Saturday, July 2, 2011

Another Blogger on the Relation between Metaphysics and Ethics

        James V. Schall, S. J., in a blog entitled "On 'Catholic' Universities", on the website "The Catholic Thing",  expressed some ideas very similar to what I have been working towards. That is, that metaphysical questions should be discussed prior to any discussion of ethical issues. The purpose of his article is to discuss a problem with many modern universities. Near the middle of his article he says the following:

         "Why is it that the bulk of the education provided at such great cost to both graduates and undergraduates by our best schools," Fortin wondered, "is so often perceived by the students themselves as anemic and antiseptic to the nth degree?" Fortin’s comment echoes one of Allan Bloom’s, namely, that the unhappiest students today are found in twenty or thirty "best" and most expensive universities. In their teeming minds, they find that they have arrived at the “best” schools, spent all this money, but are left basically empty of soul.
Fortin goes on with his explanation: “The reason, I suppose, is that most faculty members are themselves products of the modern research university and imbued with its peculiar ethos.” “What is this peculiar ethos?” we inquire. It is this: We do our research on man without knowing what man is. Indeed, we presuppose or claim we have proved that no human nature exists. Hence, no limits on science or on our “research” can be found.
Leo Strauss had it right in The City and Man: “The conquest of nature requires the conquest of human nature and hence in the first place the questioning of the unchangeability of human nature: an unchangeable human nature might set absolute limits to progress.” It is this “progress” to which our universities are addicted in their “research.”
We set about “creating” a new man and a new humanity. We have given up on virtue with the discipline and grace needed both to understand and practice it. We do not just “lower our sights.” In our complete autonomy from nature and reason, we accept nothing but what we first will." (Schall, James V., On "Catholic" Universities)

We cannot discuss ethical questions until we have first discovered what man is. I have recently posted part 5 of our look at what humans are, we will continue our discussion a little bit later. In the meantime, I would encourage my readers to read the article by James V. Schall, it is quite interesting.

(Permission to quote Schall's article was given by the blog editor of "The Catholic Thing".)