Friday, February 17, 2012

Jansenist and Jesuit and Molière

Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, was known by his stage name Molière. In Molière's day, there was a bitter conflict going on within French Catholicism between the Jesuits and the Jansenists.  One thing, however, that both groups were united in was the conviction that Molière's Tartuffe was irreligious and deserved to be repressed.  The reason is not hard to seek.  The villain Tartuffe comes across as embodying characteristic features that each party, Jansenist and Jesuit, were passionate in attributing the other.
The Jesuits were relentless in their accusation that Jansenist Augustinianism was a form of Protestant Puritanism in disguise, and that their view of human nature was a slander upon God's favorite creature. The Jansenists were adamant in the picture of the Jesuits as consummate casuists -- artful abusers of reason, skilled in fallaciously reconciling the commands of God with the demands of worldly interest.  
(The most skillful and damaging exponent of this view of the Jesuits was the mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal, in his Provencial Letters.)
Link (here) to Study Guide: Molière

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