The Discarded Image

C. S. Lewis describes “the model” or “the image” of the universe as it was thought to be during the Renaissance and the Middle Ages. Their way of thinking was completely different from ours in our “Modern World” point of view. Their perception of the Universe was a “single, complex, harmonious mental model” (Lewis), unlike our scientific discoveries and newly formulated theories bout the universe. Instead of theories, they believed in these principles or ideas that explained their way of viewing things. Hierarchy ordered scale in which everything is connected but has a certain order, and Body and Soul, the idea that everything has a soul and there are three different kinds of souls, are two of these principles.

Hierarchy explains the order in which everything is or should be, as well as how everything is co-related. During the middle ages, it was thought that “everything has its right place, its home, the region that suits it” . The people of medieval and Renaissance period came up with the order of the universe, “Earth, moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn”. They thought that everything revolved around the Earth; they believed that the Earth was the center of the universe, and they believed that everything was pulled towards the Earth.

The “force” responsible for this attraction was the Primium Mobile or the First moveable, “everything proceeds from Him (God)” , “its existence was inferred to account for the motion of all others” . Since everything has its purpose and space, it also has its own different soul. For example, because the different things or bodies have a different place and purpose they have different souls: “Man is a rational animal. Rational soul, which gives man his peculiar position, is not the only kind of soul”.

Plants have a Vegetable soul, its main purpose is to grow and spread out. Animals, not human, have a sensitive soul: has the same “powers” as the Vegetable soul but has sentience in addition. nevertheless these three, Rational, Sensitive, and Vegetable souls, portrayed the synthesis between science, imagination, and theology that was very important in the Medieval and Renaissance period: “the real of science was the real of imaginations which was the real of religion, etc. ” C. S. Lewis in his book “The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature” points out the way the universe was viewed in the middle ages. Lewis explains all the ideas and principles that made up the middle ages so different from our Modern World. During the Middle ages Hierarchy was very important; everything has its place and purpose but at the same time it was believed that everything was a unit. The idea of Body and Soul was just as important; since everything has its own purpose it must have its own soul.

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