By Gianni Vattimo
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Extra info for Belief (Cultural Memory in the Present)
From Harvard Divinity School, the Reverend William Greenleaf Eliot, doctor of divinity, had gone straight out to St. Louis in 1834 and had established the Unitarian Church of the Messiah. He founded Washington University, becoming in 1872 its first chancellor; he read and wrote much; was great in charities; labored against slavery and for prohibition of drink; helped to keep Missouri in the Union, when the Civil War began. This grandfather of T. S. Eliot was all New England conscience. “I never knew my grandfather,” the poet said in St.
Those lines had struck Wyndham Lewis, too, in 1915. Lewis then, and I later, did not take Eliot himself to be pathetic: he had passed through suffering, by the time I knew him, to resignation and hope; but the vanity of human wishes clung about him always, not unpleasantly. His appetites were reduced, his manners perfect—and his patience boundless. He might have sat for Sir Thomas Browne, or for his own friend Father Martin D’Arcy, as an exemplar of Christian morals. All about him, in those late years when I knew Eliot, he perceived inner and outer disorder, but was not dismayed.
Babbitt thought it inexpedient to push beyond ethics into theology or dogma; besides, he could not persuade himself of the operation of divine grace. Babbitt’s disciple Eliot would become a Christian, in time; but Eliot remained to the end a humanist also. ” This is the first chapter of Literature and the American College, and all the rest of Babbitt’s books enlarge upon this subject. To put matters briefly, humanism is the belief that man is a distinct order of being, governed by laws peculiar to his nature; there is law for man, and there is law for thing.