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Summaries of Acta Comeniana 27 (LI), 2013

Miquel Beltrán

God’s Essence and Attributes according to Some Jewish Thinkers in Renaissance Mantua

The aim of this paper is to give an account of some arguments used by Judah Moscato and other Mantuan Jewish thinkers of the Renaissance to equate God’s essence with the Supernal Torah, and to argue that nature can be considered as a realm in which God’s signs are ubiquitously stamped. According to Moscato’s Sermons, God transmits His spiritual energy to nature in such a way that He is in some manner all of the existents. Given so, man is required to search for the evidence of God in nature by means of his intellect, to decode the signs through which God unveils the eternal intelligible truths contained in the Supernal Torah. The Neoplatonic bias perceptible in the Kabbalistic works of Yohanan Alemanno and Abraham Yagel is also examined.

Jana Černá

(Non) plus ultra per Britannia: The Influence of Spanish Scholarship on Bacon’s Idea of the Restoration and Classification of the Sciences

This paper analyses the impact of Spanish Renaissance science (particularly natural history and cosmography) – or rather, its methodology – on the scientific thought of Francis Bacon. The aim of this study is to identify the features of Baconian thought that are similar to some of the concepts and practices of Spanish scholars (Francisco Hernandez, Juan Huarte de San Juan and cosmographers of the House of Trade in Seville). Specifically, the text tries to demonstrate the hypothetic influence of Spanish thought on Bacon's concepts of the institutionalisation of knowledge, empirical and experimental methods of scientific research, the idea that "power is knowledge" and the ways of classification of sciences. Some simplifications and misinterpretations of the Spanish roots of Baconian science (Cañizares-Esguerra, A. Barrera-Osorio, T. J. Reiss, D. Goodman and J. Pimentel) are also reappraised or refuted in this paper.

Petr Dvořák

Self-evident Propositions in Late Scholasticism: The Case of "God exists"

The paper explores the status of the proposition "God exists" in late scholastic debates of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in some key authors of the era. A proposition is said to be self-evident if its truth is known solely from the meaning of the terms and is not inferred from other propositions. It does not appear to be immediately evident from the terms that God exists, for the concept expressed by "God" is based on the relation to creatures and negation of imperfection and does not reach to the divine essence. Thomas Aquinas maintains that there are two types of self-evident propositions: those self-evident in themselves (secundum se) but not to us (non quoad nos) and those self-evident in themselves as well as to us. "God exists" is of the first type.
For Scotus a self-evident proposition is such that if its terms are conceived by any intellect, the truth of the proposition becomes known from the terms, non-inferentially. In his view there is no distinction between a self-evident proposition in itself and that in relation to us, because any proposition self-evident in itself is known to be such to any intellect, even though it might not be actually known; it would be known, provided that the terms are conceived. So for Scotus the sentence "God exists" expresses different propositions for the blessed in heaven, the angels and God on the one hand and humans on the other. The former is self-evident, the latter is not.
While later scholastics accept either the solution of Thomas or that of Scotus, according to which "God exists" is not self-evident for humans, Thomas de Argentina (also known as Thomas of Strasbourg, 1275-1357) differs in that for him "God exists" is self-evident for humans too. The position of Thomas Aquinas was defended by Domingo Bañez (1528–1604), Francisco Zumel (1540–1607) and Gregorio de Valentia (1549–1603). In contrast, Johannes Poncius (John Punch or Ponce, 1603–1661, also 1599–1672) was a famous adherent of Scotus. There is a fair number of scholastics harmonizing the doctrine of Thomas and Scotus: Bernard Sannig (1638–1704), Luis de Molina (1536–1600), Gabriel Vázquez (c. 1549–1604), Rodrigo de Arriaga (1592–1667) and Jean Lalemandet (1595–1647). According to these authors, when Thomas says that "God exists" is self-evident in itself, he speaks about the extensional proposition, i.e. the state of affairs being conceptualized, which does not contradict Scotus's teaching.

Jan Malura

The Reception of German Contemplative Literature in Protestant Circles of Late Humanist Bohemia

The study deals with early modern literary works whose purpose was to improve the private devotion of the laity. In German-speaking lands, the term used for this genre is Erbauungsliteratur; in Czech-speaking lands it is called nábožensky vzdělavatelná literature (religious educational literature). There was a real boom of this type of literature in the German-speaking Protestant countries from the 1580s. This paper analyses how printed production in the Czech language coped with this phenomenon. It focuses primarily on books in which the genre of mediation dominates, and explores the prompt reaction to two authors active between approximately 1580–1620 who found intensive response in the Bohemian Lands. One was the non-conformist writer Martin Moller (1547–1606), whose activity was connected primarily with Lower Silesia. His two books written in German were published in Czech as early as 1593. One was the První díl Meditationes (First Part of Meditationes), compiled predominantly from the meditations of medieval mystics (translated by Tobiáš Mouřenín of Litomyšl); the other a volume of Passiontide meditations, Soliloqvia de Passione Iesu Christi (translated by Daniel Adam of Veleslavín). Our second author is the influential theologian of Lutheran orthodoxy Johann Gerhard (1582–1637), who worked mainly at the university in Jena and wrote in Latin. Gerhard's contemplative work was issued in a Czech version for the first time in 1616, under the title Padesátero přemyšlování duchovní (Fifty spiritual meditations). It was translated by the otherwise unknown burgher Pavel Lykaon Kostelecký from the Old Town of Prague. Gerhard uses impact of affects and elaborate rhetoric, and understands meditation as the comfort and healing of the sick soul. The dominant aim of the books analysed was not denominational influence, but the deepening of the burgher's private spiritual life and his self-improvement. The translations at the same time raise Czech religious prose to a new stylistic level, founded on linguistic expressiveness. The impulses of German contemplative literature later bore fruit in the work of Comenius, especially in his so called consolation writings of the 1620s and 1630s. From the 1710s, further interest in the more sophisticated writings on meditation can be traced in the Czech and Slovak environment, that is, among the Protestant exiles and Lutherans in Upper Hungary.

Markéta Klosová

School Theatre after Comenius: Šebestián Macer and the Leszno Plays (1641–1652)

The article is devoted to dramas performed at the school in Leszno in the 17th century, especially in the 1640s and 1650s – that is, during the rectorate of Šebestián Macer of Letošice. According to surviving sources, the number of plays produced then, in comparison with the preceding era when Comenius was rector, definitely did not decrease. The tendencies established by Comenius's play Diogenes of 1640 continued in the next period. In the Macer era, first, a number of secular elements (e.g. in the play Hercules monstrorum domitor) were introduced in plays performed on the Leszno stage; secondly, at that time too, factual teaching material was adapted into a play (Macer's dramatisation of Comenius's Janua). That was in harmony with the practice of a number of Polish and Silesian schools at the time, which presented actus oratorii, in principal composed rhetorical productions that in some cases adapted the teaching material.

Josef Kadeřábek

Esteemed Friends, Heretics, Traitors:
Changes in the Perception of Post-White Mountain Émigrés from Slaný

This study addresses a previously unexamined aspect of post-White Mountain exile: the way the image of those who had left the Bohemian lands gradually changed in their original social environment. The author carries out an analytical probe into the particular social environment of the Royal Town of Slaný, from which one of the largest waves of refugees from the Kingdom of Bohemia left for Saxony in the 1620s. Drawing on provincial, municipal and church sources, he endeavours to show how the picture of the local exiles gradually changed from a thoroughly tolerant attitude to one of unequivocally negative rejection. Several factors lay behind this change. Heavy pressure from above, at provincial and patrimonial level, was put to bear on the Slaný burghers, spreading a negative image of the exiles. After 1635, in connection with the alliance concluded between the Emperor and the Saxon Elector, this pressure differentiated. From below, it first took the form of an attempt by individual townspeople to acquire – by circulating a negative image of the exiles – social and financial benefits in the newly forming post-White Mountain society. This shift was later supported by a wave of popular religiosity evoked by the events of the Thirty Years War, by generational change, and by a complete transformation of local denominational identification and collective identity. The author would like in his further work to compare this local probe into the urban environment with research into urban communities with a different social dynamic and geography, and later to undertake similar research in the context of the lower and upper nobility.

Eva Hajdinová

Bohemian Non- Catholics and Languedoc nouveaux convertis: Prophetic and Sectarian Movements in a Comparative Perspective

The culminating confessional rivalries in the early 17th century provided fertile ground in much of Europe, especially Central Europe, for visions of the imminent End of the World and Christ's Second Coming. This paper offers a new perspective for the well-known topic and compares the eschatological visions in the 17th and 18th centuries of the Bohemian non-Catholics and emigrants on the one hand and the secret Huguenots on the other. While the belligerent apocalyptic visions in the Bohemian environment saw a turning point and an opportunity to overthrow the Antichrist in the imminent coming of an allied Protestant ruler destined by God and this continued until the end of the 18th century, the French Protestant prophecies appealed almost exclusively to the glory of Christ and his rule on Earth. Despite significant differences in the religious practice and historical contexts of the two cases, we observe not only very similar physical manifestations in the prophets' behaviour but also, thanks to these ideas, a renewal of the declining piety of the believers and the reactivation of the underground religious movement. In both environments the apocalyptic visions have been heavily criticized by legal ecclesiastical authorities in exile. Disciplinary interventions against these heterodox ideas had however a completely different result, playing a significant role in the process of legalization of Protestant worship at the end of the period in question.

Nicolette Mout

Consolation at Night: Jan Patočka and his Correspondence with Comeniologists

Jan Patočka (1907–1977) approached Johannes Amos Comenius as a fellow-philosopher, while admiring him also for his intellectual and moral steadfastness. He studied Comenius as a philosopher from the thirties onwards, stressing the latter's unique position in the history of Czech and European thought. Patočka's many Comeniological publications were analysed and highly appreciated by fellow-Comeniologists.
In the first volume, containing correspondence with Czech friends and colleagues, letters start in the early thirties, but Comeniology, including the vicissitudes surrounding the edition of Comenius's complete works, come to the fore from the late fifties onwards. Correspondents include friends and colleagues such as Josef Brambora and Antonín Škarka and a few older colleagues. A large number of letters was exchanged with Comenius's biographer Milada Blekastad and with the young philosopher Stanislav Sousedík.
The second volume comprises letters exchanged with only a few foreign correspondents: next to the Ukrainian scholar Dmytro Čyževskyj and the French colleague Marcelle Denis, a personal friend of Patočka's, the greater part of the volume is filled with letters to and from the German scholar and personal friend Klaus Schaller.
These two volumes add much to our understanding of Patočka's nearly lifelong and profound interest in Comenius's thought. The intellectual acumen and constant engagement reflected in these letters must have meant much to Patočka and his Comeniological correspondents in and outside Czechoslovakia. Maybe these exchanges of letters brought some light and consolation even in the darkest of times.

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