“My times are in your hand…” – Psalm 31:15
Here is the audio from my presentation at the Association of Private Enterprise Education (APEE) conference in Las Vegas on April 14, 2014. It was a pleasure to be on a panel chaired by Howard Baetjer Jr. who was a professor at the first Institute for Humane Studies summer seminar I attended at George Mason University in 2011.
My senior thesis was just posted on VoegelinView.com.
The topic is the relationship between a person’s biography and his or her philosophy. I studied this by reading a particular thinker’s memoirs and relating these to his philosophical writings to show the coherence between his experiences and his insights.
Feel free to take a peek, here.
Chuck is from Toronto, lives in Toronto, and I met him in this Toronto Starbucks. He spoke to me reminiscing about his experiences of moving to Alberta in the 1970s to work in the oil sands. Here’s he discusses the wildlife, scenery, working conditions, and his fond memories.
Here’s his response to my question about negative perceptions of the oil sands.
Tonight I attended a “Catholic Media Ethics” talk at my church. This was my comment and question during Q&A:
Using abstract nouns like “society”, “community”, and “humanity” seems to disregard the important fact that, in reality, there isn’t some perfect consensus; individual persons are divided on every single political, economic, social, and moral question. Do you think there is a ‘media party’ with a consistent ideological bias because of the idea that there is (or can be) a homogenous, social consensus on things when no “shared story of collective humanity” actually exists?
The speaker (from The Catholic Register) shouted, “Satan!!!” and pointed at me while stepping back to distance himself from me. Then he said, “You are a dangerous person. You are giving us an individualistic, neo-liberal view that I don’t think is at all compatible with the Christian concept of community.”
An audience member said with outrage, “Just like Margaret Thatcher!”
The speaker then argued that the neo-liberal view is mainly an economic one and that its adherents have the wrong anthropology.
“What if the ‘neo-liberal’ anthropology is actually quite truthful and ‘Catholic’? I mused.
He said, “Try to make the case sometime.” Then he noted Father Raymond de Souza as an example of a ‘right wing’ Catholic who gets published in The Register.
Nice to have one token conservative.
Given how relevant economics and politics is to our lives, shouldn’t we be able to discuss these controversial topics in the light of faith and from a plurality of perspectives?
I think this is why Father Sirico founded the Acton Institute. And I’m thankful he did. Acton University is the first place I ever learned the term “philosophical anthropology.” Michael Matheson Miller told us that JPII had said, “The fundamental problem of socialism is anthropological in nature.” What he meant is that socialists give an incorrect account of the human person.
That experience at ActonU was one of the most illuminating and memorable moments of my life and has influenced me personally, academically, and professionally. Who we are and what it fundamentally means to be human persons is a debate that is, of course, not “settled.”
I don’t think that all my fellow Catholics and, more broadly, fellow citizens should think like me. I do hope though that we would be able to think about things together without excommunication from the conversation on the basis of different political and economic perspectives.
It’s the Creed that’s universal among a particular faith community.
Is it not some form of idolatry then to elevate policy opinions (and, dare I add, social doctrine) to the status of dogma?
Here is a presentation I gave at the Southern Political Science Association Conference in New Orleans on January 11, 2014.
In The Phenomenon of Life, Hans Jonas identifies the root of contemporary bioethical problems in the incorrect philosophical anthropology of mind-body dualism. What does this modern prejudice have to do with bioethical issues today from in vitro fertilization to euthanasia? Listen here! (20 min.)
I welcome your comments, critiques, responses, and recommended reading.
This post is dedicated with gratitude to Barry Cooper who first introduced me to Hans Jonas and helped me to study and love these questions.
After two years of graduate studies at the university, I felt that I did not have a sufficiently good education to merit the degree of Doctor in Philosophy. I confided my worries to one of the professors, who said: “What would you like to have in education?” I said: “I should like to know two things—first, what the modern world is thinking about; second, how to answer the errors of modern philosophy in the light of the philosophy of St. Thomas.” He said: “You will never get it here, but you will get it at the University of Louvain in Belgium.
— Fulton J. Sheen, Treasure in Clay
I arrived to the Brussels airport on Sunday morning. From there, I found my way to the train and purchased a ticket to Leuven where I would meet my friend Dan, who is studying there, and who I met at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute First Principles seminar this past summer at Samford University in Alabama. At the closing picnic, he and I had struck up a conversation, along with Vinny, who was studying at Leuven with Dan, too. We hit it off quickly discussing existentialism, phenomenology, and mysticism. They both encouraged me to consider studying at Leuven and to, at the very least, visit. So the seeds planted during that one conversation in Alabama were now bearing fruit in Belgium.