Philosophy

The Virtue of Piety: The Catholic Response to the Alt-Right

Last week, in the pages of Crisis, Jerry Salyer diagnosed the pagan roots of the growing movement known as the “Alternative” or “Alt-Right” in the writings of French political theorist Alain de Benoist. Salyer’s implication that Catholics should avoid the Alt-Right because of its paganism and innate hostility to Christianity is correct. Moreover, his call [...]

A Defense of Beauty and Excellence from the Classical Tradition

There are many serious problems facing moderns, but one of the most troubling—and worrying—is the loss and degradation of beauty, not just in the arts, but in society as a whole. Classical Greek philosophy, to which Catholic philosophy largely inherited and preserved, maintained that beauty and morality were intertwined with one another. When Christianity began [...]

A Czech Philosopher Comes to the Defense of Truth

In contrast to lie or error, truth is usually understood as an idea that corresponds to reality (or the quality of such an idea), and the existence and accessibility of truth is taken for granted. But the gap between common sense and “critical thinking” concerning truth is very wide. Modern philosophers have explored the obstacles [...]

Is Scholasticism Making a Comeback?

“Truth is the self-manifestation and state of evidence of real things. Consequently, truth is something secondary, following from something else. Truth does not exist for itself alone. Primary and precedent to it are existing things, the real. Knowledge of truth, therefore, aims ultimately not at ‘truth’ but, strictly speaking, at gaining sight of reality.” ∼ [...]

The Reasonableness of Religious Belief

I have always been a believer. Among other reasons, that’s because I think rationality demands it. When I talk about “belief” here, I mean it in a very broad sense, which is not synonymous with “Catholic” or even “Christian”; Sikhs, Hindus and Zoroastrians might all qualify, and I myself was raised in the LDS church [...]

Faith & Reason in the Barbarian Winter

Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius (480-524), best known for his Consolation of Philosophy, is one of the most fascinating and puzzling figures from Late Antiquity. He was born in that time of transition in Western Europe that brought an end to the Roman Empire and saw the rise of the barbarian successor states, which have ruled [...]

A Womb with Three Views

It did not happen. But it could have happened. It is a matter of historical record that Plato was born in Ancient Greece, Aquinas in the Middle Ages, and Jean-Paul Sartre in the Twentieth Century. Yet it would not have been impossible, in the lottery of life, for all three of these talented thinkers to [...]

Russell Kirk on the Moral Imagination

In the franchise bookshops of the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred eighty-one, the shelves are crowded with the prickly pears and the Dead Sea fruit of literary decadence. Yet no civilization rests forever content with literary boredom and literary violence. Once again, a conscience may speak to a conscience in the pages [...]

Gift Books of Christian Wisdom: A Syllabus for Our Era

Despite the recent, precipitous decline in Western education, most people do realize that going to college entails reading books. Of course, thoughtful men question the kinds of books which students are getting assigned these days. As a remedy, I’d like to list books almost no one in college will mention to students. Hopefully, they will [...]

A Portrait of Dietrich Von Hildebrand

The name Dietrich von Hildebrand is not, perhaps, as well known as it should be among intelligent and literate Catholics -- or, for that matter, among Christians of any ilk. He is a man whom Pius XII referred to as “a 20th-century doctor of the Church.” Those who remember this pontiff will recall that he [...]

Natural Law for Doubters

With so many natural foods available these days for your health and nutrition, you might find yourself looking for natural and legal food for your mind. Now, Edward B. McLean, Beesley professor of political science at Wabash College, has served such fare. Common Truths: New Perspectives on Natural Law is a feast of views offered [...]

Jesus at First Sight

Some years ago, at an excellent high school in Minneapolis, I taught a seminar to junior boys on ancient and early Christian authors. The course began with a full-length reading of Homer's Iliad, and at Christmas, with the seminar half over, my informal poll always revealed that this was the boys' favorite work up to [...]

What Plato Advises

During the Labor Day holiday, I read two dialogues of Plato, the "Timaeus" and the "Parmenides." These are among Plato's longer and more difficult dialogues -- the first about creating the world, and the second about the One. In the "Timaeus," we read: "As the ancient proverb well puts it, 'Only a man of sound [...]

What Is ‘Roman Catholic Political Philosophy’?

A course in "Roman Catholic Political Philosophy" is rarely found in any academic institution, including those sponsored by the Church. We do find courses titled "Religion and Politics," "Social Doctrine of the Church," or "Church and State" -- but "Roman Catholic Political Philosophy" is something different. Going back to Plato, it is common to find [...]

Explaining the Philosophy Major

For someone who doesn't feel very comfortable with small talk, college has been a great help. By the time eleventh grade rolled around, conversations with strangers were easy. Why? Because I didn't have to start them. "What schools are you looking at?" "Have you applied?" "Have you gotten in?" Once I entered college, the questions [...]

Natural Law without Nature? Aquinas to the Rescue

Natural law has had a hard time in the modern world. Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) castigated the natural law theorists of his day for promoting "personal opinions and sentiments" as standards of right and wrong. He offered utilitarianism as a replacement, versions of which have taken the lead in modern university courses on ethical theory. Immanuel [...]

Inclusive Language and the Liturgy

I belong to a relatively liberal congregation. For instance, the former pastor often applied St. Paul's admonition about "freedom from the law" to Vatican "laws," and asked for and received an exemption from the 2002 reemphasis by our bishop on kneeling after the Sanctus; and the present pastor, before the last election, mentioned in a [...]

Six Imperfect Metaphors for Conversion

   A friend's therapist once suggested that she consider becoming Episcopalian. Wouldn't that be so much easier than wrestling with all her Catholic angst?   This suggestion made me think about the many misconceptions and stereotypes surrounding religious faith -- and, maybe especially, religious conversion. No metaphor can really capture the wild variety of conversion [...]

Sense and Nonsense: A Conversation with Rev. James V. Schall, S.J.

  Crisis Magazine music critic Robert R. Reilly sat down with noted writer, political thinker, and Georgetown University professor Rev. James V. Schall, S.J., to talk about the life of the mind, the future of the West, and lessons learned over a long career in education. ♦           ♦           ♦ Robert R. Reilly: What is the [...]

The Ale-Drinker’s Answer to Hegel: Chesterton’s The Everlasting Man

One of the books I'm teaching this semester is a title that, over the years, I've found indispensable for my sanity, such as it is: G. K. Chesterton's The Everlasting Man. If you don't know the book, stop reading now. Click over and order your copy. Go ahead, I can wait . . .   [...]

Bridge Walkers

Since the bridge in Minneapolis collapsed, the world has become bridge-conscious. In natural law class this semester, I said to the students: "What is the 'natural law of bridges?'" I was thinking of J. M. Bochenski's chapter on "law" in his Philosophy: An Introduction. Bochenski shows that a relation exists between the mind and the [...]

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