An Age of Wisdom
"Not I, but the city, teaches." - attributed to Socrates
Today, I want to trace the roots of Comenian world governance into Plato's idea of the nature of wisdom.
By John Taylor; 2010 April 05, Ala' 16, 166 BE
The Moravian educational reformer Jan Amos Comenius wrote in 1644 that "he who would not seriously wish well to the whole of the human race, injures the whole human race." Good to his word, almost thirty years later on his deathbed Comenius put the finishing touches on Panorthosia, Universal Reform, his masterpiece. Panorthosia proposes nothing less than the total reform of earth and its citizens, and includes detailed plans for a world government. It carries through on his conviction that only a holistic approach to world order will assure the well-being of any or all. As we all enter into this perspective, humanity will prove itself mature.
"For in the final age of the World man must come to the highest stage of all. Therefore philosophy, or the love of wisdom, is not sufficient; wisdom itself must be present, and not its shadow but its body, and its body in whole and not in part; therefore it is not merely wisdom, but Universal Wisdom, that we need." (Panorthosia II, Ch. 10, para 43, p. 170)
Comenius is referring to the notion in Plato's Symposium that God does not need to seek out wisdom, He already has it. Only we finite mortals need to seek out wisdom, that is, we aspire to be philosophers or lovers of wisdom, but can never actually be wise.
What then is wisdom?
Wisdom, in Plato's view, is the virtue of reason, of our ruling faculty. Wisdom sets up a harmony between the whole and its parts, and the parts and their whole. In the Republic, he says, "Him we call wise who has in him that little part which rules, (which has) a knowledge of what is for the interest of each of the three parts and of the whole." These three parts are found in both the soul and the state, and each is a reflection of the other. In either the soul or the state, "how can there be the least shadow of wisdom where there is no harmony?" (Plato, Laws) Thus wisdom is a question of obedience, but a conformity based on love, not force. Both the whole and the part obey the reasoning faculty implicitly, in a spirit of what can only be called radiant acquiescence.
Comenius agrees that wisdom is a sort of harmony among the institutional parts of a world government. Wisdom, then, will mark our collective attainment of the final stage of human evolution, a time when opposition and competition will fall away and all will abide in love. A world government, then, will not be merely philosophical, rather it will take the harmony of wisdom right into its very structure. As a result, planetary governance is instantiated wisdom, built on a rock-like foundation of harmonious love. It therefore will not be concerned with mere technical problems,
"Similarly politics or poliarchy (skill in governing cities or kingdoms) is not enough; this final age requires Universal Rule, or wisdom in maintaining any human society at any time in peace and prosperity. Lastly, religion is not sufficient; what we need is Universal Religion, binding all souls to God in every way with all His virtues. For just as our eternal Father's works of Creation appeared in the end to be very good (Genesis 1:31), so the work of the Son and the Holy Spirit must be excellent in the end." (Panorthosia II, Id.)
There is a difference in kind between being a philosopher, citizen and believer of the ordinary sort, and of the universal variety. I may have a particular set of ideas, live in a particular country and follow a particular religion, but a universal philosophy, a common order and a common faith will link me to all other human beings. If each and all work on a universal philosophy, universal rule and universal belief, certain attributes will become inherent to our collective thinking. The body politic will be universalized, just as a common DNA code in the nucleus of the cell makes each cell a member of a single organism. In this way the nature of the body determines, without struggle or conflict, the role and structure of each cell.
This common code building makes humanity one organism. A divine, universal wisdom can thus integrate and amplify the forces of good so that under such a world government everybody will have his or her own particular interests and expressions, but in what is relevant to the whole, each thinks, acts and believes in the same manner.
This unity will unleash tremendous power to act together. We will be, Comenius says, like a large river with three sources that join into a single flood wiping away obstacles from its path. He invokes a favourite example, the river Alpheus, which Hercules in his fifth labour redirected to clean out the Augean stables (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augeas),
"I think that it is clear from my Universal Wisdom that it is possible for these fountains of God to combine into one torrent like the Alpheus, thus integrating everything that the world possesses and the mind of man dictates and the word of God expresses, in such a way that any seeker after knowledge may find it in full, anyone searching for forms and standards of self-government may find them ready-made, and anyone desiring God may see His presence everywhere, and hear, taste and touch Him and feel His binding influence." (Comenius, Panorthosia II, Ch. 3, para 38, p. 80)
This points right at what my book-in-progress, People Without Borders, predicts will happen next. As the Internet becomes more integrated into our lives, we will work out what Comenius calls "forms and standards," that is, open life-planning software. This will be part of our common human inheritance. It will harmoniously direct our progress, both together in groups and apart as individuals. Gradually these standards for self-improvement will be worked into the very architecture of our built world, and into the natural areas surrounding and pervading the built world.