Postmodern Conservative

Schall Talk

First off, there is a deluge of “what the other candidates can learn from Trump” or “there are plenty of good reasons why lots of Americans are so ticked off they will vote for Trump” articles out over the last couple of days. Stage 2 is almost completely mainstreamed and rife with spins, along with serious efforts to listen and learn.

Second, there’s some controversy over whether “Puff the Magic Dragon” has anything to do with drug use.  I don’t know for sure. I do know that little John Paper loved that rascal Puff.

Meanwhile, he’s an excerpt from my Schall talk:

Schall says he gives Catholic readings of the Apology, the Gorgias, the Republic, the Laws, Aristotle’s Ethics, and so forth.  Those Catholic readings often borrow from Straussian readings, and, in fact, often do so in ways more faithful to the instructional intention of the dialogue itself than are the Straussian authors themselves.

On the Apology, Schall says that the real choice is the way of Socrates or the way of modern technology. For Socrates, the one true progress is toward wisdom and virtue over a particular life. And although Socrates made a point of obeying the law, he also disses it by showing how it is not genuinely open to those who searched for the truth about god and virtue.  The early Christians, Schall again echoes Ratzinger, were confused with atheists, because they denied the existence of the gods of the city.  And they were much more concerned with the personal truth about than the political utility of theology. For them, nobody is meant to be a citizen above all.

Socrates doesn’t go as far to say he disbelieves in the city’s gods, but almost nothing about their claims for the truth survive his searching examination. And Socrates emphatically doesn’t say that only the rare philosopher is exempt from the requirement to be wholly or uncritically  devoted to the laws and their gods. In the Apology, he exhorts everyone to care about wisdom and virtue more than money and power. And he says that that he’s undertaken his personal mission on behalf of god because both the law and atheistic, materialistic nature science (and its vulgarization into techno-sophistry) don’t tell him what he most needs to know.

For now, Socrates says, he differs from his critics in knowing he doesn’t know enough to educate others, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t think they need educating

 So the Apology is basically agnostic, and Socrates, unlike the most devoted citizens and the materialist thinkers and technicians, remains a searcher and seeker. But for a Catholic reader that’s because he doesn’t know of the alternative of the personal logos of the Bible, what would connect for the philosopher the law’s just claim for personal virtue and love and the natural scientist’s insight that all of being is infused with reason.



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