English 233:  Introduction to Western Humanities - Baroque & Enlightenment

Note on "Hell."

(1) On what line of reasoning did the example afforded by God's choice of such an instrument of punishment (these sorts of afflictions, for this sort of duration) appear to authorize the use of torture and execution to correct and frustrate the pernicious tendencies of heretics and apostates?

(2) What fears did these teachings give rise to? What repressions did these fears authorize? What fears did these repressions themselves generate  not only among those suffering the repression, but among those carrying it out? For example, what suspicions about the political loyalties of "non-believers" did leaders, and their co-religionist supporters, feel themselves "forced" to entertain? What behavior in turn did these suspicions themselves seem to authorize? (How so?)

That is: what is the "vicious circle" that emerged in church-state relations in connection with the Reformation? Why did the idea of "freedom of conscience" seem so nonsensical?

[You may want to take a look at the extra-credit assignment on the history of the idea of Hell.]



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