|Searle Lansing-Jones (1925-2018)|
In my discussion of precursors to the Ganymede model of virtue and vice, I gave credit to Solomon, Confucius, Aristotle, Nietzsche, Steiner, and G -- but I didn't think of C. S. Lewis. Now it occurs to me that Lewis's short essay "The Necessity of Chivalry" (which can be found in the anthology Present Concerns and probably elsewhere) prefigures one of the key concepts of the Ganymede model: that there are pairs of complementary (seemingly "opposite") virtues, and the greatest virtue is found not in finding some Aristotelian mean between the two, but in (paradoxically) maximizing both. Here is some of what Lewis had to say about chivalry.
[W]e cannot do better than turn to the words addressed to the greatest of all the imaginary knights in Malory's Morte Darthur. "Thou wert the meekest man," says Sir Ector to the dead Launcelot. "Thou wert the meekest man that ever ate in hall among ladies; and thou wert the sternest knight to thy mortal foe that ever put spear in the rest."
(Note: I didn't realize until just now that wert was used this way in Malory's day; King James English, a century and a quarter later, would use wast in such sentences, reserving wert for the subjunctive.)
The important thing about this ideal is, of course, the double demand it makes on human nature. The knight is a man of blood and iron, a man familiar with the sight of smashed faces and the ragged stumps of lopped-off limbs; he is also a demure, almost maidenlike, guest in hall, a gentle, modest, unobstrusive man. He is not a compromise or happy mean between ferocity and meekness; he is fierce to the nth and meek to the nth. When Launcelot heard himself pronounced the best knight in the world, "he wept as he had been a child that had been beaten."
This fits right into the Ganymede model, with ferocity as a Hot/Ahuric/Type-2 virtue, and meekness as its Cool/Devic/Type-1 counterpart. The corresponding vices are easy enough to work out.
Note: I wanted very much to illustrate this post with a photo of the abstract sculpture Knight by the late Searle Lansing-Jones, whom I knew when I was a missionary in Kanab, Utah, in 1998, and who passed away in 2018. It has stuck with me all these years as a powerful expression of the paradox of chivalry. Since no photos of that piece can be found on the Internet, I have used a photo of Searle himself -- who, as an ex-Marine who fought at Iwo Jima and one of the gentlest men I have ever known, embodied something of the knightly ideal himself.