Jan Amos Komensky

Jan Ámos Komenský is known to the world by the Latin form of his name, Comenius. He was born in 1592 in Moravia. He was one of the chief representatives of the Czech Brethren, a philospher, theologian, and educational reformer. In 1628 he went into exile, never to return. He died in 1672 in Naarden, in the Netherlands, where he is buried. Among his writings are Labyrint světa a ráj srdce (The Labyrinth of the World and the Paradise of the Heart), Orbis pictus, Brána jazyků otevřená (The Gate of Languages Opened), Didactica Magna, and the unfinished General Treatise on the Remedy of Human Affairs (De Emendatione Rerum Humanarum Consultatio Catholica), from which I offer a few quotes:
  • "To teach is to lead from the known to the unknown."
  • "If we look into the causes of our problems, we find that they come from the fact that people are able neither to govern nor to be governed. They do not know how to govern others, and they do not know how to govern themselves. They do not know how to be governed by others; they do not know how to be governed by themselves."
  • "One should speak when necessary, and be silent when necessary. Truthful speech is simple. When action is needed and not words, act and spare words. How many there are who only speak, when it is necessary to act. He who has much to accomplish and much to prove, should speak little."
  • "The essence of longevity is not to live in idleness, but rather to be constantly and passionately at work. For the lazy person it is always night and sleep, for the industrious person, day and wakefulness. Sloth is like being buried alive. The slothful person is as though dead. So have death always before your eyes. Just as we all are born, so we all must die. The only uncertainty is when. And on that very point hangs eternity."
  • "The goal of human society is general peace and safety. And the good of the people must be the greatest concern of any republic or kingdom. Thus everything must be prevented which could in any way disturb society, confuse or complicate or sever social ties and personal safety. And the first among these things is war."
  • "We must strive without let to restore to humankind freedom of thought, freedom of conscience, and civic freedom. Freedom, I insist, is the most splendid condition, created together with man and indivisible from him. So lead man as much as possible toward freedom."

And finally Komensky's message from the time when the Czech state was deprived of its independence and religious freedom: "And I trust in God that when this storm of anger, brought down on our heads for our own sins, has passed, government of your affairs will return to you once again, O Czech people."

Orbis pictus ( by University of Minnesota )

The Labyrinth of the World and the Paradise of the Heart !

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