Seeking the Truth of Things: Confessions of a (catholic) philosopher
By Al Gini, Acta Publications, 2010, 109 pp., ISBN 978-0-87946-43108, $14.95 (paper).
Reviewed by John E. Shaffett
This is the author's version of a work that was submitted/accepted for publication in the following source:
Catholic Library World, Mar2012, Vol.82 Issue 3, p.224
Who am I? Is there a meaning to Life? How should I work? What is my responsibility to others? These questions and others are addressed by Al Gini in his new book, Seeking the Truth of Things. Gini is professor of Business Ethics and chair of the Department of Management in the School of Business Administration at Loyola University of Chicago. He has also “resident philosopher” on National Public Radio.
In his senior year in college, Gini informed his parents that he would not be going to medical or law school; instead, he would be going to graduate school in philosophy. His parents did not take it well. His father yelled at him and his mother looked at him in disbelief. Gini’s father told him, “After getting great grades and setting up yourself for a real career, you’re going to throw it away on a frou frou degree in philosophy” (9). It took his father several years to accept his decision. Gini remarks that after forty years of studying and teaching philosophy, he has no regrets; however, his father was right about one thing, lawyers make a lot more money than philosophers.
Seeking the Truth of Things is part memoir and part instruction on the important lessons Gini has learned teaching philosophy. For example, he explains his method of teaching philosophy: “Over the past forty years or so, I’ve tried to challenge my students . . . to be respectfully disrespectful of the ideas of others. I’ve encouraged them to dissect and debate wisdom of all kinds . . . I’ve urged them to make up their own minds” (11). Instead of teaching philosophy systematically or historically, Gini practices a Socratic approach to philosophy. Speaking of Socrates, Gini says that to Socrates, “philosophy was a way of life, a way of approaching and seeing the world, a way of thinking” (21). Socrates did not leave us a “series of answers” but a method for asking questions and a way to seek wisdom.
Seeking the Truth of Things is an enjoyable book to read and it has much to teach us. The chapter on work is worth the cost of the book. It is especially relevant at a time of high unemployment. This book is written for the general reader and not for specialists in philosophy. However, philosophers would get much benefit from it.