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Saturday, 23 November 2019

John Amos Comenius, Otakar Vočadlo Remembered in Bridport, Dorset; Horatio Morpurgo, Multiplying the Light

A rainy night, but I drove to Bridport, to listen to Horatio Morpurgo talk at the splendidly restored Literary and Scientific Institute.


I've never read Comenius's The Way of Light (Via Lucis) - John Amos Comenius, The Way of Light, translated by E. T. Campagnac (The University Press of Liverpool, printed by Hodder and Stoughton (London), 1938), but it was fascinating to learn about a book that it is almost impossible to obtain in the UK, or online.  Comenius wrote it in England, 1641-1642.

I did search my shelves to find some other books, as a result of the stimulating and thoughtful talk by Horatio Morpurgo. I bought them both in Prague in the 1980's, before the Velvet Revolution.

"In many ways, Comenius’s Way of Light is a perfect instance of philosophical revolution in the early Enlightenment. It shows pride in the reach of human knowledge – though always under the umbrella of God’s grace. It is radically democratic, led by the hope that all people can become enlightened about themselves and the natural world. It sets its sights on institutional reform. And, at its heart, it nurses the hope that more knowledge is the panacea to human ills".


"Frustrated by the fragmentation of European institutions of higher education, along with their tendency to impose knowledge authoritatively and discourage critical thinking, Comenius advocated the creation of a universal college. In Way of Light, which he wrote while visiting England in 1641 and 1642, Comenius outlined his vision for establishing universal textbooks and schools, a common language, and a pansophic college. Comenius believed that a pansophic college would contribute to the establishment of an intellectual and spiritual consensus in the world by propelling, steering, and coordinating the research of all scholars. This "college of light" would be located in a prominent and accessible locale and utilize a common language in order to facilitate the inclusion of all European scholars of prominence. It would also govern an ideal world and disseminate knowledge so that an understanding of God's creations and glory would not become the exclusive possession of the privileged. Such an institution would therefore unite all human beings in the world both culturally and religiously. Although the pansophic college never came about, Comenius's treatise inspired the establishment of the Royal Society in England (founded in 1662) and the Berlin Royal Academy of Sciences (founded in 1700)".

See also:

Otakar Vočadlo (1895-1974) by M. C. Bradbrook

The Slavonic and East European Review
Vol. 53, No. 133 (Oct., 1975), pp. 579-581 (3 pages)

Bradbrook, M. C. “Otakar Vočadlo (1895-1974).” The Slavonic and East European Review, vol. 53, no. 133, 1975, pp. 579–581.

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