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Thomas Aquinas on Wisdom by Robert M. Woods

Thomas Aquinas on Wisdom

by Robert M. Woods

St. Thomas AquinasOn occasion, but it should be with great frequency, within the context of a class discussion or even a lesson at Church, the topic of wisdom is discussed. Frequently, but it should be on occasion, the definition is put forth as practical or applied learning. It is at times like these I desired that Thomas Aquinas’s definition of wisdom had won the day in Western civilization. In truth, the Liberal Arts would have done much better through the ages if his definition had been the one people lived by and taught.

For Thomas, and most Philosophers until the modern world, Philosophy was essentially the “love of wisdom.” To engage in the the practice of philosophy was the faithful pursuit of wisdom wherever it might be found. The primary understanding of truth was saying of a thing what was and not saying of a thing what was not. In a larger sense, wisdom was an understanding of the truth of things. Philosophy was not navel gazing and not ideological manipulation, but it was a diligent quest to understanding the good, the true, and the beautiful.

Thomas asserts (and I paraphrase) in the Summa Contra Gentiles I, 2: While humans are finite, among all the human pursuits, the pursuit of wisdom is the ultimate end, and it is the most noble, and the most useful, and that pursuit that can provide the greatest joy. Through Philosophy, we humans are more like God and can apprehend the truth of things which calls us to a better life.

It is also worth noting that among some of the greatest Philosophers in the Western intellectual tradition, there was no one more committed to prayer. Thomas, as a grand example of this, not only sought wisdom as part of his brilliant, intellectual, and knowledgeable endeavors, also, daily, prayed for wisdom.

This may surprise post-Enlightenment people that prior to the Enlightenment, wisdom was closely connected to reason. For them to reason, reflect, imagine, conjecture, was part of what it meant to act faithfully in accordance with being in the image of God. As it related to the four causes expounded by Aristotle and adhered to by Thomas, wisdom is an understanding of the final cause. Sadly, this has all but been lost in science and philosophy today.

Is it possible that one reason Philosophy is ridiculed by so many today as irrelevant and outdated is because it lost its way a few hundred years ago and has never fully found the way back to the path. If philosophy was still about the blending of the theoretical and the practical, the reflection and the proper moral action, one can imagine that there would be many who would come to love and live wisdom.

 

The Wisdom of Aesop by Robert Woods

The Wisdom of Aesop

by Robert Woods


imagesOne of the best courses I had within my doctoral program was a study of Aesop’s fables. We used the Babrius and Phaedrus edition in the Loeb series. Of all of the fables, I was struck recently on the political and moral implications of one in particular. The Ant and The Grasshopper should be carefully studied by all people, especially political leaders that seem to have little sense of the past and absolutely no sense of the future regarding their current actions.

Once there lived an ant and a grasshopper in a grassy meadow. All day long the ant would work hard, collecting grains of wheat from the farmer’s field far away. She would hurry to the field every morning, as soon as it was light enough to see by, and toil back with a heavy grain of wheat balanced on her head. She would put the grain of wheat carefully away in her cupboard, and then hurry back to the field for another one. All day long she would work, without stop or rest, scurrying back and forth from the field, collecting the grains of wheat and storing them carefully in her cupboard.

The grasshopper would look at her and laugh. ‘Why do you work so hard, dear ant?’ he would say. ‘Come, rest awhile, listen to my song. Summer is here, the days are long and bright. Why waste the sunshine in labour and toil?’

The ant would ignore him, and head bent, would just hurry to the field a little faster. This would make the grasshopper laugh even louder. ‘What a silly little ant you are!’ he would call after her. ‘Come, come and dance with me! Forget about work! Enjoy the summer! Live a little!’ And the grasshopper would hop away across the meadow, singing and dancing merrily.

Summer faded into autumn, and autumn turned into winter. The sun was hardly seen, and the days were short and grey, the nights long and dark. It became freezing cold, and snow began to fall.

The grasshopper didn’t feel like singing any more. He was cold and hungry. He had nowhere to shelter from the snow, and nothing to eat. The meadow and the farmer’s field were covered in snow, and there was no food to be had. ‘Oh what shall I do? Where shall I go?’ wailed the grasshopper. Suddenly he remembered the ant. ‘Ah – I shall go to the ant and ask her for food and shelter!’ declared the grasshopper, perking up. So off he went to the ant’s house and knocked at her door. ‘Hello ant!’ he cried cheerfully. ‘Here I am, to sing for you, as I warm myself by your fire, while you get me some food from that cupboard of yours!’

The ant looked at the grasshopper and said, ‘All summer long I worked hard while you made fun of me, and sang and danced. You should have thought of winter then! Find somewhere else to sing, grasshopper! There is no warmth or food for you here!’ And the ant shut the door in the grasshopper’s face.

As we did in that doctoral seminar, I’ll let you provide the best application. There is tremendous wisdom in the fabulist tradition. If you have not read them lately, it would benefit you. Imagine proverbial teachings in short-short story form. Let us rescue these wise teachings from the elementary school and pray our “highly educated” politicians read some fables.

Books mentioned in this essay are available in The Imaginative Conservative BookstoreEssays by Robert Woods may be found here.

Robert M. Woods is a Senior Contributor to The Imaginative Conservative and Director of the Great Books Honors College at Faulkner University. He writes for Musings of a Christian Humanist

A Few Modest Observations for One Against the Great Books by Robert Woods

Great Books

A Few Modest Observations for One Against the Great Books

by Robert Woods

A colleague in our Great Books program shared an article with me over the Christmas break, and as I was buried in reading some of the Great Books and a few seasonal works, I was hard pressed to read this article. The article, by Patrick Deneen, was published in First Things and entitled, Against Great Books Questioning Our Approach to the Western Canon. When I finally did get a chance to read it, I found several points of merit, a few points that I simply disagreed with and one common error with such arguments, but it is a major and recurring error when some address the Great Books.

The Great Books may be a source of their own undoing (inherent contradictions across the canon). On the first point of agreement (which is also ultimately the main problem in the argument), I do agree that when read together there becomes a babel-like clamoring calling for assent to a particular truth and sometimes simultaneously calling for a denial of another claiming to offer truth. This has led James Schall (of whom I have the deepest admiration) and others to warn of the danger of relativism, which is a warning that needs to be sounded especially in this foundationaless age. However, the problem of contradictions and opposing worldviews ought not to trouble us for at least three reasons. Next to my bed I usually have five to seven books I’m reading at any given time. This does not count the other three to five on my desk, and the others scattered throughout my house, university office and home office. A setting any Hobbit would relish. If I paused and attempted to bring together, in some harmonious manner, the diverse genres, ideas, worldviews, and images the sheer mental cacophony would induce an aneurysm.

Continue reading

Why Ray Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles is a Great Book by Robert Woods

Why Ray Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles is a Great Book 

by Robert Woods
 
On numerous occasions, Mortimer Adler wrote about the criteria that were used to determine which books of all the books written in the West would be placed within The Great Books of the Western World.  Contrary to confusion and many misstatements I’ve read over the years, Adler says it was essentially three criteria and they are as follows:

1) Contemporary significance – Even though historically valuable, these works address “issues, problems, or facets of human life that are of major concern to us today as well as at the time in which they were written.” While the work is within the genre of science fiction and fantasy, it really explores humane themes much as traditional fiction. In other words, change the setting from Mars to Montana and it still works as a literary masterpiece.

2) Rereadability – These are books “intended for the general reader that are worth reading carefully many times or studying over and over again…indefinitely rereadable for pleasure and profit.”

As I have confessed before in blogs and lectures, I re-read a number of Bradbury’s works at specific times of the year as they seem fitting to the season. While The Martian Chronicles is not one part of a seasonal rotation, I have enjoyed this work more than once. Like his other “novels,” The Martian Chronicles is rich enough in content and form (think Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath) and has enough meaningful ambiguity to sustain numerous readings and a enriching conversation with another who has read the work. For fans of this work, there is near universal agreement that the ending is that wonderful Bradburian twist that is a hallmark of his writing.3) Extensive relevance and something of significance to say about a large number of the 102 great ideas of the thinking and writing done by the authors chosen.

Of the 102 Great Ideas Adler explored, The Martian Chronicles touches upon or explores in a meaningful manner the following:  Continue reading

Humanism and Religion: Renewing Western Culture by Robert Woods

Humanism and Religion: Renewing Western Culture

 
by Robert Woods
January 6, 2013

 
As a number of books from important thinkers (Etienne Gilson, Jeffrey Burton Russell) have sought to educate open-minded readers to a most enlightened Middle Ages, Zimmermann seeks, in part, to challenge some misinterpretations and terrible damage done to a most Christian era–the Renaissance. According to Zimmerman, the roots of secularism and secularization are not to be found in the Renaissance, but at a later time and in different soil. At worst, there were some bad seeds planted here and there that later produced mixed fruit even during the Renaissance, but not all the bad seed can be be attributed to that age.
    
This book is difficult to specify the type of analysis it offers. Zimmermann moves in a most erudite manner from one discipline to another, is conversant with a breadth of primary sources, and clearly familiar with the secondary and therefore derivative and sometimes misguided sources. Structurally, the work is a survey of the Western intellectual and cultural terrain. Philosophically and theologically, it is an informed and engaging interpretation of incarnational humanism and its implications for possible cultural renewal.
 
Offering insightful critiques, with a polemical edge at times, of some facets of multiculturalism and discussing what should be understood as “secular fundamentalism,” Zimmermann moves beyond symptoms and moves toward the specifics of what is polarizing our culture at large and the academy in particular. His ultimate proposal is that Christianity, as a humanism, offers a viable worldview and way of life in contrast to a divisive multiculturalism and secularism. Continue reading

Ray Bradbury: A Bright Life That Burned Right by Robert Woods

 

 

Ray Bradbury: A Bright Life That Burned Right

by Robert Woods

Nov.2, 2012
 
On all lists of the best science fiction and fantasy writers of the twentieth century, Ray Bradbury is always present, and usually at the top. However, popular acclaim does not always translate into high literary craft. The discerning reader should carefully look at the full body of Bradbury’s writings to determine if all, or even some of his works, merit scholarly attention. He sub-created worlds that explored the widest range of human experiences and humane themes. Often he spoke about his dislike of being classified in genres he believed were artificial. As an author that transcended and sometimes blended narrow genre classifications, Bradbury saw himself merely as a writer. While his stories have the common features of science fiction and fantasy, these characteristics were simply functional toward the greater end of telling a fine tale about human beings being human. Even though there are dangers facing humanity, repeatedly the greatest dangers in Bradbury’s stories are not hidden on Mars, not found in big government, but common human beings who have forgotten what it means to be fully human and fully alive.
 
While fiction is about a great deal more than ideas, such as the delight in the story, and the way that stories move us as humans, there are ideas and ideologies in fiction. The short stories and novels of Bradbury speak of the widest range of human experiences and ideas.  Drawing from Mortimer Adler’s list of the great ideas in humane letters, readers have noted that within Bradbury’s body of work, one encounters beauty, chance, change, citizenship, courage, custom and convention, desire, duty, emotions, eternity, evolution, experience, family, fate, God, good and evil, habit, happiness, honor, immortality, judgment, knowledge, law, life and death, love, memory and imagination, nature, opinion, opposition, philosophy, pleasure and pain, prudence, punishment, reasoning, religion, senses, sin, soul, temperance, time, truth, virtue and vice, will, wisdom, and world.
 
While some misguided critics have observed a Norman Rockwell nostalgia within a few of Bradbury’s works, these same critics are blind to the George Orwell echos in these same pieces. In Dandelion Wine there are indeed glimpses of old, small town USA, but within this town there is a serial killer and more than one profound statement about the loss of our humanity to the ever present technological temptation for the newer to be seen as always better. The more astute readers have noted a sense of longing co-mingled with a sense that all is not as it should be within Bradbury’s writings. Both his short stories and the collection of stories crafted into longer novels embody the reality of the fall and ever present signals of transcendence and a hoped for recovery of our garden heritage.  
 
While Ray Bradbury’s writings were first found in amateur and pulp magazines in the 1930’s, his stories would eventually be published by Collier’s, The Saturday Evening Post, Esquire and The New Yorker. Not a large number of twentieth century writers can claim that their works were adapted for comics, radio, television, stage and film. Many of these adaptations were scripted by Bradbury himself.  Even the film adaptations of The Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451 reached a larger audience, but sadly with much of the rich literary textures and meaningful metaphors lost in translation from the book to the screen.
 
Reading Americans have encountered Fahrenheit 451 (Bradbury’s most recognized novel) at some point in their educational experience. Unfortunately, this great novel has been misread and misrepresented over the decades. To say this work is primarily about, or even mainly about censorship, is akin to saying that The Wizard of Oz is about a yellow brick road. There is censorship in Fahrenheit 451 as there is a yellow brick road in The Wizard of Oz, but only the most superficial reading sees book burning as the primary focus of the work. Reading “companion or parallel stories” such as “The Fireman,” “The Library,” “The Pedestrian,” “The Garbage Collector,” “The Smile,” “To the Chicago Abyss,” and “Long After Midnight” will confirm that Fahrenheit 451 is a masterpiece of dystopian fiction exploring anti-intellectualism and a loss of truth, goodness, and beauty in human civilization.
 
Because of these and related humane themes, Ray Bradbury’s works, as a whole, are in sustained conversation with the Great Books of the Western World.  Sometimes these connections are in the form of allusions, sometimes quotes, and sometimes homage by imitating the structure and even voice of a master author. In Fahrenheit 451 and “companion stories” set within this dystopian milieu characterized by disdain for sustained reading, thinking, and conversing, the reader is reminded of the following authors and works:  Edna St. Vincent Millay, Walt Whitman, William Faulkner, Dante Alighieri, Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels, Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Little Black Sambo, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Samuel Johnson, Edgar Allan Poe, the Bible, Job, Proverbs, Ruth, Ecclesiastes, Revelation, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Thomas Jefferson, Henry David Thoreau, Walden, Luigi Pirandello, George Bernard Shaw, John Milton, Sophocles, Aeschylus, Eugene O’Neill, John Dewey, Alexander Pope, Plato’s Republic, Charles Darwin, Arthur Schopenhauer, Albert Einstein, Albert Schweitzer, Aristophanes, Mahatma Gandhi, Gautama Buddha, Confucius, Thomas L. Peacock, Abraham Lincoln, Lord Byron, George Washington, Galileo Galileo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Washington Irving, John Donne, Thomas Paine, Niccolo Machiavelli, Bertrand Russell, Friedrich Nietzsche, the Magna Charta, and the Constitution. There are even story titles of Bradbury that pay literary tribute to his most beloved author Charles Dickens—“Any Friend of Nicholas Nickleby Is a Friend of Mine.”  Other stories and authors include, “The Golden Apples of the Sun” (W. B. Yeats), and “I Sing the Body Electric” (Walt Whitman).
 
As with other Bradbury writings, there is often an earlier life or version before the published date. While Something Wicked This Way Comes was published in 1962 (50 years ago and still in print), there were earlier kernel versions in short stories—”The Electrocution” 1946,  “The Black Ferris” 1948, a screenplay entitled “Dark Carnival” 1955, another screenplay “The Marked Bullet” 1956, as well as an unpublished first-person novel Jamie and Me. Something Wicked This Way Comes should be read as a companion story to Dandelion Wine. Even Bradbury clustered these two stories with Farewell Summer and called these the Illinois trilogy. Whether read as a moral fable, Christian allegory, or a moralistic horror tale, Something Wicked This Way Comes is a novel that should be rescued from the middle school reading list and the bin of literary obscurity and given due attention. Beyond being a masterfully crafted exploration of numerous humane themes, it is a delightful, at times, but ultimately enlightening, tale about the sin of narcissism and the possibility of human connectedness in the presence of that most damnable of sins.
 
Throughout his life, Bradbury spoke often of his autodidactic formation in library stacks. This is evidenced throughout his writings that show influence by, and respect of, the adventure stories of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, L. Frank Baum, Edgar Allen Poe, Charles Dickens, and Herman Melville. In turn, the books and stories of Ray Bradbury have been admired by figures as diverse as Bertrand Russell, Christopher Isherwood, Ingmar Bergman, John Huston, Stephen King, Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Neil Gaiman and R.L. Stine.
 
As early as 1954 and as late as 2007, Ray Bradbury received prestigious awards such as the National Institute of Arts and Letters Award, two PEN/O. Henry Prizes, A National Book Foundation medal, an Emmy for the screenplay of his The Halloween Tree, and a Pulitzer citation for his extraordinary writing career. A cursory search of data about Bradbury on the world wide web will yield much contradiction. The political left and political right claim him as embracing their beliefs. In truth, we do know that he considered Ronald Reagan the greatest president, and this is coming from a man whose life spanned sixteen different presidents. Bradbury was also honored by President George W. Bush in 2004 with the National Medal of Arts.
 
Generally, Bradbury was not a political creature in a formal sense. His concern was with communities. People who lived, worked, laughed, cried, feared, conversed, celebrated and died together were at the heart of his writings, not ideologies and political regimes. The true, the good, and the beautiful are constantly manifested. There is also an ever present hint of the transcendent. Sometimes it is a sense of the divine, sometimes a most ominous evil, and sometimes a goodness that moves those of us who love its presence to praise the author of all goodness and truth.
 
Certainly a large part of what I most cherish in his fiction is the sheer celebration of the goodness of being. The very truth that we are, and that life is a gift to be treasured has been lost in much modern fiction. I have discovered an extraordinary amount in Bradbury’s writings that complement and parallel Christian conviction. Bradbury is what I often refer to as “old school humanist.” In other words, he affirms truth, goodness, and beauty. His works even explore, and frequently affirm, the essential nature of faith, hope, and love and other religious virtues. His characters often discuss and embody these realities. Beyond the pervasive sense of joy in many of Bradbury’s writings, reading such short stories as “The Man” and “Bless Me, Father, For I Have Sinned,” the reader is shown the most explicit sense of the residue of Bradbury’s Christian upbringing and the lingering effect of the faith on his soul.  
 
I begin my lectures and presentations about Ray Bradbury with a confession. The confession is simple and one of which I express a deep sense of loss and a degree of shame. I did not start reading Ray Bradbury until several years ago. I did not read him because I judged his books by their covers. I had a misinformed sense that I knew what his books would be about because the covers of his books told it all. One cannot be more wrong.  
 
It was an endorsement I read on a Russell Kirk book that came from Ray Bradbury. I thought, if Ray Bradbury liked Russell Kirk, and I liked Russell Kirk, then maybe, just maybe, I might appreciate Ray Bradbury. After going to the local bookstore and buying Something Wicked This Way Comes and reading it, I was hooked. My repentance then took the form of reading The Martian Chronicles and the delight and feeding of my mind was tremendous. I immediately went out and bought Fahrenheit 451, Dandelion Wine, and a collection of his short stories. I have never been the same since. As a matter of fact, every Halloween season for the past six years I’ve re-read Something Wicked This Way Comes, and every first day of the summer for the past several years I have re-read Dandelion Wine.  
 
Ray Bradbury’s passing brings to my mind numerous scenes in his novels and short stories where a character comes to the realization that life is a precious gift, and that gift is to be enjoyed. On numerous occasions, Ray noted his favorite novelist Charles Dickens in A Christmas Carol makes this profound point when Ebenezer Scrooge is transformed by the ghosts that had visited him. That moment of “I’m alive, I’m alive,” is what it is all about in literature and life. For Bradbury’s own unique twist on this, read the short story “Jack-in-the Box.”
 
For the past few years I have been blessed to visit The Center for Ray Bradbury Studies and gain such insight of Bradbury’s life and writings from the top Bradbury scholar in the world (this is not an exaggeration), it has been equally as exhilarating giving lectures through The Big Read Events sponsored by the NEA where thousands of people read, think about, and discuss Fahrenheit 451. Even in my blogs I have a section “All Things Bradbury” as a partial testament that as a Professor of Great Books, I consider his writings as worthy to be added to the canon of the best books as any penned by modern authors.
 
Russell Kirk once noted with the possible exception of Roy Campbell, “the love of life burns brighter in Ray Bradbury than any other man of letters.”1 Ray Bradbury was born in Aug 22, 1920 in Waukegan, Illinois, and passed from this life in southern California on June 5, 2012.  While Ray Bradbury drifted from his childhood faith, one could easily make the case that a specifically Christian and positively religious worldview shaped the bulk of Bradbury’s works. His life and writings demonstrate an eye for the glorious all around us, and his celebration of life as a gift is to be most respected. In a key interaction between Guy Montag and Chief Beatty in Fahrenheit 451, Montag tells Beatty, “We never burned right.” In his life and fiction, Ray Bradbury burned right and leaves for all of us a literary legacy to be enjoyed and carefully studied.
 
An article I authored recently published St Austin Review, S/O 2012 V. 12, N. 5. Reprinted with the gracious permission of Musings of a Christian Humanist.
Note:
1. Russell Kirk, Enemies of the Permanent Things: Observations of Abnormity in Literature and Politics (Peru: Sherwood Sugden & Company, 1984), p. 120.

Clement of Alexandria: The Virtue of Liberal Learning by Robert Woods

Clement of Alexandria:  The Virtue of Liberal Learning

 
by Robert Woods

September 27, 2012

 

Clement calls for his readers to meet Jesus as the “Word” and “Educator” that “forcibly” compels people from the “worldly way of life and educates them to the only true salvation: faith in God.”  The Educator is the one “who leads the way” to “improve the soul” not just in knowledge but to guide in virtue. The Educator does not focus solely on knowledge, but leads his “children” toward a life of virtue. The “Word” perfects his disciples “in a way that leads progressively to salvation” through persuasion, education, and lastly, through teaching. The teaching of the Educator “educates” people in the “fear of God,” instructs in “the service of God” and provides “knowledge of truth” toward living the virtuous life which ensures salvation.

 
For Clement, “The education that God gives is the imparting of the truth that will guide us correctly to the contemplation of God, and a description of holy deeds that endure forever.” God and Jesus, the Word, have been guiding his children as revealed in scripture, as God’s guidance to Jacob, Moses, and the Israelites reveals. The Educator from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant teaches with love, but those under the old were “guided by fear,” while under the New the “Word has become flesh, [thus] fear has been turned into love” in Jesus. “Such, then, is the authority wielded by the Educator of children, awe-inspiring, consoling, leading to salvation.”
 
Given the role of the Educator, what role does philosophy have to play in the people’s education? Addressing the role of philosophy, Clement argues that it was “an essential guide to righteousness for the Greeks” and “at the present time, it is a useful guide towards reverence for God.” He asserts, “For philosophy was to the Greek world what the Law was to the Hebrews, a tutor escorting them to Christ.  Philosophy is a preparatory process; it opens the road to the person who Christ brings to his final goal.” For Clement, philosophy, though imperfect, leads people toward virtue if one is willing.
 
 “God has created us sociable and righteous by nature,” Clement announces. Therefore, when one pursues philosophy, “it makes it quicker and easier to track down virtue.” For Clement, a level of righteousness can be found outside of divine dispensation. “It follows that we may not say that righteousness appears simply by a divine dispensation. We are to understand that the good of creation is rekindled by the commandment, when the soul learns by instruction to be willing to choose the highest.”
 
Faith is best accompanied by reason as it will keep one from being led astray, so Clement argues, as opposed to those who would argue “it is not right to have anything to do with philosophy or dialectic,” even refusing to “engage in the consideration of the natural world at all.” In Clement’s perception, “The person who yearns to touch the fringes of God’s power must of necessity become a philosopher to have a proper conception about intellectual objects.” As with other Christian thinkers through the ages, Scripture itself is perceived as rational and supporting the dialectic action.
 
Clement sees the possible role that philosophy had in bringing the Greeks “to righteousness, though not to perfect righteousness.” The “perfect righteousness” comes through the education of the Son. He contends that philosophy “does not add more power to the truth; it reduces the power of the sophistic attack on it.” Philosophy is a defense for the “treacherous assaults on truth,” and thus is a “savory accompaniment or dessert” to the gospel.
 
Clement uses the apostle Paul in Act 17 quoting from Aratus’ Phaenomena as a Christian affirmation of even pagan philosophy having some element of truth. The degree to which philosophy has the capability of moving one toward apprehending truth depends on how well philosophy is practiced.  For Clement, there are indeed true philosophers and “caricatures of philosophers.” True philosophers are those “whose joy is in the contemplation of truth.” For Clement, “Philosophy operates through knowledge of the good in its own being, and through the truth, which are not identical with the Good, but more like paths to it.” Drawing from none other than Socrates’s thoughts, philosophy “contributes to the soul’s awakening.” Philosophy can aide as it, “makes a contribution to grasping the truth – it is a search for the truth.” However, the ultimate discovery of the one truth “depends on the Son.”  Clement emphasizes that “it is only this unreachable sovereign truth in which we are educated by God’s Son.”
 
Clement gives numerous insights into the way God may work in the world to draw people toward Himself as in the case of Greek philosophy. Clement argues that philosophy is a search for truth and is a path ultimately leading toward the one truth from God. Clement and the grand consensus of Christian thinkers affirm that Philosophy, in and of itself, is not complete without Jesus at the center as the “Educator” par excellence in leading to the truth and salvation. For Clement, the academy has a mission if rightly directed, not by “caricatures of philosophers” but by those who take authentic joy “in the contemplation of truth.”
 
Reprinted with the gracious permission of Musings of a Christian Humanist.
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