Praise of Folly Essay

This essay has a total of 1451 words and 11 pages.

Praise of Folly


Praise of Folly

The Praise of Folly takes on a very diverse form of life during sixteenth century

Europe. In 1509 the author, Desiderius Erasmus, turned his literary talents to the

ridicule and denunciation of monastic vice, immorality, and wickedness. He was

considered the "Prince of Humanists" [1] because he was one of the most important

men in Europe during the period of the Reformation, The historical and cultural

references in his book proves that the Praise of Folly could not have been written

during any other time period except sixteenth century Europe.

Erasmus is one of the most fascinating and inscrutable characters in history.

There is no doubt that he was a genius, He was also a bon vivant, but his tastes ran

toward good conversation and good food rather than conspicuous consumption. He

whined endlessly about his troubles, and he begged shamelessly for ever more money

from his patrons. But he was one of the "most far-sighted individuals to walk this

planet," [2]. Before any others, he saw how the corruption and misdeeds of the church

would lead to danger, and when Martin Luther hijacked Erasmusí reform efforts and

turned them into outright revolt, Erasmus saw that this split in Christendom would

lead to catastrophe; a catastrophe that was realized a century later.

Erasmus, even from childhood, had a craving to read, study, learn and know.

He spent his life as a scholar and writer. He was a man of quick wit and a keen mind.

He had struck a raw nerve by writing the Praise of Folly. But it must be noted that

while Erasmus found the wickedness of the priests revulsive, he did not disapprove of

Roman Catholic doctrine. He praised himself to be a citizen of the world, not attached

to a particular country but finding himself at home in European countries where

culture and humanism were flourishing. The two societies he claimed to belong to

were both the republic of letters and the Christian church. In Roman Catholic

doctrine, he wished only for a reformation of priestly morals and conduct, not of

Roman theology, and he disapproved of the doctrinal revolution initiated by Luther. It

is said that Erasmus laid the egg that Luther hatched, meaning that Erasmus was the

one who inspired the Protestant Reformation.

The particular state of mind which produced the "modern world" was a

manifestation of the same mind as underlay the Protestant Revolution. The Protestant

"calling" was a treatment of worldly avocations as God-created and fulfillable in a

spirit of worship. This concept enabled the Protestant to see in his ordinary daily work

an activity pleasing to God and therefore be pursued as actively and profitably as

possible. On the other hand, medieval and Roman Catholic Christianity were held to

have condemned the world, with consequent hostility to economic activity and

especially to that essential capitalist ingredient, the taking of interest on usury.

Protestantism were therefore asserted to have been the necessary precondition of the

growth of modern industrial capitalism. The basic belief of Protestantism promoted the

spirit of the entrepreneur, and for that reason capitalism is found flourishing in

reformed countries, while the Reformation is found spreading among the commercial

and industrial middle classes.

The desire for spiritual nourishment was great in many parts of Europe, and

movements of thought which gave intellectual content to what in so many ways was an

initial search for God have their own dignity. Neither of these, however, comes first in

explaining why the Reformation took root her and vanished heresies led to a

permanent division within the church that had looked to Rome. This particular place

is occupied and the play of secular ambitions. The Reformation maintained itself

wherever the lay power favored it; it could not survive where the authorities decided
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