Gothic' rudeness. In both cases, the mere existence of alternatives itself undermined the chief support of any traditional society: its inability to recognize the value and the possibility of other ways of doing things. The humanists' 'culture war' turned that inability into possibility, even actuality. Their intimate knowledge of another culture, their habit of comparing that culture with their own age, their realism and their habit of arguing both sides of a question led in the end to an incipient form of cultural relativism. [...] A major lesson of cultural relativism, of course, is that what one is in the habit of thinking of as a given of nature may in fact be a product of culture. And what belongs to culture, not nature, is within human power to change. Applied to the sphere of high culture, the will to reject tradition and embrace change can lead to a Renaissance; applied to the political sphere, it can lead to a Utopia.

James Hankins. (1996) Humanism and Modern Political Thought in Cambridge Companion to Renaissance Humanism. CUP P127-128

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