St. Albert’s (or Not-St. Albert’s) Paradisus Animae

Apparently, there’s a lot of interesting stuff in St. Albert the Great’s little book of virtues (Libellus de virtutibus), aka the Paradisus Animae (Paradise of the Soul, a pretty common book title in medieval Europe). It’s apparently not attributed to him anymore, but in 1910, it was. Anyway….

“Not only was man’s freedom dear to Albertus as giving man his special likeness to God, but we are to use it for the mastery of the world and ourselves.”

The author of this book on ethics starts ripping on medieval Christianity immediately after that, as being “paganized, orientalized” and having nothing to do with Jesus, despite the author (a doctor of Divinity) admitting that Albert’s ethics were good and beautiful. Albert (or any other medieval Christian of orthodox theology) would have reasoned that anything good and beautiful couldn’t help belonging to Jesus, so that condemnation would hardly have impressed him even without the historical dubiousness of it all. Oh, well, the book’s from 1910 and still useful in bits, so we’ll forgive the author his heebie-jeebies.


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