“…it is not unusual in theology to debate questions whose answer is certain (de re certa). After all, we admit debates on the Incarnation of Our Lord and other articles of faith. The reason is that not all theological disputations are of the deliberative kind. Frequently they are demonstrative – that is, undertaken not to argue about the truth, but to explain it.”
– Francisco de Vitoria, 1539.
(I mentally giggled at this today. No, I don’t think anybody else in the world is likely to, but I did all the same…)
Only two more essays (read: weeks) before the end of term! Not that I’m counting the days – it’ll be good to have a holiday and a rest, but I’m still enjoying the paper. In fact, something tells me that I am now going to find it very hard to resist doing the History of Political Thought 1700-1890 paper next year as a sequel. It would be an excuse to read Marx, after all But I shall wait and see whether the term ends with a supervision report along the lines of “please stop fighting with the sources!” or not.
An anecdotal snippet to tell you what you already know: I was walking back home today when a cyclist on the road just ahead suddenly stopped, turned slightly and fell to the ground. As a small crowd gathered to help, it was obvious that she was having some sort of fit, and so someone immediately phoned for an ambulance. It arrived within the space of a minute or two, and the paramedics acted with all the authority and care that you could hope for. Although I can’t know for sure, I’m fairly certain that the girl was going to be OK, and she did come around before I left.
I had three (pretty conventional) thoughts on all of this. Firstly, isn’t it comforting that people will come to someone in need? Secondly, and particularly in light of the very sad news about David Cameron’s son yesterday, isn’t the NHS wonderful? And thirdly, perhaps slightly less conventionally, we shouldn’t take what we all have for granted. I don’t mean in terms of health, happiness and public services – although those too! – but more in terms of knowledge and understanding. It seems so natural, for a concerned crowd to recognise an epileptic seizure, and to go to people who talk the language of symptoms, tests and blood sugar levels for help. But don’t you dare assume that it was. It took an awful lot of hard work, from many people across many centuries, to get here. It took huge shifts in how we think, and an awful lot of people ‘possessed by devils’ or with ‘unbalanced humours’, before fraud and quackery retreated to the less life-threatening world of expensive placebos. And it took a lot of arguing about what was thought oh-so de re certa.