A Letter from Heloise to Abelard
Heloise (1101 – 1164) was a student, lover and the secret wife of Pierre Abelard, about an unhappy love affair with which he tells in his “History of my disaster.”¯ After Abelard seduced his student and she bore him a son, her uncle forced him to marry her. But he made Heloise become a nun, so they were separated for long years. And these two proved how it is possible to love at a distance and how strong such love can be.
Having read the Abelard’s book Heloise decided to write her first message to Abelard. Like Abelard in the “History,”¯ she re-views her life, the meaning of which consists only in love for Abelard. And this love in her mind is inseparable from love for God. Heloise bases on Abelard’s own doctrine of sin: sin is not so much action as motivation to action. All Heloise’s actions are motivated by her selfless love for Abelard, and she also strived to belong to him entirely in terms of spiritual communication. Realizing that Abelard was linked with her not as much by love, as by passion, Heloise continued to appeal to his sense of great debt to her, because she refused from herself for his sake.
In the letters she was writing to Abelard she enclosed all her unspent love, affection and appreciation. She managed to convey the evident fact that to be chaste, one does not need to necessarily be physically chaste, because it is nothing compared to the spiritual chastity.
With love of Heloise and Abelard the era of the Renaissance started. The great epoch, which began with great love, gave the world the immortal works, written by Dante, who was also inspired by a well-known, and at the same time a little-studied feeling – love.
RenĆ© Descartes Selection: Meditations
This work, elegant in style and written by precise language, is replete with remarks in which the rich experience of the author is imprinted, as well as his knowledge of society, people and their behavior. Succinctly and eloquently, “Meditations”¯ describe the history of scientific development of a philosopher, principles and methods of his teaching. The work includes different views on the sciences, the basic rules of the method the author found, some of the rules of morality the author learned of this method, arguments proving the existence of God and the human soul, the basis of Descartes’ metaphysics, as well as an indication on what was necessary to do in order to advance the study of nature further than the author himself.
According to Descartes, the diversity of nature is so great, and the principles outlined above are so common and simple that the only difficulty is the possibility of withdrawing the causes in several different ways. The resolution of this problem is seen by Descartes in conducting new experiments. He states that gradually, we begin to intuitively feel at which angle of view it is necessary to approach the problem in order to carry out most of the necessary experiments at once. Thus, according to a greater or lesser ability to produce experiences the researcher will faster or slower advance in the understanding of nature.
Describing people engaged in science, Descartes marks that those who gradually reveal the truth in science, are similar to those who are getting richer and spend less labor on larger acquisitions, than they previously spent on much smaller ones, while they were poor. Developing his theory of method, Descartes was the founder of rationalism, i.e. the direction in the theory of knowledge according to which the universal and necessary character of truths of mathematics and natural sciences has its source not in the experience, but in reason. Thus, Descartes proclaimed the logical principles of rational knowledge – clarity and precision ”“ as the criteria of reliability.
August Comte’s Calendar
In 1849, Comte first represented his Positivist calendar of 13 months of 28 days each to the positivist society. Concrete divided the “concrete cult of humanity”¯ (turned to its separate historical representatives) into three degrees of dignity and 13 special groups, which corresponded to 13 months of the positivist lunar calendar. At the head of each group or each month, there was a primary historical figure or a saint, representing one or the other side or a phase in the overall historical development of the mankind, so that a month was named after these figures. Under each of them stood four secondary (according to Comte) figures of the same group, which were responsible for each of the four weeks, and finally, every day was devoted to a simple or the third-rate figure of the same group.
For example, the first month was devoted to Moses as the representative of the primitive theocracy, with 4 week holy figures: Numa Pompily, Buddha, Confucius and Mohammed. The consequent months were called after Homer, Aristotle, Archimedes, Caesar, St. Paul, Charlemagne, Dante, Gutenberg, Shakespeare, Descartes, Frederick II of Prussia, and Bichat.
Each year also had one extra day dedicated to honoring all the dead, and the additional leap year day was dedicated to the memory of all holy women. In addition, trying to create “positive”¯ surrogates to all the elements of Catholicism, Comte did not confine himself to creating positivist style of architecture or way to honor the cult of historical figures, but at the end of his life, added to his Great Being another great fetish – the world space as the subject of religion.