Philosophical Reflection

It is not irrelevant that, from the standpoint of Catholic teaching, philosophical reflection and enquiry are activities of crucial importance for human beings in every culture.  This puts Catholic teaching seriously at odds with the dominant culture of secularized modernity, for which philosophy is generally understood as just one more specialized form of academic activity, important perhaps for those whose interests incline them toward that sort of thing, but something that has little relevance to practical affairs, somethning that can be safely be ignored by the huge majority of humankind, that is in no way an indispensable part of an adequate education.  Yet it is the claim of the church that these attitudes toward philosophy themselves have philosophical presuppositions, presuppositions that, if left unarticulated and uncriticized, make it impossible to think purposefully and rigorously about those existential questions to which the acknowledgement of God’s self-revelation provides the only adequate response.. The tasks that confront Catholics in the face of this cultural challenge are both theological and philosophical.  For philosophical enquiry is needed “to clarify the relationship between truth and life, between event and doctrinal truth, and above all between trancendent truth and humanly comprehensible language.” So concludes the seventh and last chapter of the encyclical [Fides et Ratio: On the relationship between Faith and Reason]  — pp120-121 in Alasdair MacIntyre’s “God, Philosophy, Universities – A Selective History of the Catholic Philosophical Tradition”

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