Spring 2020

“And If They Fall as Lucifer Fell”: On the Lure of Anarchy

Paolo Prosperi

This meditation proposes to uphold the thesis that only an adequate reflection on the metaphysical status of poiesis or creative art allows us to answer with sufficient depth and clarity one of the most unsettling but also fascinating questions that the libido libertatis (lust for freedom) characteristic of postmodern man poses (or poses with new intensity) to humanist and Christian thought: Whence comes this mysterious impulse toward anarchy (hubris) and toward the transgression of the existing order, which even the great wisdom of the Greeks noted without successfully explaining it and about which even the Christian tradition has still dared to say perhaps too little? Certainly, evil by its nature is unintelligible. It can be neither deduced nor explained. And nevertheless the question about the conditions for its possibility and its ultimate origins is posed and is posed today more than ever in all its radical character. Obviously the question here is not only, why did Eve eat the fruit? Eve was tempted. That is, she was confronted with an interpretation of reality different from the authentic one through Satan’s lying words. The true and more radical question is, why did Lucifer rebel against God in the first place? What is the origin of the fascination that a created spirit may observe for the deliberate negation of the true and the good?


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