Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Steno on Prayer

In the midst of some late notes (c. 1684) reviewing the contemporary state of knowledge about the nervous system, we find the following jottings:

I can acknowledge through natural light alone that
life is addicted to sensual pleasures and pains,
life is conform to pre-judgments from images of fantasy about honours and wealth,
life is conform to the laws of natural reason,
life depends on the immediate rule of him whom I acknowledge as the creator of all things, always seeing the minds of all humans, regulating all by permitting or ordering. When thus I acknowledge him as the ruler of the world and wiser and mightier than myself, then I can realize the imperfection of my rule, coming from myself, its perfection, if taken over by the supreme Deity.
To pray, naturally is to acknowledge that one cannot do that, to acknowledge that a superior cause can do it, and to desire that a supreme cause take it on itself.

From Troels Kardel, Steno: Life, Science, Philosophy, Danish National Library of Science and Medicine (Copenhagen: 1994) p. 151.

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