Leadership Symposium

Leadership Future Issues

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Cutting Edge Problems in Philosophy:
Aristotle's Lost Book and Scholastic Leaders

Recent Culture:  The general public favors philosophical topics.  Umberto Eco's best seller The Name of the Rose (1980) was made into a movie.  The novel's hero was originally intended ot be the philosopher William of Occam (page 514), the ambient is Scholastic Philosophy "in" (not "of") the Middle Ages (page 511), and the "discovery" (page 506) was the lost book of Aristotle, the second book of the Poetics.  Found in the monastery library (pages 467-473) and found by deduction from the Rhetoric and the extant first Poetics:  "Gradually this second book took shape in my mind as it had to be... without reading the pages (pages 472-473).  Also, Glenn Yeffeth wrote Taking the Red Pill: Science, Philosophy and Religion in The Matrix.  William Irwin in The Matrix and Philosophy struggles with man's biggest conundrums:  the nature of reality, the mind-body problem, and the ethics of alien labor in late-capitalist society.  Irwin also edited Seinfield and Philosophy and Simpsons and Philosophy.  Jostein Gaarder and Paulette Moller wrote the Norwegian bestseller Sophie's World: A Novel About the History of Philosophy.  Lou Marinoff advocates practical philosophy, The Big Questions:  How Philosophy Can Change Your Life.
Best Sellers:  In June 2004, Globusz Publishing listed its "Top Sellers" in philosophy:  The Second Treatise on Civil Government by John Locke, Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes, The Marx-Engles Reader (1978) edited by Richard C. Tucker, The Art of War by Niccolo Machievelli, Complete Works of Aristotle, Plato: Complete Works, The Presocratic Philosophers, and Socrates by W. K. C. Guthrie.  Note that there are no Scholastic philosophers in the popular list.
Problem:  The future of Scholastic Philosophy looks poor.  "The survey data... philosophy departments at Catholic colleges... do not attach more than moderate importance to hiring Catholics... departments that do... probably some very unpleasant choices in the years ahead," notes Paul J. Weithman, "Philosophy at Catholic Colleges and Universities in the United States," in American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 73 (1999): 312.  "Higher education... dwindling financial resources... in the scale of profit-making disciplines philosophy ranks last," notes Joachim Jung, "The Future of Philosophy," in 20th World Council of Philosophy.  Mark Allen Walker writes, "For the last hundred years or so we have heard the call for the end or 'death' of traditional philosophy, what might be thought of as the 'Plato to Hegel' canon... This call has been issued by some of the most important thinkers and movements in this period:  from James to Rorty, Nietzsche to Derrida, from logical posivitism to naturalized epistemology," notes Mark Allen Walker, "Prolegomena to Any Future Philosophy," in The Transhumanist, vol. 10.
Negative Future from Biology:  "Christianity has brought this religious and philosophic diaster upon itself, professor Darwin argues... Roman Catholic form is still wedded to a scholastic philosophical structure which is inappropriate... in evolutionary and functional terms," notes Emerson W. Shideler in Theology Today 24 (1967): 389.
Nagative Future from Physics:  "Modern physics has been used here as an example... Therefore, it will never be possible by pure reason to arrive at absolute truth," notes Werner Heisenberg, Physics and Philosophy (Allen and Irwin, 1959), chapter five.

Favorable Future from Popes:  Modern papal tradition favors Scholastic Philosophy:  "restored" by Pope Leo XIII in Aeterni Patris (1879), declared "useful" by Pope St. Pius X in Angelicis Doctoris (1914), and favored St. Thomas Aquinas in the encyclical of Pope Pius XI Studiorum Ducem (1923).  Pope John Paul II seems to call for a new Thomism in paragraph 91 of Fides et Ratio (1998); cf. John Deely, "How to Go Nowhere with Language: Remarks on John O;Callaghan," American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 82, no.2 (Spring 2008): 343.  
Favorable Future from the Early Twentieth Century:  Etienne Gilson (1884-1978) was convinced of the perennial value of the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas.  Charles Martel beat the Arabs at the Battle of Poitiers in A.D. 732, and the Scholastics beat Averroism.  Today, as then, Scholasticism is the only system that has a complete and consistent solution to all the problems of the human intellect.  Jacques Maritain (1885-1973) agreed by saying the humanistic solution to life problems can be reached only through Scholastic philosophy.  Its truths are valid for all times and places.
Mixed Future from the Late Twentieth Century:  A relevant philosophy must:  1) reflect themes of popular culture, 2) dialogue with science, 3) encourage a Socratic life, 4) dialogue with modern philosophers, and 5) speak to public life, says Ronald Anderson, "The Future of Philosophy in Jesuit Higher Education," in Jesuit Education 21 (25 June 1999).  Joachim Jung of the Boltzmann Institute, Vienna, notes, "What we need is an active policy which makes it clear that philosophy should be involved in scientific life... practical life... philosophical narrative and above all the success of Jostein Gaarder's novels... The future of academic philosophy, the question of whether it will revive or continue to decline, solely depends on its ability to adapt to the requirements of our time.  See Joachim Jung, "The Future of Philosophy," in 20th World Council of Philosophy.
Favorable Future from Chicago:  "...by the eve of World War II, a kind of scholasticism was being taught even in some secular colleges, among them the University of Chicago under Mortimer Adler and Richard McKeon, where the joke ran that atheist professors taught Catholic philosophy to Jewish students...," notes James Hitchcock, "Postmortem on a Rebirth: The Catholic Intellectual Renaissance," in Years of Crisis (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1985).  "The Catholic intellectual revival, apart from its specific content, represented a unique twentieth century cultural phenomenon... The dominant style of modern thougth has been the contestation of all traditions...," Ibid.  Mortimer Adler (1902-2001) taught at the University of Chicago from 1930 and at the age of 95 was writing his 60th book, The New Technology: Servant or Master?  Adler converted to Catholicism in 1999.  David Tracy notes, "Aquinas is, I believe, one of the dozen greatest philosophers of the western world... Happily, Thomas Aquinas' person and thought will probably survive the 1970s... Yet when all is said and done, Thomas will survive," David Tracy, "Two Cheers for Thomas Aquinas," in Christian Century (6 March 1974): 260-262.
Favorable Future from Lonergan Studies:  Bernard Lonergan (1904-1984) developed a "generalized empirical method".  Ordained a Catholic priest in 1936, he wrote Insight in the 1950s and Method in Theology in the 1970s.  "The success of the natural sciences confirms that the mind reached knowledge from data... Lonergan generalized the notion of data to include the date of consciousness as well as the data of sense... ascend through hypothesis to verification... what is meaningful and what is valuable...," notes Tad Dunne, "Bernard Lonergan" in The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.  Further, The American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 78 (Winter 2004) has three articles on Lonergan out of its eight presentations.

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