July 23, 2024


Step Into The Technology

On St. Patrick’s Day, Blarney in Pursuit of the Truth| National Catholic Register

6 min read

Father Robert McTeigue’s philosophical pedagogy is blarney at its purest and best.

One particular of the healthiest manifestations of a balanced tradition is the existence of ebook clubs. The gathering of kindred spirits, ideally spherical the fireside or at minimum in the flesh, to talk about worthy tomes, both equally old and new, is a indication of a lively and intellectually vigorous community. Whilst, as a resolute and dyed-in-the-wool techno-minimalist, I would usually advocate these common gatherings above their techno-equivalents, there is a spot in our working day and age for online events and routines, which includes on line e-book golf equipment. It is, for that reason, with wonderful enjoyment that I have relished having with each other just about every week with Father Joseph Fessio and Vivian Dudro of Ignatius Press to document classes of the Fashioned E-book Club. We’ve been accomplishing this for a couple of years now and we’ve mentioned numerous terrific guides. The current title we’re talking about is Actual Philosophy for Actual Individuals: Instruments for Truthful Dwelling by Jesuit Father Robert McTeigue.

I have recognised Father McTeigue for numerous decades. We ended up on the school jointly at Ave Maria University. We got on well, not least due to our shared delight in one malt whiskies and tiny batch bourbons, which were being appreciated in the Queen Mary pub on the edge of campus. Time rolls on and both of those of us rolled with it, in distinctive instructions or, relatively, not in distinct directions in conditions of our shared theology and philosophy, and adore of good literature, but in terms of our geographical locations. In this sense, it has been a blessing to expend some time with him, albeit vicariously, speaking about his most current e book.

A single thing that has struck me in the examining of Father McTeigue’s e-book is how a lot I desire I could have been the proverbial fly on the wall in a person of his lessons at Ave Maria University. This want has been kindled by Father McTeigue’s giving of anecdotal illustrations from his working experience with his learners as a means of illustrating the a lot more summary philosophical points he is generating. The scene is established in this respect by a “parable” at the beginning of the e-book, which sets the scene and the tone for what follows. It is a dialogue among “Al” and “Fred” on the mother nature and meaning of morality. It concludes with Al inquiring whether or not Fred is expressing that morality is meaningless. This is Fred’s reaction:

Definitely philosophical accounts of morality, in mild of the antinomies I’ve just stated, are meaningless. The historical past of philosophical moral reflection is a assortment of quaint and uncomfortable conceits. A systematic, coherent account of the moral life just just cannot be obtained. If you want assistance in morality, just question by yourself right before acting, ‘What is the loving factor to do?’ That is about as reputable as any other attempt as a ethical principle, and it is a ton a lot more concise.

Then will come Father McTeigue’s essay prompt: How ought to Al reply to Fred?

Having read through this introductory “parable”, I wrote “blarney” in the margin of my duplicate of the ebook. It was intended as a compliment, an affectionate nod of deference to Father McTeigue’s Irish ancestry and the way in which I experienced heard him use the reward of the gab in his homilies. This blarney would characterize the relaxation of the e book, in which Father McTeigue sets out, in persona Al, to reply to Fred.

 Reminding ourselves that blarney, according to no a lot less of an authority than almighty Google, is “talk that aims to attraction, pleasantly flatter, or persuade,” we could say that Father McTeigue aims to persuade us charmingly and succeeds in accomplishing so. If flattery is any element of his charm, it is that flattery which aims to persuade and emphatically not that which aims to deceive. Take, for occasion, his charming work of the words and phrases of St. Thomas Aquinas to connect the poet with the thinker:

Now the explanation why the thinker is compared to the poet is that equally are worried with miracles. For the myths with which the poets deal are composed of miracles, and the philosophers them selves are moved to philosophize as a consequence of surprise.

The most endearing aspects of Father McTeigue’s persuasive artwork are the anecdotal jewels, set within just the crown of his rhetoric, primarily individuals jewels that have been mined from his experience in the classroom. There is the story of his becoming asked by the instructor of an eighth-grade class to describe to her pupils why flexibility should really not be equated with license and why “real freedom” is not obtaining to do no matter what we want, with no one owning the appropriate to explain to us usually. Father McTeigue entered the classroom and questioned two younger women in the entrance row if he could analyze their eyeglasses. The women possessing handed them their glasses, he then educated the course: “These glasses are mine now. I am working with my independence to declare them mine. I have not ‘stolen’ them I have merely relocated them.” He then reminded the women that he was more substantial than they are and that he would use his freedom to keep possession of the eyeglasses by power, if needed. He then asked the course irrespective of whether they required to dwell in a earth “wherein this sort of thing will come about to you every day for the rest of your lives.” If not, he advised, they had far better search for a greater definition of freedom.

Father McTeigue is as superior at hammering dwelling the position to his undergraduate students as he is to eighth-graders. Choose, for occasion, this “accurate account of a dialogue I had with a student”:

University student: I’m confident that there is no considerable change concerning a human particular person and any other form of animal. And I required you to be the very first to know.

ME: I’m not convinced that you’re not certain.

College student: Huh?

ME: I’m not convinced that you are certain that there is no considerable distinction involving a human human being and any other sort of animal, since you’re speaking with me and not a squirrel. Not only that, you preferred me to be the 1st to know — what difference would it make whom you explained to 1st if there were being no variance concerning a person animal and a further?

And the point, which he hoped the scholar had grasped, is that “there are some queries we basically cannot find the money for to get completely wrong, and amid them is: ‘What is a human?’”

Inviting us at the time once again to be the privileged fly-on-the-wall in a single of his courses, he clarifies that pupils in the entrance row of his classes “become my props to illustrate philosophical points.” He then recounts his words and phrases to his college students: “Suppose I whacked George in this article in the forehead,” he starts, getting a swipe at George. “What would you believe if, after carrying out so, I appeared at my hand and reported, ‘I surprise why the atoms of that hand did that? Why would the atoms of that hand want to strike George?’”

Is there a much better way of illustrating the absurdity of materialism? 

Father McTeigue has the reward of the gab. His “talk aims to attraction, or persuade.” His pedagogy is blarney at its purest and very best. It is the use of reason to exorcise the forked tongue of deceit. It banishes the sophistry of the serpent with the knowledge of the saint. Saint Patrick would indubitably approve.

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