Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Pope Benedict XVI: Faith, Reason and the University Part 2

Outline of Pope Benedict's Lecture

  1. He reflects on his early days as a professor at the University of Bonn. 
  2. He states how the theology faculty shared with the other faculties the responsibility for the "right use of reason."
  3. The university was proud of the theology faculty, and this faculty inquired about the reasonableness of faith.
  4. He says that it is still reasonable "to raise the question of God through the use of reason."
  5. He states that violence is "incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul." It is against reason and God to spread the faith through violence.
  6. God is a God of reason. There exists a "profound harmony between what is Greek in the best sense of the word and the Biblical understanding of faith in God."
  7. In the gospel of John, the evangelist says that God is logos which means reason and word--"A reason which is creative and capable of self-communication, precisely as reason."
  8. The encounter between the Biblical message and Greek thought happened because of God's providence, not chance.
  9. During the Hellenistic period, Biblical faith and the best of Greek thought were mutually enriching.
  10. It was in the late Middle Ages that Greek thought and Biblical faith was first separated by Dun Scotus and voluntarism.
  11. The pope disagrees with Muslim teaching that says God is not "bound to truth and goodness" because He is exalted beyond them. Instead, the Christian faith has always asserted that a real analogy exists between reason and God.
  12. There are three stages of Dehellenization. The first occurred with the Protestant reformers because they thought that in scholastic theology they confronted a "faith system totally conditioned by philosophy." A faith system alien to the Biblical faith. The principle of sola scriptura sought faith in a pure form as originally found in the Biblical record. Metaphysics was considered a foreign source. When Kant stated that thinking must be set aside to make room for faith, he carried the reformers program further than they probably would have wanted to go.
  13. The liberal theology of the 19th and 20th centuries ushered in the second stage of DeHellenization. Adolf von Harnack is its leading representative. Harnack's basic idea was to return the man Jesus to his simple message before it was layered with theology. 
  14. Another part of this stage is the synthesis made between Cartesianism and empiricism. This synthesis "presupposes the mathematical structure of matter." It is that structure that makes it possible to understand nature. In addition, it emphasizes exploiting nature for our own benefit. Third, "only the possibility of verification or falsification through experimentation can yield decisive certainty."
  15. Only the kind of certainty that comes from the mathematical and empirical elements can be considered scientific. Therefore, history, psychology, sociology, and philosophy is forced to "conform to this science of canon of scientificity." Of course, this method leaves out the "question of God." If science is only this, then it leads to the reduction of men and women, "for the specific human questions about our origin and destiny, the questions raised by religion and ethics, have no place within the purview of collective reason as defined by science, so understood, and must thus be relegated to the realm of the subjective."
  16. We are in the third stage of DeHellenization. Because of cultural pluralism, it is said today that the "synthesis with Hellenism achieved in the early Church was an initial inculturation which ought not to be binding on other cultures." The pope disagrees. He thinks that the "fundamental decisions made about the relationship between faith and human reason are part of the faith itself."
  17. The pope's reason for this critique of modern thought is for the purpose "of broadening our concept of reason and its application." I have always preferred Thomas Aquinas' view of reason than modern man. The pope is asserting that reason is broader than the empirically falsifiable. 
  18. Theology belongs in the university as "inquiry into the rationality of faith." Both philosophy and theology in "listening to the great experiences and insights of the religious traditions of humanity, and those of the Christian faith in particular, is a source of knowledge, and to ignore it would be an unacceptable restriction of our listening and responding."
  19. It is the task of the university to rediscover this breadth of reason.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Pope Benedict: Faith, Reason and the University

Gained Horizons: Regensburg and the Enlargement of Reason edited by Bainard Cowan. South Bend, IN: ST. Augustine's Press, 2011. 128 pages ISBN 978-1-58731-325-7.

Pope Benedict delivered a lecture at the University of Regensburg on Faith, Reason, and the University on 12 September 2006. It became quickly controversial because he reflected on some comments made by the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paeleogus. Muslims reacted violently because of remarks made by the Byzantine emperor and reflected on by the former pope. Basically, the comments had to do with Muslims and spreading the faith by violence. The offensive words was: "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was knew, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached" (112). The pope's point was that spreading the faith by violence was unreasonable. In addition, "violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the soul." The main point was that acting in violence was acting against reason which was contrary to God's nature. The Muslim teaching taught that God was transcendent, and that His will "was not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality'(113).  The pope is using this historical event to lead into his address about the relationship between faith, reason, and the university. He ties the nature of God with logos-reason. He believes that the university and modern culture must broaden their concept of reason. It must discover the breadth of reason. Modern man's view of reason is too limited. The pope argues there is a real harmony between the best of Greek thought and the Christian faith. He discusses three different stages of dehellenization: the reformation; liberal theology of the 19th and 20th centuries, and the separating faith and human reason.

Gained Horizons: Regensburg and the Enlargement of Reason is a collection of essays that responds to the Pope's lecture. The contributors addressed the lecture from their different disciplines: philosophy, theology, political thought and literary criticism. It analyzes the "broader nature of reason" and the modern forces that work against it in "politics, culture, and education." Some of the leading thinkers are represented in this volume. Jean Betheke Elshtain states that the God approachable by reason is the source of rulers being subject to laws. Peter Augustine Lawler discusses human and divine reason as expressed by the American founders. Marc Guerra discusses how reason and faith was mutually nurtured in the Western Tradition. Nalin Ranasinghe argues that reason as developed in the Greek tradition is an "essential" part of Christianity. It cannot be de-hellenized without harm. Bruce Fingerhut states that voluntarism addressed in the lecture was a source of the violence that reacted to it. However, the greater impact was the voluntarism  in Western theology beginning with nominalism in the Middle Ages. Glenn Arbery shows how people are imprisoned in theory in Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment. R. R. Reno criticizes the modern university because of a lack of ambition in regards to reason. He shows how Pope John Paul and Pope Benedict were defenders of reason. Mary Mumbach discusses the courage shown by Benedict in his lecture. The book contains the complete lecture delivered by Pope Benedict in the appendix. Both the pope's lecture and the essay responses argue for the importance of reason and its harmony with the Christian faith.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Jesuit Model of Education

"The Jesuit Model of Education" was a lecture given at a conference for educators, especially principals, in 2004 by Fr. Michael McMahon. He does a good job in describing the history, objectives, religious emphasis, ends or purposes, means, teaching, curriculum, the role of the classics, and so on. Many of the points made by the authors could be applied to Protestant education.

First, the author describes the history of Jesuit education. He states that even those who criticize Roman Catholicism recognize the great good accomplished by Jesuit education. The Jesuits was founded in 1540 by Ignatius Loyola. The Jesuits were organized for evangelization and apostolic ministry. They quickly realized that the "way to defend the Faith was through education." Jesuits have been educating Catholics for almost 500 years. The Jesuit model of education is based on the Ratio Studiorum,, the Jesuit manual of education. McMahon states, "The landmark achievement of the Jesuits was to give order, hierarchy, structure, unity, and methodology to education." The Ratio Studiorum does not emphasize the theoretical side of education; instead, it focuses on the practical method of organizing and "conducting" schools.


Why did the Jesuits make education an important work of the order? The founder of the order helps us understand the motivation of the Jesuits: "The end of the Society is not only to care for the salvation and perfection of their own souls with divine grace, but with the same [divine grace] seriously devote themselves to the salvation and perfection of their neighbors. For it was especially instituted for the defense and propagation of the Faith, and the progress of souls in Christian life and doctrine." In other words, the motivation was the salvation of their own souls and the souls of others. The Jesuit philosophy of education combined the scholastic philosophy with the teachings of the church, faith and reason. What was of utmost importance was a correct understanding of "human nature as created by Almighty God and the ultimate destiny of man."

We can say that Jesuit education was preparation for both life in this world and for "everlasting life." Their goal was to form the souls of young people for God. The concept of "form" is very important to the model of Jesuit education. They are trying to create a certain type of person. The author notes, "We are intimately involved in the formation of citizens for heaven, souls made for the beautific vision." The Jesuit model of education is not just speaking about the training of the mind. They emphasize the formation of the whole person, mind, body, soul, and character. In addition, they believe the religious end of man or religion needs to permeate every class, not just religious classes.

The Ends

The ultimate end of Jesuit education is to "lead students to the knowledge and love of God." They want to form students a love and knowledge of God, a love and knowledge of the Catholic faith, an enthusiasm for the Catholic faith, and people who will manifest the importance of the Catholic faith in their lives. They are attempting to form Christ in each of their students. McMahon states, "The proximate educational aims are, first, to develop all the powers of the body and soul. It's the whole man that is being formed: his body, senses, memory, imagination, intellect, and will. It is developing, disciplining, and directing all the capacities of the human personality." This is what Jesuits think should be the purpose of education. The Ratio Studiorum states, "The development of the student's intellectual capacity is the school's most characteristic part. However, this development will be defective and even dangerous unless it is strengthened and completed by the training of the will and the formation of character."


The first principle of the curriculum is that "The curriculum is to achieve formation, not just information." I have already mention how important the word form or formation are to the Jesuit model of education. McMahon states, "The curriculum is structured to develop the intellectual and moral habits to form the character." It was a consistent theme of Christian education to form both the mind and character. Part of the goal is to create in the student the skills of learning. There is similarity with the Jesuit Model of education and Mortimer Adler's padeia proposal. The author states that simply providing information does not form the soul. The methodology of Jesuit education was to form the man in such a way that he will be able to think for himself. To think well is accomplished by developing intellectual and moral habits in the student. The second principle of the curriculum is that the "study is to be intensive rather than extensive." Since the goal is to form, not simply to inform the student, and the way to do this is by being intensive, "by studying in depth a relatively small number of subjects rather than superficially studying a large number." It also emphasizes studying the most important things thoroughly. There seems to be much wisdom in the two principles of the curriculum. It does seem that modern education puts too much emphasis on inputting information, instead of forming the student by developing intellectual and moral habits. It also seems true that studying less is studying more.

The Classics

McMahon said for the high school, Jesuits thought that studying the humanities--literature, language, and history was the most important thing. They thought that studying these subjects, without excluding others, "contributed to the balanced formation of the human being, making him a fit receptacle for the grace of God." This is true because the humanities teach "abiding and universal values for human values." They emphasized studying the great classics, books, and authors. They believed the great books were helpful in forming the person. They believed "The great thoughts and the noble deeds seem to make the pages palpitate life." Homer's heroes and their deeds, for example, "flames in the mind long after the music of the language died from the ear, and the beauty of the imagery has faded from the memory." It is these things and things similar that calls for the best in humans which educates them. It should teach praise for what is noble and scorn for what is base. Much of the truths learned through reason will fits snugly with the truths of the Christian faith. McMahon states, "By utilizing these perennial works, the Jesuits formed the soul by noble deeds and great acts; inspired their students and provided a vision for the young mind. These are abiding concepts in education and is why it is so necessary to build our schools upon them. By such studies, the Jesuits fostered in their students the ability to think worthwhile thoughts and express them effectively." In addition, the Jesuits emphasized providing worthwhile knowledge, not just learning anything; encourage students to think things through with their teachers and their peers; to organize their knowledge in a workable form, and to express it effectively. All three columns  of Adler's Padeia Proposal are emphasized in the Jesuit model of education. The Jesuits emphasized the eloquenta perfecta: "knowing the right things, knowing them well, being able to organize them properly, and express them in the proper manner."

These are some of the important points I noticed in the presentation of the Jesuit model of education. Many of these things would be useful for evangelicals in educating their students. One might question the emphasis on memory work, and the emphasis on the teacher. Jesuits have been educating students for over 400 years. It seems that not only Catholics, but other groups should utilize their principles of education.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Paidea Proposal: Mortimer Adler's Proposal to Reform Education

Mortimer J. Adler, The Paideia Proposal: An Educational Manifesto, Simom & Schuster, 1998, 84 pages, ISBN 978-0-684-84188-5.

The Padeia Proposal is Mortimer Adler's proposal for reforming public education. This book presents his philosophy for reforming K-12 public education. Paideia is from the Greek pais, paidos: the upbringing of a child. It is similar to the Latin humanitas related to the term humanities which refers to the general learning that is needed to become an educated human being. Adler's basic proposal is how schooling can help students to become educated persons.

Adler believes that this type of education is required because of two advances in Western Civilization: "universal suffrage and universal schooling." Universal schooling refers to the privilege that all people once they reach a certain age have the right to vote. The second is that individuals are required to go to school for several years. One requirement of this schooling is to prepare students to fulfill their citizenship duties.

Adler believes there should be "a one-track system of schooling." In other words, he believes there should be one type of education for all students. In disagrees with the two track system of sending one group of students to college prep courses and another group of students to vocational courses. He believes that the best education for the best should be the best education for all. He thinks schooling should prepare students "for the duties of self-governing citizenship and for the enjoyment of things of the mind and spirit that are essential to a good human life." The end of education should determine the means of education. John Dewey said that vocational training is "not the education of free men and women." Adler agrees that students are "educable in various degrees," but he still believes that all students should receive the "same kind and quality of education."

Adler sees education as "a lifelong process of which schooling is only a small but necessary part." He believes schooling is to provide the tools to become educated in a lifetime. He thinks the ultimate goal of schooling "is to help human beings become educated persons." He generally thinks that people do not become educated till they reach their fifties. He believes that becoming educated requires both schooling and experience. In addition, he thinks schooling that "does not prepare the individual for further learning has failed, no matter what else it succeeds in doing." Schooling should not only prepare the student for further learning; it should also "prepare all of them for the continuation of education in adult life."

How can schools accomplish this task? Adler argues that they can do this "by imparting to them the skills of learning and giving them the stimulation that will motivate them to keep their minds actively engaged in learning." The skills of learning are basically the liberal arts: read, writing, speaking, listening, measuring, evaluating, and thinking. By having these skills the students will be able to be lifelong learners. To live well involves both learning "as well as earning."

The Padeia Proposal includes four parts. The first part covers the philosophy of schooling citizens of the rebublic which was covered above. The second part discuuses the "essentials of basic schooling." These include: The same objectives for all; the same course of study for all; overcoming initial impediments; and individual differences. The chapter on the same objectives for all discusses why the Padeia Proposal "advocates the same objectives for all without exception." He believes that having the same objectives for all is the way to achieve the goal of preparing the student to continue learning after they leave school. Students should be able "look forward not only to growing up but also to continued growth in all human dimensions throughout life." A two track system works against this goal. It provides only some students the means to achieve this end. A second reason is the need to prepare students for citizenship duties and responsibilities. The third reason is the student will need "to earn a living in one or another vocation."

In chapter four he describes the method of proving this basic schooling for all students. He divides schooling into three columns of learning. Column one is the "acquisition of organized knowledge." This is acquired through lectures and responses, and textbooks and other aids. The second column is developing the intellectual skills through "coaching, exercises, and supervised practice" by performing the operations of reading, writing, listening, speaking, calculating, problem solving, measuring, estimating, and exercising critical judgement. The last column is enlarging understanding and values through socratic questioning and active participation in the discussion of books (not textbooks), and involvement in other artistic activities. Schools today tend to spend most of their time if not all their column of column 1--didactic instruction and the use of textbooks.

Part three discusses teaching and learning. It includes a chapter on preparing teachers and  a chapter on the principal. Another chapter describes some things that need to be kept in mind. First, "all genuine learning" is active, not passive. It exercises the mind, not just the memory. How do we involve the mind in learning? We do it "by inviting and entertaining questions, by encouraging and sustaining inquiry, by supervising helpfully a wide variety of exercises and drills, by leading discussions . . ." All learning is by discovery either with aid from someone else or no aid from another. Most learning is done by receiving assistance from someone else. Someone who knows what needs to be learned. However, it is not by poring the information in the student's head. This is a form of brainwashing, not teaching. The main actor in learning is the learner himself with assistance from another. The teacher is like a midwife helping a woman to deliver a baby. It is the pregnant woman who is doing all the work. The midwife is assisting the woman to deliver the baby. Adler thinks Dewey's assertion that learning is by doing is often misinterpreted. He believes Dewey is talking about intellectual doing. The student learn to read by reading, to write by writing, and so on. The teacher is to guide the student in helping them to develop the intellectual skills of learning. Adler believes the third column needs to be emphasized more where the student both asks and answers questions.

The last part of The Padeia Proposal discusses issues beyond basic schooling. The first chapter of this part is on "Higher Learning." Dewey said, "The goal at which any phrase of education, true to itself, should aim in more education." In other words, basic schooling should prepare the student for more learning. As long as we are breathing, we should be learning. It takes a lifetime to become an educated human being. Another chapter discusses "earning and living well." Basic schooling has two goals in mind: "One is equipping all the children of this country to earn a living for themselves. The other is enabling them to lead good human lives." Aristotle's Ethics is a good guidebook on living well. It is prospering in all areas of our life. It is the goal of living a full and meaningful life. By acquiring the skills of the liberal arts, the student will be able to accomplish both these goals.