John Anthony West

I learned today that John Anthony West is dying. When I began this blog in March, 2007, he was the subject of only my second post: http://ofmyownknowledge.com/2007/03/13/john-anthony-west/

It is worth re-reading today. Perhaps these few quotations from his amazing book will tempt you to do so.

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“In a world of hydrogen bombs, bacteriological warfare and other progressive horrors, it is self-evident that knowledge is dangerous. It is also self-evident that the ancients possessed no technology capable of unleashing such brutal power. However, if we look more closely at the manner in which we are emotionally and psychologically influenced — which in turn makes predictable the manner in which we will react to given situations — we will see that dangerous knowledge lies behind this curious Pythagorean number symbolism.”

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“In the cathedrals and sacred art and architecture of the past, we see the knowledge of harmony and proportion employed rightly, provoking in all men who have not had their emotions too permanently crippled or destroyed by modern education a sense of the sacred. It therefore takes no great leap in imagination to conceive of the same knowledge but to an opposite use by the unscrupulous…. This is but one valid reason for keeping certain types of mathematical knowledge secret.”

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“But logic and reason will not account for everyday experience: even logicians fall in love.”

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“From time immemorial, scholars, philosophers and thinkers have stubbed their brains against the problem of time and space, seldom realizing that the language in which they hoped to solve the problem was itself ordered in such a way as to support the evidence of the senses.”

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“When men were less dependent upon their intellects, and in all likelihood had more highly developed intuitional and emotional faculties, they were more susceptible to experiences that transcend time and space, and were able to accept the provisional evidence of the senses at its true value.”

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