Monday, January 30, 2006

Great Books Shuck And Jive

Sullivan wonders how Pope Benedict can site Plato's Symposium in his new encyclical on love, and at the same time be so vociferously anti-gay. Benedict reminds me of some of the professors and fellow students I had at my little Liberal Arts college; men who fought valiantly to cloak their prejudices and hang-ups in the haughty language of the traditional liberal arts, to give a veneer of universal wisdom to their own cramped and narrow views. I hated these Straussian tendencies; this idea that through sub-text you can telegraph your own petty agenda, while ignoring the actual obvious meaning of the text. Anyone who reads the Symposium understands that it gives great honor to same-sex relationships. It takes a certain ugly obstinacy to read and re-read and, like Benedict even immerse yourself in such texts, and still hold on to your bigotry. By cherry-picking out of the philosophical classics, men like Benedict think they are clever, but really, they reassemble nothing more or less then Sunday School teachers in some obscure Christian sect like Mormonism or Pentacostalism, carefully selecting the passages of holy scripture that reflects their particular creed, and ignoring the great body of the biblical text that does not. Compelling works like Plato should shake our world up; but rather than accept the consequences of such ideas, smart but close-minded men like Benedict spend their lives trying to avoid betrayal by their own intellect, which inconveniently seems to have an inappropriate fondness, one might even say an Eros, for the truth.


Blogger Hunter said...

A key element in Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is that, for a paradigm shift to take place, the old guard has to die off. One conclusion from this is that no one can really be objective -- being human, we make emotional investments in ideas. It seems to go with the territory.

The only solution, if truth, such of it as there is, is not to be warped beyond recognition, is to admit one's biases so that one's audience at least has a baseline, if their own emotional investments will allow them to use it.

4:10 AM  

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