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May 25, 1958 - Image 11

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Michigan Daily, 1958-05-25
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i 1




Sunday, May 25, 1958 Sunday, May 25, 1958

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Boehme. The University of
Michigan Press. Ann Arbor.
ACOB BOEHME (1575-1624) is
'the most famous and influential
of a series of German Protestant
mystics. His influence on nine-
teenth-century German philosophy
is generally regarded as consider-

able. He was not an academic or
even well-educated: he was, in
fact, a shoemaker and glove man-
ufacturer. He wrote a number of
works, all in German, though few
were published in his lifetime.
However, the circulation of one of
them, "Aurora," in manuscript
brought on a charge of heresy,
which was renewed when his Way
to Christ appeared in 1624.
The four works reprinted here
are entitled Six Theosophic Points
(written in 1620), Six Mystical

Points (1620), On the Earthly and
Heavenly Mystery (1620), and On
the Divine Intuition (1622). These
are from what scholars regard as
his middle period. (The views on
the origin of evil here expressed
thus should not be taken as his
only or his final views on the sub-
ject). The four works are not
among those published in Boeh-
me's lifetime. They were originally
published in a Dutch translation
about 1635, followed by a German
edition about 1680-both in Am-



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sterdam. The first English trans-'
lation of these works is that of.
Sparrow-Ellistone, published first
in 1661. (There were "Behmenist"
societies- in England then.) An
introduction to these Boehme
works is finished by an essay by
Nicolas Berdyaev entitled "Un-
derground and Freedom." This ap-
pears in its first English transla-
tion, made for the University of
Michigan Press. It was first pub-
lished in French as a preface to
Nicolas Berdyaev's translation of
Boehme's Mysterium Magnum
(Paris, 1945).
THE FOUR WORKS reprinted
are evidently characteristic
works of Boehme, though they are
not among his best known. None
of them are mentioned by Ber-
dyaev in the introductory essay,
which was not written for this
volume, but is rather an introduc-
tion to Boehme's thought as a
whole with special emphasis on its
importance in the history of Chris-
tian thought and for the later
history of philosophy.
Any attempt to summarize the
contents of the four works would{
be valueless. But Boehme's sub-
titles will give some idea of their
subject-matter: the "high and
deep grounding of Six Theosophic
Points" is subtitled "an open gate
of all the secrets of life wherein
the causes of all being become'
known." The Six Mystical Point.'
has no subtitles, but the poinrs
themselves are headed "On the
blood and water of the soul," "On
the election of grace. On good and
evil," "On sin. What is sin, and,
how it is sin," "How Christ will
deliver up the kingdom to his
Father," "On Magic. What magic
is. What the magical ground is;
and "On mystery. What it is." The
"fundamental statement concern-
ing the Earthly and Heavenly
Mystery" is subtitled "How theyl
are in one another, and how in the
earthy the heavenly is manifested
.. where Babel, the great city on
earth, is to be seen with its powers
and marvels. Why Babel is born,
and from what. Where Antichrist
shall stand naked." And "the
highly precious gate of the Divine
Intuition" is represented as "show-
ing what Mysterium Magnum is,
and how all is from, through and
in God; how God is so near all
things, and fills all." Apart from
quoting these, I will say only that
Boehme seems in metaphysics to
have been a voluntaristic nihilist
with leanings toward pantheism
and panpsychism.
Charles Caton is an instruc-j
tor in the University's philo-
sophy department.

THE treatment of the subjects
indicated above is, of course,
largely in Boehme's mystical man-
ner. There are, though, fairly ex-
tensive passages which are in what
might be called a straightforward
religious and moralistic style..That
is, they are like sermons of the
fire-and-brimstone variety, though
a bit peculiar, due to allusions to
the mystical prolegomena and to
Paracelsian science. But the langu-
age of the concluding par tof the
Six Theosophie Points and of most
of the three other works will be
largely familiar to Christians. I
would be foolish, however, to pre-
tend that I understood or that the
average reader will understand the
rest, i.e., what is in the mystical
vein. One will be reminded repeat-
edly of various thinkers and move-
ments from Heraclitus and Stoic
metaphysics to contemporary ex-
istentialism, including ancient
Neo-Platonism, early Christian
and pagan gnosticism, Schopen-
hauer, and no doubt (if one knows
Schelling) Schelling.
' HOUGHTI am forced to be
modest about understanding
Boehme, still perhaps the follow-
ing suggestions may be helpful to
the prospective reader. First, it
seems to me doubtful that one
should begin with the first work,
Six Theosophic Points. One would,
I think, be better advised to read
the Earthy and Heavenly 1Mystery
(at least the first six "texts") and
the Divine Intuition first: one gets
the basic ideas faster and more
clearly in these. Also, the Berdyaev
essay should certainly be read in
conjunction with the text and I
think probably before reading the
Theosophic. or Mystical Points.
This introductory essay is excel-
lent. It might be remembered,
though, that, in the first place,
Berdyaev agrees with Boehme in
his basic emphasis on the dynamic
character of God, and, secondly,
that for what Berdyaev calls
"Freedom" Boehme's usual word
(at any rate in the works here
reprinted) is "will" - at least,
Berdyaev so interprets Boehme.
prospective reader I will men-
tion what I take to be a, or the,
fundamental difficulty in under-
standing Boehme's mystical lan-
guage. It has to do with the refer-
ential expressions used. These
n.ost often take the form of "the
C," where "C" is a common noun,
or just "C," where "C" is a com-
mon noun used like a proper name.
The difficulty arises from the fact
that these common nouns bear a
metaphorical sense. This creates
a difficulty in understanding what
is said, whether this is openly
metaphorical or not. For involved
in understanding ordinary meta-
phors (and, or including, the 1er-
haps partial understanding we
have of some non-mystical reli-
gious language) is our understand-
ing of the referential expressions
It seems to me, that is, that
normally the problem of under-
standing metaphors is one of
understanding non-ef erential ex-
pressions and we solve it (if and
to the extent that we do) through
our knowledge of the literal mean-
ings of those -expressions and by
knowing what thing or sort of
thing is referred to by the asso-
ciated referential-expressions.
The trouble in understanding
Boehme is that the references
themselves are obscure because
they take the form "the C" or "C,"
where "C" is a common noun
which is Itself being used meta-
phorically; so that we do not know
what is referred to and hence can't
use this latter to figure out what
is being said about the thing
referred to, whatever it is. If this
actually is a basic difficulty,)a
reader might be helped by know-
ing that it is in that he would
know where to concentrate his

A THIRD help, at least to the

DWINDLING SPIRIT-The orderly, quiet generation at the University today seldom goes out of its
way to show school spirit. When it does, rocking of automobiles and panty raids are its most fre-
quently used means of expression. Even then, the writer claims, the enthusiasm is short-lived

Raids, Rivairies and


School Spirit Is Sadly Lacking at the University
For Reasons of Size and Nearness to Other Colle

TWO YEARS AGO on the eve of
the Michigan State football
game, this campus was the scene
of a panty raid. It was quite a
raid, too, to listen to stories told
by participants. Men rewrote thea-
tre marquees and scaled Stock-
well's walls. Further, it caught the
Administration flatfooted. Nobody
expected it.
For the last two years, Dean
Walter B. Rea has made elaborate
plans to foil any further attempts.
Last year. an advance guard snuck
into one dorm, but the general
run-of-the-mill participant didn't
John Weicher, recently ap-
pointed city , editor of the
Daily, had close contact with
school spirit while attending
an Eastern college.

even get close. The raid was a
fiasco. Last fall, nobody even tried.
The importance of that raid lies
in its value as the last genuine
outburst of real "school spirit" on
this campus. In the two and one-
half years since then, only last
year's Michigan State basketball
game, when the Spartans had won
ten straight and Michigan had
just beaten Illinois and Indiana,
can rival the "panty raid," and it
generated no lingering enthusiasm.
SCHOOL SPIRIT is a sometime
thing. It manifests itself only
on great occasions: victories over
State, Rose Bowls and the like.
Fortunately for the University's
reputation in such matters, it re-
ceived national attention twice last
year for events of synthetic
"spirit," the food riot at South
Quad and the Stockwell kissing
ban. This year, so far, nothing has
happened to lift the University

above the ruck of ordinary col-
This lack of spirit manages to
pass unnoticed, however, because
the Big Ten generally does not go
in for school spirit to any extent
excepting Northwestern and Wis-
consin. On campuses in other
parts of the country school spirit
is definitely the order of the day,
so much so that administrations
and faculties simply resign them-
selves and attempt to bargain
with students to preserve some
semblance of academic discipline
during its more excessive out-
spots" of school spirit. For in-
stance, at Colgate, students ac-
tually follow the football team--
all over the East, if necessary. It
is not uncommon for students to
come out of an examination at 10
a.m. on a Saturday and hitchhike

to New Haven or Princeton for a
2 p.m. game , just on the spur of
the moment.
The Colgate team generally has
only two home games a year which
is the primary reason for such an
avid following, but it also results
from genuine spirit. At most East-
ern football games, the stands are
quite literally split into "Home"
and "Visitors"-the visitors may
even, on occasion, outnumber home
team fans. Distances between col-
leges are short-only rarely does a
team play as far from home as
Michigan does when it travels to
Iowa City or Minneapolis.
This nearness tends to breed
natural rivalries in sports, which
build up school spirit. Resulting
are such avid competitors as the
famed "Big Three" of Harvard,
Princeton and Yale, the "Middle
Three" of Lafayette, Lehigh and
Rutgers and a "Little Three" of
Amherst, Wesleyan and Williams.


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