Thursday, July 10, 2008

Shakespeare the Thomist

Or at least the "intellectualist". From A Midsummer-Night's Dream, Act II scene ii:

Content with Hermia! No: I do repent
The tedious minutes I with her have spent.
Not Hermia, but Helena I love:
Who will not change a raven for a dove?
The will of man is by his reason sway'd,
And reason says you are the worthier maid.
Things growing are not ripe until their season;
So I, being young, till now not ripe to reason;
And touching now the point of human skill,
Reason becomes the marshall to my will,
And leads me to your eyes; where I o'erlook
Love's stories written in love's richest book.

The irony here, of course, is that Lysander's will is not being led by reason at all but, unbeknownst to him, by Oberon's love potion. So perhaps it's Lysander that's the mistaken intellectualist and not Shakespeare. Of course the love potion violates the freedom and self-determination of the will, and so Shakespeare is not a voluntarist either.

Later in the scene Shakespeare shows why the Smithy has a tendency to rag on Thomists and Protestants:

. . . the heresies that men do leave
Are hated most of those they did deceive

Not, of course, that I consider Thomism a heresy.

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