Re: [xmca] Don Quixote meets Reinhold Niebuhr

From: Ana Marjanovic-Shane (
Date: Sun Oct 09 2005 - 12:29:06 PDT

I fully agree with the quotation in its "moral" -- however, I would
question the use of the term "religious". For something to be a vision,
am maybe even an impossible vision, it does not to be religious. At
least not the way I understand to term religious. I cannot believe that
the ideal society and the ideal levels of individual development can be
achieved only through a divine intervention. In fact, I think quite the
opposite: that unless the humanity learns how to create conditions for a
just society and conditions in which every individual can realize
her/his potentials to the fullest possible degree, such a society or
people will never become true.

I love Cervantes' "Don Quixote" -- not just for his character and
meaning but also for the way it was written (although I can read it only
in translation). One thing in your post struck me as very important. You
seem to have rediscovered the meaning (or one of them) only after you
finished reading it, and not while you have been reeding it. I had an
impression that you peeled off a layer of your own literacy skills and
found out some deep hidden archaic skill that is built into literacy,
but is not conscious any more. Something like not being able to use an
automatic part of a skill and having to do it step by step with a
conscious effort, almost like the first time...

Mike Cole wrote:

>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)
>xmca mailing list

Ana Marjanovic-Shane

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Philadelphia, PA 19144

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