Rémi Brague on "Cosmology as a Postulate"?
I'm still taking a vacation from posting on my family's vacation, but I've at least succeeded in accessing the internet from my apartment. My children's computer hasn't lost its internet connection, fortunately, and I've managed to rig up a table raising the keyboard to my adult height.
But I still will post merely a brief comment, like yesterday's, but this one on a passage in a fascinating interview that the two medievalists Christophe Cervellon and Kristell Trego conducted with Rémi Brague as a sort of introduction to his book The Legend of the Middle Ages. I wish to call into question the heading that an editor apparently provided, so I paste both the heading and the passage below, which follow immediately from Brague's remark that for modern people, "Nothing in the physical world responds to man's ethical demands":
A cursory reading of the passage seems to allow for the heading supplied, namely, "Cosmology as a Postulate," but a closer reading leads me to think that Brague would reject the heading as utterly counter to his point.To be sure, for premodern man, the presence of the world, which he felt as a kosmos, was not a model to be imitated in any literal sense. Pretending to believe this to be the case is unfair, as it might be amusing to explain by the use of Kant’s concepts. The role of the cosmic order is analogous to that of the postulates of practical reason. Those postulates -- liberty, the existence of a just God, and the immortality of the soul -- are of no use as a basis for moral law, which is sufficient unto itself and draws its obligation from an intrinsic authority that it has no need to borrow from elsewhere. Such postulates serve to guarantee the possibility of the supreme Good -- that is, the agreement between what the Law demands and the order of the real world. One might say that the kosmos was less a model demanding conformity than an example that shows, from the simple fact that it exists, that ethical conduct is possible. The major difference between the premodern vision of the world and Kant's morality is that realization of the good is for Kant only postulated. It remains, so to speak, in the domain of faith and hope. For men of ancient and medieval times, on the other hand, the sovereignty of the good was already given in the cosmic harmony. One only need acknowledge it.Cosmology as a Postulate
True, he says that "The role of the cosmic order [for premodern men] is analogous to that of the postulates of practical reason [for Kant]," but this is not the same as calling cosmology a "postulate." Kant's postulates of "liberty, the existence of a just God, and the immortality of the soul" all "serve to guarantee the possibility of the supreme Good -- that is, the agreement between what the Law demands and the order of the real world." The similarity is thus that "the kosmos was . . . an example that shows, from the simple fact that it exists, that ethical conduct is possible." But cosmology was not a postulate because "For men of ancient and medieval times, . . . the sovereignty of the good was already given in the cosmic harmony." Since it was already given, it had no need to be postulated.
Or so I read the passage, but perhaps Brague, or some other expert, could clarify this point.