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Behind Dante’s adverse judgement of Celestine stood the Thomist concept of recusatio tensionis, the unworthy refusal of a task within one’s natural powers. Petrarch however disagreed with Dante’s appraisal, seeing virtue in Celestine’s adoption instead of the contemplative life, an early modern instance of the tension between action and contemplation – the vita activa and the vita contemplativa.
- Northrop Frye considered that “the ‘gran refuito’, the voluntary surrender of one’s appointed function, is a frequent source of tragedy in Shakespeare”, as for example with Lear’s Division of the Kingdoms.
- Alfred North Whitehead used the phrase ‘great refusal’ for the determination not to succumb to the facticity of things as they are – to favour instead the imagination of the ideal.
- Herbert Marcuse took up Whitehead’s concept to call for a refusal of the consumer society in the name of the liberating powers of art.
- Jacques Le Goff considered that “the ‘hippie’ movement is indicative of the permanent character – re-emerging at precise historical conjunctures – of the adepts of the ‘gran rifiuto’”.
- Dante, Hell (Penguin 1975) p. 86-7
- Great refusal
- A Oldcorn, Lectura Dante' (1998) p. 42
- A Oldcorn, Lectura Dante (1998) p. 44
- J H Hexter, On Historians (London 1979) p. 260
- N Frye, Fools of Time (London 1967) p. 109
- F Webster, Theories of the Information Society (2002) p. 201
- D Kellner, Herbert Marcuse and the Crisis of Marxism (1984) p. 276-8
- J Le Goff, Time, Work, & Culture in the Middle Ages (London 1980) p. 232