[xmca] Don Quixote meets Reinhold Niebuhr

From: Mike Cole (lchcmike@gmail.com)
Date: Sat Oct 08 2005 - 14:17:02 PDT

While in Spain my wife and I read Don Quixote, well, the first book of Don
It was an odd experience in some ways because at first the novel is both
familiar and
alien. We know some of the most outrageous misadventures but not the book
from which
they have been abstracted. We know what it means to be quixotic, or at
least, we know
conventional uses of the term.

But reading an early 16th century novel is not akin to reading John Grisham
or even Saul Bellow.
The form of story telling is archaic with many sidetrips and it takes a long
time (it took me a long time)
to enter the world imagined up by Cervantes, drawing upon his often bitter

Talking about the book yesterday we seemed to converge on the idea that part
of what made the novel
more compelling the more one read, and after one was through reading, was
the realization that Don
Quixote, in his manifest madness, humanized the world around him. Not just
in his imagination, but
in the reality as narrated by Cervantes.

Today, reading the work of a colleague about topics far from xmca discourse,
apparently, I came upon
a quotation from ISCAR or mathematics education. Yet it appears to describe
rather precisely, in the
idiom of religous thought, the foundations for the power of Don Quixote to
humanize his enviroment, and,
oddly enough, the foundations for what I believe to be the efficacy of the
5th Dimension activities I engage
in. Here is what Niebuhr wrote. What do you think?

>From Moral Man and Immoral Society
Furthermore there must always be a religious element in the hope of a just
Without the ulrarational hopes and passions of religion no society will ever
have the
courage to conquer despair and attempt the impossible; for the vision of a
society is an impossible one, which can be approximated only by those who do
regard it as impossible. The truest visions of religion are illusions, which
may be
partially realized by being resolutely believed. For what religion believes
to be true is
not wholly true but ought to be true; and may become true if its faith is
not doubted (p. 81)
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