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Devra Torres

Protagoras and Me

Apr. 15 at 11:14pm

I thought I believed in objective truth.  Then my eight-year-old got diabetes, and I realized I had just been pretending.  It turned out that, practically speaking, I was a relativist.

What's a practical relativist?  Well, did you ever hear of “practical atheism”?  Atheists who know they’re atheists believe there is no God, and they can tell you the reasons why.  These may be carefully considered, coherent reasons, or they may not, but at least these people know what they believe.

A “practical atheist” says he believes in God, but his actions are indistinguishable from an unbeliever's.  This “belief” makes no practical difference in his life. It’s not just that he doesn’t feel God's

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Katie van Schaijik

Six minutes on the greatness of Plato

Jul. 20, 2012, at 4:57pm

The other evening Jules and I found ourselves with some unexpected free time. We asked Alice von Hildebrand if she could tell us about her beloved Plato, so we could record it for members. We gave her 20 minutes to prepare. Making his view of education her theme, she was on such a great roll that I ran for my cell phone to capture at least a few minutes on video. The audio of the rest of part 1 is available to members. Part 2 coming someday soon!

The blue volume beside her is a book of Péguy's poetry.  She's also re-reading Newman's Oxford University Sermons.


Michael Healy

Questions, Answers, and Mystery

Jun. 29, 2012, at 9:41pm

I conceive of the role of the teacher as a helper to the student so that the latter can see some real truth(s) on his own.  The classical root of this conception, of course, is Socrates describing himself as a midwife, helping the other to bring to birth in his own mind a genuine understanding of reality.  This involves a process of discovery requiring a broad openness to questions, challenges, readiness to make modifications, etc.  It requires humility, i.e., an attitude fundamentally acknowledging that reality is transcendent to the mind and that, as Augustine says, the mind is below truth, not above it. 

Nevertheless, it is sometimes the case that anyone who claims to know

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Jules van Schaijik

Truth? Who cares?

Oct. 8, 2010, at 11:43am

An article in the latest American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly (sorry, no link) reminds me of the inspiring story of Jacques and Raïssa Maritain’s encounter with Henri Bergson.

The Maritains, though earnestly looking for ultimate truth and meaning in their lives, had been deeply discouraged by their teachers at the Sorbonne in Paris, all of whom were enthralled by the scientific and atheistic materialism in vogue at the time. These teachers taught them that the truth they were looking for—i.e. absolute truth, truth that goes beyond natural science, truth that is worth living (and dying) for—that such truth did not exist, or, at any rate, was impossible to find.

Raïssa

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Katie van Schaijik

Truth as inter-personal breathing space

Jul. 7, 2009, at 12:58pm

I think I could spend the day posting the new encyclical paragraph by paragraph.  Number three raises a point that came up in the Personalist Project’s recent discussions on forgiveness.  In my experience, conventional Christian “forgiveness thinking” downplays truth in the name of charity.  But more on this later.  (Hint: The idea that to insist on truth is “harsh,” together with demands that it be set aside in the name of peace and “unity” are, I claim, prime characteristics of dysfunctional relationships—relationships where selves are suffocated for lack of due breathing space.)

Meanwhile, here’s the paragraph.

3. Through this close link with truth, charity can be recognized as an

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