August 22, 2014

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Creativity and the Wheel of Fortune

John Calvin was famously opposed to Christians attributing good or bad phenomena to luck, chance or fortune. Calvin was entering into a stream of thought that was in full flow by the time he came along; many of the leading lights of the Renaissance had written on the subject of "fortune." For Dante, Fortune (and the word probably should be capitalized for Dante) was a kind of divinely created power, the "general minister and guide" who, as Ross King writes, "doles out good and bad luck more or less unpredictably and inexplicably." Other Renaissance writers, from Boccaccio to Machiavelli to Sir Thomas More, wrestled with the meaning of "fortune" and whether humanity's efforts or virtues had any effect upon it (Ross King, Machiavelli: Philosopher of Power, New York: HarperCollins, 2007, 152-156; and Sebastian de Grazia, Machiavelli in Hell, New York: Vintage/Random House, 1994, 204-215).