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Dr H. Martensen p3

Dr H. Martensen on naivete…

He writes that the same world which shows us the tragic, shows us the comic:

The comic contemplation of the world views it not as a world of sin, of guilt, of destiny, but as one of folly and fortuitous occurrences. Here is no painful contrast, but one entirely painless, which calls forth in the mind a feeling of pleasure of quite a peculiar kind. But in its inmost essence the world of folly is the world of sinfulness; only where there is sin, where freedom has declined from its ideal, can there be folly. Folly, or the intellectual contrast, the intellectual opposition to the ideal, has its presupposition and origin in the ethical contrast, in the contrast of the will to the ideal.

He writes: In so far as the comic presents itself in human affairs, perhaps no truer explanation of it can be given than that of Vinet in his Studies of Pascal, — namely, that the comic is the naivete of sin: “Le comique est la naivete du peche.” 

Only as long as sin is veiled in the evanescence of naivete can it become the subject for comic apprehension. Its inmost essence, contradiction to the ethical, the religious, is still concealed or kept back under the aesthetic phenomenon of naivete, and therefore the ethical perception of it may also be concealed or withheld.

In whatever forms sin may then present itself, although it be sufficiently reflected, yet in so far as it appears with an addition of simplicity or naivete, in which it unconsciously unfolds and betrays its practical folly, this addition will be capable of furnishing material for comic apprehension.

He writes later of Holberg: The world of narrow-minded citizens which he represents in his comedies is most thoroughly a world of naivete, and the great directness with which all these personages are encumbered prevent moral earnestness from exercising a disturbing effect. 

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