Skip to main content

Keeping the Devil in his place

Drive Angry Poster.jpg

Following up on yesterday's observation.

The original Hebrew word for Satan is a noun meaning obstruction or opposition. Likewise, the Greek "diabolos" means "slanderer." These are hardly terms one employs for a faithful employee. So the etymology would seem to pose a problem for the warden/functionary view I mentioned yesterday.

But well after the origin of such terms, and well before Dante's time, Satan had taken on some of the contours of a functionary. The concept of a Great Chain of Being suggests, after all, a harmonious universe where everything has its place, presided over by God, so that the very concept of an active adversary of God on the cosmic level comes to seem absurd, and there is little left but room for a warden who is sometimes also a trickster.

The Nicolas Cage movie DRIVE ANGRY comes to mind in this connection.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Hume's Cutlery

David Hume is renowned for two pieces of cutlery, the guillotine and the fork.

Hume's guillotine is the sharp cut he makes between "is" statements and "ought" statements, to make the point that the former never ground the latter.

His "fork" is the division between what later came to be called "analytic" and "synthetic" statements, with the ominous observation that any books containing statements that cannot be assigned to one or the other prong should be burnt.

Actually, I should acknowledge that there is some dispute as to how well or poorly the dichotomy Hume outlines really maps onto the analytic/synthetic dichotomy. Some writers maintain that Hume meant something quite different and has been hijacked. Personally, I've never seen the alleged difference however hard they've worked to point it out to me.

The guillotine makes for a more dramatic graphic than a mere fork, hence the bit of clip art above.

I'm curious whe…

A Story About Coleridge

This is a quote from a memoir by Dorothy Wordsworth, reflecting on a trip she took with two famous poets, her brother, William Wordsworth, and their similarly gifted companion, Samuel Taylor Coleridge.



We sat upon a bench, placed for the sake of one of these views, whence we looked down upon the waterfall, and over the open country ... A lady and gentleman, more expeditious tourists than ourselves, came to the spot; they left us at the seat, and we found them again at another station above the Falls. Coleridge, who is always good-natured enough to enter into conversation with anybody whom he meets in his way, began to talk with the gentleman, who observed that it was a majestic waterfall. Coleridge was delighted with the accuracy of the epithet, particularly as he had been settling in his own mind the precise meaning of the words grand, majestic, sublime, etc., and had discussed the subject with William at some length the day before. “Yes, sir,” says Coleridge, “it is a majestic wate…