Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Truth Vs. Tolerance

Donald De Marco, co-author of Architects of the Culture of Death and a favorite columnist of mine, writes this in the Catholic Educator's Resource:
In today’s post-modern world, the notion that truth leads to freedom is regarded as narrowly Catholic and intolerant of other religious views. The new blueprint in the post-modern world is that tolerance, not truth, leads to freedom. This is a crossroad and a crisis to which Pope Benedict XVI has given considerable thought and verbal expression.

When he was known to the world as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he produced a book, Truth and Tolerance that confronts this very issue of the place of truth in the post-modern world. He recognizes that so much importance is now attached to tolerance, that it has been separated from truth, which, in turn, has been relegated to the sphere of mere opinion.

To state the matter quite simply: Tolerance has been absolutized, while truth has been relativized. Keep reading ...

1 comment:

David Nybakke said...

Thank you for this post, Ath. DeMarco is right on about the problem of subordinating truth to tolerance. I have been going over my lines in a role from The Passion for our Good Friday service and every time I get to Pilate’s flippant question, what is Truth? I shudder as I wonder how many of us in the pews would dare to give an answer for fear of offending (or a fear of not knowing).

So as I read this article I am going along and saying yes, yes and yes... and then … I get hung up on his insistence of philosophy and I wonder if his 'argument' is not much more than an end-around dance. I quickly reach for Girard and Bailie to help me once again side with Donald De Marco hoping that his use of philosophy is not just another cover-up of violence, the same violence he argues that tolerance is inevitably tied to.

Since the attempt to understand religion on the basis of philosophy has failed, we ought to try the reverse method and read philosophy in the light of religion. René Girard

The word of the Cross is, therefore, the kind of blunt and honest talk about the violence that religion and philosophy cover over with ritual, myth, and rhetoric, even and especially the myth and rhetoric of nonviolent rationality. Robert Hamerton-Kelly

Gil writes in chapter 13 Violence Unveiled:
”The business of myth has always been to generate a system of language removed from, but not entirely separated from, the events to which the words refer.”
“The philosophical tradition is at this moment exhausting the last of its intellectual resources in an effort to account for its intellectual exhaustion. The question remains: Where is the truth that will set us free? Where might we find an interpretive tool capable of countering the enormous powers of mystification that are still at work in our world? And where might we find the inspiration to live in the light of what we discover?”

In an interview of Girard where he takes on Eric Gans' theory which is based heavy upon a philosophical interpretation of the originary scene:

"...But what I would like to see is a more genetic engine of representation rather than a scene which to me is too philosophical, too conceptual to start with. What I like about the scapegoat genesis is precisely the fact that it avoids the philosophical dilemma of a sudden shift from non-representation to representation. You understand, the main thing here is that ritual and prohibition in their most elementary form precede representation. They slowly become representable and finally they are represented. The problem for me with Eric is that he never talks about archaic material; rituals in particular. Ritual, myth and prohibition are interpretable through the scapegoat theory, which I think has never happened before."

Like all of our institutions, I really feel that our educational system is under attack and one problem is that when something is threatened we grab for the same old tools used in the same old ways to defend it. Bringing a much needed Christological anthropology to our understanding of all or our knowledge centers (like philosophy) and sciences is truly needed. Obviously, everything I say here runs contra to the “spirit of tolerance” so there is not much hope for it advancing.

Again, thank you for this great article.