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Sir Thomas Browne: The cosmography of himself

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Philosophy Teacher's Assistant
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  1. Any philosophical, or even truly reflective, writer, must partake somewhat of this introspection.
  2. We can reconstruct, to some degree, the progress of Browne's introspection.
  3. The life and spirit of all our actions, is resurrection.
  4. This celebrated wisdom and sensibility could be founded on that first book alone.
  5. Contradictory statements have led Browne's critics to accuse him of heretical skepticism.

There is an adventurer who discovers more that is truly surprising, than the one who penetrates jungles, crosses deserts, and keeps the company of caravans; for all ?Africa, and her prodigies' cannot have an effect on the placid, unplumbed nature, other than to store up images in his mind; but the true and successful introvert, who sits with his fishing-pole on the edge of a stream and plunges in imagination through the ripples of water into the depths of himself, who walks in silence like the beasts and simultaneously wanders the labyrinths of his soul, who sits in corners when others are gay and is moved to passion when others are dull, because he attends only to movements within him,?this man is the true adventurer. He discovers, not continents, but motives, and if he should journey to Ultima Thule and back, he does not achieve wealth, honor and renown, which any man can possess, but a more perfect self-knowledge, which few desire. If he journeys to escape what is unpleasant in others, he discovers at the end the same in himself. If he journeys for love of himself, he discovers at the end, that love of such a creature is perversion. And the man who completes the journey and confronts his truest nature is faced with this choice: whether to completely remodel himself, and scourge out what is false, or to whirl constantly through all the ineffective methods of forgetfulness. Sir Thomas Browne is that prodigy of literature, whose prose, unsurpassed in manner or meaning by English writers, does not stem from an unhappy childhood, lost love, physical weakness, unshared vision, or enforced solitude. It stems, in fact, from the inward journey I have just described. Some time around 1630 he provisioned his vessel, weighed anchor, and embarked in the vessel of his first book Religio Medici .

[...] And he is not much use to others who has never considered himself. To those who complete the inward journey, and do not, in the words of Dr. Johnson, who are capable of improving mankind; very frequently neglect to communicate their knowledge . these we may award the title, as to Sir Thomas, of the truest benefactors, by example, of mankind. Works Cited: Browne, Sir Thomas: The Works of Sir Thomas Browne, ed. Geoffrey Keynes, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. [...]


[...] http://www.projectgutenburg.com, 2000) Gosse, Edmund: Sir Thomas Browne, from English Men of Letters series, (London: Macmillan & Co. 1905) Bibliography Descarte, Rene: Meditationes de Prima Philosophia (1641; and its 2nd ed., with Objectiones Septimae, 1642; Six Metaphysical Meditations; Wherein It Is Proved That There Is a God, 1680) Browne, Sir Thomas: (1. Urne-Buriall, or, A Discourse of the Sepulchrall Urnes lately found in Norfolk (1658) (2. A Letter to a Friend, Upon occasion of the Death of his Intimate Friend (posthumous 1690) Pascal, Blaise: Pensées de M. [...]


[...] He became known as unusually mature, although he had only lost the headlong and easily-diverted impetuosity that is believed to signify youth; he had found himself pondering and meditating in company as well as solitude, ironically thinking of his own motives even as he acted, mortified and amused. It began to bother him?why did do things and say things? He tried doing and saying other things, but exchanging the fountain did not reveal the spring. He tried imposing transparent motives on himself, and forcing his actions to them; he only managed to lose a few friends to excessive manipulation. [...]

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