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Browne, Sir Thomas

Category: Mystic

It is extremely difficult to classify Sir Thomas Browne as he was a writer, poet, philosopher and scientist.  However, he also had a deep mystical streak, as such I have classified him principally as a mystic.  The following description is derived from Wikipedia

Sir Thomas Browne (1605 – 1682) was an English author of varied works which reveal his wide learning in diverse fields including medicine, religion, science and the esoteric.

Browne's writings display a deep curiosity towards the natural world, influenced by the scientific revolution of Baconian enquiry, while his Christian faith exuded tolerance and goodwill towards humanity in an often intolerant era. A consummate literary craftsman, Browne's works are permeated by frequent references to Classical and Biblical sources and to his own highly idiosyncratic personality. His literary style varies according to genre, resulting in a rich, unusual prose that ranges from rough notebook observations to the highest Baroque eloquence. Although he was described as suffering from melancholia, Browne's writings are also characterised by wit and subtle humour.

Browne is widely considered one of the most original writers in the English language. Though by no means free from credulity, the freshness and ingenuity of his mind invested everything he touched with interest; while on more important subjects his style, if frequently rugged and pedantic, often rises to the highest pitch of stately eloquence.

His paradoxical place in the history of ideas, as both a promoter of the new inductive science, as an adherent of ancient esoteric learning .. have greatly contributed to his ambiguity in the history of ideas. For these reasons, the literary critic Robert Sencourt succinctly assessed him as "an instance of scientific reason lit up by mysticism ".

Added to this are the complexity of his labyrinthine thought and his ornate language, along with his many allusions to the Bible, Classical learning and to a variety of esoteric authors. These factors combine to account for why Browne remains obscure, little-read and much-misunderstood.

 

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