Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Lewis Quotes Browne

I just started C.S. Lewis’s A Preface To Paradise Lost and what should I find but a quote from Sir Thomas Browne’s Religio Medici in the epigraph:

How so many learned heads should so far forget their metaphysicks, and destroy the ladder and scale creatures.

Browne, Rel. Med. I, XXX.


  1. Santa's elves belatedly delivered to my door, this very day, my very own copy of Religio Medici, Hydriotaphia, And the Letter to a Friend.

    Now I can dig in.

  2. Congratulations!

    Where Browne is concerned, I'm reading Samuel Johnson's biography before continuing on with Hydriotaphia and The Garden of Cyrus. Afterwards I'll be coming back to review it all.

  3. Christopher (i read somewhere you prefer to be addressed as such and not the shortened version of your name) don't get too excited at finding Browne quoted in your reading, as he pops up in some very unexpected places, i.e. Madame Blavatsky, Stephen Jay Gould and Borges for starters.

    Browne's influence upon Johnson's style is strong and is often remarked upon.

    Looking forward to reading your posts of the maverick philosopher's writings.

  4. re: Chris vs. Christopher -- 'tis true, but I don't make a fuss over it. I've been called plenty of worse things.

    I think substantive posts will be some time away. Until then I'll comment on random things that catch my attention, but in Browne there is a presence and personality that I need to understand better before I begin to comment.

  5. CHRISTOPHER (i've known those foolish enough to reject Christianity to insist on being called just - TOPHER)

    Well I have basked in Browne's presence v. heavily for 15 years now and still find him elusive and enigmatic to define. A scientist and promoter of the new learning or Christian mystic? Hermetic philosopher or humourist or melancholic or just an egoist? He is Janus-faced, so take your pick. In the end one simply sees in him whatever you yourself are! You will never get to the bottom of him!

    I shall just have to be very patient and wait for your definition. Random comments on text sounds good, and I look forward to reading even snippets, but beware of losing yourself in the dense wilderness of imagery and symbolism in 'The Garden of Cyrus'.

    Happy New Year!

  6. 'Here is Browne's scientific point of view in a nutshell. One lobe of his brain wants to study facts and test hypotheses on the basis of of them, the other is fascinated by mystic symbols and analogies'. - from an essay entitled 'The art of God'.

    'The eclecticism so characteristic of Browne...Browne does not cry from the house tops, as did Bacon, the liberating power of experience in opposition to the sterilizing influence of reason. Nor does he guarantee as did Descartes, the intuitive truth of reason as opposed to the falsity of the senses. Unlike either, he follows both sense experience and a priori, reason in his quest for truth. He uses what comes to him from tradition and from contemporary Science, often perhaps without too precise a formulation. E.S.Merton

  7. It is that mixture of reason and mysticism which I find so compelling regardless of whatever I may agree or disagree with in conclusion. This is, I think, very sane.


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