Sacrifice of the intellect
The sacrifice of the intellect (sacrificium intellectus, sometimes rendered in Italian, sacrifizio dell'intelletto) is a concept associated with Christian devotion, particularly with the Jesuit order. It was the "third sacrifice" demanded by the founder of the Jesuits, St. Ignatius Loyola, who required
besides entire outward submission to command, also the complete identification of the inferior's will with that of the superior . [Loyola] lays down that the superior is to be obeyed simply as such and as standing in the place of God, without reference to his personal wisdom, piety or discretion; that any obedience which falls short of making the superior's will one's own, in inward affection as well as in outward effect, is lax and imperfect; that going beyond the letter of command, even in things abstractly good and praise-worthy, is disobedience, and that the "sacrifice of the intellect" is the third and highest grade of obedience, well pleasing to God, when the inferior not only wills what the superior wills, but thinks what he thinks, submitting his judgment, so far as it is possible for the will to influence and lead the judgment.
The concept was taken up in a more individualistic sense by the Jansenist thinker Blaise Pascal, and particularly by the existentialist thinker Søren Kierkegaard, who thought that the act of faith requires a leap into the void, which amounts to a sacrifice of the intellect and reason. This was quintessentially expressed in the traditional dictum, credo quia absurdum, "I believe because it is absurd." This view of faith is rejected by the Catholic church, which regards reason as a path towards direct knowledge of God.
- Max Weber states: "There is absolutely no 'unbroken' religion working as a vital force, which is not compelled at some point to demand the credo non quod, sed credo quia absurdum - the "sacrifice of the intellect.""
- According to Paul Pruyser, "Sacrifice of the intellect, demanded by a good many religious movements and blithely if not joyously made by a good many religious persons, is surely one of the ominous features of neurotic religion."
- Encyclopædia Britannica, 11th edition, "JESUIT". Available online.
- S. Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling. (Copenhagen: 1843)
- See St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica; Pope John Paul II, encyclical Fides et ratio.
- Max Weber, "World Rejection and Theodicy", ch.8. See H.H. Gerth and C.W. Mills, From Max Weber: essays in sociology (1948, 2002), p.352
- Paul Pruyser, "The Seamy Side of Current Religious Beliefs," in H. Newton Maloney & Bernard Spilka, eds. Religion in Psychodynamic Perspective: The Contributions of Paul Pruyser (Oxford 1991): 51.
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