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Jean Bodin on Action and Contemplation: A Reappraisal

Citation: Miglietti, Sara (2020) Jean Bodin on Action and Contemplation: A Reappraisal. In: Penser et agir à la Renaissance / Thought and Action in the Renaissance, ed. Philippe Desan and Véronique Ferrer. Droz, Geneva.

Jean Bodin on Action and Contemplation.pdf

Creative Commons: Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

This essay offers a new interpretation of Bodin’s stance on the classic issue of action and contemplation -- a vexata quaestio of Bodinian scholarship that takes us to the heart of Bodin's views on ethics, politics, and theology. Taking into account the entire arc of Bodin's production, from the Methodus to the Paradoxon, the article considers Bodin's changing views on the 'best form of life' and argues that towards the end of his life Bodin came to redefine completely the problem by positing a third stage of human experience, which he called "reflection" (actus reflexus in Latin, reflexion in French) and described as the passive enjoyment of God's light reflected in the human soul as in a mirror. The article explores how Bodin's theory of reflection relates to his theology and spirituality, on the one hand, and to his ethical views on the other. By raising the question of Bodin’s sources for this theory, the article also uncovers his profound debts to late-medieval Scholasticism and Christian mysticism, especially that of Nicholas of Cusa.

Creators: Miglietti, Sara (0000-0003-2872-1400) and
Subjects: Classics
Culture, Language & Literature
Divisions: Warburg Institute
  • 1 January 2020 (accepted)


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