Infinity, Faith, and Time: Christian Humanism and Renaissance Literature
McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP, 1997 M11 26 - 216 pages
In Part 1 Hill examines the effect of the idea of spatial infinity on seventeenth-century literature, arguing that the metaphysical cosmology of Nicholas of Cusa provided Renaissance writers, such as Pascal, Traherne, and Milton, with a way to construe the vastness of space as the symbol of human spiritual potential. Focusing on time in Part 2, Hill reveals that, faced with the inexorability of time, Christian humanists turned to St Augustine to develop a philosophy that interpreted temporal passage as the necessary condition of experience without making it the essence or ultimate measure of human purpose. Hill's analysis centres on Shakespeare, whose experiments with the shapes of time comprise a gallery of heuristic time-centred fictions that attempt to explain the consequences of human existence in time. Infinity, Faith, and Time reveals that the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were a period during which individuals were able, with more success than in later times, to make room for new ideas without rejecting old beliefs.
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accept action Adam anticipated argues astronomy Augustine become beginning believe Bergson called centre century Christ Christian conception condition consciousness continuous course creation Creator Cusa Cusanus death desire difference divine doctrine duration earth élan vital eschatology eternity example existence experience fact faith final follows future give God's grace Greek hand heaven Holy hour human idea imagination individual infinite infinity knowledge less light limits literature living look meaning measure metaphysical Milton mind motion mystery nature never Nicholas of Cusa opening original Paradise Lost paradox Pascal passage past physical plays possible present Providence rational reality reason religion Renaissance revealed seek sense Shakespeare sonnet soul space sphere spiritual succession symbol temporal things thou thought tion tradition Traherne true truth understanding unfolding universe vision whole