2011 Baylor Symposium on
Faith and Culture
Thursday, October 27-Saturday, October 29
Baylor University, Waco, Texas
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Ph.D. Student in Philosophy
The concept of vocation or calling is one way to educate students for wisdom. Reflecting on the meaning and purpose of work forces students to think about the purpose of their work and of the skills they learn. Since Luther and other Reformation-era theologians argued that all people (rather than merely the clergy) have particular vocations, the concept of vocation has been an important one for church-related higher education. More recently, many secular institutions have begun to appeal to an understanding of vocation as a way of directing undergraduate formation. In both contexts, vocation serves as a unifying principle that provides meaning to students' work. Yet do programs—whether they are freshman seminars or senior capstone courses—that are guided by the concept of vocation always direct students to the right goals? That is, do all vocation-driven university programs educate students wisely?
I propose that one of Luther's intellectual heirs, the Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, can both criticize and help to correct our understanding of vocation and its role in contemporary higher education. Kierkegaard's account of the dangers of reflection can help us diagnose uses of vocation that do not educate students for wisdom. Conversely, Kierkegaard's understanding of passion can help direct pedagogical uses of vocation towards wisdom. To support this proposal, I'll first survey contemporary uses of vocation in higher education. Then, I'll provide Kierkegaardian criticisms of that understanding. I close by discussing ways that adopting a Kierkegaardian understanding of vocation might reform the use of that concept in the 21st century university.
The concept of vocation is used in the 21st century university to shape students' thinking about their work and occupations. Being directed by vocation, or having a calling to one's work means that one's work is done is service to God and neighbor. So even occupations that are less intrinsically satisfying (e.g. waste management) can be meaningful vocations. Kierkegaard is certainly in favor of divine commands prompting such service. But he believes that reflection - even reflection about vocation - can prevent a person from acting in pursuit of her vocation.
For Kierkegaard, reflection is thinking that is both devoid of passion and self-referential-that is, without any relation to some particular other. Both of these aspects of reflection can negatively affect a person's ability to act. First, reflection can cause an agent to avoid action—action that a person's character and passions might otherwise direct her to perform. In The Present Age Kierkegaard describes people who have several different vocations—a scientist, a politician, a theologian—whose reflection keeps them (and in some cases the people they serve) from acting. Second, reflection can abstract away the particularities of the specific people that agents are called to serve. Kierkegaard writes that "The real moment in time and the real situation being simultaneous with real people [...] that is what helps to sustain the individual" (The Present Age, 61). By contrast, serving abstractions like "the public"—which is a concept, not any particular group of people-offers no such consolation. While the concept of vocation may encourage students to direct their work towards wisdom and service, students must overcome the two obstacles presented by reflection to act in pursuit of those goals.
Kierkegaard reminds us that an understanding of vocation or calling can help us to use our work and our wisdom in service to others. But thinking about vocation leads to wisdom only if it prompts action instead of mere reflection. For a student to act in pursuit of his calling, he must first "be at one with himself instead of being in agreement with a public that is relative, concrete, and particular in life" (The Present Age, 62). Thus, to use the concept of vocation wisely means to form students' characters alongside their sense of calling. I close the paper by suggesting ways that contemporary educators can use the concept of vocation to direct their students towards wisdom and action.
Joseph A. Almeida
Professor of Classics
Franciscan University of Steubenville
This paper traces the consequences of a link between two unlikely sources, the Encyclical Letter, Fides et Ratio, of the late Roman Catholic Pontiff John Paul II and an article " A Call to Thought" by Eva Brann, long-time dean of the country's founding great book's school St. John's College, which together entail a criticism of modern education and an outline for reformation. Fides et Ratio identifies the loss of confidence in the possibility of wisdom as a crisis in modern education and calls for a return to a sapiential dimension in education. Brann sees this call as an affirmation of the educational project of the great books, whose presence in academia has long stood as a criticism of the utilitarian tendency in modern education. She reads Fides et Ratio as an argument for a return to radical inquiry about the fundamental questions of life, to the kind of philosophizing about the roots of things which comprises the core of great-books education. The paper offers an interpretation of radical inquiry as developed in Fides et Ratio in light of Brann's understanding of great-books education. The interpretation invokes a third source, The Religious Sense, by the Catholic priest Luigi Giussani, who develops a notion of the religious sense which corresponds with and illuminates the essential themes of the Encyclical and Brann's article. The conclusion is that loss of the religious sense is a major cause of a crisis in education and that a great-books education is one path toward a restoration of the religious sense which in turn reorients education toward wisdom.
The analysis in outline is as follows. Fides et Ratio argues that there is in man a fundamental innate desire to know the ultimate truth of things. In its essence as a search for meaning the quest is philosophy in its etymological sense as the love of wisdom. Wisdom here also bears its etymological force of knowledge of ultimate truths. This philosophic quest has universally led to an unsettling insight, that man strives for an end which transcends his own capacities. That is, man in his finitude sees himself oriented toward the infinite. This feature of man's radical philosophic tendency, however, is precisely what Giussani identifies as the "religious sense." It is a natural tendency toward transcend truth radically embedded in humanity carrying the simultaneous realization that the searchers are disproportionate to the things sought. Thus reading Fides et Ratio in light of Giussani results in the identification of man's innate tendency for radical philosophizing with the religious sense itself.
Radical philosophy, as the religious sense, aims at answers to the ultimate questions of life, i.e. at truth in the largest sense of the term. But this very notion of radical philosophy is the fundamental core of the tradition of the study of the great books. A great book is a very particular thing with special characteristics: of primary significance is the characteristic of inexhaustibility. According to Brann, there is no great book "of philosophy or of fiction which is not eschatological, [i.e.], concerned with the outer margin of what it is humanly possible to understand." The great books aim at answers to the ultimate questions, but the "answers coagulate and bring with them a comet's tail of questions that are so nearly ultimate as to demand acknowledgment as mysteries." Inexhaustibility, therefore, is the consequence of a finite capacity pursuing transcendent truth, and the great books are thus a record of humanities' radical philosophic quest and an expression of its collective religious sense. The great books therefore present an educational proposal which aims at transcendent truth, embodies the religious sense, and thus serves as a path toward realization of a sapiential dimension in education.
The great books are not only records of inexhaustible inquiry. They are also a record of the best efforts of man's finite capacities in the pursuit of wisdom. They treat the perennial questions of life with, as Brann says, "a perfect fit of word and matter," where "substance shapes the expression," and "thoughts ... attract the language ... that utters them, with the least possible deformation." They are models of intelligibility the details of which present a history of man's efforts to educate himself about the ultimate things in proportion to his capacities and thus comprise a properly human curriculum aimed at wisdom.
Therefore, in Brann on Fides et Ratio as illuminated by Giussani one finds a proposal for education which both implies a critique of current education and suggests a path back to a sapiential dimension in liberal education.
Professor of Theology and Philosophy
Abilene Christian University
In this paper, I argue that forming, sustaining, and embodying a connected view is fundamental to the pursuit of wisdom within a university context. In this regard, I link John Henry Newman's notion of a connected view in "The Idea of a University" and the ongoing task of formulating an adequate philosophy of education for our time. In particular, I offer some suggestions about the kind of person that a connected view envisions within a university setting. I include my own experiences and thick commitments as a graduate professor of theology and philosophy while drawing insights from different publics (e.g., university, society) and fields of knowledge (e.g., history, philosophy of education, cognitive science, ethics, religion, and epistemology).
I recognize that different conceptions and models of university education exist and, as a result, I do not offer a full-blown vision of education. The scope of my proposal includes teaching and research, even though I do not address in detail the question of how these activities intersect with one another in the context of a university. Rather, I identify and spell out the relevant epistemic, social, and environmental conditions that factor in the process of acquiring a connected view. Following in the steps of Newman, though in a new and different environment, I argue that those charged with teaching and research responsibilities need to pay greater attention to the intellectual formation of persons, and not simply to state-of-the-art techniques and learning outcomes. The task at hand focuses on the cultivation of pedagogical and research exemplars, and hopefully such efforts result in a collegial atmosphere of shared understanding and wisdom. An environment of face-to-face interaction helps to foster the pursuit of goals such as truth, knowledge, understanding, and (in the case at hand) wisdom. The interdisciplinarity intimated here is both timely and difficult, and this is precisely the reason why pedagogical and research exemplars are central to the whole enterprise.
Such an emphasis requires that we revisit our understanding of (1) the aims and scope of intellectual formation in a university environment, (2) our existing teaching and research practices, and (3) our presuppositions about what it means to realize and carry out a connected view within our current educational setting. As a result, I structure this paper in the following way. In the first section, I argue that a central task of the educational process, in Newmanian terms, entails acquiring a connected view. The correlative possibility between Newman's context and our own lies in his insistence on the importance of forming in learners a connected view and on the significance of pedagogical exemplars for shaping educational practices within a university context, not necessarily in his fuller vision of what a university ought to be. In the second section, I clarify what it means to realize and carry out a connected view within an educational setting. The milieu of the university must be saturated with people that exemplify a connected view. In the third section, I argue that pedagogical wisdom entails the capacity to draw salient connections and show how they relate to the context of the learning environment at hand. Envisioned here is an embodied pedagogy that seeks to form and sustain a vibrant community of inquirers. In the fourth section, I show how interdisciplinarity, as intimated in the notion of a connected view, fosters the pursuit of wisdom in our educational context today. The aim here is to (1) cultivate an environment of face-to-face interaction with people from different perspectives and disciplines, (2) engage in a set of intellectual habits and practices such as inter-departmental colloquia, and (3) promote an ongoing pursuit of mutual understanding and wisdom in team-taught classes and in collaborative research projects. Transmitting information is not enough to achieve these goals! Interdisciplinarity of this sort is both timely and difficult, and this is precisely the reason why pedagogical and research exemplars are indispensable to our contemporary educational setting.
Graduate Assistant & Ph.D. Student
University of Dayton
- Illustrate the wisdom of writing in alternative genres for those working in the field of Christian theology. This paper will show that writing in genres other than the academic essay leads to insights in the field of theology that would not have been possible in the format of academic prose.
- Call attention to the limits of contemporary academic theology's focus on the academic essay. This project will challenge the idea that the only legitimate way to write substantial theology is in an academic form for an audience with significant levels of education.
- This paper will look at contemporary authors known for their academic theology who have written about theology in other genres. I have chosen to examine the writings of Rowan Williams, John Milbank, James McClendon, and Stanley Hauerwas. In addition to their theological writing, Williams and Milbank have published books of poetry, James McClendon has written several short biographies as part of his theological projects, and Hauerwas has recently published a "theologian's memoir," Hannah's Child.
- The insights in the nonacademic texts by these authors will be examined with reference to their more mainstream academic writing. Some brief reflections will be offered on each author, with some summarizing points at the end. The ultimate goal is to show what the authors are able to say through writing in other genres that they could not through academic prose.
Are theologians being trained to write wisely? Are certain forms of writing better than others at handing on the tradition of Christian wisdom to parishioners or undergraduate students? The question of genre is emerging as a crucial topic for Christian theology. Some have called for theologians to be more attuned to the needs of local church communities in their writing. Others worry that theologians, concerned with academic advancement, focus only on writing academic essays and lose their ability to relate to students through teaching. How may an author's academic insights be transformed when transferred into other literary genres? Do these writers discover new things about theology through writing in these genres? How might writing theology in genres attuned to the needs of local church communities or students actually lead to insights that are impossible with other literary forms? A close reading of works in other genres by scholars known for their academic writing is a way to begin to look at these issues in detail.
Texas Woman's University
"Student-centered classrooms," "hands-on learning," "staying relevant," "the latest technology": such pet phrases among academics are basically taken as unquestionable goods. What stands behind this contemporary notion of what makes a good class? Once we understand the metaphysics of learning implicit in this pedagogy, we can ask a more important question: Are we in full agreement with the kind of reality our pedagogy suggests?
This paper begins by contrasting constructivism with cognitivism, thus revealing the pedagogical philosophy now in vogue - constructivism - for the more radical claims it makes: the cognitivist believes there is meaning to be imparted; the constructivist holds that meaning is created. And we can begin to see how these differences in cognitive theory work out into different classroom experiences. If knowledge is really an individual's construction rather than a true reflection of something-out-there, students must explore, not study. They must embrace multiple solutions, not find "the" answer. But a new (old?) paradigm might be posited: the university as a community of learners, professors being the chief learners of all. The focus becomes not the student but the activity itself. In this paradigm, reality is not fundamentally personal nor fundamentally objective but a shared experience, known as all reality is known, via community. The experience of education becomes, then, a composite of these two visions - cognitivist in principle, while constructivist in practice.
With this epistemology in mind, we can now ask, "What kind of learners should we be trying to produce? What is human, and what does education have to do with it?" Of course, this question of the human is a metaphysical one, and the West has traditionally answered it with a view of the human person as a spirit/body composite. If we assume a spirit capable of growing in wisdom, then education encompasses the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. As composition teachers who believe that meaningful teaching means guiding students toward the Real, we must therefore look carefully at what we are doing. As Neil Postman questioned the computer, we teachers also might attempt to recognize the disadvantages - that is, the losers - in the contemporary moves toward both the student-focused classroom and a technologically-driven curriculum. An honest look at our changing discipline reveals that the ideas of neutral technology and technological determinism both come up short, but we must also acknowledge that technology does have a certain grain, an inherent rhetoric, to it - namely, a fascination with media itself. Of course, at some point, technology can become transparent; that is, we can feel that it disappears and allows for an experience of immediacy. But this is not a possibility for the kind of education now in vogue. Rather, when technology is incorporated in a committed way within the classroom, it tends to be the newest, the slickest, and that which still has a hold upon us because it has not yet faded into transparency. The end product cannot help but be a hypermediated one. We as viewer feel full because we are consuming something seemingly greater than the idea itself: we too easily mistake the medium for the message.
Thus, technology itself begs the question. One may view technology as a tool, a means of achieving "the good life," but where does one discover those private values that are the ends for which we are striving? And if we do not have an articulated end, what good does it do to get there faster? Education, then, must answer to something higher. It must, if it is to do any real good, seek to raise the human up, not just physically but spiritually, helping us to ask and answer fundamental questions, concerns addressed by the humanities. Of course, we must recognize that the humanities cannot magically deliver virtue and happiness any more than technology can. What they can do, however, is something very different from technology - in fact, quite the opposite: the humanities recognize human limitations. That is, they offer a realistic account of what is required to achieve human goods. Technology simply does not do this; technology cannot take seriously its own limits for it thrives in overcoming them. This paper ends with a call to return to the arts, which place us in a position better able to think wisely about our human experience. How, then, can we understand a metaphysics of composition? If we are to have our students compose meaningfully, then their experience must be framed by goods larger than themselves.
Assistant Professor of English
University of Mary-Hardin Baylor
". . . any religion that does not tell you what to do with your genitals [. . .] cannot be interesting."—Stanley Hauerwas
Over the last year, a group of scholars has been engaged in a series of conversations at Berry College in Georgia. The conversations, occurring within the context of the three-part Stuck with Virtue conference series, have ranged from the classical conception of virtue to its radical redefinition by contemporary transhumanists, but all have focused on the future of human virtue in an increasingly technocratic age. Along the way, the ongoing conversation about these issues has highlighted-albeit implicitly-the central role of the human body in what has been termed the new "science of virtues." One contemporary figure who has made a point of trying to recover a healthy place for the body is Wendell Berry. Throughout his career, but perhaps most pointedly in his two essays "The Body and the Earth" and "Faustian Economics: Hell Hath No Limits," Berry calls readers to recognize that bodies are our means of participation in the physical creation. As he writes, they are "moving particles of the earth, joined inextricably both to the soil and to the bodies of other living creatures." For Berry, all responsible activity-the concept of responsibility is key throughout his corpus-begins with a right understanding of bodily existence. In other words, a wise stewardship of creation flows out of the most personal bodily acts.
An unlikely analog to Berry might be found in the Enlightenment thinker John Locke, whose labor theory of property hinges on the claim that a man owns himself and thus owns his labor. In mixing labor with objects, property rights are established. While the aim here is not to explore Locke's theories, his understanding of property provides a lens through which Berry's understanding of virtue can be seen more clearly. Just as Locke grounds all proprietary claims in natural self-ownership, so does Berry find all virtue claims in responsible self-governance. To rule oneself wisely, then, is the starting point for all just behavior.
While Berry's interest in the body is an integral aspect of his work as an environmental advocate, a role he has embraced even above his place as a writer, it also can shed light more generally on a type of education that aims at wisdom. In stewarding the physical world, Berry maintains that humans must be capable of answering what he calls "the most urgent question of the time"—namely, How much is enough? If people are unable to do so, they will behave viciously toward creation. This training in stewardship and restraint, however, must begin with instruction in how one is to rule one's body. Berry's agrarian context does not preclude his claims from being applied more generally, allowing readers to conclude that such training must include the most personal aspect of one's bodily existence, sexuality, if it is to find an appropriate standard and metaphor for all responsible action.
The reasons for such training are evident and have been central in nearly all great educational texts (e.g., Plato's Republic, Augustine's Confessions, Dante's Divine Comedy, Rousseau's Emile) and pervasive in the three biblical religions. While traditionally the importance of erotic desire and education has been recognized, the contemporary belief is that sexuality is the most private of matters, and if a part of education, only in as much as sexual independence is affirmed or cultivated. But one could argue just the opposite: of all human spheres, sexuality is one of the most non-private, for sexual activity by definition involves more than a solitary self. In fact, perhaps this is why various faiths have traditionally taken up sexuality and attempted to regulate it, carefully spelling out the who, what, when, and where. That is to say, traditionally these religions have recognized that the goodness of an entire society hinges on such personal piety.
Yet, returning now to the role of the body in matters of virtue, we can see how transhumanists and traditionalists would disagree regarding what constitutes wisdom in such matters. If the body is our participation in a natural realm whose limits exist to be overcome (this is, of course, the conception of both transhumanists and Baconians), then wisdom is to be found in the adversarial relationship of the self, however defined, to his/her body. Wisdom is the subjugation of the body. If, however, the body is humanity's participation in a natural realm whose limits are to serve as guides toward virtue, then wisdom is to be found in a concordant relationship of self and body.
In education, the paradigm for the former conception of wisdom is the sciences, wherein limits provoke and challenge the learner to overcome them. (An example of such provoking limitations can be seen in the unending quest to produce faster computers with more memory.) The educational paradigm for the latter is the arts, wherein limits are acknowledged and embraced as the means of achieving a desired end. (An example might be the sonneteer, who begins and ends his work as a poet with predetermined limitations in mind.) In short, the paradigm of the arts, when applied to the body, allows one to recognize the limitation of the body as the means—and the only known means—by which moral wisdom might be achieved. Contrarily, when approached through a scientific paradigm that views limits as obstacles to be overcome, the body is seen with disdain. And if the body, the lynchpin for all morality, is no longer valued, neither will be the wisdom that it can afford.
Lauren Barron, MD
Lecturer, Medical Humanities
We all want our physicians to be wise, but the use of the actual word 'wisdom' is rare in the literature associated with medical education. Moreover, many seeming analogues such as 'clinical judgment' further confound the concept. The focus of this paper is on the nature of 'clinical wisdom'—an even more elusive term in the literature, but the one which most clearly captures what we mean by wisdom in the practice of medicine. As rare as this term is in print, physicians are familiar with this phrase, "know it when they see it" in clinical practice and understand "clinical wisdom" as the achievement of mastery in medicine which we can all agree is the ultimate goal of medical education. One of the best definitions of clinical wisdom yet available is described by Haggerty & Grace from the William F. Connell School of Nursing at Boston College as a "more specific variant of general wisdom" whose characteristics include: "(1) balancing and providing for the good of another and the common good, (2) the use of intellect and affect in problem solving, and (3) the demonstration of experience-based tacit knowing in problematic situations." In this session, we will explore the merits of this definition, with particular emphasis on the social and emotional dimensions of clinical wisdom. We will then discuss practical ways in which the study of medical humanities can expedite the acquisition of clinical wisdom—the medical practitioner's "pearl of great price."
Caroline Blane Barta
When faced with difficult, problematic, and even blatantly unjust situations, how should you consider and remember the situation rightly? As days, months, or even years pass, how should the memory of that situation affect you? In his Consolation of Philosophy, Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius, unjustly imprisoned and awaiting execution, presents a clear and urgent argument for the importance of right remembrance. When traced throughout Boethius's work, this process of remembering rightly takes Boethius from the state of metaphorical blindness to clear sight, from crushing despair to consolation regardless of circumstances. When we first meet the character of Boethius, he is soul-sick having forgotten who he really is, the nature of his situation, and even the ordering of the universe in its relation to its Creator. As the character of Lady Philosophy treats Boethius's soul-sickness, he begins to regain his proper sight, finally seeing, and thus remembering, past events and situations aright. In this way, right remembrance proves to be foundational to Boethius grasping a sincere sense of wisdom and its benefits. In this essay, I intend to set forth Boethius's pattern for right remembrance as a foundational step in the endeavor of truly teaching wisdom - knowledge of the highest. For, no matter whether each student must overcome personal tragedy at the moment of his schooling, the facts of a fallen world in which suffering permeates force thoughtful individuals to find a method for asking important questions.
I will begin this essay by tracing the theoretical background and history of the concept of right remembrance, particularly by considering various important conceptions of classical thought about the relationship between memory and the soul derived from Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero. This line of inquiry will be particularly fruitful, as these theories of memory are directly tied to the process of learning. Then, I will consider the development of classical thought about the soul and memory moving forward into Late Antiquity and Early Medieval thought, focusing especially upon Augustine and his influence upon Boethius.
Moving on, we see that from Boethius' experiences, important and strengthening lessons emerge for our own struggles in a secularizing world. His solution reminds us powerfully for our own time that Boethius in finding the most poignantly philosophical answer to his travails, ends by affirming an all-powerful, omniscient Creator and his providential workings. With the foundation of clear sight enabled by right remembrance, Boethius becomes content that his life is dependent not upon circumstances or the fickle turns of Fortune's wheel, relying upon firm knowledge that there is an all-powerful, omniscient Creator who made and controls all things by His sovereign, providential workings. In like fashion, therefore, we, like Boethius, can be encouraged by ordering our minds aright through understanding the beginning and end of all things. Through this end, then, we may teach profitably wisdom - the knowledge of conclusions through their highest causes. Finally, I will reflect upon how Boethius' work teaches us aptly that the love of wisdom leads to true happiness and a knowledge of freedom that transcends circumstance, which sustains and comforts man during times of adversity. This is knowledge that frees.
Thus, I intend to display the philosophical application of the art of right remembrance and its importance to us and readers of every time and circumstance, but particularly its educational use to laying the foundation in the pursuit of the knowledge of the highest, wisdom. In his work highlighting the consoling power of philosophy, Boethius gives a timeless account rich with possibility for instructing his own self and his reader in the art of right remembrance. For my part, inasmuch as it offers a true and honest reflection about how best to remember both the good and the painful, Boethius's work is particularly compelling and worthy of deep reflection and consideration.
Aquinas's definition of wisdom as contemplation of the divine is perplexing for his modern-day readers. We have come to understand wisdom in terms of a deep insight into the nature of things that allows the wise person to choose rightly between good and evil and to think and act well. By doing so, we have united in one concept what the medievals separated into two distinct intellectual and moral virtues, namely wisdom and prudence. Aquinas, in his discussion of wisdom, links it with Aristotle's concept of theoretical wisdom and places it, together with art and scientific knowledge, among intellectual virtues. On the other hand, he describes prudence as an ability to choose well and to avoid evil in practical matters of human affairs, connecting it with Aristotle's practical wisdom. Unlike Aristotle, however, Aquinas considers prudence to be a moral, and not an intellectual, virtue. This separation of wisdom and prudence into distinct categories complicates Aristotelian account and forces the reader to re-examine the nature of these virtues and their relation to each other.
In this paper, I suggest that a close examination of the characters from Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov demonstrates the importance of taking the Thomistic notion of wisdom into consideration when attempting to give a robust account of a human flourishing. At the same time, such examination bolsters Aquinas's claim of the unity of virtues and his assertion that wisdom is the father of all virtues.
Chair and Professor of Philosophy
Associate Professor of Philosophy
Director, Institute for Faith and Learning and Assistant Professor of Philosophy
In a recent book, Education's End: Why Our Colleges and Universities Have Given Up on the Meaning of Life, Anthony Kronman argues that the modern university is failing its students because it no longer enables students to wrestle with the big questions. Wrestling with the big questions is what he calls the perennial human quest for meaning. According to Kronman, exploring the permanent possibilities of the meaning of human life is the task of the humanities. And he derides the modern university because it no longer provides its students with a coherent, comprehensive, systematic and persuasive exposure to the permanent possibilities with respect to the "meaning of life" question. We believe that Kronman's diagnosis is on target but we connect the quest for meaning with the perennial quest for wisdom. It is this quest for wisdom that has been abandoned by the modern university. In our panel session, we (1) present Kronman's critique of the modern university and his solution&secular humanism, (2) provide decisive arguments about why his solution is no solution at all, and (3) present an alternative conception of the university grounded in Christian intellectual resources that take the quest for wisdom seriously. Along the way, we will argue (1) that Kronman's solution to the original problem but repeats the problem for its origins are but the product of a secularized conception of higher education and (2) that he fails to appreciate the ways in which Christian theological and philosophical convictions make it possible to achieve his own aims for a university education grounded in the humanities.
Chair and Professor of Philosophy
Associate Professor of Philosophy in the Honors College and Faculty Master of Brooks Residential College
Associate Professor of Philosophy and Great Texts
In a recent book that is critical of the modern research university, God, Philosophy, Universities: A Selective History of the Catholic Philosophical Tradition, Alasdair MacIntyre argues that the university seems no longer very interested in engaging the questions of "plain persons." These questions include: "What is our place in the order of things? Of what powers in the natural and social world do we need to take account? How should we respond to the facts of suffering and death? What is our relationship to the dead? What is it to live a human life well? What is it to live it badly?" These are the sorts of questions (there are many others) with their range of possible answers that the "humane" disciplines—the humanities—place squarely at the center of the educational enterprise in the university. Yet, the humanities are in crisis, or so the Chronicle of Higher Education reports. The three panelists will: (1) identify salient features of the crisis in the humanities, (2) suggest how secularization has contributed to the crisis, and (3) discuss how a genuine Christian humanism can provide an antidote that preserves the genuine aims of humanistic university education. Drawing from the legacy of Blessed John Paul II's Veritatis Splendor and Fides et Ratio, three of Pope Benedict XVI's recent encyclicals (Caritas in Veritate; Deus Caritas Est; and Spe Salvi), along with important contributions to this question in Benedict's Regensburg lecture ("Faith, Reason, and the University") and his dialogue with Jurgen Habermas (The Dialectics of Secularization: On Reason and Religion), the authors will defend a version of Christian humanism as a solution to the crisis in the humanities.
Associate Professor of Religion/Adjunct Professor of Theology
Hope College/Western Theological Seminary
At the heart of biblical wisdom literature are the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. Each is a collection of sayings and short teachings and aphorisms, both grouped and scattered. While the writings were obviously important enough to be included in Hebrew Scripture, their purpose as authoritative revelation is not fully transparent. Yet there is a dramatic element to each, which, if identified and tracked, leads to some important interpretive conclusions. Moreover, the outcomes stand as foundational elements of what the faith community considered to be "educating for wisdom," namely that wisdom must be sought, wisdom is a social commodity, wisdom is a personification of divine intents and values, and wisdom becomes a cultural way of life for those who enter the worldview of the Sinai Covenant.
Proverbial language remains at the center of education at any level. Children are taught facts and truths, teens are expected to memorize axioms and theorems and ideas, and young adults are educated in order to be able to argue theses by the rules of logic. Inherent in all of this pedagogy is the assumption that there are foundational elements of wisdom that can be broadly accepted and experientially affirmed. In looking at Proverbs and Ecclesiastes from their internal movements of human drama, a case for educating in wisdom at the 21st century university will be made.
David J. Burns
Professor of Marketing
Traditionally, many have viewed the primary goal of education to be the successful conveyance of information to students - students were viewed as vessels to fill with knowledge (Freire 1998). Increasingly, many are questioning whether traditional pedagogical methods, such as lecture, are truly beneficial to students' education (e.g., Bringle and Hatcher 2003; Munter 2002). Guyton (2000) and Kohn (1999), for instance, view lecturing to be responsible for turning students into passive underachievers and Bransford and Nye (1989) speak of an "inert knowledge problem" - where students possess a significant amount of knowledge but are unable to apply the knowledge to real world problems or to make the transition from memory to action. Consequently, many in higher education are calling for widespread changes in classroom pedagogy (e.g., Jacoby 1996).
Increasingly the goal of education is returning to the building of wisdom as opposed to merely conveying information. Wisdom is a deeper concept than knowledge. Wisdom is multifaceted, involving the integration of many intrapersonal domains including cognitive, affective, reflective, and volitional (Baltes, Gluck, and Kunzmann, 2005). Consequently, building wisdom requires a different approach to education. Faith-based educational institutions are uniquely positioned to build wisdom in their students. One way that wisdom can be incorporated into the educational process at faith-based institutions is through the integration of mission/faith into the classroom. Mission/faith integration is much more than merely adding a component, such as a discussion of ethics, to a course. Instead, mission/faith integration requires both instructors and students to think deeply about their disciplines and the connections which exist between one's discipline and mission/faith. Martinez and Johnson (2010) suggest that the different approaches to education can be depicted as different levels of depth (see Figure 1).
We all teach our discipline (the "necessary things" from Figure 1) in our courses. Our textbooks, our tests, and our assignments are all designed to encourage students to understand discipline-related principles and to learn how to apply these principles in practice. Although content (information and ideas) is an important component of education, it may not represent the most profitable use of valuable class time (Bulkeley 2005).
Less commonly, we teach philosophic ideas (what is true and what is of value) about our discipline. Philosophic ideas include discussion on ethical issues.
Even less commonly, we touch on issues related to the fundamental presuppositions that we assume to be true in our disciplines. For example, in accounting, a presupposition may be that human value is only shown through the assets it creates and the revenue it produces. In marketing, we might assume that individual happiness and well-being can be obtained through the consumption of products. What are the presuppositions of our disciplines? How does these presuppositions relate to mission/faith? Mission/faith integration in education means exploring the deep things in our classrooms - the big questions, the tough issues. It is the opportunity to have students wrestle with the complex, ambiguous, challenging ideas that underlie our disciplines. This is the essence of truly integrating mission/faith into the classroom and involves the development of wisdom.
This paper explores mission/faith integration as a way of examining the deep things by examining the mission/faith pyramid. In mission/faith integration, primary attention is placed on addressing the presuppositions of our disciplines and how mission/faith relates to these presuppositions - how mission/faith supports, clarifies, or conflicts with the presuppositions and how the relationships between our disciplines and mission/faith can be explored. An explicit example employed in a marketing course is examined.
The Mission-Learning Pyramid
The Necessary Things
The Deep Things
Adapted from Martinez and Johnson (2010).
The pyramid is comprised of four levels: 1) practice - how we do our discipline, 2) perspective - How we see our discipline, 3) philosophy - How we think about our discipline, and 4) presupposition - what we assume about our discipline.
[Please note that the graphic component of the figure could not be replicated.]
T. Ryan Byerly
Instructor of Record
In this paper, I argue for an account of wisdom according to which wisdom is a disposition to take appropriate risks. I show why this account should be attractive generally, and also why it should be especially attractive for someone from within the Christian Aristotelian tradition. Finally, I show why the account has certain advantages over Stephen Evans's recent account of wisdom offered from within the Christian Platonist tradition.
David H. Calhoun
Associate Professor, Philosophy
In both classical pagan and Jewish-Christian traditions, wisdom is knowledge directed to insight, understanding, and practice. Consequently, wisdom literature focuses on timeless truths of human nature, social life, virtues of character, and ultimately, the human-divine relationship. At the same time, however, the practical dimension of wisdom requires some attention to the concrete situatedness of human life. Wisdom always involves practical insight that is shaped by and responsive to the specific cultural and historical challenges to human concerns, even as it affirms the perennially human.
In the contemporary intellectual environment, the most pressing challenges for living a wisely human life are raised under the banner of natural science, in two related guises: (1) that science is institutionally in a state of war with religion, and that this conflict implicitly undermines traditional human virtues and values, such as human dignity, that are a central part of the Western religious legacy, and (2) that the deliverances of contemporary science, particularly neo-Darwinist biology and related fields such as neurobiology and evolutionary ethics, have exposed as vulnerable or false basic principles of human life and action, such as free agency, rationality, and objective morality.
I propose therefore a curriculum for humane wisdom that seeks to form students in constructive patterns of thinking regarding issues that cross the boundaries of philosophy, science, and religion; that instructs students in knowledge about the historical relationships between philosophy, natural philosophy or science, and religion, especially Christianity; and that supplies conceptual and theoretical tools to students for a richly integrated human life in dialogue with contemporary science. While I can only sketch the outlines of such a curriculum in the context of a brief paper, I propose that it should include the following:
*1. Literacy in the history and philosophy of science*: A significant reason for the enduring popularity of the religion-science war narrative is ignorance of the historical record regarding the interrelationships between philosophy, Christianity, and natural philosophy or natural science. Attention to recent revisionist scholarship on multiple dimensions of these relationships, from the cautious but open attitude of the early Christian church toward natural philosophy, and the role of late medieval Christian institutions in setting the foundations for the early modern scientific revolution, can help students more fully appreciate the complex nature of religious contributions to science. Particularly important in this connection are appreciation of the shared classical pagan and Jewish-Christian tradition linking the intelligibility of nature to the agency of an ordering first cause or creator and the continuing debates about how to understand the interplay of divine agency in nature and naturalistic causal explanations.
*2. Provision of philosophical tools to "divide rightly" the epistemological and metaphysical assumptions of science*: Students today tend both to idolize science and to misconstrue it as a monolithic and univocal authority rather than appreciating it as a methodology for finding truths about the natural world. Attention to the nature of science and to the assumptions of scientific practice (such as methodological naturalism) promotes insight into how scientific inquiry complements other forms of inquiry into the truth. Of particular importance in this connection are the problems of scientism, the tendency to regard scientific methods as the sole or best ways of finding truths, and awareness of the shift from study of natural kinds to genealogy that characterizes modern science, especially post-Darwin.
*3. Appreciation of the theoretical, scientific, and theological strengths, limitations, and challenges of a range of competing contemporary outlooks*: Correlative to the "war narrative" in thinking about religion-science issues is a tendency to frame available positions in rigidly dichotomous terms, such as evolution vs. creation, divine agency vs. natural causation, or faith vs. reason. Students should be apprised of the reasons behind the tendency to dichotomize, but also should be informed of the range of possible theoretical views that are available. Similarly, students should be exposed to the range of theological positions, especially the historically significant outlooks of first-cause and perfect-being theism, and should be introduced to problems of historical and textual interpretation of religious doctrines.
*4. Provision of conceptual and theoretical resources to counter inhuman contemporary philosophical anthropology*: Recent science-based accounts of human nature, especially post-Darwinian biology, neurobiology, and evolutionary ethics, pose particular challenges to a humane wisdom. A robust curriculum for wisdom must include attention to the main strands of such views, analysis of the purported implications for human free agency and human dignity and value, and critical appraisal of the theoretical disconnect between those views and lived human experience. Further, study of intuitive plausibility and theoretical power of traditional soul theories of human nature, in all of their rich variety, can provide some counterweight to contemporary reductionistic accounts of human existence.
Francis Joseph Caponi
In the Summa Theologiae, in the midst of his treatise on the Trinity, Thomas Aquinas takes up a play on words to describe the knowledge that arises from the mission of the Son: "Not any sort of deeper knowledge results from the Son being sent, but the knowing that bursts forth into love.... a kind of experiential awareness, and this is just what wisdom (sapientia) is, a tasty knowledge (sapida scientia), as it is written in Ecclesiasticus, 'For wisdom is like her name.'" The pedigree of sapida scientia stretches back to the Fathers of the Church, and was picked up by other medieval thinkers (e.g., Bernard of Clairvaux, William of Auxerre). But as always, Thomas makes it his own by integrating it into his account of the nature of sacra doctrina, his theology of the Trinity, and his Christology.
This paper proceeds in four movements:
(1) First, I will situate sacred wisdom in the context of Thomas's reflections on the Trinity, Jesus Christ, revelation, and salvation. Attention will be given to sources of Thomas's view of wisdom in Scripture, as well as in the Posterior Analytics and Nichomachean Ethics.
(2) Second, I will give a brief analysis of Thomas's understanding of wisdom as "sacred teaching," that is, "a kind of imprint of God's own knowledge" (Summa Theologiae, I.1.3, ad 2) in the believer, arising from the study of Sacred Scripture. Particular emphasis will be placed on the roles which can and cannot be played by the arts and sciences in pursuing sacred wisdom.
(3) Third, I will consider Thomas's teaching on the necessity of love (caritas) and prayer for wisdom, understood as both the contemplative and the operative practices of rightly ordering things both of heaven and earth.
(4) Fourth, I will discuss some of the implications for the contemporary Christian university of Thomas's understanding of wisdom as a quest "more perfect, more noble, more useful, and more full of joy" (Summa contra Gentiles, I.2.1) than any other. The deeply experiential character of wisdom, its nature as both a virtue bestowed by the Holy Spirit and a vital human pursuit, suggests that other disciplines are properly seen as achieving their most perfect form when they serve as "food for the journey" which passes from shadows and signs over into the Triune God; "for the pursuit of wisdom especially joins man to God in friendship." (Summa contra Gentiles, I.2.1)
Michael G. Cartwright
Dean of Ecumenical & Interfaith Programs and Associate Professor of Philosophy & Religion
University of Indianapolis
Discerning satisfying answers to question of "what curricular and co-curricular efforts might encourage wisdom's formation in students?" is becoming more vexing for church-related institutions of higher education in the 21st century. Paradoxically, the insistent emphasis on "faculty-student engagement" initially appears to offer educators the opportunity to think in more focused ways about formation in wisdom, but all-too-often faculty and administrators in ways that reinforce students' disposition to approach higher education as yet another venue in which their utilitarian desires are satisfied. I want to argue that it is possible to take advantage of institutional preoccupations associated with the so-called "engagement economy" of higher education to develop strategic approaches to the problem that take seriously the particulars of institutional location, mission and identity.
My argument proceeds in three stages:
In the first section of the paper, I try to bring the problem of utility into focus by engaging ancient and contemporary writers. Going back to Socrates' conversation with Antiphon (as reported in Xenophon's Memoirs of Socrates, Part I), philosophers have been trying to make stable distinctions about the problem of utility in relation to the quest for wisdom. More recently, David Ford has called attention to the ways educators' preoccupation with instrumental concerns can result in our inability to discern the ends of higher education. "The inattention to all-round formation underlines what is perhaps the most glaring weakness of contemporary higher education: its inability to cope adequately either with the 'who?' question that the issue of formation raises or with the related 'why?' question. There is much attention to questions of 'what?' and 'how?' but the categories used in relation to formation tend to be narrowed to the cognitive and practical, and there is little debate about the adequacy of the rationale for this." Ford goes on to add, "One way of putting the challenge of 'who?' and 'why?' is that education should aim to form wise people committed to the common good." Yet, as Ford readily acknowledges, "That is not the aim on the agenda of Cambridge [where Prof. Ford teaches] or of most other higher education institutions . . ." (See Ford's essay "An Interdisciplinary Wisdom: Knowledge, Formation and Collegiality in the Negotiable University," 2008) As Ford makes clear, any coherent attempt to locate formation in wisdom as central to the agenda of higher education requires that we cultivate "collegial ecologies" within which the quest for wisdom can be sustained.
In the second section of the paper, I argue that this is not the kind of aspiration that can only be achieved at elite institutions. Indeed, formation in wisdom should also be the focus of concern in comprehensive church-related universities - like my own United Methodist-related institution on the south side of Indianapolis - where there is a tradition of community engagement. In order to do so, however, we must prepared to "reincorporate" wisdom by crafting curricular and co-curricular activities that remind faculty and students alike that their relationships are to be oriented by the quest for wisdom. I argue that members of a university faculty should regard their relationships with students as in loco amicis. At the same time, faculty should be able to help students learn to think about utilitarian questions without acting as if there is no place in higher education for pragmatic concerns. To evade conversations about money with our students would be a disservice to our institutions as well as our students. To incorporate such concerns, however, invites students to re-engage the quest for wisdom.
In the third part of the paper, I carry out a thought experiment in which I describe a set of faculty-student engagements that could take place at the University of Indianapolis. One of these endeavors would be enacted during the first year of a student's career. The other activity would take place during the senior year. Both would address pragmatic concerns that serve the institutional purposes of the university, but they would also go beyond the mandate for "assessment of educational outcomes" to remind students and faculty alike that wisdom-seeking friendships are integral to the mission of the church-related university.
In the conclusion, I argue that the problem of utilitarian thinking cannot be resolved once and for all. However, we can locate the problem - relation to the particulars of institutional history - even as we invite students to join in the quest for wisdom.
Baylor University, J.M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies
In his book, Does God Make a Difference? Taking Religion Seriously in our Schools and Universities, late philosopher of education Warren Nord writes that religion and philosophy are both fundamental to the core mission and purpose of education. He finds this case to be so compelling that he advocates for an earlier entry of such disciplines than their usual university home - into high school curricula. Both Nord's case and its critics illuminate two hotly contested and crucial questions of higher education and the mission of the university: the myth of religious scholarship and the role of postmodernism in academia.
An air of skepticism towards religion and its informative role - both as a discipline and as an influencing factor within various other disciplines - seems to permeate much of modern academia. Further elevating such skepticism is the fear that society's growing acceptance of postmodernism will seep into academia, demanding acceptance of all views, regardless of information or contribution, and, thus, corrupting knowledge, scholarship, and the very purpose of education. The response to such heightened skepticism and fear has been a greater influx of religious scholarship - witnessed not just in its own field, but across all disciplines and genres of academia. Such has pushed to the forefront of higher education the debate over religious scholarship, and particularly Christian scholarship, in the university - does it exist and what role, if any, does it play in educating society or is it merely a myth that threatens the mission and purpose of education?
In addressing the skepticism towards religious and, specifically, Christian scholarship, an imperative distinction arises within the alleged myth of Christian scholarship—secular academia's myth of Christian scholarship and the religiously-driven myth of Christian scholarship. While the two often find themselves on opposite ends of the religious scholarship spectrum, they actually stem from the same fundamental misunderstanding of religion and its role in society. From a proper understanding of both emerges the true identity of religious and Christian scholarship, neither as myth nor postmodern fad, but as imperative in educating for both knowledge and wisdom and in fulfilling the mission and purpose of the university and of higher education.
Associate Professor, Philosophy
In this paper, I propose to answer the question, Can the 21st century university "educate for wisdom"? My short answer, which will require some explanation and qualification, is "No".
I will begin with the preliminary matter of attempting to understand the question itself. For example, what is the import of "can" in this context? In Clintonesque fashion, the answer to my question depends to some extent upon what the meaning of "can" can be. Does it refer to bare possibility - as in, "Is there some possible world sufficiently like our own to make this question meaning where the answer to this question is 'Yes'?" Or does "can" refer to the practical possibility, the likelihood, in this world? For my purposes, I am interested in the issue of practical possibility.
But there are other matters to be clarified as well, chief among which is what is meant by "educate for wisdom." This phrase, in turn, depends upon the meanings of "educate for" and "wisdom." To "educate" might mean to rear, to train or to instruct, thus to "educate for" could mean to rear, train or instruct for the purpose of...what? It will be necessary to consider some of the purposes that might be in view. For example, we might wish to educate for the purpose of producing wise people. Or we might wish to educate for the purpose of disseminating information about wisdom. I will suggest, based on the symposium's Call for Papers, what I take to be the purpose the organizers had in view.
This leaves the final preliminary item for clarification - the meaning of "wisdom." Here I will look to the Judeo-Christian tradition (rooted in the Old Testament notion of chokmah) and to the Greek tradition. In the Greek tradition, I will use Aristotle to identify two different kinds of wisdom - sophia and phronesis - and then will assimilate, for reasons I will set out, the Judeo-Christian tradition to the Greek tradition concerning phronesis.
The result of all of this clarifying work is to leave me with six questions to answer: Can the 21st century university rear for sophia? Can the 21st century university rear for phronesis? Can the 21st century university train for sophia? Can the 21st century university train for phronesis? Can the 21st century university instruct for sophia? Can the 21st century university instruct for phronesis? I believe that four of these questions can be quickly shown to require a negative answer. As a result, I am really left with two different questions requiring more detailed consideration: Can the 21st century university train for phronesis?, and Can the 21st century university instruct for sophia? For reasons I will set out, I believe that the practical answer is No. In brief, I consider it practically impossible for the 21st century university either to train for phronesis or to instruct for sophia. The practical impossibility of the former arises from both the nature of the students themselves and from the 21st century university's lack of relevant genuine moral authority. The practical impossibility of the latter arises from the fate of sophia, of understanding and science, in the modern and hyper-modern world. Finally, I hope to consider and reply to at least one objection to each of my final arguments.
(Please note that the length in this proposal of the explanation of the preliminary matters should not be taken to correspond directly to the proportion of the paper concerned with these things. I anticipate that the argument itself, which here gets shorter treatment, will take up a much larger proportion of the paper than will the preliminary material.)
William Scott Cleveland
In order to answer the question, how do we educate for wisdom, we must ask, what kind of wisdom? Following the philosophical and theological traditions that distinguish speculative from practical wisdom and natural from supernatural wisdom, I identify three kinds of wisdom. I defend the usefulness of distinguishing them against criticism, describe the relationship of each to the will, and discuss some conditions for their attainment and loss. I then suggest some ways that thinking about wisdom in these different ways can aid educating for wisdom.
In his 2009 book Desiring the Kingdom, James K. A. Smith criticizes the Christian liberal arts for becoming more Platonic than Augustinian. He argues that Christian higher education has largely embraced a cognitive-dominant model of human nature that narrows the nexus between faith and life to thinking and worldview, devaluing the interrelated roles of habits and affections. Sketching a theological anthropology attentive to Scripture and the Christian tradition, Smith suggests humans are creatures that primarily love and worship, and whose affections and minds are formed by practices-not just ideas. He maintains (but does not elaborate in detail) that Christian colleges would do well to revise their curricula, programs, and campus life to reflect this richer understanding of the human person and avoid the problems associated with a cognitive distortion.
Our paper begins by critically engaging Smith's project. We argue that Smith offers an important corrective to the theological anthropology that often hiddenly informs Christian liberal education. Since the Christian liberal arts aim to educate the "whole person," then to the extent that we who teach in such contexts engage students' intellects at the expense of their kardia, we fail to fulfill our "whole person" mission. More importantly, as Smith observes, we do a real disservice to our students through our complicity in allowing the non-Christian sectors of the culture to play a primary role in the shaping of students' affections. The interdisciplinary character of the liberal arts is central here: we argue that communal practices (liturgies) and the shaping of affections cannot be relegated to campus chaplains' offices or ministry-oriented departmental courses. Instead, courses across the curriculum will need a shared and integrated vision for shaping students' hearts as well as their minds.
In dialogue with critics of Smith's thesis (such as Willimon 2010 and Lloyd 2011), we suggest ways to avoid errors to which his position is vulnerable. Of particular concern here are at least two potential pitfalls. First, we explore the extent to which Smith may overemphasize the heart at the expense of a legitimate Christian account of the intellect as part of human nature. Second, we address the role of habits as part of formation, exploring how to maintain an Augustinian-rather than Aristotelian-account of human virtue and change. That is, while acknowledging the import of habits as part of formation for embodied humans, we explore how this can be reconciled with an understanding of heart regeneration that sees habits as necessary but not sufficient for sanctified formation.
Finally, the paper turns to exploring the educational implications and applications of a revised "Smithian" approach. After accounting for existing relevant programs at Christian liberal arts colleges, we explore some possibilities for an interdisciplinary off-campus program focused on Christian formation. A program of this kind would allow increased flexibility for exploring how to pursue a more liturgical and formation-oriented approach to the Christian liberal arts. Of particular interest to this module would be three interrelated emphases: the affections, community and human relationality, and liturgical practices. While courses offered in such a program could fulfill general education and discipline-specific requirements, the curriculum and community life would be intentionally shaped to avoid the individualism and cognitive dominance with which Smith is concerned.
We believe that this paper would be an excellent fit with this year's conference theme of Educating for Wisdom in the 21st Century University. The biblical account of wisdom (as found in Proverbs, for instance) depicts it broadly in terms that incorporate and interrelate knowledge, practice, morality, and human relationality. This paper engages these themes in relation to the Christian liberal arts in higher education and could offer a real contribution to the discussions at this year's conference.
Doctoral Student, Teacher of Record
1. How do professors teaching social issues at Christian colleges interpret what it means to prepare teacher candidates to become agents of change with a biblical worldview?
2. How do these professors address social inequities commonly found in public schools (for example, race, class, gender, religion, and disabilities) from an Evangelical, Christian perspective?
3. In what ways do professors consider teacher candidates equipped to become agents of change who engage a Biblical worldview in order to address social issues in public schools?
This paper presentation is written in conjunction with ongoing dissertation research, and it will inquire as to how influential Christian colleges encourage teacher candidates to draw on their faith in order to be effective agents of change in K-12 schools. The researcher rejects the idea that Christian teachers can remain religiously neutral or teach from a secular worldview. Likewise, the notion that teaching from a "market share" approach, whereby Christianity should dominate classroom teaching because it is the predominate faith system, is also refuted. Instead, this paper inquires as to how teaching from a Christian, biblical worldview might transform teachers to become agents of change in their classrooms. It is argued that, for Christian teachers, faith underscores the way educators engage their profession. Specifically, this research is interested in how faith influences Christian teachers to engage social issues and injustices in education. Most Christian colleges hold mission statements that emphasize both Christian values and a dedication to academic excellence (Diamond, 2002). Therefore, based on their mission statements, these colleges should be concerned with what it looks like to teach with a biblically informed Christian praxis. Christian colleges with leading teacher education programs will be considered for this study, and the researcher will seek to understand how Christian colleges are preparing their teacher candidates to engage a Christian worldview in the public classroom. This study will focus on the intersection of evangelical Christian beliefs and relevant social issues, such as race, class, religion, gender, and disabilities. Moreover, this paper will focus on and how these issues pertain to Christian public school teachers.
Classroom Teachers as agents of change:
The term "agent of change" is relatively new to pedagogical circles, but its principles are long-standing. Teachers as agents of change are educators who look to the future with a vision of what could and should be. In a sense, they are discontented with policies and practices that are unjust, oppressive, and restrictive, and they recognize that as classrooms teachers, they stand in a place of influence. This place of influence is often referenced as "human agency." Robert Inden (2000) defines human agency as the realized capacity to act upon their world, to be an active participant and influencer, as opposed to an observer or bystander. Additionally, educators who are agents of change apply concepts of human agency to enact social change for the collective benefit of all students, particularly for those students in disadvantaged situations.
Faith and social issues in the public classroom:
Multicultural and diversity conversations typically include discussions relating to race, class, gender, religion, language, abilities, sexual orientation, and so forth; however, curricula espousing these ideals often narrow the conversation to how teachers' understanding of race, class, and gender influence classrooms. Most conspicuously omitted from these conversations is how a teacher's faith affects his or her teaching praxis in public classrooms. Certainly, there is literature and research supporting teacher identity, which is constructed from personal and professional experiences (Palmer, 2007; Van Dyk, 2005). Even still, religion's place in pedagogy is frequently ignored, and for many teachers, their faith is at the core of their teaching identity and beliefs about human agency. Rather than silencing the role religion plays in teaching praxis, it is advantageous for educators to understand how this core component of teacher identity influences teachers as agents of change, ready to engage issues pertaining to social justice.
In terms of faith in public schools, Christian educators struggle to negotiate space for their faith somewhere between the rock of pluralism and the hard-place of secularism. For this reason, this study underscores the importance of studying social issues through a biblical worldview in teacher education programs at Christian universities. It also examines how professors at prominent evangelical Christian colleges are designing social issues courses in teacher education programs.
Associate Professor of History and Honors
Abilene Christian University
In some of their earlier writings both Plato and Aristotle show little respect for uneducated, unreflective or "natural" virtue. In the Republic Plato says mere belief, even when it is correct, is a "blind guide" and of no interest to the philosopher. In the Nicomachean Ethics Aristotle contrasts natural virtue to genuine or "full" virtue: the former can be displayed by slaves and children, but is potentially harmful because of its lack of understanding. The disapproval of democracy by Plato and Aristotle is related to this distrust of common, unphilosophical thought.
In some of their later writings, however, we find that both philosophers have changed their views to some degree. Having seen the extent to which philosophical learning can coexist with moral torpor and sophistication with depravity, Plato in the Laws (689Bf) declares that philosophy does not necessarily exclude the worst kind of "folly" (anoia), nor does the ignorance of the common artisan or blue-collar worker imply a lack of moral wisdom. Therefore, the common man who possesses moral harmony in his soul is more to be trusted with the governance of the state than is the cultured "calculator" whose mind is beset with discord. Plato says democratic and oligarchical principles should be combined in a government (Laws 693Df); if there is to be an autocrat, it is essential that he have "ordinary temperance" (ten demode ge [sophronsune]). This is not the kind of virtue which some philosophers identify with wisdom (as at Rep. 430Df), but rather "that kind which by natural instinct springs up at birth in children and animals." (Laws 710A)
Similarly, Aristotle's view of the wisdom of the common people evolves substantially. The last two books (seven and eight) of his Politics were actually written some years earlier than the rest of the work, and they take a dim view of artisans and farmers, relegating them to slavery or alien serfdom. However, when Aristotle comes to write books three and four of the Politics, he defends at length the rights of the masses to take part in government. For one thing, he says, their great numbers confer on the commoners powers of judgment superior to those of a learned few: "Although as individuals they may not be excellent men, yet when they come together they may be better judges collectively [of policy]." (Pol. 1281bf) He also points out that there is more than one way to judge a house, and that those who actually live in the house will probably have a better understanding of its merits and faults than the expert who designed.
In the Laws and the middle books of the Politics, Plato and Aristotle take a mature view of life as it is actually lived, and in doing so they give much more credit to traditional beliefs and to what we might call "common sense" than in some of their earlier writings. In my paper I will explore this topic in detail.
Jeffry C. Davis
Director of Interdisciplinary Studies
Forming students into whole, wise persons who know how to live a good life-the liberal arts vision-no longer represents the predominant aim of so called "higher education" in the United States. Ironically, many "liberal arts" institutions lack an educational telos consistent with their expressed title, thus creating a crisis in credibility. This phenomenon occurs at both secular and religious institutions. However, faculty and administrators at bona fide Christian liberal arts colleges and universities can avoid this problem altogether by communicating their educational purpose persuasively, making claims and appeals that primarily advocate biblical wisdom rather than secular utility.
Two decades ago, David W. Breneman asserted that only 212 genuine liberal arts colleges existed in America, based upon his statistical analysis, a number representing less than half of those recognized by the Carnegie Foundation (Liberal Arts Colleges). Real liberal arts institutions, according to Breneman, did not award over sixty percent of their total degrees in professional fields (e.g. business, engineering, nursing). Thus, he characterized authentic liberal arts learning as endangered.
Of the 4,000 colleges and universities in this country today, just over five percent offer authentic liberal arts learning, by Breneman's standards. Significantly, of those that remain on his list, most are associated with a church denomination or affirm a Christian creed. One such institution is Wheaton College, which is currently involved in a serious dialog about how to redouble its efforts to promote a liberal arts vision of learning, especially now, during its general education curricular reform. What can Christian liberal arts colleges like Wheaton do to strengthen their educational purpose and to promote the outcome of wisdom in their students?
The answer, quite literally, rests upon what comes out of the minds and mouths of administrators and teachers at those schools that claim the importance of wisdom as a preeminent goal of Christian liberal arts learning. Willis Glover explains that "If the values of liberal education are lost to this culture, it will not be from lack of money or from competition with other programs of study but because its proponents and practitioners have done such a poor job of understanding and explaining what it is" ("Liberal Education and the Christian Intellectual Tradition" 9). Glover concludes that educators too often contentedly communicate reasons for learning that depend upon unimaginative cliches. For example, merely encouraging students to become "well-rounded" or to pursue the traditional study of "great books" lacks persuasive power. In an age of excessive and exaggerated language, especially among Christians, cliched words reflect static thinking; they lack descriptive power, leaving students uninformed and unaffected.
Therefore, Christian advocates of the liberal arts may want to reconsider the sagacity of the ancient trivium, specifically rhetoric, to enrich the common rationale for student learning. The art of rhetoric can effectively assist in promoting the importance of biblical wisdom (chokmah), which should infuse all Christian higher learning, creating compelling counter-cultural motives for study. Effective administrators and faculty must develop a shrewd rationale for Christian liberal arts, one that engages students where they reside-psychologically, socially, and spiritually. Most of all, they must understand that the students they intend to form are continually affected by messages within the dominant culture that influence their convictions about values and decisions in life.
In our consumer society, advertising assaults us daily, defining what the good life is and how to get it. Usually the good life is portrayed as something that gets purchased rather than practiced. Even followers of Christ are not immune to the power of such messages, as Walter Brueggemann observes. "The contemporary American church is so largely enculturated to the American ethos of consumerism that it has little power to believe or to act," he explains. "Our consciousness has been claimed by false fields of perception and idolatrous systems of language and rhetoric" (The Prophetic Imagination 11).
The rhetoric of consumerism, ubiquitous in virtually every facet of human experience, contends to gain sway over the thoughts and actions of those in the Christian church, as well as those in institutions for higher learning affiliated with the church. This paper will consider ways to resist the consumer mindset as it pertains to the college experience, reaffirming the necessity and primacy of wisdom as a motive for Christian liberal arts learning.
Director, Center for Scholarship and Faculty Development
Seattle Pacific University
Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs
Seattle Pacific University
There has been a flurry of recent research in the social sciences conceptualizing wisdom which generally focuses on right knowing and right doing that goes beyond mere knowledge acquisition. Psychologist Paul Bates writes that wise persons are able to discriminate among different sources of facts, data and information to be able to discern what makes for a meaningful life while having both the ability and inclination to live out such a life. Psychologist Robert Sternberg's own model of wisdom is commensurate with Bates's adding that wise people seek out the common good within community actively selecting, adapting, or even changing their environments to ensure that the interests of others as well their own self-interests are served. Holy men throughout the major world religions have all been seen through this lense as people who are able to provide deep knowledge and reflection on how to live and get along with one's neighbor amidst a world full of toil and personal angst.
However there is another view of wisdom that is rarely discussed yet never the less is recognized even in the writings of antiquity in which wisdom is associated with acknowledging weakness in one's lack of self- knowledge, consistency and / or self-deception. While western culture usually sees self-doubt or uncertainty as a limitation there are others who have viewed this as a form of wisdom and maturity. On trial for his life, Socrates conceded to an Athenian jury of his peers that he was indeed wiser than other wise men since he was willing to acknowledge that he did not know what he did not know about himself. Socrates viewed the notion that we would dare suggest that we know what we do not know about ourselves not as wisdom, but hubris. Likewise St. Paul wrote "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do" (Romans 7:15). While this passage is often taken as a reflection of Paul's weakness, even so it is an acknowledgement and awareness of the power of self-deception in a fallen yet redeemed world. In modern times Dietrich Bonhoeffer echoed such wisdom when he wrote in Life Together, "just as surely as God desires to lead us to a knowledge of genuine Christian fellowship, so surely must we be overwhelmed by a great disillusionment with others, with Christians in general, and if we are fortunate, with ourselves."
These three examples of wisdom in weakness have a common underlying understanding of humility. Humility requires a realistic evaluation of one's ability and achievements yet is also an aspirational process. People strive to practice the virtue of humility rather than ever claim the approbation of being humble. The practice of humility includes an openness to concede mistakes, imperfections, gaps in knowledge and limitations. In this paper, we will review social science research around issues of self-deception and humility. We will also provide examples of student engagement from Seattle Pacific University which foster empathy, self-knowledge and teamwork as ways to increase wisdom in weakness and develop humility without turning to self-abasement, humiliation or lowering self-esteem.
Adjunct Instructor of Philosophy
In the Apology, Plato presents Socrates as a man puzzled by the Delphic Oracle's pronouncement that there was no man wiser than Socrates even though Socrates himself claimed to have no knowledge. He attempts to find one wiser than himself and fails. Although he is ultimately condemned for the disturbance caused by his incessant examination of others, Socrates illustrates a life committed not only to examining others but, more importantly, self-examination. Through his life and death, Socrates emphasizes the ethical obligation to care for one's soul and make it as good as possible. This care requires one to live according to the words inscribed on the wall of Apollo's temple at Delphi: "Know thyself". Thus, for Socrates, the unexamined life is not worth living for a man.
Socrates points out the fundamental importance of self-examination for the life proper to a human being which is ultimately the life of wisdom. Cultivation of a life of wisdom requires a proper understanding of one's self and the human good. A goal of education is to train one in the reflective life and ultimately the care of one's soul.
My contention is that self-examination and knowing one's self is a central difficulty to the life of wisdom. Drawing from Pascal's Pensees and Christopher Nolan's film Memento, my paper will focus on the difficulty of self-understanding because the self is, in many ways, precisely that which one wants to avoid. Pascal draws attention to the capacity a human has for avoiding conclusions one ought to draw about himself. The cumulative effect of living a life of diversion is deep disorientation accompanied by the loss of a sense of reason and purpose in one's life, a message that is particularly timely for students in the modern university. Pascal's expression of this experience is best captured in his metaphor of awaking on a desert island with no knowledge of how he got there and no means of escape. The choice that confronts the Islander is either to continue diverting his attention toward pleasant objects or do the difficult (and perhaps personally painful) work of discovering what, or who, is really the problem.
Christopher Nolan's film Memento shows the ethical dimension of the failure to draw the correct conclusion. Leonard, the main character and former insurance claims investigator, begins with the same confusion as Pascal's Islander. His entire life is oriented toward finding the person who killed his wife and took away his life. The search for the killer is complicated by his inability to form any long-term memories due to a brain injury sustained during the attack on his wife. More importantly however is Leonard's failure to accept his responsibility for his wife's death. He also systematically deceives himself to avoid this fact while deliberately killing the one who encourages him to investigate himself.
Socrates, Pascal, and Nolan all stress the difficulty of self-examination and self-understanding. They also emphasize the importance of the need for someone, often the wise man, to reveal ourselves to ourselves and the choice to continue the reflective life or not.
Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Grove City College
In this paper I pursue a line of thinking in defense of the following claim: the pursuit of a certain kind of neutrality in inquiry turns out to be the enemy of genuine objectivity. The concepts of virtue and the virtues are important to my inquiry, as is a conception of wisdom as that which unifies the inquiries of a liberal education and brings those inquires to completion. One charge that could be leveled against teaching and attempting to inculcate the virtues within a liberal arts education is that such an education would presuppose rather than rationally defend such a stance, which is antithetical to a liberal education which seeks understanding through free and rational inquiry. I argue on the contrary that the virtues are the character traits necessary to bring the activities of rational inquiry of a liberal education to completion in knowledge and understanding. Further, if some understanding of the virtues and attempt to cultivate them is not central to a liberal education, then the goals of rational inquiry cannot be achieved.
I defend these claims by discussing the compartmentalization and fragmentation of inquiry in the contemporary academy. I suggest that a result of such fragmentation has been widespread incommensurability of different standpoints, each of which is incapable of rationally vindicating itself against its rivals. This state of affairs makes it difficult for the academy to sustain the pursuit of understanding reality as a whole, while at the same time it allows for established interests within the academy to become entrenched.
I use applied ethics as a case study to examine these problems in the modern academy. I suggest that pretensions to be able to apply the results of ethical theory to concrete problems can't be made good, because ethical theory consists of a series of contested ethical claims and accounts, not a body of truths to be applied to concrete problems. I go on to suggest reasons that virtue ethics has been marginalized in applied ethics.
Reflection on the virtues in an Augustinian vein allows us to see why reflection on and inculcation of the virtues is necessary to avoid the compartmentalization of the modern academy and the problems that arise from such compartmentalization. Augustine highlights that disorder and disunity in the moral life which the virtues heal results from making absolute something that is partial and limited, whether it be a body of knowledge or the pursuit of some temporal good. Augustine also highlights that we mustn't assume that human ability to achieve and exercise virtue in this life can ever be complete. Augustine therefore points us to the need to ever subject our partial, limited, mistaken perspectives to correction and critique. Thus Augustine shows us why it is imperative to resist the tendency to insulate established standards, methods and perspectives from substantive, continuing and radical criticism and correction.
I answer the initial charge against teaching and attempting to inculcate the virtues within a liberal arts education by invoking, in a manner characteristic of Augustine, a deep irony about liberal learning. It is only by presupposing a perspective - the standpoint of the virtues - as a starting point of inquiry that we will be able to overcome the compartmentalized and fragmented and hence limited and distorting perspectives which threaten to undermine the goals of liberal learning. Or to put it another way, liberal learning must consist of faith seeking understanding.
Phillip J. Donnelly
Associate Professor of Literature
How can the many aspects of human knowing find their fulfillment in a human good that is not mere abstraction? This is one of the central questions addressed by the medieval Franciscan theologian, Bonaventure in his under-appreciated text, De reductione artium ad theologiam, or On Retracing the Arts to Theology. Bonaventure's text considers knowledge regarding human and non-human nature, as well as the knowledge involved in all varieties of human making. The goal of this essay is to consider how Bonaventure's account of wisdom unfolded in this text offers important resources for addressing the fragmentation that is so characteristic of intellectual inquiry in modern contexts. The essay first explains how his account of human knowing unites biblical interpretation with the semiotic character of the cosmos. The argument then shows how this same hermeneutic involves a theological reinterpretation of the transcendentals-truth, goodness, and beauty. Ultimately, I contend that Bonaventure's text provides, specifically through its theological account of the study of non-human nature, an important educational resource: it casts a visionary alternative to the presumed modern purposes for human knowing.
Associate Professor of Philosophy
At the heart of debates about wisdom is the distinction between knowing information and being able to apply one's understanding to practical situations. If wisdom is a virtue that relates to efficiently utilizing knowledge in the pursuit of appropriate ends, how can it best be taught? If this virtue requires practice and performance, how should educators develop wisdom within their students? Underneath these questions lurks a more personal and mysterious matter: can a person gain wisdom in particular areas without first having an existential "stance" amenable to gaining such wisdom? Are there "stages" of wisdom, relating first to an initial state of being and carrying over to domains of application? In this paper, I explore "existential" wisdom as a concept to help further the discussion of virtue and its education.
The wisdom of Socrates and his insistence on the examined life, along with his commitment to that life even unto death, was at the heart of Kierkegaard's respect for him. Kierkegaard is careful to distinguish between the more systematic approach of Plato and the philosophical life lived by Socrates, a stance that can teach us important lessons about the portrayal and education of wisdom. Oftentimes, Kierkegaard criticizes Plato and praises Socrates in the same sentence. For example, "The infinite merit of the Socratic position was precisely to accentuate the fact that the knower is an existing individual, and that the task of existing is his essential task. Making an advance upon Socrates by failing to understand this is quite a mediocre achievement. This Socratic principle we must therefore bear in mind, and then inquire whether the formula may not be so altered as really to make an advance beyond the Socratic position."
Kierkegaard is drawing our attention to the wisdom of Socrates as it lies in his existential engagement with that which he pursues. Developing systems of knowledge or producing technological advancements involves an important type of knowledge, to be sure. But existential wisdom involves self-knowledge, personal interest, and engaging the risks that accompany the establishment of meaning for one's life. One cannot "advance beyond" this wisdom, because it is a way of existing that embodies a relationship to truth, not merely knowledge of truth. Kierkegaard also embraces Socrates' approach to conveying this wisdom, again not in terms of passing on information, but rather through drawing interlocutors into personally engaged investment: "The fact that several of Plato's dialogues end with no conclusion has a far deeper reason than I had earlier thought. For this is a reproduction of Socrates' maieutic skills, which activate the reader or listener himself, and therefore end not in any conclusion but with a sting. This is an excellent parody of the modern rote-learning method that says everything at once and the quicker the better, which does not awaken the reader to any self-activity, but only allows him to recite by heart."
Kierkegaard refers to the "midwifery" that Socrates participates in, bringing knowledge and truth to life through indirect means. Kierkegaard's own indirect communication works an existential message into its form and style, through irony, parable, and humor. The wisdom of Socrates is in maintaining the existential message in his life and teachings, not providing systematic answers that put an end to struggle and growth.
These examples point to the connection Kierkegaard felt with Socrates, and provide us with fruitful lessons about the education of wisdom. We can see that wisdom exists in different forms. While a typical understanding of the virtue may focus on knowledge for the sake of practical application, the existential dimension transcends mere means-ends efficiency. Existential wisdom relates to understanding oneself, heightening personal investment, and knowing when and how to take risks in pursuit of meaning and truth - even when objectively speaking such knowledge is incomplete and uncertain. Existential wisdom also hints at ways in which we should educate others to develop a proper relationship to knowledge, beyond knowing that and knowing how. Rather than direct forms of teaching, the existential approach to educating wisdom involves indirect language, narrative role-play, stories and parables that prompt personal reflection and action, and irony and humor that dislodge students from encrusted complacency. It also shows the importance of establishing a love of wisdom early on in students' thinking, to the extent that a social and psychological ethos permeates the personal appropriation and subsequent practical demonstration of understanding the human condition. Existential wisdom proves to be an excellence of relational IQ, not merely a disposition of prudence.
Teaching Fellow for the Program of Liberal Studies
University of Notre Dame
The twelfth-century witnessed a renewed interested in identifying precisely how the Platonic triads of God-Mind-Soul and God-Form-Matter might relate to Christian Trinitarian and Creational Theology. Many believed that the Platonists had a certain natural knowledge of the Trinity, which hidden wisdom they hid through figures and fables in order to protect it from those who were unworthy. The connection of Jesus Christ as the Divine Wisdom with Platonic ideas of the Form of forms became the basis of their entire metaphysical system. Medieval academic discussions of the liberal arts, categories, predication, the forms, and universals frequently assumed some connection to Trinitarian theology.
This holistic approach to the liberal arts, metaphysics, and theology is considered laughable in the academy today. At worst, it is a prime example of where medieval Christianity went wrong through the infection of pagan philosophy. At best, it is a hopelessly esoteric exercise, equivalent to discussing how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. But are these assessments fair? It is true that one could not expect to propose Jesus Christ as the literal, metaphysical source of all Wisdom in the secular academy today, but is that sufficient reason for Christian academics to ignore this approach?
While it might be wise to distinguish these kinds of meditations from Theology proper, admitting that they are more speculative, this paper will argue that the study of this kind of medieval metaphysics may be profitable for the university student today.
Job Selvarayan Ebenezer
Technology for the Poor
George Washington Carver is known for his discovories of hundreds of uses for peanuts, sweet potatoes and other plants. He discovered all these uses of God's creation not through reading journals and other conventional literature. He attributed his discoveries to Divine revelation. He got his marching orders for the day's work by being alone in the woods every morning and listening to the voice of God. He proved that one can do scientific research through inspiration and not just by conventional ways.
In this presentation, a biography of George Washington Carver will be presented and his dependency of God for wisdom to carry out even scientific research will be explored. Following Dr. Carver, the author has designed technologies for the poor. These technologies can be found on the web site www.technologyforthepoor.com Some of the technologies presented will include, appropriate garden technology for the poor especially, those living urban areas, low cost human energy systems using bicycles and low cost construction using agriculture waste like, rice straw, grass etc.
It is the author's hope that wisdom based technologies can help the poor to feed themselves and achieve sustainability.
James E. Faulconer
Richard L. Evans Chair of Religious Understanding
Brigham Young University
This paper will first describe a course, "The Good Life," that focuses on philosophy as wisdom. I will briefly discuss its development and I will describe its content in somewhat more depth.
The course began as a course on the history of food became a course on the ordinary, and then metamorphosized into the present course. It engages readings from philosophical texts: Mormon sermons, Heidegger's "The Question Concerning Technology," readings on Japanese culture, an excerpt from Levinas's Time and the Other, Wendell Berry and Blake Hurst on contemporary farming, Iris Murdoch's "The Sovereignty of the Good over Other Concepts," Matthew Crawford's Shopcraft as Soulcraft, Albert Borgmann's Power Failure: Christianity in the Culture of Technology, and Margaret Kim Peterson's Keeping House: The Litany of Everyday Life.
Against the back drop of those readings, the class is conducted as more-or-less open discussion. The discussion for each week is started by a student reading his or her written response to the reading or readings for the week. I lead students in those discussions, helping them focus on the questions of what the good life is and how philosophy and religion fit into that life, and explaining philosophical terms or issues when they run into difficulty.
A few weeks into the semester, we begin weekly or bi-weekly field trips to visit people who enjoy the work they do. Last semester we visited an artisanal sausage factory, a local restaurant, an automobile and boat mechanic's shop, and a chocolate factory. I had planned also to visit the workshop of a coffin maker and a cattle ranch, but hadn't worked out the logistics sufficiently in advance.
My not-so hidden agenda with the course is to help students broaden the range of what they think of as the good life, helping them to see those in manual trades, for example, as likely to be as happy as those doing desk work (the kind of work that most of them imagine themselves doing).
I also hope to help them get a better appreciation for ordinary things and ordinary life. University education, perhaps especially education in philosophy, often silently encourages them to believe that the best work is all head work, that the best things are extraordinary things. In other words, it encourages them to vaunt themselves above others. One might say that the goal of the course is conversion, a conversion to the idea that their religious lives ought to play more than an incidental role in the way they see and understand other persons and the world around them-a conversion to the necessity of wisdom.
The second part of the paper will reflect on what how to teach ethics so as to make ethics a matter of wisdom: it is well and good to teach students to understand the variety of ethical theories. Understandably, most philosophy courses teach ethics as theory. Most professional schools teach ethics through the review of and response to cases. Both have their place, but neither is sufficient grounds for teaching ethics. Well into the twentieth century ethics was taught as "character development," and its goal was to produce morally healthy individuals. The goal of this course returns to that earlier ideal.
It has been recognized since Aristotle that we develop character of any kind as we practice habits and exercise judgment. Learning facts and rules is probably necessary to character development. Reflecting on the conundra that real-life situations can present can help us sharpen our ethical thinking skills. Knowing theories that describe good character may be helpful as well.
But more important than these is to have a way of being in the world in which these manifest themselves as part of a whole life rather than as a specialized, discreet endeavor or field of endeavors. I hope that by engaging philosophical texts that run counter to most students' expectations and by seeing real human beings living ethical, whole lives this course can help students begin to understand that ethics ultimately means character development. I particularly hope that they will see that religion offers them a way of being in the world that makes possible the wholeness that ethical wisdom requires.
Professor of History
All professors hope that they are truly professing something worthwhile. More important, especially for Christian educators, we hope that what we profess inculcates wisdom among our students. One of the key reasons Christian liberal arts colleges have core programs or general education requirements in the humanities is to cultivate wisdom amid a broader understanding of creation. Perhaps professors are not always professing wisdom that would stand akin to Solomon or C.S. Lewis, but hopefully we're professing wisdom for at least our small corner of creation where we are experts. And how do we profess this to the students-especially in core courses that most students try to avoid or endure? How do we cultivate wisdom when the vast majority of our students forget everything within six months after our classes? This paper argues that "Reacting to the Past," along with other carefully structured simulations or games, combined with lecture and primary source readings may be one of the best ways to educate 21st century college students for wisdom in general education courses.
Academics often mistake knowledge for wisdom. Even profound knowledge can remain abstract and disconnected from wisdom. In short, educating for wisdom cannot be a purely passive activity where the student is only a receptacle to fill with wisdom from others. Our assignments and classes should cultivate the ground in preparation for our students eventually being able to develop in wisdom themselves.
In the humanities, carefully structured simulations and games can act as lab experiments do for natural science courses. Originally developed by Mark Carnes at Barnard College, "Reacting to the Past" fuses lectures by skilled professors and in-depth reading of primary historical sources with simulations. Students are assigned a various specific worldviews, informed by primary sources and classic texts, and their actions are restrained within a simulation of the actual historical context. Every simulation revolves around intellectual debates between two or more factions, each engaging primary sources. Rather than merely an exercise in debating skills for the benefit of the professor, "Reacting to the Past" debates actually require fellow participants to be persuaded by partisan arguments. These participants, also called "indeterminates," serve both as full participants and "jurors," because the various factions struggle to win them over.
Previously, I had varying degrees of success with class discussions and debates but problems remained: a few students dominating discussion and discussions that quickly revert to mere opinion divorced from primary sources. "Reacting" pedagogy helps resolve these problems. Some of the most active (and academically engaged) students in "Reacting" sessions wind up to be students that I had previously (and unfortunately) pegged as disengaged. "Reacting" channels students to engage the primary sources. "Reacting" also gives students a position to argue that is not their own - this frees students to discuss without fear of recrimination from students or professors. For some Christian students who have tired of discussions about the importance of a Christian worldview, being forced to adopt another worldview and experiencing the difference that makes in reading and understanding Rousseau, Darwin, Plato, or Locke. They grasp the importance of worldview in a way that they'll never forget.
All professors have dreams of having students making their own intellectual discoveries and insights rather than having them regurgitate lectures on papers. "Reacting to the Past" helps make this a reality. Students who graduated college five or six years ago still contact me with comments about how "Reacting to the Past" and other similar simulations along with lectures and readings changed how they approached learning and their approach to Christian learning. Some of these students are now educators themselves at the elementary and secondary level who in minor ways have disseminated some of the lessons in age-appropriate ways into their classrooms. Any pedagogy that leads business majors in a required core curriculum class to remember details about the French Revolution and recall the ideas of Rousseau and Burke five years after graduation should be worthy of consideration. More importantly, I will try to show in this paper how this approach cultivates discernment and curiosity that often have led to wisdom in my students across the last ten years. This paper will showing how this approach along with other examples of active learning (staff rides and other simulations) offers greater hope of educating our students for wisdom.
Assistant Professor of Theology
Business ethics is a required course for accountancy majors and usually recommended as the philosophy option for most business majors. Such courses of necessity spend most of their time examining the particular ethical challenges that arise in business: employee rights, marketing ethics, financial ethics, and global ethics.
Many times the courses seem to treat ethics as one other technique to be mastered for business success. The textbooks are careful to offer many ways of approach ethical dilemmas and of not directing the student to a particular ethical theory or solution to a problem posed in a case study.
Some instructors see their task as simple, keep the students out of jail. Such an instructor assigns the appropriate state commercial and criminal code as the text book. Such a fundamental misunderstanding of ethics reflects the low value we place on wisdom in our culture
The students who take this course are on the whole, not comfortable with a high level of abstraction, and have little actual experience of business. As a result, they are almost to a person, relativists and intuitionists. They just 'feel' that x is the right answer. The challenge of the course is to bring them to reason about ends and means, about what is a worthwhile life while dealing with the specifics of life in a modern capitalist global society.
This paper analyzes some reasons why such business ethics courses often seem to fail. First, because of the limited paradigm of standard business ethics textbooks; second, because of our misunderstanding of the place of work in a fulfilling human life; and finally, because of our cultural split between the secular, public sphere and the religious, private sphere especially as reflected in the understanding of the person: the autonomous individual of modern capitalism or the person in Christian tradition.
In an effort to remedy this, the author developed a course "Business Ethics in the Context of Catholic Social Teaching." The goal of the course is to teach students how to analyze ethical issues and situate the experience of business into a larger view of the world: in other words, to move beyond the techniques of management and business administration to the level of wisdom. "Catholic Social Teaching" gives the student a wisdom tradition to study and see the relationship of the good, the true and the beautiful to their daily life.
The paper refers to work by MacIntyre, Dorothy L. Sayers and Matthew B. Crawford to frame the discussion. Using the perspectives from these sources, the author claims that it is possible to recast the teaching of business ethics to be one of the ways to educate for wisdom.
Professor of Sociology
Many in the current student generation have a deep interest in the compelling social issues of our day. Through service trips, service learning, mission trips and internships they seek to insert themselves into places of need hoping to ameliorate some portion of the suffering they encounter. Such interest has also generated a series of courses that are often arranged around these compelling issues and seeking to instruct students in the issues of justice that underlay them. This paper will develop an approach for the teaching of justice in the context of a sociology class that draws on the deep traditions of the West. Instead of defaulting to the liberal or Marxist tradition, this course introduces students to the republican virtue tradition of Rome and the Biblical tradition of prophetic justice to more deeply address the issues they desire to understand. It is an attempt to root the yearning for justice-action in the deep wisdom of the Christian tradition.
The teaching of justice in sociology has long been a given. Even though it challenges the presumed value neutrality of the discipline, justice has always been given special attention as a telos for understanding and addressing social structures. With student interest soaring in issues such as human trafficking, the world HIV/AIDS pandemic, hunger and water issues, racism and genocide, the doing of justice is of great concern. Situated in the often superficial and pragmatic views of justice brought to bear on these concerns, this paper will counter such approaches by drawing on the philosophic foundations from the sources noted above. Students desperately want to speak for justice but seldom have been trained in the enduring traditions that give them a place to stand with great confidence. In a nutshell, the discipline of sociology has been too slow to call on the discipline of philosophy.
This paper suggests that the teaching of justice and the social issues involved can be greatly enhanced by a deep encounter with the Christian justice tradition. The beginning point for this encounter will be two works of philosopher Nicholas Wolterstorff, "Until Justice and Peace Embrace," and "Justice: Rights and Wrongs." This seems like the perfect entry point since his earlier work was premised on responding to the horrors of apartheid in South Africa and his more recent work begins with, "It was injustice that impelled me to think about justice, not the imperatives of some theoretical scheme or the duties of some academic position," and, "The victims confronted me; I wasn't looking for them." He blends the urgency of the world often in chaos (that students experience so vividly) with the resource of a scholar who looks deeply into a Christian tradition to respond. His is the perfect approach in that his first work provides a framework for the approach while his later work fills in the substance. In both instances, the urgency of the injustice in the world not only generated his work but is where students want to engage.
The challenge of such a class (and this paper) is to use students' motivation to study the compelling issues of the day but, at the same time, draw them more deeply into a substantive discussion of justice. To further make the connection between activism and deep understanding this class will use Charles Marsh's trilogy of books on the American Civil Rights movement as further demonstration of how a concrete justice movement resources the Christian justice tradition without having to do so purely theoretically. Finally, the paper will describe how the course will use personal narrative of both the professor and the students in an attempt to connect justice issues to what Marsh describes as "lived theology." Such a pedagogy of justice, it is hoped, will convince students of the deep wisdom that is available in a tradition-rooted approach to the subject.
Today, it is widely recognized that most professors in universities lack the knowledge, will, and confidence to dream of forming human beings. Consequently, they operate with a very narrow conception of their vocation. They only want to construct engineers, shape artists or train accountants. As one professor admitted when discussing the spiritual development of students, "There are many of my colleagues who would say, 'Look, we are at a university, and what I do is math; what I do is history.... Moving into this [area of spiritual development] is not my competence.'" As this quote reveals, part of this reluctance stems from the perceived professional proficiencies of professors. They only feel qualified to engage in a narrow form of vocational formation. In this context, they define themselves by their professional story (e.g., historians, mathematicians) and not a drama or calling that encompasses the whole human identity. Consequently, they offer professional expertise instead of wisdom for life.
One might think student development professionals might fill this gap. After all, they talk about student development, create positions for student development and discuss the need to address the holistic needs of students. Yet, most of this conversation tends to remain quite abstract and platitudinous, because to discuss specifics risks excluding and labeling. Thus, in the midst of the talk about commitment, growth and development the ends to which one might commit or the final ideal into which it is hoped a student grows or develops remains obscure.
The first part of this paper examines the historical origins of this current situation. Why did the contemporary university end up with this problematic division of labor and these competing ideals with the result that universities avoid any claims to wisdom? I suggest that one reason for this division involved the abandonment of the university's Christian identity and with it a Christian conception of student formation. The problem with secular universities is that professors neglect holistic development and student development personnel ignore the fact that it remains problematic to talk about the concept of student development without a clear concept of what a human person is and ought to be. Unfortunately, Christian universities may imitate the modern university without critically examining and transforming their practices according to a theological vision. This tragedy certainly holds true for the formation of students.
The second part of this paper sets forth a Christian understanding of personhood that can help guide Christian leaders in higher education. Christian colleges and universities should be different because of the theological resources at their disposal when it comes to understanding the means and ends of human flourishing, because they can operate with a much clearer understanding of the ends of student development and what it means to be fully human. Moreover, Christian universities should recognize that this kind of development requires something that Christian higher education in particular should be able to offer-gaining wisdom from mentors who have been gifted with this wisdom. One needs a mentor to help guide one's practice not only in a particular profession or discipline but also in ordering one's loves for life.
I will examine three particular forms this kind of wisdom can take. First, professors should help students discover who they are. A symbolic example of this reality can be found in the classic story of Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Tarzan is the son of an English family, Lord and Lady Greystoke. However, due to the death of his parents in the jungle, he grows up in nature among apes and without any knowledge of who he is. While he learns many things on his own, it takes another human to help him discover that in another kingdom he is Lord Greystoke and possesses a tremendous inheritance. Someone has to tell you who you are. Second, mentors can help provide wisdom about how to live a life of Christian love in their particular field. This kind of wisdom is domain specific. A good historian should be able to provide a young historian with wisdom about how to go about that particular practice, interact with sources, and truly love one's subject. Third, mentors should be able to provide soul care, which in this case I define as the wisdom about how to combine multiple identities so that one can live a life of integrity and meaning.
Sr. Madeleine Grace, CVI
University of St. Thomas
Wisdom becomes an active search for Augustine upon reading Cicero's Hortensius. Yet his "yearning for deathless wisdom" was tempered when he realized that the wisdom of Cicero contained no mention of the name of Christ. As Peter Brown unfolds the age of Augustine's youth, it was readily believed that the physical world was shared with "malevolent demons." The name of Christ was applied to the Christian like a vaccination. It was the one guarantee of safety. Christianity was seen as a form of "True Wisdom." Augustine's Confessions reveal, however, that he will travel for years before purposely happening upon this Wisdom in the Person of Jesus. Augustine is emphatic in pointing out that embracing this Wisdom is possible only through God's grace of the moment, initially recognized as the virtue of humility, sometimes cast in messengers such as Ambrose and other times through the God given ability to detach oneself from addictions of this world. What he searches for outside of himself and in corporal things proves to be false, lacking in wisdom, yet when Augustine turns inward, a return to himself, through an openness to humility, he finds wisdom in its godly and human existence. Augustine identifies himself as the Prodigal Son and seems to point to Ambrose as the father in his own story. This image he visits and revisits in his life, seemingly in teaching that this path has universal implications.
Early on in his journey (386) as he addresses the academics, Augustine identifies the wise man as one who understands and assents to wisdom and this wisdom can be found within his very self. During the same era in his dialogue on The Happy Life,(386) he identifies Wisdom as Truth, that is God Himself. The complete satisfaction of soul is found in knowing God. In his later work, On the Trinity. (414) he recognizes knowledge as inferior to wisdom. Augustine provides the steps toward growth in wisdom in his piece On Christian Doctrine, completed in 426.
In his journey Augustine differentiates between the wisdom of this world and the experience of God Himself. He perceives that the essential element in tasting of heavenly Wisdom is communion with God in prayer: "These matters you set out most wisely with us, my God, through Your book, Your solid firmament, so that we may discern everything by a wonderful contemplation, even though for the present only by signs and times and days and years." Yet, in fact, the latter part of Augustine's statement brings forth the realism in his quest, for in the end a person can know very little. "For the thoughts of mortal men are fearful and our counsels uncertain. For the corruptible body is a load upon the soul, and the earthly habitation presseth down the mind that museth on many things." It is only in the life hereafter that the search finds its fruition.
While the image of the Prodigal is frequently visited by Augustine, the quest for wisdom is a lifelong search. It is the purpose of this paper to travel that journey with Augustine to its mature fullness in light of its eternal message for humanity.
Professor of Higher Education and Sociology
I am easily and enthusiastically drawn to participate in a conference to explore the theme "educating for wisdom." Such a theme is and has been personally inspiring to me; on my best days, I think that I am helping the undergraduate and graduate students with whom I work to seek and to love and to gain wisdom in earnest and with humility. Moreover, pursuing a vision of educating for wisdom strikes me as much more noble than "educating for careers" or "educating for tenure" or "educating because I have to do something."
At the same time, I suspect that educating for wisdom may have a certain universal appeal. That is, if faculty members and/or student affairs professionals at colleges and universities of all kinds across the land were asked, "Do you think that we should help college students develop wisdom?" I believe most would quickly respond "Of course." Stated another way, whether we resonate more with Anthony Kronman or Stanley Fish or Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa, or with John Henry Newman or Robert Hutchins or Clark Kerr, we want the graduates of our respective postsecondary institutions to become more wise.
This leads to my proposed paper, in which I hope to explore two particular avenues for further dialogue. First, I will suggest that "educating for wisdom" is neither a new idea nor an undeveloped vision. Rather, every college and university is interested in and routinely operationalizes its wisdom development efforts. This may be surprising to some if only because contemporary visions and versions of educating for wisdom are so dominant in the academy that we do not give them a second thought much less imagine or pursue other models of educating for wisdom: "Of course students have to complete 126 credit hours to graduate;" "Of course students must major in something;" "Of course we are compelled to comply with state regulations for our elementary education curriculum;" "Of course this is the methodology that must be followed;" "Of course specialization is the coin of the academic realm." In The Creative Word, Walter Brueggemann argues that, in addition to the specific teachings of the text, the structure of the Old Testament canon was itself a teacher for ancient Israel. Perhaps the same could be said for the wisdom education efforts of America's colleges and universities, namely, that the ways that we conceive, organize and deliver higher education reveals what we believe wisdom to be and where and how it is to be obtained.
Threats to Israel's totalizing commitment and service to God and God's world not only existed from without, but from within. This leads to the second aspect of the proposed paper. I will suggest several characteristics of an "educating for wisdom" project that is sourced by Christian faith. This is not to suggest that what might be called a Christian view of educating for wisdom is a monolith; faith traditions and perhaps even various fields of study may appropriately call forth a variety of expressions of educating for [godly] wisdom. Moreover, since it is fully a human, cultural undertaking in the hands of both those who profess to follow Jesus and those who make no such claim, seeking and embracing wisdom may transpire in diverse ways. It is, however, to suggest that Christian approaches to educating for wisdom are certainly susceptible to domestication at the hands of other approaches, even if unwittingly so. As a result, it seems reasonable to consider a few features that may function to anchor an educating for wisdom effort in the Christian story. For example, perhaps Christian educators and Christian-faith-based institutions would do well to consider the extent to which their understandings of "educating for wisdom" may appropriately comport with or digress from others' understandings. In the same way that Brueggemann suggests that Israel's personal and national faithfulness was always at risk of compromise or annihilation because it unfolded [well or not so well] in "the shadow of the empire[s]" (i.e., Egypt; Assyria; and Babylon), the "educating for wisdom" that Christian educators and Christian-faith-based institutions pursue is always in the company of others with alternative-and competing-approaches.
Professor and Program Chair of M.A. in Higher Education & Student Development
Perhaps no writer has diagnosed the educational zeitgeist as well as Parker Palmer. In his classic, To Know as we are Known,, Palmer critiques the modern learner as seeking "to know reality in order to lay claim to things, to own and control them" (p. 24). Commercials for the national consumer service known as Education Connection offer an unintentionally ridiculous demonstration of this same impulse; their jingles, roughly summarized, encourage students to "Do college how you want, when you want, and make a lot more money when you're done. And by the way, you can do it in your pajamas."
The inanity of the commercials in question tempts one to dismiss the topic outright as nothing more than the scheme of profiteers and hucksters. However, such a dismissal would be a mistake. It would be too easy for serious educators to make Education Connection a metaphorical whipping boy even as institutions of renown, dignified by their centuries of leadership and educational achievement, adopt the very same practices. Established, non-profit institutions should not be let off the hook just because they utilize more decorous marketing techniques.
This paper does not assert the existence of some educational utopia in which convenience plays no role in student decision-making. Logistical concerns undeniably impact daily decisions for all human beings, especially those trying to work themselves through college. On that note, this paper does not argue that finances should play no factor in a student's decision concerning education. Especially for lower income students, the desire to better oneself is entirely understandable and, even, admirable.
What it does submit is that educators err when they blindly embrace mediated delivery models without considering the values those models promote. Too often, questions concerning the efficacy of mediated delivery models are neutralized with what amounts to nothing more than an ad hominem rebuttal: those asking the questions or raising the concerns are marginalized as Luddites stuck in their ways and unwilling to consider new techniques. Interestingly, no one proffers the possibility that proponents might be obtuse sycophants jumping on the latest educational bandwagon. Christian educators are especially at fault when they mindlessly adopt these methods, as the mediated model implicitly denies some of the core realities attested by the Christian faith, namely the role of incarnation and the necessity of modeling.
Likewise, educators deceive themselves if they believe that an online education is qualitatively and formatively equal to a residential experience. Recognizing that a certain model is practical or even occasionally necessary is not tantamount to conceding its equality of value.
This paper argues, then, that mediated models unintentionally promote a conception of education as a product to be consumed by the student, possessed for his or her manipulation into a more lucrative career. Furthermore, mediated models are bereft of the ability to promote the development of wisdom. While mediated models may excel in the transmission of information, they fail in the matter of formation. It is not that mediated models fail to form students entirely. There is no such thing, after all, as a value-neutral delivery model. Rather, mediated models fail to form students well. Instead they reinforce a telos of power and control that, eventually, encourages a mindset consumed by the desire to have and to have easily. The tragedy is that educators, who by their very role are to be committed to their students' wellbeing, validate their students' fallen tendency to believe that there is always an easy path to growth, success, and happiness. Essentially, they promote the consumption of the consumer.
This paper will directly address the symposium topics of "pedagogical practices and the cultivation of wisdom," "co-curricular formation in wisdom," and "the possibility of wisdom in a culture of techne." It will do so, first, by establishing the salience of consumer-oriented and mediated models in contemporary higher education. Next, the paper will examine current research and established theory that pertain to the issues of pedagogy and wisdom development. Some of the theorists and researchers referenced will include Astin (1993), Clydesdale (2007), Faust (2009), Garber (1996), House (2011), Hunter (2010), Nussbaum (2010), Postman (1995), C. Smith (2009), J. K. A. Smith (2009), and Willimon (1997). Finally, it will discuss the role of student development programs and models in promoting the development of wisdom. It will question whether mediated delivery models are compatible with the processes of whole-person development, and it will suggest that mediated models make impossible several essential components of student formation.
Jesse Matthew Hinrichs
The Collage of St. Scholastica
New research has shed light on what works and what does not when teaching morality. Knowledge and the understanding of values is not enough when trying to provide students with a moral compass. Application of knowledge and understanding is what forms a moral foundation in students and provides a guide for making wise decisions. Wisdom primarily comes from experience; when that experience is discussed and reflected upon, it can take hold and form guidelines for living.
The idea of moral development is as old as the Greek philosophers. Dewey, Piaget, and Freud added to the knowledge with their theories and developmental stages. Dewy says, "moral education is the hidden curriculum" in education. Piaget proposed a two stage theory of moral development. Freud suggested that conscience and morality are embodied in the superego dimension and personality; humans incorporate their father's values and standards and cultural norms are passed from one generation to the next.
More recently, after decades of character development programs and values education, we now have a better idea of what curriculum and teaching methods actually work. Equally important we now know what does not work well. Modern theorists have made conclusions not unlike that of their predecessors.
Lawrence Kohlberb identified six stages of moral reasoning and grouped them into three levels. Level 1 is preconvention, level 2 is conventional, and level 3 is post conventional. Robert Cole believed that children develop their moral identity early on through observation of adults, primarily parents. Albert Bandura takes a social-cognitive approach, modeling and observation. Michele Borba identified seven essential virtues that can be taught and developed. These virtues help guide students through ethical and moral challenges. The seven virtues are: empathy, conscience, self-control, respect, kindness, tolerance, and fairness. Borba believes that by helping students develop higher moral IQ's, we can promote significant improvement in the following: good character, ability to think and act appropriately, protect against "toxic" influences, teach life skills, good citizenship, resistance to temptation, and shape destinies.
Moral intelligence needs to be measured and better understood so that more effort can be applied to foster the growth and development of morality in our students. There are several relevant studies to draw from in the literature. I have chosen five that incorporate the different methods currently used to teach moral development.
The first was done by the U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Science, 1998. This study reviews the impact of a Character Development curriculum on students in three different states. There is an assessment before and after that measures the effectiveness of the curriculum on the student's behavior, knowledge, attitudes, values and academic achievement.
The second study was done by Rodney H. Clarkson, 2006. He determined that moral intelligence in schools can be measured by four competencies: integrity, responsibility, forgiveness, and compassion. Clarkson also examines the idea of developing a Holistic Framework for moral education, which depends on cognition, affection, and conation. His main conclusions are that the concepts of unity of diversity and reciprocity are key in developing morality.
The third study examined was done by Gary D. Fenstermacher, 2009. He distinguishes between teaching morality and being a moral person who teaches morality. To teach morally is to teach in a manner that accords to what is right and good. This distinction proves to be key in effectiveness.
The fourth study is on a popular method called service - learning. Matthew L. Bernacki & Elizabeth Jaeger, 2008 have studied college students who participated in a semester of service learning. Students took an assessment measuring their ability to reason at principled levels of justice or care; these were compared with students who did not participate in the service learning. No significant differences were found in students who participated from those who did. However, they did perceive a positive view of themselves as a result.
The fifth study was the most interesting and successful. It explored moral values with young adolescents through process drama. This was done by Marie Gervais, 2006. This study and several others like it support the positive impact process drama has on moral reasoning and improved relationships.
The conclusions of the literature and theorists help those who are committed to impacting students in their moral development. Incorporating new methods that effectively impact students in their moral development is not difficult. Discarding old methods that prove ineffective only makes sense and adopting new methods that work ensures better results.
Director of Honors Community
Associate Professor of Philosophy
University Professor of Economics
In their first Honors course, freshmen in the Honors Community at Union University have been studying the topic of wisdom through biblical and extrabiblical texts and traditions. As a course requirement, these students produced creative responses in a variety of media (e.g. poetry, music, drama, visual arts) to the course theme. This panel represents the the best of these responses as selected by the students and their instructors.
Stan Chu Ilo
Assistant Professor of Religion and Education
St Michael's College, University of Toronto
My goal in this paper is to explore the basic propositions that Aquinas makes in the first question of the Summa Theologiae, Summa Contra Gentiles (Bk 1), and the first section of his Commentary on Aristotle's Metaphysics. I will demonstrate that sacra doctrina is contemplative wisdom. I will proceed to show that this contemplative wisdom is arrived at through communal participation in both the process of receiving and appropriation of truth. This participation and celebration of contemplative wisdom will be shown as what is involved in the process of teaching and learning and the primary goal of all education, more so within a Christian academy.
I will begin by drawing out what I consider to be the essential points on the meaning of sacra doctrina as contemplative wisdom in the selected passages from Aquinas. I will proceed by showing the interaction between human knowing and God's revealing, bringing out the decisive role of faith in making the Christian scholar or the believer embrace the wisdom of God in the data which he or she engages with. I will proceed via an ordo expositionis to show the structure of Aquinas' analysis of divine revelation in the first question. I will subsequently proceed via an ordo inventionis by inductively drawing out the intelligibilities in Aquinas's discussion on the office of the wise man in both the Summa Contra Gentiles (Book 1, chapter 1-10) and his Commentary on Aristotle's Metaphysics (Book 1, lesson 1-3). Book 1 of the SCG, for instance deals with the office of the wise man which I think is significant because here Aquinas is dealing with the highest good, the Summum bonum and how one arrives at it. There is order in nature, and the one in whom the Highest Good is to be found, God, is the wisest because he orders all things according to their end, and he knows the end of all things. This corresponds to Aquinas's proposition in the Commentary on Aristotle's Metaphysics, that God is the first truth as well as the one most fitting to teach (Comm. On Metaphysics, 1,1,23).
I will conclude by showing the three implications this has for the academy today: (1) the process of discovery of truth: How do we come to the knowledge of what we embrace as truth and what is the basis for epistemological certitude (learning)? (2) the process of presentation: How do we communicate the content of what we embrace as truth (teaching)? (3) Educational praxis and building the community: How can we restore the dignity and sublimity of truth in our academy as a shared praxis and a sharing in contemplative wisdom? What are the implications of these for the value discourse on the place of religion in the academy? The sapiential dimension of all learning and teaching will be explored as a concluding remark.
As educators, we face seemingly competing demands for imparting skills to our students and for transforming our students into wise individuals. I suggest here that we can integrate these ends by turning to the pragmatist tradition, particularly to John Dewey's open-ended conceptions of wisdom and growth, and his philosophy of education. As a model for a pragmatist account of this integration, I argue that we can look to a pragmatist model of educating individuals with physical disabilities.
Persons suffering from physical disability face problems in their interaction with their environments. The locus of this problem is often, but is not always, physical impediment. In my experience, the task of educating disability is to reform habits of interaction in order to facilitate successful engagement with surroundings. This process can be simple, as in re-training how to walk; or, it can be more complex, as in developing a vision of how to interact in a new situation. This process can be social, involving re-educating peers and adjusting their habits of interaction. By adjustment and accommodation of habits and the environment, disabled individuals come to engage intelligently with their physical and social surroundings, and are able to grow so as to enable more complex social interaction.
In part, the product of this education seems to be, unobjectionably, a skill, like walking well. Individuals are better able to perform some set of tasks than they were before. However, this picture of the outcome is incomplete. Because the tasks and environments facing the disabled will change, the adjusted habits need to allow for further adjustment and training in new circumstances, and the ability to experiment with new means of interacting. This outcome does not fit neatly into the "skill" category, but does embody Deweyan notions of wisdom and growth. Importantly, the potential for further growth, more diverse and complex interaction, requires the development of the more basic habits. Moreover, this process of development for the more basic habits, acquiring skills, provides training for the adjustment of habits required by new, more complex circumstances. The pragmatist approach to educating for a skill serves the more complex end of educating for growth.
The task of educating disability parallels the task of education before us, which is to produce skilled and wise individuals. In the context of disability, the goal is to re-form some basic skills such as walking, while fostering the ability to engage with one's surroundings intelligently and successfully, in a manner that allows for fuller and more complex engagement. In our context, the goal is to educate a skilled individual, while fostering the ability and potential for growth. Looking to the disability model, we see that the task of educating for wisdom is not necessarily in tension with the task of imparting skills.
Using education of disabled persons as a model, we can see how a pragmatist conception of wisdom as open-ended, intelligent engagement with one's environment can integrate educating skills and educating wisdom. As we see in the disability model, the inculcation of skill serves the end of educating for wisdom by providing the tools, the ability to adjust and re-form habits, necessary for growth.
Assistant Professor of Theology
In this paper, I argue that Thomas Aquinas's account of the contemplative life and the active life provides an instructive paradigm for appropriately ordering the relationship between education for practical or instrumental ends, and education for knowledge as its own end. The paper will proceed in four parts.
First, I offer an exposition of Thomas's account of the contemplative and active life. For Thomas, the ordering principle of each is the loving knowledge of God in God's gift of beatitude to the saints. The contemplative life is aimed principally at knowing God for God's own sake. Yet, it is precisely the love of all others in God that provides the principle of the active life, and provides the warrant for why on this side of eternity there is often a provisional practical priority of the active life over the contemplative life. Hence, Thomas's account of the distinction of the contemplative and active life is not precisely a distinction between 'religious' and 'secular' life. Rather, it is a distinction of priorities and emphases. All are to be contemplative insofar as all, by virtue of humanity's created end, are called to worship God simply. Yet, all at times must engage the active life insofar as the full vision of God - seeing God face to face - is an eschatological end. The relative emphasis of each depends upon one's particular vocation.
Though he makes use of (what we might call) philosophical reflection to show that the distinction is fitting to the kinds of creatures humans are, for Thomas the warrant for distinguishing the contemplative from the active life is fundamentally the authority of the church as it reads and reflects on Scripture. So, in the second part of my paper, I consider representative biblical passages to which Thomas (and the tradition) adverts. First, I consider Luke 10: 38-42, the story of Mary and Martha. Thomas takes Mary and Martha to be figures for the contemplative and active life respectively. Contemporary biblical scholars are usually inclined to take the use of these two disciples as figures for the contemplative and active life to be an unjustified imposition on the text. I argue otherwise. Second, I consider the Psalms thematically as a whole, as the Psalms provide a plethora of textual support for Thomas. The fruit of considering these passages is not only to defend Thomas's own account, but also to illuminate the intrinsic relationship between contemplation (lovingly knowing God for God's own sake), and action (charity towards others in God).
Third, after describing Thomas's account, and after considering some important biblical passages, I argue that Thomas's account provides a paradigm for relating the instrumental ends of education and education for knowledge for its own sake. I will consider two representative proposals. First, John Henry Newman offers a classic and still influential account of the intrinsic value of knowledge as its own end. Second, Nicholas Wolterstorff argues that for Christians education ought to aim at shalom, the repair of injustice aimed toward human flourishing. I will suggest that these two accounts of education can be fruitfully related to one another in terms of the paradigm of Thomas's account of the contemplative and active life. The instrumental goods of education are ordered toward love and justice, which find their proper end in the contemplation of God. The consequence is that education is good and just when it orders its practice-both active and contemplative-toward loving knowledge of God.
Finally, on the basis of the three preceding parts, I offer some practical suggestions for what difference the proposed relationship between the instrumental ends of education and the intrinsic good of contemplation makes to the actual practice of education.
Cross-Cultural Research Fellow
Baylor Health Care System
Richard M. Grace
Baylor Health Care System
Philosophy and religion teach us this fundamental truth, that above all other things that it may be, wisdom flows from the experience that we share together as human beings. Wise living presupposes that the "other" is as important as our own self or our particular in-group. We are all born with a basic capacity to see the world from another person's point of view. This capacity needs development and it particularly needs development in areas in which our society has created sharp separations between groups of humans. Human relationships form a series of concentric circles, and our emotions are inescapably conditioned by that fact. The capacity for empathy is strongest with people who are already close. It can still be very intense for people we already share something with, even if we don't know them personally. And it tends to become more abstract the further one gets from the sphere of "me and mine." How, then, to accept both the rootedness of emotion in the sphere of "me and mine" and a feeling of global responsibility? Humanity faces similar problems regarding mortality, pain, suffering, hope, and meaninglessness. These need to be addressed in order for us to flourish. It is, in fact, difficult to see how it even makes sense to talk of the cultivation of wisdom if there is no attempt to address the commonalities running through all of humanity, those things that make for "common sense" in the very highest meaning of that term.
However compelling the reasons may be for grounding our search for wisdom at the intersections between the individual and the community as well as the intellect and emotions, there are also powerful forces at work that threaten every effort to stand at these conceptual junctures and to creatively hold these experiences together. For instance, rising education costs, the onset of a more commercial mentality within colleges and clinics, and the preoccupation with developing job skills in a competitive global market have led to reductions or outright elimination of departments like classics, philosophy, and the contemplative disciplines out of the academy and the clinics. Such a climate demands that we confront the questions that have sustained humanity in its long, slow struggle to understand our place in the world. These are precisely the questions that Socrates, Plato and Aristotle dealt with in their own time, and we contend that it would be wise to repeat these Socratic queries. What is a good society? Are there criteria for determining the most just way human beings might live? It is the authors' contention that we can ill afford to replace philosophical inquiry with unquestioned and unquestioning loyalty to a ready-made ideology.
For instance, Aristotle's notion of eudaimonia, a term often translated as "happiness," but more aptly understood to mean "flourishing," is less a matter of being in a good mood then living a complete, well-rounded life. This path into wisdom generally assumes the virtue of metanoia-repentance or ethical transformation. This ethical transformation may help our clinical works as well. Within the clinic there is a sense of an unsettling disorientation in two very different arenas. First disorientation occurs when we sit down to discuss "cases" with my chaplain colleagues or in an interdisciplinary context, where other medical professionals are present. It occurs particularly when the discussion turns to the question that in and of itself defines contemporary clinical settings, "O.K. What do we do?" The great temptation in such settings is to elbow reflective thinking to one side, to treat it as an unaffordable luxury or worse, as an unseemly indulgence in intellectual one-upmanship. The result is that expedience sometimes becomes a substitute for depth and breadth of thought. Caution and compliance are seen as acceptable replacements for diligence while decisiveness stands in far too often for foresight. The other place that often disorients us is the contemporary classroom along with the sophisticated cave system in which every classroom finds its prescribed character. Knowledge is quite often broken down into its lowest common denominators, or at least its most testable components, fed to individuals in an environment as free of contamination by the actual world of human action and consequence as possible.
If the above conversation has anything at all to tell is it is that the time for ethical transformation is now. We can and must learn to enlarge our capacity for critical examination of oneself and one's traditions-for living what, following Socrates, we may call "the examined life." Training the capacity to embrace the necessary tensions between individual and community and between reason and emotion requires us to develop the capacity to reason logically, to test what one reads and to adequately discern the accuracy of judgments. And while testing of this sort frequently produces challenges to tradition, as Socrates knew well when he defended himself against the charge of "corrupting the young," it also holds the promise that we will find a wisdom proper to this time and place on our journey as a species.
Patricia Janzen Loewen
Judgment in history is a particularly vexing issue. Although there are many challenges inherit to the describing, explaining and interpreting tasks of history, generations of practitioners and theorists have developed a discipline to more-or-less guide the historian. Judgment, by which I mean applying moral adjudication, for example naming what is praiseworthy, condemnable, right and wrong, remains problematic, especially if done overtly. This paper discusses two principles of disciplined history that inhibit the fulsome discussion of wisdom in history: first, do not judge the past by present standards; and second, judgment of actions comes as a result of accurate description and analysis, thus making authorial discussion unnecessary. While this paper agrees that these two principles are for the most part true, good, and beautiful components of disciplined history, even so, they are at times insufficient-particularly, in my experience, in teaching the 'difficult bits' of the history of Christianity. This paper argues that an expanded understanding of historical interpretation needs to be embraced if deep wisdom is to be a part of both the academic and general discussions of the past. Such an endeavor is particularly important to Christians as they contemplate their own past.
It is not uncommon for historians to warn their readers about the dangers of judging the past by present moral sensibilities. Harry Stout is quite right to say that "[the] historian writing moral history does not presume to be a sort of Supreme Court justice adjudicating the past, trying actors for their crimes and then sentencing them. The dead no longer care, and they cannot be sentenced. . . . One bears witness to the past with all possible integrity and disinterestedness for the sake of the present and the future." Stout's position is typical for the discipline and wise in its own right. As much as I agree with and respect this position, I note that students (and professors) do frequently judge the past by present moral compasses. This trajectory, for example, seems inevitable when discussing the role of women in the early Church. Thus, it seems more prudent to develop guidelines for this kind of analysis rather than to say it should not be done. Using the topic of women in the early Church as a test case, in the first part of my essay I suggest rules that can guide our inevitable tendency to judge the past by the present or another ideal template.
Disciplined history also holds that good description and analysis of the past will enable the reader or student to make her or his own judgments. Merely describing past actions is sufficient judgment. In the introduction to a biography of Luther, Martin Marty says that the "flaws that blighted Luther's reputation, such as in his relation to peasants in 1524-25 or to Jews late in his life, are gross, obvious, and in the latter case, even revolting. While it is tempting for us contemporary scholars to parade our moral credentials by competing to see who can most extravagantly condemn historical figures such as Luther, in this story wherever denunciation would be in order his words and actions will show him condemning himself without much help from this biographer's interfering as a righteous scold." Although Marty's advice is quite sensible, when teaching about the Crusades, for example, I find that by describing what has happened and allowing students to simply shake their heads at the evil of the past, a significant opportunity for self-examination and wisdom is lost. Using the Crusades as my test case, in the second section of my paper I discuss how pushing the boundaries of acceptable historical methods helps move students from a place of simplistic condemnation that does not challenge their current ways of thinking and acting to a place of self-examination.
The conclusion of my paper will affirm the need for historians to remain mostly within the bounds of academic historiography but will also encourage historians to push against perceived boundaries limiting judgments. It is in explicit expression of judgments that a space is created for the discussion of wisdom in history. If Christian historians have rightly left Providentialism behind, then what, if anything, has replaced this type of dialogue? Donald Kagan has suggested that history will act as the new moral compass for Western society. If he is at all prescient on this matter, it is even more pressing for all historians, as well as Christian historians, to think about the ways in which historians, students, and society engage historical judgments.
Thomas W. Jodziewicz
Professor of History
University of Dallas
Perhaps in one of its more accessible considerations, the question of wisdom, and more particularly the issue of wisdom in some sort of relationship with education, can be approached through the traditional distinction between wisdom and knowledge. A comparison of Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography and St. Augustine's Confessions suggests that the usual appreciation of the former's "wisdom," in such a comparison, is actually an appreciation of knowledge. Aristotle's "wise man" is one who seeks unity amidst the multiplicity of reality. Franklin's apparent straightforward approach to reality is combined with an ecumenical and practical understanding of religion as a means to attain and share benevolence. St. Augustine's understanding of wisdom is much more in line with Aristotle's definition. But, Augustine's wisdom, as opposed to Franklin's wisdom, is centered ultimately on a recognition of man's dependence, as opposed to Franklin's quest for personal independence. In fact, in the formulation of John Henry Cardinal Newman, Franklin's wisdom is actually modesty, while Augustine's "wisdom" is humility. The argument can be made, then, that a comparison of these two texts would emphasize that to educate for wisdom is to educate to humility.
Dana M. Johnson
In this paper I will examine how love and reason are intimately bound in the dialectical pursuit of wisdom. Love is itself a type of wisdom, if not the highest type. Love function as the bridge from knowledge to the implementation of knowledge in the virtuous life, a life ascending toward the divine. Rationality is the human capacity to reflect and acquire knowledge; love is reflection returning to the divine (the Good, the One, God). Rationality without desire is immobile, a cold capacity. Rationality bound with desire generates a passionate love striving for an object. Reason ascending closer to truth is philosophical erotics. Love is not merely rational discourse, not just the outcome of desiring an object and thinking about how best to attain it. Love is not just the spark that awakens rationality, or motivates one to think according to dialectical reasoning. Love is learning towards wisdom. Education is the soul ascending toward truth, working hard to get closer to reality little by little.
Educating our souls via philosophical discussions is the activity of eros. Human reason accesses the divine through the activity of philosophical erotics, through a pasisonate love resulting in ascent as the virtuous life. The soul strives for the divine through reason, but cannot fully grasp the divine through dialectical reasoning. A moral (correct) education involves both dialectical reasoning and philosophical erotics in order to gradually ascend to the divine. Without love, wisdom is impossible.
In Plato, Plotinus and Augustine, relationships with others are best when they spark an ascent of the individual's soul. Ascent is maintained through a transformative bond of love, where love reaches beyond the relationship with the body towards a desire for a unity of souls - a love for which there are many names: the divine, truth, beauty itself. The nature of this love-filled ascent is directed towards the perfection of each soul, and ends in a mystical union joining, albeit briefly, the divine source of all towards which we strive. The role of the teacher is to spark a desire for the truth - to divert desires from bodily satisfaction towards intellectual satisfaction. The activation of philosophical eros through the pedagogical relationship is narrated in some of Plato's shorter dialogues. The educator activates passionate desire for knowledge within the pedagogical relationship. The transformed erotic desire longs for the beautiful. Love inspires the virtuous and gradual ascent of the individual's psyche toward the object of desire - beauty as equated with the good.
The examination of Plato will highlight Socrates' speech in the Symposium. Diotima characterizes love as the activity of "giving birth in beauty, whether in body or in soul." Philosophy and philosophers play the role of the midwife who aids in the birth of beautiful ideas. The essence of Diotmia's scala amoris is the pedagogical push towards a turning from the body to the intellect. The same message is seen in the allegory of the cave in Plato's Republic. The now enlightened and liberated cave-dweller must return to those dark recesses in order to free those who are ignorant of their own prison. The soul is that which has access to the Good, and it is the Forms which make all reality possible. Teaching is a method to activate the soul's ascent toward the truth.
The examination of Plotinus will center around Ennead I.3 "On Dialectic" in order to explain the role of dialectical reasoning in Plotinus' educational model. In order to purify the soul Plotinus believes one must turn inward and contemplate the soul, which is one with the All-Soul and one step closer to the source of all reality, the One.
The examination of Augustine will focus on Confessions Books X and XI. The Confessions, plural, is a confession of sin, faith and praise through purging, divine illumination and union with God. Conversion as a form of ascent is impossible without divine intervention in the form of enlightenment of the human mind, or divine illumination. God floods the receptive mind with the truth. The goal, as in Plato and Plotinus, is to reach ultimate truth beyond the realm of discourse through discursive reasoning. Augustine understands the "intelligible realm" as devoid of the mummerings of worldly matters, where "God alone speaks." The conversion narrative is a description of Augustine's own ascent toward happiness in God, and is a pedagogical tool as it gradually leads to the reader's illumination on the good life, the life in concert with the divine.
Ph.D. Candidate, Philosophy
University of Dallas
Kierkegaard's pseudonymous Concluding Unscientific Postscript is said to contain his polemic against speculative and specifically Hegelian philosophy. The pseudonym, Climacus' concern, more specifically, is to clarify the issue of Christianity. He does mostly negatively by contrasting it with ethical and broadly religious existence as well as with aesthetic existence in its intellectual forms, among which one form is speculative philosophy, of which one form is Hegelian. Climacus, in his case against intellectual forms of aesthetic existence, maintains the disparity between abstracting oneself from temporal, concrete existence into the realm of thought and immersing oneself in existence by remaining in the tension of existence, being moved to passion, and performing ethical and religious action. At the furthest point of ethical-religious existence, just prior to Christianity, he puts Socrates, whom he takes as the paragon both of philosophy and of ethical-religious existence in a way consistent with his earlier book, Philosophical Fragments, to which this is a postscript. To Socrates alone, Climacus, like Kierkegaard, grants the appellation "that simple wise man of old." Nonetheless, Socrates' wisdom did not consist in knowledge, Climacus asserts, but in ignorance, even as Socrates says of himself in his own ironic way in the writings of Plato. He knew that he did not know. Socratic philosophy differs from Hegel's and even Plato's, says Climacus, in that he declined to abstract speculatively from existence, whether with mediation, that mainstay of speculative philosophy, in contrast to Hegel, or even without it, in contrast to Plato. He sought rather the truth proportionate to a human being, namely, not eternal, speculative truth, but inward deepening in existence.
In Purity of Heart and other works, Kierkegaard maintains a disparity between wisdom and cleverness. In the Postscript, Climacus remarks that if Christianity were a philosophical doctrine, then those individuals who are clever would stand at an advantage, but the point is not to understand Christianity but to exist in it. Those who are intellectually gifted therefore have no advantage, because Christianity poses an equal difficulty for all, the simplest and the cleverest individuals alike; or the clever stand at a disadvantage, inasmuch as they have that much more understanding that they must deny. A similar structure pertains with respect to wisdom. The simple understand what Climacus calls "the essential" or "the simple" directly, but when the wise are to understand it, it becomes ever more difficult. Examples of the simple are what it means to be mortal, to be immortal, to marry, and that one should thank God for the good that he gives one, and Climacus claims to know many more. The difference between the simple and the wise, then, he says, is that the simple person knows the essential, but the wise person little by little "comes to know that he knows it [veed af, at han veed det] or comes to know that he does not know it." Wisdom, then, consists in knowing the essential as a wise person knows it, and the difficult, protracted way in which a wise person comes to know it seems to be philosophy, not that Climacus names it such, but it can hardly be anything else. It would not be a philosophy of abstraction from existence but a philosophy of immersion in it, and would therefore cohere with ethical-religious existence; as Climacus conceives it, wisdom, or rather knowing the essential, comprises one part of ethics, namely, ethical knowing, the other part being ethical doing.
In Purity of Heart and other works, Kierkegaard maintains a disparity between wisdom and cleverness. In the Postscript, Climacus remarks that if Christianity were a philosophical doctrine, then those individuals who are clever would stand at an advantage, but the point is not to understand Christianity but to exist in it. Those who are intellectually gifted therefore have no advantage, because Christianity poses an equal difficulty for all, the simplest and the cleverest individuals alike; or the clever stand at a disadvantage, inasmuch as they have that much more understanding that they must deny. A similar structure pertains with respect to wisdom. The simple understand what Climacus calls "the essential" or "the simple" directly, but when the wise are to understand it, it becomes ever more difficult. Examples of the simple are what it means to be mortal, to be immortal, to marry, and that one should thank God for the good that he gives one, and Climacus claims to know many more. The difference between the simple and the wise, then, he says, is that the simple person knows the essential, but the wise person little by little "comes to know that he knows it [veed af, at han veed det] or comes to know that he does not know it." Wisdom, then, consists in knowing the essential as a wise person knows it, and the difficult, protracted way in which a wise person comes to know it seems to be philosophy, not that Climacus names it such, but it can hardly be anything else. It would not be a philosophy of abstraction from existence but a philosophy of immersion in it, and would therefore cohere with ethical-religious existence; as Climacus conceives it, wisdom, or rather knowing the essential, comprises one part of ethics, namely, ethical knowing, the other part being ethical doing.
The sort of communication adequate to the communication of wisdom, according to the Postscript, is indirect communication. This means that one should seek not only to express a thought, which one should take care to do with suitable words, but also to reproduce in the form that one gives it one's relation to that thought, one's inwardness. Climacus does not propose indirect communication for the communication of wisdom as such. He nonetheless distinguishes essential knowing, which consists in knowing what pertains essentially to existence, and accidental knowing, which consists in knowing what does not (and what Socrates relegated to the sphere of indifference); and since what pertains essentially to existence are ethical and ethical-religious truths, knowing the essential seems to mean ethical and ethical-religious knowing, which should be communicated indirectly.
William Mark Jordan
Professor and Department Chair
Ken Van Treuren
Baylor's Mechanical Engineering program has recently revised its program educational objectives. Our goal is to "educate and equip servant-leaders who are motivated by Christian ideals and a vocational calling to improve people's quality of life worldwide; enabled by fundamental technical, communication, and teamwork skills; empowered by innovative problem-solving creativity and an entrepreneurial mindset; sustained by intellectual curiosity for lifelong learning; and guided by the highest integrity, professional ethics, and commitment to professional responsibility."
Our objectives include more than just technical competence. If engineers are to improve the lives of people, they need to be people of wisdom.
The practice of engineering is frequently seen as being value neutral. Some aspects of that are true. For example, if a structure is in static equilibrium, the sum of forces on it will equal zero, irrespective of the design engineer's world view. The practice of engineering is not so value neutral as many people would assume.
In this presentation we wish to make three separate points: (1) the practice of engineering is inherently value laden, (2) engineers need wisdom to practice ethically, and (3) engineers need wisdom in the choice of the engineering projects they will work on.
Engineering is value laden, because technology is value laden. The choice to use one technology in a given problem means we are choosing not to use other technologies. Engineers love computers. We tend to solve problems that computers can solve because computers can solve them. We tend to ignore engineering problems that are not easily solvable on computers, even if these are very important to our society.
Solar energy and wind energy are both seen as clean energy sources. This is not completely true as pollution is generated when the solar panels or turbine blades are manufactured. Outlawing incandescent light bulbs in favor of fluorescent ones is another example. The goal was to help the environment by using more efficient bulbs. However, a broken fluorescent bulb will release mercury into the environment, which is not the case if an incandescent bulb breaks.
Engineers need wisdom to practice ethically. While there are codes of conduct for engineers, some engineers may think they will not be caught and need another motive to behave ethically. The second author has developed a virtue ethics approach to engineering ethics. He has also developed a Christian virtue engineering ethics approach that can be used to give guidance.
However, there is more to the practice of engineering than just avoiding ethical pitfalls.
Engineers need wisdom in order to make good choices in the practice of engineering. Wise engineers can also help our society to make good choices regarding the use of technology. Engineers need to make decisions concerning which projects to work on, and which companies to work for. VanderLeest and Ermer have developed a normative approach to doing engineering design to aid in these decisions.
Engineers need wisdom. A Christian virtue engineering ethics perspective can give them that wisdom. A normative approach to engineering design can give engineers insight into how they should practice engineering. Such wise engineers can therefore give good advice to our society as we deal with technological issues.
We need to provide opportunities for engineering students to grow in their ability to make good decisions. In an academic situation there is the opportunity to discuss and critique these decisions. Students can also grow in internships and on discipline specific mission trips in developing countries. The culmination of the engineering program would then be a design problem that would challenge all of the academic resources of the student.
Acting with wisdom allows an engineer to be in harmony with himself, society and also with the creator. In fact wisdom is something to be desired according to the scriptures.
"How blessed is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding. For its profit is better than the profit of silver, and its gain than fine gold. She is more precious than jewels; and nothing you desire compares with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who hold her fast." (NAS, Proverbs 3:13-18)
Associate Professor of Leadership / Faith Integration Faculty Development Fellow
Azusa Pacific University
The mantra of academic scholarship is "the latest". "Be sure," we were told by our dissertation committees, "that you show knowledge of the most current research in your final draft and at your defense."
That's all well and good, as far as it goes. The problem is that it rarely goes far enough back. So-called "seminal works" get a nod, but in the knowledge economy of academics, that might be a work published just a few short years ago. How strange since all academic disciplines have their own stories of origin that are instructive for making sense of their current orientation. This lack of self-reflection is illogical, but not unexpected for the Enlightenment positioned university.
But the faith-based university should be different. Christian academics - like all believers - need to be people of memory. Tradition is an important source of wisdom and authority for us. The Old Testament's repeated mantra is "remember" illustrates the Bible's appreciation for tradition. Paul says, "Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us..." (Romans 15:4).
Beyond the stories and ideas in the Bible itself, we can look back to particular faith traditions that offer historical and theological nuances for a flourishing faith. The heroes and villains of Christian tradition instruct us by what they emphasize and by what they leave out. Their lives, legacies, and literature provide us with material to grapple with and to test against both reality and academic content. This "cloud of witnesses" provokes us to "new" questions which cause us to contemplate, question, and research the wisdom we seek at ever deeper levels as critics, scientists, historians, health care professionals, and researchers.
In The Vindication of Tradition: The 1983 Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities (1986), the late Yale historian Jaroslav Pelikan says, "Tradition is the living faith of the dead; Traditionalism is the dead faith of the living." (p. 65). Pelikan suggests that old ideas can be the gateway to Christian wisdom, which is the essence of a "living faith." Jesus affirms that teacher "who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old" (Matthew 13:52). When a Christian educator can take new treasures from her discipline and engage them in dialogue with the challenges that believers from older times and traditions have struggled with, then perhaps her students will find hope for living within the wisdom expressed by Tevye the Milkman in Fiddler on the Roof: "It is because of our tradition that each one of us knows who he is and what God expects of him."
In Richard Foster's Streams of Living Water: Celebrating the Great Traditions of Christian Faith (1998), the author unpacks key themes from 6 Christian faith traditions. Foster focuses less on denominational theology, and instead takes the reader into the heart of imitatio Christi as God's people have sought to understand and live it in a variety of ways throughout history. Academic knowledge through the lens of one or more faith tradition is a powerful form of liberal learning that moves from knowledge, through understanding, and into wisdom of imitating Christ.
University teachers can use Christian faith traditions, as Richard Hughes contends, to sustain the life of the mind. Whose mind? Both their own and their students. Whose tradition does the teacher use to explain how Christians have understood their subject? Their own, their students, and their colleagues. Who does the research? The teacher should do his homework but there should also be enriching assignments for students as they are invited to seek wisdom within the traditions through asking questions such as:
-How did early European Quakers understand the political process?
-How do Latin American Charismatics explain economics?
-How did early monastic orders organize and lead themselves to achieve their mission?
-How did Pascal's Catholicism influence his love of math?
-In what ways does early Holiness teachings intersect and diverge from Freudian thought?
Such thinking can lend to appropriate appreciation and critique while honoring the efforts thinking Christians have made in attempting to make sense of the deep and important social and soulish issues that existed in the past, remain with us in the present, and certainly will be a part of our future.
This paper will seek to validate and activate the use of Christian tradition in the Christian university classroom. Examples will be presented for how teachers can actively prepare and students can become actively engaged in the study of Christian tradition as source material for discovering and practicing wisdom.
Hughes, R. (2005). The Vocation of the Christian Scholar: How Christian Faith Can Sustain the Life of the Mind, Revised Edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.
Pelikan, J. (1986). The Vindication of Tradition: The 1983 Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities. Yale University Press.
Foster, R. (1998). Streams of Living Water: Celebrating the Great Traditions of Christian Faith. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco.
Professor of History
Point Loma Nazarene University
Alaisdair MacIntyre writes of how humility "is the first step in education or in self-education" and how "obedient trust," "faith in authority," "conformity" are essential practices of reading one's self into the Scriptures and thinking one's self into a rational tradition. He writes of this as an Augustinian development in moral philosophy that Thomas Aquinas would later unite with Aristotelianism. I would like here to take a lower road of showing how Augustine was picking up on what was already taught in the scribal culture of classical and Christian liberal arts. Education tends to promote itself with promises of power; however, a craft of humblethinking was taught at the core of the dialectic and rhetoric of the Roman Empire. A key word for MacIntyre's Aristotelianism and for classical liberal arts was phronesis which indicated a practical, political, and prudential virtue. In scribal, lower-level, liberal arts education the Aristotelian distinction between a virtue and a craft disappeared as the teacher focused on arts of citizens and gentlemen. Phonesis was taught with an emphasis on appropriate obedience, even submission, to political fellowships and collective wisdom. In the New Testament a related word is compounded and used in passages calling for practical fellowship-building, tradition-supporting, and scripture-oriented thinking: tapeinophrosune, a word that we can translate as "humblethink." Paul wrote to the Ephesian and Philippian churches that he desired them to practice humblethink (Eph. 4:2, Phil. 2:3) and in Acts 20:19 he reminded the Ephesian elders that he, himself, practiced it. This New Testament word appropriately names the type of thinking craft that MacIntyre identified with Augustine and was often portrayed in classical liberal arts as the scholarship of honeybees. Teresa Morgan in Literate Education in the Hellenistic and Roman Worlds writes:
"Bees were widely used as an image of a model society. They are described as perfectly social creatures who subordinate their individuality to the harmonious whole. As such they are loaded images for the educated man. They suggest that not only should he be busy, useful, and virtuous; he should also direct his activity to the common good and live in harmony with his society."
Classical and early Christian liberal arts taught the intellectual crafts of humility that MacIntyre found in Augustine, but we have to go looking for them in the purposefully low teaching goals of bee-like scribal culture. Here I will point to four essential practices of bee-like humblethink. The first was obligating one's self to authorities when working in the realm of social knowledge. This practice was a type of faith designated as non-technical. The second was information gathering and arranging, the practice of creating archives, libraries, anthologies, florilegia and other honeycomb-like systems of information management. Third was submission to consensus and accumulated authorities such as traditions of the wise, the vox populi, and juries. Finally, the fourth was the more passive expectation that the first three practices facilitated the mysterious production of honey, that in the practice of bee-like humblethinking scribal culture was being used by the power of truth and the Holy Spirit.
Nathan L. King
Assistant Professor, Philosophy
Much recent work in virtue epistemology (VE) has focused on the analysis of cognitive character traits. These traits comprise an important kind of intellectual virtue. To distinguish these virtues from other cognitive excellences (e.g., good eyesight and good memory) that also go by the name "virtue," let us dub the former "character-virtues." Among the character-virtues that have received extended treatment in the VE literature are responsibility, conscientiousness, honesty, courage, open-mindedness, firmness, humility, charity, and wisdom.
To date, no epistemologist has undertaken an extended treatment of perseverance as an intellectual virtue. In the present paper, I will provide just such an account. An inquiry into the nature of intellectual perseverance is worthwhile for several reasons. First, this virtue has played a crucial role in the history of inquiry. (One thinks of Jane Goodall persisting in her study of gorillas, despite numerous setbacks and dangers. One also thinks of Albert Einstein, whose ability to persist in a line of inquiry was essential to his overwhelming success.) Second, perseverance is importantly related to other virtues (e.g., courage and love of knowledge) that have already been examined in the literature. We will better understand these virtues for understanding their relations to perseverance. Third, at least in ordinary cases, perseverance is conducive to a wide range of epistemic goods (e.g., truth and knowledge). Thus, understanding intellectual perseverance and the goods to which it is a means (though not a mere means), can provide at least a modest degree of intellectual guidance. Finally, reflection on perseverance (and on particular examples thereof) can provide motivation to pursue the very virtue under examination.
Here is a brief map of the proposed paper. In section 1, I locate perseverance as a distinctively intellectual virtue, and distinguish it from its better-known cousin, moral perseverance. In section 2, I adopt an oft-borrowed Aristotelian structure in locating intellectual perseverance in relation to its vice-counterparts, intransigence and irresolution (a tendency to give up early in the course of inquiry). In section 3, I consider some important relations between perseverance and other intellectual virtues. Here I argue that intellectual courage is a species of perseverance - an important result, given the prominence of courage in the present literature. If my claim on this score is correct, contemporary analyses of courage fall short by failing to identify the genus (perseverance) of which courage is a species. In section 4, I consider the intellectual goals toward which perseverance normally leads (e.g., true belief and knowledge). I close the paper by considering a handful of strategies for inculcating intellectual perseverance in the college classroom.
*Important note*: This paper is part of a larger book project, to be co-authored with Robert Garcia (Philosophy, Texas A&M). The book, tentatively titled In Pursuit of Intellectual Virtue, is an introduction to the intellectual virtues for college students. We believe that the proposed text fills an important gap in the critical thinking literature. For, while there are many books that will teach students the skills they need to reason well, no current book introduces the virtues needed for students to wield their skills to good effect. Our book aims to fill this void.
Elisa P. Korb
Assistant Professor of Art History
The practice of art history and the teaching of applied aesthetics in the modern university is constructed upon a precarious interpretation of itself: that is, after World War I there are no generally accepted formal definitions of art. Instead, lecturers are compelled to educate students based on private opinion, with little sense of formalism and no universals. What scholars are left with is a kind of esoteric meaning, devoid of methodologies and the rigor usually associated with the acquisition of wisdom. Essentially, since Marcel Duchamp (1887 - 1968) first put a signature on a purchased urinal and exhibited it, anything once deemed aesthetically worthless by pre-World War I academic standards became acceptable as a work of art. Not only was the art world plunged into chaos, but academia as well.
Nearly a century later, the lack of a prescribed approach to this concept has made teaching the history of art and applied aesthetics somewhat difficult. For example, in the instruction of Contemporary Art (c. 1975 - present) the method of education must be totally different from that of any other era. The reason being that 'Duchampian' definitions of art require no absolutes (or no delineations at all). Therefore, the instructor is attempting to teach a methodology that is entirely subjective based almost entirely upon private opinions: the artist's, professor's and each class member's. This is utterly antithetical to the purpose of the university and its mission to promote the essence of wisdom. In Christian universities this is especially counter-productive: while there are useful hermeneutic paradigms within the Christian tradition, there are hardly any supporting texts geared toward Modern and Contemporary Art.
An 'antidote' to the Duchampian approach may be found in the work of John Henry Newman (1801 - 90). In his 1852 (and 1858) The Idea of a University, Newman recognizes that contradictions are inherent in higher education, but ultimately the goal is for the university to be a place of truth. He believes that through clearly defined knowledge students obtain truth, but he lacks an applicable formula particularly since the text never addresses the subjects of art nor aesthetics.
Newman's ideas, however, were incredibly influential upon a group of 19th century British artists belonging to the Pre-Raphaelite, Aesthetic and Symbolist movements. What they put into practice could be called 'Tractarian Aesthetics'. Borrowing from Newman's own Tractarian (also Oxford) Movement, these artists formulated a doctrine of art meant to celebrate the history of art's rich heritage while still creating 'art for art's sake'; an accord between formal construction and artistic innovation, without compromising either.
The Duchampian method celebrates unintended consequences as art, leaving it up to the professor and student to respectively construct meaning, often with completely dichotomous results. Tractarian Aesthetics is a means by which instructors have a universal methodology to impart to their pupils, a standard of objective communicable wisdom.
Director, Reinhart Institute for Ethics in Leadership
Numerous studies of electronic media usage and multitasking have been conducted over the past few years and a consensus is beginning to emerge: the more one engages in multitasking, the more distraction becomes a habit. One study even found that "heavy media multitasking" makes one, ironically, less efficient at multitasking. As negative effects become more widely recognized in the workplace, new phrases are introduced, such as "disruption cost," "work fragmentation," "information overload," and "continuous partial attention."
Why is multitasking so popular despite growing evidence of its counter-productivity? Perhaps it is because the technological advances that make multitasking possible (in particular, the portability of electronic media) are designed to answer a deep-seated desire for success, uncritically assumed to consist of achieving more in less time.
Consider the ways we measure educational progress. Standardized tests, IQ tests, the ACT, and the SAT, all measure the ability to recall and manipulate information. The more one can recall, and the faster one can manipulate it, the higher one scores.
We tend to lump the different forms of intelligence together (primarily memory and cleverness) and call it "being smart." We test for smartness; we have societies and honors for smart people; we give scholarships based on evidence of smartness. We reward smart people with jobs that pay well and have a significant effect on the well-being of society. And then, occasionally, we are shocked that somebody "with all that education" should act foolishly or selfishly or irresponsibly. "What are they teaching at business schools (or medical schools, or law schools), anyway?"
The odd thing about our society's fascination with "being smart" is that it has relatively little to do with professional success or success in life generally. Good decision-making is more important, and that requires long-term thinking, foresight, and the ability to sort through the mass of detail and pay attention to what is really significant. In short, good decision-making requires wisdom.
Wisdom was considered by the ancient Greeks to be the most significant of the four cardinal virtues, because it serves as a guide to every other aspect of character. Without wisdom any trait, such as cleverness, courage, creativity, or determination, may be used for destructive purposes. Wisdom is collaborative; it comes from the ability to listen to other people, to really pay attention, to discern the truth, and then put the truth into action. The measure of wisdom is whether one's actions further the common good.
This paper will ask the question: Why do schools and universities persist in teaching memory and cleverness if what society really needs from its citizens is wisdom?
Doctoral Candidate, Teaching Assistant
Paul's critique of secular wisdom in the opening chapters of First Corinthians would appear to pit the Christian life and the pursuit of philosophy against one another: "Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?" (1 Corinthians 1:23). Yet, as Biblical scholars O'Dowd and Bartholomew point out, Paul's attack is not lodged directly against philosophy as a whole, but "against wisdom and knowledge that is not rooted in Christ and used for Christ's purposes." For the Christian seeking to become wise, then, the task of identifying the distinctive features of wisdom genuinely "rooted in Christ" proves exceedingly important if she wishes to avoid the pitfalls of worldly philosophies.
The appearance of foolishness to the world, Paul claims later in the First Corinthians passage, marks the person who is wise in the eyes of God. What is it about the wise person that gives off this appearance of foolishness? In this paper, I propose that a critical distinguishing trait of the "wise fool" is a humble disposition to learn from worthy authority. It is the heteronomy the Christian displays in bowing to the authority of the Holy Spirit that the world rejects, but it is also this deference that enables her to receive divine wisdom. Because wisdom is a gift of God rather than an earned payment, the only avenue by which it comes to us is humble receipt.
I conclude with a discussion of the challenge we face today and which, according to Paul's letter, the Corinthians faced as well: becoming "fools for Christ" in a culture that glorifies a radical notion of autonomy.
Marc Henri Lavallee
This paper proposes that, in the interest of educating and forming theology students for wisdom, educators would do well to consider discernment as a practice in which to educate their students. In taking up this proposal, first, I wish to elucidate what I see as the goal of theological education and the form of theological education. In my understanding, the end of theological education is the formation of wise practitioners, teachers, and ministers of the Christian faith, and the form of theological education is critical reflection on lived faith. Second, the development of wisdom within students is fostered by asking students to reflect critically on the interrelationship of theory, practice, and context, and on the implicit theologies at work in the practices of the church, of the world, and of their own lives. Third, in asking this, I argue that we are ultimately asking students of theology to learn and practice discernment. In this paper I will reflect upon the practice of discernment within the spiritual tradition of the Desert Mothers and Fathers. These early Christian monastics will serve as an example of the relationship between theory, practice, context, and discernment. Finally, I wish to discuss my experience with a course at the Boston University School of Theology entitled, "Practices of Faith" as an example of the pedagogical aims expressed in this paper.
Many scholars of theological education and many practical theologians have noted that theological education must do more than teach sound theories; it must educate for wisdom. Most practical theologians are comfortable with this claim, for they often find themselves conducting research and teaching in the area of religious practice and lived Christian faith, wherein "knowledge" is not separated from "practice." An emphasis on practice and lived faith in research and pedagogy has often relegated practical theology to the mere application of theories worked out beforehand in systematic, biblical, or historical theology. Wisdom, particularly practical wisdom (phronesis), however, lies at the very intersection of practice, theory, and context. If theological educators wish to help develop wisdom in students, they would do well to focus the aims and forms of their pedagogies toward the intersection of practice and theory. Allowing for students of theology to practice and to reflect critically on practice in a theology course helps develop the practice of discernment, and it helps develop wisdom.
The spirituality of the Desert Mothers and Fathers provides an example of the approach to knowledge described above. The sayings of these desert monastics help show both the self-implicating nature and the transformative nature of the study of theology. The Desert Mothers and Fathers interpreted scripture by living it. In an article entitled "The Cost of Interpretation," Douglas Burton-Christie describes this "desert hermeneutic" as the "critical participative" approach to interpretation. In desert monastic spirituality, practice is essential for true knowledge; those who do not practice do not fully know. Wisdom is developed through practice and critical reflection on practice. According to Burton-Christie, the "cost of interpretation" is that one might be transformed by what one studies, and one might also say that this is the cost of developing wisdom.
I argue that the "desert hermeneutic" shows itself in the desert literature as discernment. Some sayings of the desert monastics directly note the central importance of discernment (Abba Antony said, "Some have afflicted their bodies by asceticism, but they lack discernment, and so they are far from God."), while others indirectly note the central importance of discernment by recounting an elder's advice to a monk regarding the proper use and value of a particular practice (such as fasting or prayer). Of significance for this conference's theme here is the relationship between discernment, practice, and wisdom. The desert literature shows how monks interpreted scripture by practicing it in the context of their lives in the Egyptian desert as solitaries or in community. Wisdom is birthed out of the reflection-on-practice called discernment; the monk grows in wisdom by learning to practice and reflect on that practice-to know what the proper place and value and use of that practice is.
Finally, as an example of education for discernment, I wish to speak about a course entitled "Practices of Faith" wherein students are "challenged to consider the many dimensions of lived faith: personal, contextual, historical and theological." In this course, students learn discernment and grow in wisdom by studying communities of faith - through reading, the arts, and observation - and by reflecting on their own faith traditions, practices, spiritual formation, ethical commitments, and vocational discernment.
Ernest P. Liang
Director, Center for Christianity in Business and Associate Professor of Finance
Houston Baptist University
The 2007-2008 financial crisis and subsequent economic turbulence that engulfed the world economy have re-energized the quest by policymakers, political philosophers and economic pundits of diverse stripes for the wisdom to prognosticate and avert such crises. Historic cycles of market manias, panics and crashes, in fact, are a hardy perennial in world financial history and share features with much commonality. One widely recognized thread that strings together such episodes of economic upheaval is traced, not surprisingly, to the very nature of man. Humans are at the same time rational and irrational decision makers; the former driven by a deliberative assessment of options based on an informed, timely, forward-looking evaluation of relevant costs and benefits, whereas the latter by purely affective responses to innate passions, such as optimism, greed and fear. Historically, both elements play a role in the boom-bust cycles of the financial world. Creative innovations that advance markets, improve trade, reduce risk, and create wealth were inevitably products of the resourceful, evaluative utility maximizer. Yet often activities, both positive and negative, that take advantage of such innovations depend on spontaneous responses to affective stimuli. Animal Spirit, the thought patterns that animate people's ideas and feelings, has been offered by behavioral economists since John Maynard Keynes as the culprit of most, if not all, economic cycles of historic proportions.
The struggle between affective and non-affective behaviors finds a close parallel, within the moral framework, in Adam Smith's contests between "passions" and "the impartial spectator." and in the Bible, in Apostle Paul's incessant tug-of-war between "flesh" and "spirit." These perspectives allow animal spirit to be viewed as giving rise to behaviors that confer triumph on the unconstrained drive of passions over self-denial, and concedes the dominion of moral frailties over the human soul. The innovative and resourceful human driven by animal spirit will most assuredly frustrate most attempts to constrain natural behavior by means of policy and regulation, leading to crises that grow in scope and intensity with technology innovations and complexity in financial institutions. A strong argument can thus be made that the wisdom to deflecting future financial crises must be grounded in the spiritual-moral moorings laid down by a higher, supernatural authority. Godly wisdom prescribes a regenerated spiritual person who leads a principled life that is not captive to fleshly passions. Indeed, separate the economic sphere from the living God and His claims and humans will drift from one crisis to another under any economic formula.
Prominent themes connecting animal spirit to financial crises, such as confidence, fairness, and corruption, are also themes that receive copious moral and spiritual coverage in the Scripture. Even when separated from the spiritual framework, biblical gems of wisdom offer invaluable insight into practices that would moderate behaviors driven by unconstrained passions. These practices will be characterized by prudence, discernment, humility, and a deep respect for the common good among God's created. As offered in the Scripture, faith, accountability, and contentment are some of the countervailing forces to the disruptive influences of animal spirit. More importantly, they anchor a resilience that helps restore stability, thus facilitating the recovery subsequent to catastrophic shocks. As a critical component in any effective solution to future financial maelstroms, a heightened awareness of moral and spiritual absolutes across the cultural landscape is the first stop to which Godly wisdom will lead. Perhaps, with the next financial catastrophe looming in the horizon, it is time to re-examine what role the nation's educational establishment can play to help advance this vision?
1 Charles Kindleberger and Robert Aliber, Manias, Panics, and Crashes (Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, 2005), 1. See also Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff, This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2009).
2 George Loewenstein and Ted O'Donoghue, "Animal Spirits: Affective and Deliberative Processes in Economic Behavior," (Cornell University Working Paper, 2004), 4-14. See also Michael C. Jensen and W.H. Meckling, "The Nature of Man," Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, 7(2) (Summer 1994), 4-19.
3 John Maynard Keynes, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (London: Macmillan, 1936), 161-62. The concept was recently re-introduced to the public interest by George Akerlof and Robert Shiller, Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy, and Why It Matters for Global Capitalism (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2009).
4 Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2000 ), 1759:26
5 Gal. 5:17; Rom. 7:15-16.
6 Jensen and Meckling, 5-6.
7 Karl F.H. Henry, "Christianity and the Economic Crisis," reprinted in Vital Speech of the Day, 21(15), 1955, p. 1243.
8 Akerlof and Shiller.
Assistant Prof., Business Law
Abilene Christian University
Legal education in the Anglo-American tradition has long had a questionable status in the higher education landscape. Law schools educate students primarily for participation in the legal profession, and stand at a crossroads of professional, graduate, and even technical schooling. Because of the separation of legal education from the liberal arts, and the sometimes self-imposed isolation of the study of law from its humanistic and social-scientific surroundings and influences, law has struggled to create any meaningful space for itself within the wisdom tradition of education. This paper suggests that the divorce of law from wisdom is a serious concern, because part of wisdom is answering the question, "How should we live?," and a contextualized study of law can bring important perspectives to bear on this inquiry. To the extent wisdom education is in decline and needs re-invigoration, the study of law in a particularized, non-professional setting would provide a constructive addition to the dialog.
This paper addresses the disconnect between legal education and wisdom in the context of undergraduate legal studies. The reasons for disconnect are primarily historical and date back centuries, as can be discerned from a brief overview of the history of English and American legal education. Law schools traditionally served-and still serve-the primary purpose of training students to become members of a licensed, credentialed profession. Law school reform movements have primarily taken the form of increased professionalization, specialization, and an emphasis on studying law "scientifically," further isolating legal education from holistic learning in a wisdom context. Because law schools serve primarily as training academies for a professionalized, standardized bar, they may have less to contribute to the more flexible community of wisdom disciplines. Beyond law schools, there is minimal graduate legal education in this country, and for this reason, if law is to be situated within the wisdom tradition in American higher education, it must find its voice at the level where it encounters the largest number of students: undergraduate education.
Considerable discussion exists among two groups of scholars on the purposes, methods, and substance of undergraduate legal education. In the first grouping, the vast majority of business schools accredited by AACSB International employ legal scholars teaching "business law" to students majoring in management, finance, and so on. The literature on business law pedagogy is well-developed in the context of business and professional ethics, fields that are related to wisdom education, but the conceptualization of business law courses as being grounded in wisdom (as opposed to professional ethics) is lacking. In the second grouping, there is a growing body of work among legal scholars primarily found at liberal arts colleges, who generally seek to de-professionalize the study of law and place it in its historical, sociological, cultural, and philosophical contexts. This scholarship properly re-directs the inquiry away from training students for membership in a guild-like bar association, but sometimes fails to emphasize practical issues of money and power.
This paper proposes a combination of the two approaches in an attempt to re-characterize undergraduate legal education as a wisdom discipline. Undergraduate legal education can provide a meaningful contribution to the growth of wisdom-focused education if it simultaneously retains the ethical and normative framework of business law courses dealing with money and power, while also seeking to de-professionalize the study of law and emphasize the historical, cultural, and theological foundations of law. Stated succinctly, this paper suggests the following proposals for undergraduate legal education, particularly in the business school context:
1. Define content as explicitly contributing to the ongoing wisdom discussion.
2. Teach students from the standpoint of citizenship and life in a community, instead of training them solely for success in business and professional activities.
3. Even presuming the tight constraints placed on business law instructors as it relates to covering significant content in a short period, teaching business law from a wisdom perspective might include the following:
a. Presenting alternatives to dominant paradigms;
b. Revealing systemic shortcomings and weaknesses; and
c. Highlighting the historical, social-scientific, cultural, philosophical, and theological contexts in which law arises.
Educating for wisdom should be at the heart of the university's mission, and undergraduate legal studies should offer its voice to the conversation.
Kahn, Paul W., The Cultural Study of Law, (Chicago: Chicago Univ. Press, 1999).
Levin, Murray S., "Reflections on Enhancing the Understanding of Law Through Ethical Analysis," Journal of Legal Studies Education, 27:2 (Summer/Fall 2010), 247.
Sarat, Austin, ed., Law in the Liberal Arts, (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 2004).
Lynn M. Little
Dean, School of Science and Mathematics
Howard Payne University
I recall that when I was serving as Chairman of the Department of Medical Laboratory Sciences at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, my Dean occasionally would come to my office and state that he wanted to take advantage of my wisdom, whereupon he would relate some matter that was troubling him and on which he wanted my input to help him to reach a decision. I was complimented by these requests for my wise views on the matter at hand - which, by the way, invariably involved human relationships and interactions - and would give him my reflections on the situation, to the best of my ability. He seemed to trust my judgment and my perspectives and believed that I would give him my true and unvarnished assessment of the situation and my true views on the matter, regardless whose behavior or reputation might be called into question - even his own.
Following such discussions, I would reflect to myself on the Dean's desire to avail himself of what he referred to as my wisdom and try to determine whether my views and utterances, in fact, had been wise, and, if so, what had accounted for my wisdom. I still wonder about this, but I have concluded that any wisdom that I possessed and was able to communicate to my Dean came from a number of sources.
Somewhere, along the way, probably while I was still in college, I came to believe that wisdom resides at the far end of a process that begins with one's exposure to a range of information, which over time leads to the ordering and packaging of useful information into knowledge, which, itself, then, over even longer periods of time, leads, with luck, ultimately to the conversion of useful knowledge, tempered with experience, reflection, assessment, and understanding, into wisdom.
What is wisdom? As with many terms, wisdom is difficult, but not impossible, to define. I believe that wisdom is the capacity to interpret situations or circumstances in a manner that often leads to noteworthy outcomes that are equitable and useful. Those who benefit from wisdom are those who gain from a wise decision that may save them time, money, grief, embarrassment, or pain.
As a scientist, I have learned to utilize a series of principles and steps, collectively referred to as the scientific method, that are used to explore various aspects of the natural world. Scientists usually ask specific questions about the nature of something, or how something works, or how something relates to something else. Does a scientist utilize wisdom? Is there such a thing as "wise science," or science conducted wisely? The answer is yes. This talk will explore in detail how wisdom may be utilized in the realm of science and why this is important, as scientific discoveries bring us closer to technological breakthroughs that can lead to our own destruction, if not managed wisely.
My paper begins with the assumption (itself not uncontroversial) that the secular university should want to educate its citizenry for wisdom - wisdom here broadly understood as the speculative knowledge that comes from pursuing (and ideally grasping) the highest, most fundamental truths. The question then becomes how the secular university, which by definition is not informed or guided by any one set of philosophical, ethical, or religious principles, can successfully do this. My answer to this question is that the secular university should include theology in its disciplinary ranks, not only because theology contains its own rich tradition of thought on what wisdom is and how it can be obtained, but also because theology can help illuminate and ideally unify the search for wisdom that often implicitly runs throughout secular university academic life.
At bottom, if the secular university prides itself as being a knowledge-producing and truth-seeking institution, then it should pursue knowledge and truth wherever they are to be found. This also means that the secular university should boldly inquire into the deepest sorts of questions that have perennially occupied the human mind: for example, questions concerning the origins and purpose of the cosmos, the end (or goal) of all human life, the nature of human flourishing, and the nature of ultimate reality (or God). Vigorously pursuing such speculative questions, and learning how to address and even answer them with increased skill, depth, and novelty, is itself a robust form of knowledge or wisdom that is of intrinsic intellectual value and therefore intrinsic value to the secular university.
The problem is that the secular university, at least in its current form, is not actively addressing deep human questions in a unified way. And yet, given the impressive, wide-ranging intellectual resources at its disposal, the secular university remains uniquely poised to engage in precisely the sorts of intellectual pursuits that can yield genuine wisdom. What it needs is both an intellectual catalyst to spur on these pursuits and a guide to direct them.
Theology can help fulfill this essential role, because theology, unlike any other academic discipline (including religious studies), seeks to attain transcendent knowledge and truth. It is (at least in its classical form) the science of God, which (with the aid of philosophy) aims to understand all of reality in light of the transcendent source or being from which everything comes and to which it will return. Thus, theology can encourage the various university disciplines to understand their own intellectual discoveries in light of what it perceives to be even higher, or more fundamental, explanatory causes. For example, theology can work together with the natural sciences in further illuminating and penetrating the mysteries of the cosmos, which would include reflecting more deeply on both the scientific and theological significance of the physical world as derived from (and expressive of) not only a First Cause but also a transcendent Mind or Wisdom. Theology can help the humanities, and particularly disciplines like religious studies and philosophy, not just educate their students about various traditions of human thought and practice (as embedded in history and culture, for example), but also actually help students address for themselves the fundamental questions that animate and sustain those traditions of thought and practice. Presuming there are strains of wisdom running throughout the various world philosophies and religions, then theology - which is principally concerned with understanding Wisdom itself - can help demarcate and elucidate them. In so doing, theology helps make educating for wisdom more central to secular university life.
By fully admitting theology into its disciplinary ranks, the secular university is not conceding that the claims of theology are true. Nor is it affording theology any privileged epistemic status (making it the "queen of all sciences," as it were). The secular university is recognizing, however, that theology, as a legitimate intellectual discourse and discipline, can help impart the resources and skills university citizens need to become not just knowledgeable but also wise in fundamentally important, speculative matters that are often overlooked or even ignored in contemporary secular life. Therefore, by including theology as one of its academic disciplines, the secular university is making a positive statement about its own intellectual goals, which include not just educating its citizenry in the breadth of knowledge but also in the depth of that knowledge, so that the highest and fullest sort of knowledge accessible to the human mind becomes both desirable and viable for all university constituents, whatever their rank or association.
Assistant Professor of Divinity
Beeson Divinity School
This paper's exploration of the notion of wisdom and its educational value takes its cue from an 1880 poem, "To the Young," by the Polish post-Romantic poet, Adam Asnyk. Much of Asnyk's philosophical poetry was composed against the backdrop of an abrupt cultural change spurred by the intense trauma of a failed uprising against Russian dominance. The Romantic emphasis on "faith and feeling" as "more discerning than lenses and learning" (Mickiewicz) abruptly gave way (too abruptly in Asnyk's opinion) to a strong positivist valuation of pragmatic calculation, science, and economic development. In the final stanza the poet exhorts "the young" to be sure to keep also their own, new worldview in perspective:
And when the world is all in darkness laid,
Grown dim the rainbow of your dreams ideal -
May wisdom true preserve you undismayed ...
Your stars, O youthful conquerors, will fade
And darkness all conceal.
In this paper I shall argue for an understanding of wisdom - what Asnyk refers to as "wisdom true" - as a posture that entails, first and foremost, a distance to self. Asnyk pleads with the young to put their pursuits - insofar as those are both their aspirations and the aspirations prized by their milieu - in perspective. When one construes the poet's plea in terms of educational goals, it means that education aims not only at teaching students to distance themselves from their pre-critical stances and unexamined opinions. The goal of education cannot be simply shaking students out of their comfort zones. Rather, the overarching goal ought to be the development of a critical posture that consists, ultimately, in a self-critical attitude that is lasting and productive.
In this light, it is not enough - if one's goal is to make university education relevant - simply to focus on the nurturing of practical skills over against large-scale theorizing in the classroom; this distinction is not sufficient in itself and seems to me to miss the mark of what is essential in the educational process. Nor will careful and responsible attention to the object of study ("the thing in itself") do, unless it also explicitly and repeatedly furnishes a renewed perspective on oneself. Let me be clear here: I am not advocating unbridled self-referentiality, immediate introspection, opinion peddling, or premature relevance judgments on the students' part - all of which plague the modern classroom. Quite the contrary, I believe that, in whatever one learns, one must also learn not to take oneself so seriously. Only then will one be able to attend with utter and concentrated seriousness to the object or issue at hand.
I shall then explore this distance to self - as a prerequisite for attentiveness to the object of study and as a posture of wisdom that will stand one in good stead beyond the classroom - in terms of the notions of proto and deutero-learning, put forth by Gregory Bateson ("Social Planning and the Concept of Deutero-learning") and developed further by Zygmunt Bauman ("Education: Under, for and in spite of postmodernity"). Bauman argues that postmodernity has placed another type of learning in the spotlight - a type that would previously have been regarded as perhaps indicative of maladjustment or even a mental disorder but now appears to be indispensable to survival both for educated individuals and the very institutions that claim to form them. This "tertiary-learning" has to do with unlearning, and breaking out of, previously learned habits, with the ability "to rearrange fragmentary experiences into heretofore unfamiliar patterns." The importance of tertiary learning - the fact that in today's world "perfect adjustment [is] a liability" - is what, in my opinion, makes the wisdom of self-distance a vital component of education.
I shall conclude the paper by emphasizing the positive, theological aspects of wisdom, understood in terms of Bauman's notion of tertiary learning. The distance to self that Asnyk himself gained and which he advocates in his poem is not one of resignation to the provisionality of everything that is humanly conceivable. That is not the only conclusion that is left. When mental habits are revealed for what they are - namely, habits rather than keys that unlock all mysteries - the politics of knowledge gives way to a much richer humanistic vision. That we are human, that we may be fallible even in our best intentions and most rigorous thinking, need not be a fact to which we must respond with despondency or, at best, resignation. Rather, it is the precondition of responsibility for our world, a responsibility which is our human calling.
James A. Marcum
In an essay on the role of virtue in medical education, Jack Coulehan and Peter Williams recount the story of a first year medical student who arrives on campus with a heart full of empathy to meet patients' needs. However, by the end of the student's medical education she is no longer enthusiastic about medicine and serving patients but turns inward in order to survive the personal hardships, if not abuse, she faces daily as a medical student. In response to a questionnaire, she writes, "I've become numb. So much of what I do as a student is stuff that I don't fully believe it. And rather than try to change everything that I consider wrong in the hospital or the community at large," she confesses, "I just try to get through school in the hope that I will move on to bigger and better things when I have more control over my circumstances." Unfortunately, her story is not uncommon for many medical students. Indeed, recent studies report that medical student empathy declines during training to become physicians. Medical commentators on this issue have proposed teaching virtues to stem the tide of empathy lost during medical school.
The question facing medical pedagogy is not simply whether the medical faculty should or can teach virtues, like justice, prudence, or empathy, to medical students but rather how. The interest of this paper is not on the precise type or content of courses but rather on the general strategy for incorporating these virtues, especially the compound virtue of compassionate wisdom, into the medical curriculum. Although the faculty cannot teach and students cannot learn virtues as easily as medical or scientific facts, it can set the conditions for learning and practicing virtues throughout the curriculum in innovative courses that make virtues relevant to medical practice. The faculty needs to design courses that introduce early on in the student's educational experience the nature and types of virtues required for practicing medicine, which meets the patient's physical and emotional or psychological needs. With an understanding by students of general virtue theory and of the array of virtues available, the faculty can then design courses later on in the student's formal training that instantiate the virtues and translate them from the classroom into the clinic. These courses must provide realistic conditions taken from actual clinical experience that instructs and challenges the students to incorporate virtues into medical practice. Without such practical relevance, students simply will not take seriously the importance of virtues for practicing medicine.
In this paper, I explore the implications of the notion of virtuous physician, particularly the compassionately wise physician, for medical and pre-medical education and for the medical humanities movement. As William Stempsey so aptly argues, medical education has been instrumental in changing the public's perception of the physician, especially in the United States, "from the kindly and caring individual to the unfeeling technocrat or, even worse, the greedy entrepreneur." Although Stempsey offers a useful prescription for this "illness," I propose the notion of virtuous or compassionately wise physician to reorient that perception and to include the humanities in medical curricula to balance their almost exclusive focus on the scientific and technical. One of the major questions facing these curricula is the pedagogy of virtues, i.e. whether virtues can be taught or learned. My answer to that question is two-fold. Educators cannot teach virtues and students cannot learn them as easily or completely as scientific facts. However, the medical faculty can introduce virtues in a factual manner initially, sensitive to a student's developmental stage; but equally, if not more importantly, virtues can and must be modeled. Only through introducing and modeling virtues can students be taught and learn virtues. Modeling virtues in the clinic may help to address the detrimental effects of the hidden curriculum medical students face in the last two years of medical school and residents and interns in their post-graduate programs.
Although the introduction of virtue, especially the compound virtue of compassionate wisdom, into the medical curriculum is not immune from serious challenges, however, as Daniel Sulmasy warns, "there is really no morally acceptable alternative. We need to create environments that cultivate professional virtue in our schools, and in our practice settings." Otherwise, one of the alternatives to teaching virtues intentionally is teaching vices unintentionally. My proposal of the compassionately wise physician creates a medical culture that addresses the lost of empathy plaguing contemporary medical education.
In the first major section of this paper, I follow Sharon Ryan in arguing that wisdom fundamentally involves knowing how to live well and having an appreciation for living well.
Next, I argue that, in contemporary society, it is very difficult or impossible for a secular university to educate for wisdom. In the past, societies often did not allow, or were not otherwise subjected to, a significant divergence of opinion among its members regarding what it was to live well, at least not a divergence that involved a large minority group or involved a fundamental aspect of the society's understanding of what it was to live well. Today, in our radically pluralistic society, that is obviously no longer the case. As a result, it is very difficult or impossible for a secular university to take a stance on what it is to live well; there is simply too much divergence of opinion regarding the question within contemporary society. Since educating for wisdom fundamentally involves educating in a way that is sensitive to what it is to live well, it is impossible to educate for wisdom without taking a stance on what it is to live well.
None of this shows that contemporary religious universities aren't also situated such that it is very difficult or impossible for them to educate for wisdom. If religious schools are to be any better off than their secular counterparts, they need to be situated such that it is easier for them to take a stance one what it is to live well, and there needs to be a meaningful chance that the stance they take will be correct. I argue that Christian universities are better situated to educate for wisdom, because they are able to take a stance on what it is, fundamentally, to live well. Further, I argue that Jewish and Muslim universities can take a stance on what it is to live well that is close enough to the correct stance to allow them also to educate for wisdom.
I suggest the following articulation of what it is to live well: to live well is to successfully achieve an internal structure (by internal structure, I mean, roughly, one's beliefs, desires, emotions, reasoning patterns, cognitive capabilities, and noncognitive compulsions and aversions) that, in the relevant respects, parallels that of Jesus Christ.
Below, I include a formalization of my argument for the conclusion that it is very difficult or impossible for a secular university in contemporary society to educate for wisdom.
1. Wisdom fundamentally involves knowing how to live well and having an appreciation for living well.
2. Unless a university correctly teaches students what it is to live well, then it is impossible for the university to educate for wisdom.
3. In order for a university to correctly teach its students what it is to live well, the university must take a stance on what it is to live well.
4. In contemporary society, it is very difficult or impossible for secular universities to take a stance of what it is to live well.
5. In contemporary society, it is very difficult or impossible for a secular university to educate for wisdom.
Here is a potential objection: educating for wisdom, in the sense I use it, is not appreciably more difficult for secular universities than it is for religious universities. (5) does not demonstrate that Christian universities are any better off in terms of educating for wisdom than are secular universities. This is true, so I go on to argue:
I. To live well is to successfully achieve an internal structure (by internal structure, I mean, roughly, one's beliefs, desires, emotions, reasoning patterns, cognitive capabilities, and noncognitive compulsions and aversions) that, in the relevant respects, parallels that of Jesus Christ.
II. (I) is not significantly controversial among Christians.
III. Therefore, Christian universities are able to take a stance on what it is to live well. If this stance is correct, as I believe it to be, then Christian universities are better situated that secular universities to educate for wisdom. This does not imply that the task is still not exceedingly difficult.
Objection: even if there is a reasonable chance that a Christian university could take the stance that (I) is true, and even if (I) is true, it does not follow that all religious universities are better situated than secular universities in contemporary society to educate for wisdom; only that Christian universities are.
Reply: There are versions of the good life that can be adopted by Jewish and Muslims universities which, though they are incompatible with the truth of (I), are relevantly similar. Because of this, it is reasonable to suppose that they are more well situated to educate for wisdom than universities who are utterly unable to take a stance on what constitutes the good life.
Department of Political Science
Assistant Professor of Political Science
Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science
Professor of Political Science
The organizers of this year's Baylor Symposium on Faith and Culture, "Educating for Wisdom in the 21st Century University," ask us to reflect upon the place of wisdom and its pursuit in the contemporary university. If the pursuit of wisdom has been displaced by other concerns like the discovery of new knowledge or skill-training how, the organizers ask, will the university equip its graduates to find "meaning" in their lives or "fulfill its enduring mission to nurture our human nature. . ." What the organizers call "Educating for Wisdom" closely resembles - perhaps is - what we often call liberal education. The panel we propose will explore the Symposium's theme by exploring the meaning of liberal education - what it is and what makes it more or less possible - as these questions have been discussed and debated by political philosophers. In making this proposal we observe that the case for liberal education has been an abiding if implicit concern of political philosophers and that that case has been made often, if not always, in full awareness of the powerful challenge to that case posed if not by the possibility of discovering new knowledge or imparting useful skills - say, generally by technology - then by the deeper political force underlying that challenge. If the Socratic saying that "the unexamined life is not worth living" proposes in brief the idea of liberal education, we cannot but recall the Athenians' response to that saying.
What follows is a brief account of the presentations that will make up the panel proposed. Mary Nichols of Baylor's Political Science Department has agreed to Chair the panel and will also discuss the papers.
Poetry, Politics, and Education: Aristotle and the Teaching of Homer
Patrick Cain (Belmont Abbey)
Can poetry educate for wisdom? By writing the Poetics, the first extant philosophic treatise on literary theory, Aristotle would seem to suggest that the study of poetry is part of, or necessary to, the pursuit of wisdom. Yet in that treatise's investigation of the Iliad, Aristotle also seems to question the reliability of poetry, arguing that "Homer has been especially effective in teaching everyone else how they must speak falsehoods" (1460a20-21). But if Aristotle means this claim to be a critique of Homer's poetry, the critique appears to be only partial. After all, Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics regularly refers to Homer's Iliad, and relies on much of the poet's framework in its discussion of virtue. Undertaking a study of these references in light of the Poetics, my paper will investigate Aristotle's encounter with the Iliad. Aristotle's analysis, I will argue, reveals him to be a supporter of Homer's poetry, which he sees as making an important contribution both to the cultivation of civic virtue, and to the pursuit of wisdom. Aristotle shows that Homer's poetry allows for the overcoming of the very falsehoods that it employs, thereby providing the means to help us uncover the truth and make it our own. Aristotle's work supplements this account, for if Homer teaches others to speak falsehoods, then Aristotle, by pointing out this fact, teaches us to recognize them. In doing so, Aristotle asks us to reflect on our own perception of reality, and to wonder why we have difficulty seeing things as they really appear. Aristotle's analysis of Homer asks us to reflect on the obstacles to our own pursuit of wisdom.
Truth, Beauty and Politics: George Grant and Leo Strauss on the Meaning and Possibility of Liberal Education
William Mathie (Brock University)
Leo Strauss observed that "liberal education supplies us with experience in things beautiful." George Grant a great Canadian teacher, a student of political philosophy and, in some important respects, a student of Leo Strauss would have agreed. Both saw liberal education as the education of citizens and agreed that liberal education points beyond the citizen to the philosopher. Both set out the meaning of liberal education by seeing what has made it difficult if not impossible in our time. Both saw the contemporary multiversity as unfriendly to liberal education and linked the threat it posed with the technological account of science that has very nearly defined modernity. Their accounts are distinguished in two ways, however. Strauss located the peak of liberal education in an "awareness of our own understanding" that is so far beyond the beauty or ugliness of whatever we have primarily understood as to enable us to "accept all evils which may befall us and which may well break our hearts in the spirit of good citizens of the city of God..." Grant, on the other hand, used the word faith to define the knowing that he saw as the heart of liberal education, while accepting Simone Weil's definition of that term as "the experience that intelligence is enlightened by love," and so insisted that knowing and loving, or truth and beauty are finally, if not transparently linked. And they gave very different accounts of how technology threatens the possibility of liberal education. The paper proposed will seek a basis on which we might understand and assess this disagreement especially as this inquiry might clarify the wider questions posed by the conference theme.
Tocqueville on the "Very Tiny" Objects of Democratic Art
Mary Mathie (Baylor)
In Democracy in America, Tocqueville suggests that people in democratic nations and especially Americans habitually choose things that are pragmatic, useful, and new over those which are abstractly beautiful, durable, and old. This presentation will examine the dangers that Tocqueville sees in this state of affairs and consider the particular view of the objects of wisdom and art which informs Tocqueville's fears. The impression inspired by Tocqueville's criticism of the approach of Americans to arts and science is, essentially, that they do not aim at the full examination of life, and that in turning away from that form of wisdom they bargain instead in favour of democratic stability. In particular, Tocqueville levels this criticism at American artists. As opposed to the ancient and noble objects of art, democratic artists contemplate the "plus-petit" object of themselves. In referring to the noble objects of art, Tocqueville means to speak of objects truly beyond us - categorically removed and exalted. In contemplating the very tiny object of themselves, American artists enter a state inimical to art, one in which Athey will habitually prefer the useful to the beautiful, and they will require that the beautiful should be useful (Tocqueville, 563).
To feel the weight of Tocqueville's criticism, we must note its connection to his broader criticism of "progress" in America. Tocqueville notes that the notion of equality has suggested to the minds of Americans the infinite perfectibility of man. As their dedication to improvement in the future renders them incapable of current excellence, their dedication to the contemplation of abstract man obscures their view of any greatness in any actual man. The focus of the democratic eye is never on actual noble things: democratic minds, in fact, can hardly be said to believe in noble things. The preference for the future is a sort of suicide: improvement is distinct from fulfillment of a perfect or final goal, and the appeal of a fine object is distinct from its realization of the beautiful itself. Does Tocqueville suggest, in effect, that Americans have shut themselves off from wisdom? And should he be correct, how would it revise our hope in politics and its relation to something more enduring than our individual selves?
Marleen L. Milner
Professor, Director of Social Work Program
Defining wisdom in a postmodern world is fraught with challenges, not the least of which is the surfeit of potential perspectives from which the illusive concept can be understood. While wisdom may be considered from perspectives as wide ranging as theology, Greek mythology, or neuroscience, common themes do emerge. Wisdom utilizes knowledge, but supersedes it. It "requires an experience-based knowledge of the world...[and] mental focus, reflecting the ability to analyze and discern the most important aspects of the acquired knowledge, knowing what to use and what to discard, almost on a case-by case basis" (Hall, 2010, p. 17-18). Frequently cited characteristics of wisdom include humility, self-awareness, empathy, tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty, the ability to delay gratification, learn from experience, make decisions in light of contextual realities, frame problems from alternate perspectives, and take appropriate action in spite of incomplete information.
While failing to encompass a full-orbed biblical definition of wisdom, these commonly articulated aspects of practice wisdom have striking similarities to the skills and dispositions necessary for what Dewey referred to as "reflective thinking" and to what Schon called "reflection in action." Dewey defined reflective thinking as "active, persistent, and careful consideration of any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the grounds that support it and the further conclusions to which it tends" (1933, p. 9). Schon argues that educators must prepare future practitioners to deal with the uncertainty of knowledge in the context of continually evolving circumstances by teaching them to reflect on their practice, reframe in light of new information, and adapt current theories-in-use to the demands of changing realities (1983).
However, research strongly suggests that the level of cognitive complexity required to engage in this type of reasoning is uncharacteristic of the average college or beginning graduate student (King & Kitchener, 2002; Kohlberg, 1969; Kuhn, Ho, & Adams, 1979). Instead, college and beginning graduate students tend to use epistemic schemas to resolve open-ended problems that do not support a thorough contextual analysis, consistent use of evidence, the consideration of alternate perspectives, or the ability to use principles to judge between potential solutions.
This paper commends King and Kitchener's Reflective Judgment Model (RJM), a cognitive developmental framework, as a model for assessing students' current approaches to open ended problems and fostering the skills and dispositions necessary to learn wisdom in the context of practice. The RJM has been described as the most rigorously and extensively researched model of epistemology (Hofer & Pintrich, 1997) and the best known model of adult cognitive development (Pascarella & Terenzi, 1991).
The model operationalizes a hierarchy of seven distinct developmental stages based upon the epistemic assumptions learners use when faced with ill-structured problems. The first three stages, which focus to varying degrees on the assumption that knowledge is absolute and comes from authoritative sources, are "pre-reflective." Learners do not perceive complex issues as problematic because knowledge is certain and issues are right or wrong, black or white. Stages 4 and 5, which are most typical of college and beginning graduate students, are called the "quasi-reflective" stages. Although students perceive the uncertainty in the problem, they may believe that competing perspectives merely represent the "opinions" of those who espouse them or be unable to establish criteria for selecting between viable alternatives. Stages 6 and 7 represent beginning and advanced levels of "reflective thinking." At Stage 6 individuals understand that although knowledge is not certain, conclusions can be reached based on interpretations of the available evidence and implications are subjected to overarching principles that can be applied across contexts. At Stage 7, individuals assume responsibility for constructing and evaluating knowledge claims on an ongoing basis and use evidence to reach decisions based on "the most complete, plausible, or compelling understanding of an issue " (King & Kitchener, 1994, p. 7).
Strategies for using the model to assess students' current epistemic assumptions and provide the necessary scaffolding to encourage progress to higher levels of reasoning will be presented.
Participants will be able to:
1. Understand the developmental challenges faced by students when confronted with an open-ended problem.
2. Identify key characteristics of learners at the various stages of the Reflective Judgment Model.
3. Apply the Reflective Judgment Model to assignments to facilitate assessment of students' current stages of reflective judgment.
4. Develop strategies based on students' current epistemic assumptions to foster more effective reasoning strategies.
*References are available, but unable to include within the required word limit.
Philip Irving Mitchell
Associate Professor of English
Dallas Baptist University
The (Anglo-, then Roman) Catholic journalist and writer G. K. Chesterton throughout his career was concerned with school histories. The old style Victorian history lessons, at their best, inspired students with a sense of the noble and heroic, yet they also contained much misinformation. Later Edwardian attempts to correct the often untrue picturesque narratives with the new "scientific" historical methods were no better, in fact potentially worse to Chesterton's mind, for they removed the basic humanity of the past, reducing its peoples to social phenomena and to less evolved cultures that could then be safely scoffed at and potentially ignored.
Chesterton, in particular, worried that modern students were increasingly unable to understand past figures and their motivations, and that this was due to the Whig theory of progress proposed by such historians as J. A. Froude, Henry Buckle, E. A. Freeman, and Bishop William Stubbs, as well as the varying utopian visions of historical determinism - be they Socialist, Marxist, or the "great man" theory of Carylean and Nietzschean resolution. Chesterton held that together these perspectives undercut human free will and a trust in the basic common humanity of persons. Such metahistorical visions dissolved a sense of wonder and gratitude for the complexity of the universe, created a continual, unfullfillable desire for the future, and encouraged passivity along with a steady stream of disposable futurist predictions that are easily forgotten by the general public.
He coined the term "maltheory" to describe these diseased ideas, for they start small in academic and educational settings but end with globally destructive consequences, such as that of nihilism, eugenics, and world war. Early in his career, Chesterton was to become associated with the ideologically-charged terms "orthodoxy" and "heresy." However, I will argue that these terms did not operate as what Reinhart Koselleck has called "asymmetrical counterconcepts," that is terms that assign meanings to others that they themselves would not accept. Instead, "orthodoxy" and "heresy" functioned together to bundle, to stabilize, and to reimagine a whole semantic cluster of Chesterton's concerns while seeking to do justice to the positions of past and present opponents.
To better understand the wisdom that Chesterton hoped to offer history writers, I will examine his own historical and biographical practice. In a manner similar to historian and philosopher R. G. Collingwood, Chesterton urged that biographers and historians, rather than striving for a supposed objectivity, which was actually based on an undisclosed bedrock of assumed superiority, should seek to enter sympathetically into the moral, religious, and emotional context of past cultures and their folkways, as well as practicing a "history of the historians," that is an awareness of their own prejudices and motivations. In Chesterton's journalism and in his early biographical criticism, he relied upon the exemplarity of characters types, while allowing such micro-narratives to be nuanced, even disrupted by the ethical agency of historical figures. Likewise, he employed the picturesque to tell what he believed to be the whole truth-that life often is marked by the color, by sentiment, and by melodrama. Such narrative schemas, Chesterton insisted, actually do a better job imparting the core of imaginative and existential meaning of past events than the scientific monographs of modern historians.
Chesterton's position was not unlike the first and second naivete of Paul Ricouer. The naive childhood response to the romance of history is bound to be replaced by the political and moral complications that come with academic study, but school histories that leave the picture of history there have done a great disservice to students, for what remains is a third stage of adult engagement with the past. "The whole object of history is to enlarge experience by imagination," insisted Chesterton (32.316), and this comes about through the reading of the primary sources, which for most will be in a suitable translation. When we read such sources, Chesterton holds, we open ourselves again to the humanity of past people, and this openness justifies one's personal and human responses to the picturesque, a suitable frame for the wide freedom of individuals and their cultures.
Doctoral Student in Religion
Matthew A. Moser
This paper offers a constructive theology of the humanities as a solution to the growing crisis over the future of those academic disciplines. At a time when the humanities are falling into obsolescence due to the utilitarian pragmatism of the contemporary university, this paper argues that it is Christian theology, specifically the doctrine of the Incarnation, that most satisfactorily preserves the humanities' place in the academic curriculum of the Christian university.
It is only incarnational theology that satisfactorily justifies the humanities because it is precisely in the Incarnation that humanity is united to the divine nature. Human nature - the very locus of the humanities - now bears the weight of the divine. To study the humanities is to come to know that which God has fundamentally endorsed in the decision to unite divine and human nature. Thus a theological account of the humanities locates the necessity of the humanities not in their financial or vocational utility but rather in their doxological role as the location of the union of God with humanity.
Assistant Professor of Philosophy
California Baptist University
Like Boethius, higher education in the 21st century is in trouble. Boethius was exiled, imprisoned and faced death. It was only through the divine intervention of Lady Wisdom that Boethius was able to understand his condition and learn how to return to his true nature. This paper uses Boethius's The Consolation of Philosophy to show what is wrong with higher education today and how wisdom can fix it.
First, I pinpoint the problem for academe today and show how it is the same problem that Boethius faced in The Consolation. I will argue that the academy today has forgotten its true nature.
Second, I sketch the misguided solutions that Boethius thought would provide him a way out of his imprisonment. I will show how Lady Wisdom in The Consolation argues that the putative solutions of wealth, reputation and power each fail. They failed for Boethius and they fail for higher education.
Third, I show how Lady Wisdom in The Consolation argues that only one thing can make Boethius truly happy. Wisdom claims that only by participation in the divine could an individual, and mutatis mutandis, the academy be truly happy. I argue that participation in the divine can only begin if wisdom itself is central to the life of the academy.
I conclude with reflections on the particular obligations of philosophers and theologians to help the academy fulfill its true nature. These disciplines are academically closest in their professional work to the ultimate telos of the academy. Thus, they have a particular duty to see to it that wisdom plays a central role. I offer some suggestions as to how this can be done.
Assistant Professor of English
Belmont Abbey College
When we think of the tension and / or the synthesis between Athens and Jerusalem in the Western Intellectual Tradition, we tend to think of Athens in terms of "reason" - the discovery of truth by way of the reasoning mind, the acquisition of knowledge, the cognitive, philosophic, and scientific - and Jerusalem in terms of faith and revelation. But there remains a third pole: that of art. It participates in the other two, and at times aids in the synthesis between them, bridging the gap. Philosophy and theology both claim as their province the cultivation, transmission, and pursuit of wisdom, the ways in which we may rightly live to promote human flourishing, moral virtue, community, civilization, and sanctification. Art has not always been trusted by either pole, Athens or Jerusalem. But art plays a unique role in the human quest for wisdom, a role that belongs to art alone: art is also wise. In this paper, I wish to justify this claim through the example of Shakespeare's "The Winter's Tale," a play that breaks down the wall between faith and reason through its art of dramatic embodiment, inviting an audience to suspend disbelief as the story and its characters come to life on the stage. Within the world of the play the pursuit and possession of wisdom is a primary theme; it is thus a story about wisdom. But the play also self-consciously points to itself as art. The action of art as art is thus also one of the themes of the drama. The play insists on its own artifice, as if to awaken and cause an audience to recognize the power of art - not as moral treatise, not as theological exhortation or biblical instruction - but as art, to "tease us out of thought," as Keats says, "as doth eternity."
Within the world of the play, wisdom is a primary theme. As in other of Shakespeare's romances, such as "Pericles and Cymbeline," wisdom in "The Winter's Tale" is personified by the feminine. Women in the play are the possessors, conveyors, and active participants in the triumph of wisdom over irrationality, blindness, rage, and violence. They are keepers of good sense, teachers and patient victims, sources of the wise and good. Hermione and Paulina are the chief characters who fill this role, but Perdita is the one whose recovery will ultimately heal the land and reconnect the broken circle of family and human community.
Another factor in the working out of the wisdom theme in the play is "time." An audience cannot avoid this potent inexorable reality as a chief element of the play, as it is in our lives. The play passes from "winter" to the pastoral celebrations of "spring" and finally perhaps to late summer's harvest when all has come to maturity. The passage of time is also attached to the women of the play: Perdita is "goddess" of the pastoral festivities of Bohemia and, in her youthful vitality, the very model of her mother. She, like spring, brings about the end of winter and its devastation to the land and people of Sicilia.
The wisdom theme culminates in the statue of Hermione miraculously coming to life. "It is requir'd you do awake your faith," says Paulina to the gazers who marvel at the statue's lifelikeness. She then calls for music and "awakens" the work of art. Here, the play's artifice is made overt, but much of the play itself has insisted on its artifice: Time as choral character, the characters' remarks about "old tales," fairy-tale and mythological elements in the play, a simplicity and absence of realism in plot, setting, and the drawing of character. When the statue comes alive, the fiction within the fiction declares itself "true." Thus wisdom triumphs with great emotional force in a symbolic resurrection, renewing a damaged world and bringing back what was lost. As Polixenes suggests, nature needs art to achieve perfection. The triumph of wisdom through art cannot however remove the scars left by winter. Art, Shakespeare reminds us, remains among the human virtues circumscribed by the limitations of human craft employed in an imperfect human world.
Houston Baptist University
In this paper I will sketch the outlines of a program of civic education in the higher educational institutions of liberal democracies. A detailed and well-executed plan of civic education is valuable in general as a way of improving our understanding of the development and practice of the liberal-democratic civic virtues. The development of the liberal-democratic civic virtues in citizens is a complicated enterprise that requires the investment of significant social resources. Three of the educational venues in which the liberal-democratic civic virtues are developed in the dispositions of citizens are familial, private, and public education. Private and public forums of higher education are the two primary forms of civic education into which citizens gradually transition as they grow older.
Private schools are forms of education in which a group of citizens associate together, in the absence of significant governmental oversight, for educational purposes. Most private schools are structured around a set of commonalities that are shared by a group of parents or educators. These commonalities can be as simple as geographical proximity or an agreement about a particular educational method. They can also be more complicated things like shared religious and ethical worldviews. An important issue when considering the civic effects of private education is the question of how much regulative oversight liberal-democratic governments ought to exercise over private schools. There are principled reasons for liberal-democratic educators to value and to minimize their regulation of private and parochial programs. The regulative oversight of liberal-democratic governments is justifiable only in the interest of ensuring that students are taught the threshold skills of political deliberation and conversation. Although the regulation ought to vary in accordance with the willingness of private schools to impart the liberal-democratic civic virtues to students, it ought not usually to be so extensive that it involves a controlling influence over the teaching of basic life skills and reasonable comprehensive doctrines.
For most citizens, the transition out of familial education will be followed by participation in a public education system rather than a private one. By the public education system I mean a system that is endorsed and managed by the governmental authorities, and that is recognized by the citizenry as the primary educational means by which the norms of the liberal-democratic order are imparted to children. So defined, a public educational system is much easier for liberal-democratic educators to justify and control than are familial and private educational systems. The civic purpose of public education is to impart to children the liberal-democratic political norms and to develop in children the liberal-democratic civic virtues. Public education programs ought not generally to promote religious or ethical virtues, or even the virtues of a comprehensive account of liberalism. Rather, they ought to concentrate on the liberal-democratic civic virtues and the development of those aspects of the dispositions of students that pertain to participation in the public sphere. Rawls gets it right when he says that a political liberal public education "...will ask that children's education include such things as knowledge of their constitutional and civic rights...," and should prepare students "...to be fully cooperating members of society and enable them to be self-supporting; it should also encourage the political virtues so that they want to honor the fair terms of social cooperation in their relations with the rest of society." An educational program that is designed to develop the liberal-democratic civic virtues in students is a program that will equip them to present their views in terms that are acceptable to their fellow citizens. The most viable form of such allegiance comes from an education in the liberal-democratic civic virtues. Liberal democracies are just as much forms of government that occur in the hearts and minds of citizens as they are forms that are formally embodied in institutional frameworks.
Steve L. Oldham
University of Mary Hardin-Baylor
In A New Agenda for Higher Education: Shaping a Life of the Mind for Practice (2008) authors William Sullivan and Matthew Rosin propose a model of undergraduate education that emphasizes the necessary interdependence of the liberal arts and professional education. They adduce four topics to which all educators concerned with practical reasoning orient their teaching: community, identity, responsibility, and bodies of knowledge. In order for graduates to be responsible actors in their chosen field, they must master a certain body of knowledge. However, they must also understand how they are formed as individuals as they participate in traditions of knowing. In order to act well, they must ask themselves who they want to become and how they are being formed by their own actions (identity). This formation of identity necessarily takes place in a community of professionals that provides models of meaningful engagement in the natural, social, and cultural contexts of action (community). By keeping faith with the trust of other professionals and with the broader community, graduates are able to fulfill their responsibility to others.
In this presentation, I will suggest that practical reasoning, properly construed, is the aim of all undergraduate education and that it is identical with the "wisdom" that is the topic of this conference. Furthermore, an explication of the topics of community, identity, responsibility, and bodies of knowledge will reveal that educating for wisdom is focused on the formation of knowledgeable, responsible actors and is not merely concerned with the discovery and dissemination of knowledge. Such formation requires that faculty in the arts and sciences and in professional education have recourse to narratives of meaning that ground their own action as professionals and educators. The necessity of faculty who draw on a larger framework of meaning creates challenges to the secular university, which has largely abandoned such narratives. Thus, this presentation will suggest that the crisis in the secular university that has resulted in the fragmentation of the disciplines and a sharp divide between the arts & sciences and professional education is due, in no small part, to an abandonment of larger narratives of meaning that could provide a framework for their common work.
Finally, while one might conclude that Christian higher education is uniquely positioned to form students for wisdom because of its recourse to the Christian narrative, I will suggest that we too are prone to see education as simply imparting knowledge to students. Such a denuded view of education has resulted in a sharp divide at Christian colleges and universities between arts & sciences and professional education. Furthermore, a more robust understanding of education for formation focused on the themes of community, identity, responsibility, and knowledge reveals that much of the efforts at integration of faith and learning, as laudable as they are, take place at the level of knowledge only. Thus, efforts at integration and the impartation of wisdom are often focused on having students take courses in theology or philosophy. Education for wisdom, seen through the lens of these four themes, means that true integration can only take place if faculty in all disciplines have integrated their own Christian commitments into their self-understanding of community, identify, responsibility, and knowledge. Only then can they properly serve as mentors to students who will one day become wise actors in their chosen field of study.
Professor of Law
Univeristy of St. Thomas (MN)
My presentation will make three central points:
1) That the consideration of principles is more likely to lead to wisdom than the consideration of rules.
2) That within the field of law, principles can be readily identified which may lead to moments of wisdom.
3) The skill of discerning and applying principles within the practice of law can and should be taught within law schools.
Perhaps more than other professions, law is saddled with an avalanche of rules. Statutes, of course, are rules, but the codes of ethics used in most jurisdictions are also merely a set of rules, primarily chronicling what one should not do.
Rules, at least of this sort, rarely relate to wisdom, which has much more to do with making tough discretionary choices when neither option is prohibited (or even, at times, choosing to violate the human law in favor of natural law). If we educate students only in rules and the positive law, it is at the cost of any chance that we will inculcate wisdom. This loss is particularly tragic in the field of law, where attorneys are called on to counsel individuals and corporations in decision-making - an enterprise that would particularly benefit from wisdom on the part of the attorney.
The distinction between rules and principles in this context is not divorced from what can be learned from the Christian faith. Christ was asked which of the laws was most important. In response, he did not choose one of those rules, or say that they were all important. Instead, he gave us the Two Great Commandments, which do more than any rule. Instead of prohibiting negative behavior, they promote positive behavior; instead of being limited to a given context, they are universally applicable; and the study of and obedience to these Commandments is a more likely road to wisdom than the mere memorization of rules.
Using the Two Great Commandments as a template for the shift from rules to principles (and moving towards wisdom), I would explore how this idea would impact legal teaching and practice. What principles should guide the practitioner, and how can these principles be taught?
My answers to these queries are concrete. There are principles which can be discerned in the context of law, and the process of discernment ultimately rests with the practitioner. In challenging our students to engage in this process, practical exercises are a useful tool.
For example, consider the role of prosecutor. A simple rule-follower would take the prosecutor's job to be simply bringing to punishment all those who violate the rules. In real life, however, this isn't possible: we have neither the resources nor the will to punish everyone who breaks any law. Instead, prosecutors use discretion to choose the cases to pursue. What principle should guide her in doing this? One answer might be that the prosecutor should focus on cases that will solve a definable and ongoing problem. With that razor in place, wisdom may come to the fore as the meaning of that principle is applied to hard decisions. As a teacher, I can put my students in exercises where exactly these questions are raised, and lead them in their initial foray into the intentional use of applied principle.
This analysis, of course, is not limited to law, but it may be the field of law which most clearly yearns for wisdom.
Adam C. Pelser
Visiting Assistant Professor
University of Oklahoma
Wisdom is not merely an intellectual excellence or epistemic good. Wisdom is, rather, an excellence of the whole human person. The wise person not only understands how to live well and appreciates the value of a well-lived life, she also lives accordingly. As Plato and Aristotle famously observed, living well (i.e., wisely) involves both virtuous actions and virtuous emotions. Indeed, the wise person is one who experiences emotions toward the right objects, at the right time, and to the right degree. The Judeo-Christian tradition likewise affirms that wisdom essentially involves virtuous emotions and emotion-dispositions. As expressed by the Hebrew Psalmist, "the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom" (Psalm 111:10).
Far from being a non-cognitive, purely affective aspect of human experience as it is often thought to be, however, emotion is an informative kind of mental state, a kind of evaluative perception. Through emotions such as indignation, fear, amusement, and awe we can perceive and come to understand (indeed, to know) what is unjust, dangerous, funny, and sublime. Without emotion we would be unable fully to appreciate the evil of injustices, the threat of dangerous environments, the funniness of good jokes, and the sublimity of the heavens. Without emotion, we are, as C.S. Lewis famously warned we might become through bad education, people "without chests."
To educate for wisdom is, in part, to contribute to the formation of students' emotional sensitivities, to help form and guide their passions, to strengthen their chests (and not merely their heads). Just as we can train our sense perceptual capacities to become more adept at their various functions, so too we can train our emotional sensitivities to become more adept at perceiving the multitude of complex and often subtle evaluative properties in the world. We can train ourselves to 'see' the suffering of others through the eyes of compassion, to become angry at significant injustices (and only at significant injustices), to take pleasure in that which is truly beautiful, to find amusing that and only that which is truly funny, and to feel appropriately remorseful for our moral failures.
After developing and defending this theoretical backdrop, I will explore some teaching techniques aimed at forming the hearts of students. Here I will rely on some recent work in the psychology of emotions. The phenomenon of emotional contagion, for example, suggests an important, and often neglected, role of professors as emotionally wise exemplars for the emotional formation of students. Along the way I will also consider the prospects and perils of educating for emotional wisdom in twenty-first century universities in light of the far-reaching distrust of any claim to be able to perceive objective goodness, truth, or beauty, especially through a means as 'subjective' as emotions.
Ph.D. Candidate, English
Charlotte Temple, a sentimentalist novel by Susanna Rowson wildly popular in the early years of the United States' nationhood, relates the unfortunate tale of a woman who was tricked into an illicit relationship, brought from England to America, then abandoned by a salacious young man and left to die after giving birth to their child. Nathaniel Hawthorne's "My Kinsman Major Molineux," a short story in the mode of bildungsroman, retrospectively imagines the life of a young man caught up in the late eighteenth-century dilemma of whether to embrace life as an American revolutionary or to remain a loyal British subject. Frederick Douglass's moving autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, gives the personal account of a slave who found his way to freedom in slave-holding America. As different as these three stories are, they all emphasize reading as a means of gaining the kind of self-awareness thought necessary for living the good life in antebellum America.
Rowson shows the importance of reading by insinuating that if her heroine would have read a book like she is writing, she would have been able to avoid her deflowering, abandonment, and death. Even more directly, she claims that young women readers who do read her text can learn to detect deceit that would endanger them by taking heed to the calamities that beset Charlotte's life. Hawthorne shows how young Robin avoids being deflowered by a whore in the city by remembering the stories his father read from the Bible and how his experience results in a new relation to the world by comparing his new situation in the city with what he has heard or read as the son of a country clergyman. Frederick Douglass credits reading with first giving him psychological freedom from slavery that led to his eventual physical emancipation. In a young democracy struggling to achieve self-identity, the struggles of these three individuals within that fledgling nation illustrate the necessity of self-awareness in a culture trying to define itself by its people.
In all three narratives, reading either contributes directly to one's self-awareness or has the potential to do so. And it is this self-awareness, particularly within a democracy where individual rights and freedoms are being emphasized, that enables - or, in the case of Rowson's narrative, would have enabled - these characters to adapt to their new environments. The wisdom made available through such reading offers to guard against isolation and abandonment in a self-defining nation, to assist in understanding and adapting to new experiences made available by such a nation, and to free one from the mental and physical slavery which contradicts the purported ideals "of the people" and the national rhetoric associated with such ideals. The answers to the questions and uncertainties faced by the people of a more individualist society are not easy ones, these three texts suggest, but reading contributes to one's ability to make wise decisions.
Gregory S. Poore
Doctoral Student, Philosophy
This paper will explore Wendell Berry's understanding of wisdom and consider some of its implications for education. It will focus on a few of his themes that are particularly relevant, such as human finitude and the importance of place, community, and imagination. I draw from several of Berry's published works and from a personal interview I had with him a few years ago.
Chair, Dept. of Religion
La Academia: The Partnership Charter School
Over the last half century, Westerners have developed a fascination with the religions and philosophies of South Asian and East Asian countries. Eastern ideas have entered Western thought both directly - through such venues as comparative religious studies taught in institutions of higher learning - and indirectly, through cultural phenomena such as mass media presentations (i.e., the '70s "Kung Fu" television series and such films as "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"), the "New Age Movement," and the like. Studies such as Jane Iwamura's "The Oriental Monk in American Popular Culture" have explored this topic in depth. It is the belief of a growing segment of Western populations that wisdom - in the sense of meaningful religious and philosophical concepts that impart a knowledge of truth and rightness - comes from the East, while street-level pragmatism is the only contribution the West makes to the modern world.
It may be assumed that such a dichotomy will grow increasingly pronounced in the future. The nation of China, by all accounts, is the newest up-and-coming superpower. So we may well ask the following: as the Chinese become increasingly influential during the 21st century both politically and economically, will their multi-layered spiritual dimension be just as globally influential? Might their synthesized combination of Daoist-Confucianist-Buddhist thinking become the "vogue" in Western media and university curricula, to the extent of becoming a significant part or even the foundation of a 21st century worldview? Will it be "Eastern wisdom" that is imparted to students in the West?
Or will influence move in the opposite direction? Will the "cultural imperialism" of the West - the "Coca-cola-ization" and "McDonaldization" of Eastern societies in conjunction with the rapid growth of TESOL education in many East Asian countries - result in the Westernization and secularization of China? And if this indeed becomes the case, what are the implications of such a mass secularization for both the sending and the receiving societies?
If the spiritual and philosophical characteristics of Chinese society come west, will it not then become necessary to impart wisdom - both to the population in general and to students in particular - regarding how to evaluate the various types of "wisdom" that are extant in the modern world (i.e., "Western wisdom" versus "Eastern wisdom")? Will it not be necessary to help Western students develop criteria for distinguishing between what true wisdom would be as opposed to systems of thought that exhibit only "an appearance of wisdom" (to quote the apostle Paul in Colossians 2:23)?
If the secularization of the West, however, moves eastward, then is it not incumbent upon educators in the West to discover and implement ways of exporting the aspects of Western culture that would be considered marks of wisdom rather than the purely materialistic and sense-appealing dregs of Western culture that offer nothing more than commercial or sensual "value?"
In dealing with the issues outlined above, this essay will seek to explicate the following:
1. Thoughts concerning the direction that influence may be said to be chiefly going at this point in time and in the future: East to West, or West to East, or a combination of the two;
2. The aspects of Chinese Daoist-Confucianist-Buddhist "wisdom" that are and will be the most attractive to Westerners;
3. The means by which this "wisdom" is being and will be disseminated in Western societies;
4. Ways in which Western educators can develop in students "wisdom concerning the various wisdoms" that exist in the modern world;
5. Criteria for the development of a basis (or bases) according to which one may judge the different kinds of "wisdom" available in the modern world.
Dean of Library Services
Chair, Dept. of Religion
All would agree that the Western world has been highly influenced by the Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam). Of these three, Christianity has certainly been the most significant in shaping Western intellectual culture. Indeed, during the high Middle Ages, Christian theology was considered to be the "queen of the sciences."
It is noteworthy, then, that the historic Christian faith has always rooted itself in "God-breathed scriptures" - i.e., in writings - that are "useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness." At the very beginning of Genesis we find "...the book (Hebrew scper) of the generations of Adam ..." (5:1). In Exodus comes a specific command from God to write (Hebrew katab) when "... the Lord said to Moses, 'Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it..." (17:14). We also find in Exodus the ultimate form of writing: "When the Lord finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, He gave him the two tablets of the Testimony, the tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God" (31:18). Words, written down in books, were the heart and soul of Old Testament religion.
When it comes to the New Testament, we find that it is comprised entirely of letters written to churches or individuals along with treatises and narratives that provided both historical records and doctrinal teaching. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, James, Peter and Jude: all of these individuals - from fishermen to rabbi - were convinced of the necessity of written words. Indeed, Paul demonstrated his preoccupation with books when he instructed Timothy "When you come, bring...my scrolls, especially the parchments..." (2 Timothy 4:13).
Books, then - and the words that comprise books - are the linchpin of the Christian religious system. And written words, therefore, are the legacy that Christianity has left to the Western world.
Images, on the other hand - pictures, statues, and other kinds of graphical representations - were and are seen by a large number - perhaps even a majority - of the adherents of the Abrahamic faiths as problematic. Images are forbidden by the Old Testament Mosaic Law: "You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them..." (Exodus 20:4). For some this prohibition applies both to the making and to the worshiping of images, while for others it forbids only the worship of them. Nevertheless, images are items that must be "handled with care" - if one deals with them at all.
The emphasis given to the written word and the de-emphasis upon images leads to the following question which is the focal point of this essay: can godly wisdom be imparted or received through modern image-based media as effectively and as productively as God intended when He commanded that His words be written down and forbade images?
The authors explore Christianity's characterization of "words" both in textual form as well as in incarnate form, followed by a discussion of the implications of this characterization in the culture of modern media. Questions such as the following will be addressed:
1. What is the prognosis for the future of such emphases in societies that are increasingly characterized by graphics-based media as opposed to text-based literacy?
2. What, if anything, is lost in a media-based literacy?
3. How are critical thinking and cognitive processes-both of which are encouraged by the Bible-affected by a digital environment?
4. How are credibility and authority maintained when the playing fields of knowledge and wisdom are leveled for both novice and expert?
5. And in an increasingly graphics-based culture, will the purveyors of Christianity be able to maintain the richness of their past literary emphases and, if so, how might this be done?
Professor of English
University of St. Thomas
"I simply cannot read this book. It's wrong. Why are you having us read this?" Two students in my English senior seminar on "Myth and Magical Realism" asked this question about two different books. "Because my colleagues and I have spent the last four years helping you develop knowledge and judgment. These novels offer opportunities to take steps towards wisdom," I replied. The two novels in question admittedly raise complex, painful issues. The female narrator of the first, Louise Erdrich's The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse, assumes the identity of a Roman Catholic priest to minister to the Native American community of Anishinaabeg. The second, Keri Hulme's New Zealand novel The Bone People, brings together three characters: a mute orphaned child called Simon, his abusive foster father, Joe, and an isolated artist, Kerewin. For the first student, it was clear that a woman simply could not function as a priest. For the second, it was equally clear that an abuser could not love the child he was abusing. Knowledge and judgment precluded these young English majors from seeing any possibility of wisdom in these texts.
Wisdom enables us to embrace the messiness of life. While grounded in knowledge, it is not the same as knowledge, nor is it merely the accumulation of extensive knowledge. It involves judgment, but is not the same as being judgmental. Rather, wisdom is a capacious perspective that unflinchingly accepts reality in all its paradoxes, and recognizes that good and evil often coexist in the same person or event. Such a perspective is developed over time, through either personal or vicarious experiences, which is why it is generally associated with age and experience. Perhaps this is one reason why attempts to teach "wisdom" to traditionally-aged undergraduate students so often result in frustration for everyone involved. Yet we want students of all ages to practice the kinds of soul-stretching that prepares us to adopt such a perspective and to experience some of the component elements in becoming open to wisdom. Drawing on the work of Martha Nussbaum and Karen Armstrong, I argue that literary art - and especially literary art that draws on a combination of myth and magical realism - offers valuable opportunities for such stretching by engaging readers imaginatively in problematic experiences.
The two contemporary novels mentioned above unfold three intersecting yet distinct pathways to wisdom. The first pathway is the conventional mythic journey - physical but primarily spiritual - that readers often associate with classical narratives. Several specific elements mark the mythic western literary journey towards wisdom: it begins in despair and intensifies with a confrontation with death. The movement through this despair is facilitated by a shaman figure who transcends the limits of time, providing a connection with ancestors and their cumulative wisdom. These two novels present these elements of ancient journeys in contemporary settings, thereby challenging readers to engage with the timeless and communal aspects of wisdom in the face of human mortality.
The second pathway is through a deep engagement with both divine and human creativity, and especially the arts (music, painting, sculpture, architecture, writing, jewelry, and language). Wisdom comes in part through a humble recognition of the magnificence of the divinely created world and its mirroring in the humanly created arts. Pianos and guitars, towers and spirals, rosaries and stones, carvings of madonnas and rahuis feature prominently in both novels not only as art objects, but as powers that can move us towards wisdom.
The third is the essential role of love in achieving a perspective of wisdom. While both novels insist on multiple pathways to wisdom, above all what they present as the goal of the journey, whether travelled through daily actions or a crisis of despair, is an understanding of the universe that is marked by love. Love takes us back to the problem that my students found insurmountable, for these novels identify love in places where my students resisted perceiving it: in a physically abusive parent/child relationship and in the ministry of a woman priest. This is what makes love "appalling," to quote Erdrich: it does not fit neatly into our knowledge or our judgments. Wisdom invites us to perceive and embrace love's powerful and even paradoxical manifestations where we suppose it cannot exist.
Azusa Pacific University
The ancients considered wisdom to be an important virtue and Christians are urged by St. Paul to pursue it. Wisdom has often been seen as the proper use of knowledge, the utilization of a uniquely moral grammar or as a disposition that radiates sagacity, discernment and insight, among others. Neurobiological inquiries through functional neuroimaging might conclude that wisdom involves optimal balance between functions of phylogenetically more primitive brain regions (limbic system) and newer ones (prefrontal cortex). More pragmatic perspectives could align wisdom with means that help secure projected ends while alternate reflections may suggest wisdom to be an unquantifiable reality, an unarticulated constituent that is the basis for discourse within specific conceptual schemes or theoretical frameworks. In addition to the foregoing observations it seems extremely problematic to define or measure wisdom due to a persisting trend in institutions of higher learning; that of equating wisdom with empirically verifiable methods, knowledge acquisition or worse, as the perfection of a particular techne. As such, I agree with Nicholas Maxwell that what is desperately needed in our universities is a "revolution in the aims and methods of academic inquiry" if we are to experience the recovery of wisdom.
This paper, first and foremost, will delineate wisdom in a minimal way, in terms of what it at least is, rather than in terms of what it actually is in a comprehensive or exhaustive way. The former project will provide a plausibility structure for dialogue with an elevated consciousness and awareness of the non-extensive nature of the undertaking reserving a rightful sense of mystery that is clearly needed. The latter project if undertaken will have overlooked our cognitive boundaries and therefore our necessarily limited vision in any given inquiry. Although I will elucidate wisdom is Aristotelian terms, as knowing why things are a certain way (understanding of causes) rather than merely knowing that things are a certain way, I will not limit myself to his analysis. Wisdom seems to further and more importantly entail the ability to see knowledge in an integrated and interconnected sense, a unified vision than transcends phenomenal observation or controlled experimentation. It's a perspective in which the various pursuits and disciplines of the university or academy converge and coalesce to embody a luminous unity generating foresight and understanding.
Secondly, I will contend that this unified vision or wisdom within the Universities waned as the sciences not only gained preeminence but became the ideal for the other disciplines to emulate. From the inception of the scientific method to the conventional language of physics and the quantum world that purportedly lies beneath, the paradigmatic boundaries and structured value of science in representing reality with objective precision has become the epitome of academic excellence. Unfortunately, this disposition overlooks the lack of any intrinsic connection between method which is inferential without necessarily being referential and the non-epistemic nature of truth. While satisfaction of a given theory by the rules of method might warrant acceptance of the theory, it is not thereby truth conferring since its reliability or confirmation does not exemplify nor explain why it conduces to truth in a non-epistemic sense. Furthermore, the preceding view of science does not take into consideration the institutional and highly complex social character of scientific pursuits. Even the current wave of excitement and aggressive promotion of string theory at the expense of other theoretical pursuits within physics can be seen as a political rather than an academic battle within the universities. However, this need not be cause for alarm. It should rather bring clarity to the fact that the edifice of science is one among other disciplines and advances its cause by academic as well as non-academic means; it should therefore be afforded the same reverence granted to the existing non-science disciplines within academia being limited and tradition constituted in similar ways.
I will conclude that the displacement of science as the ideal due to the disciplinary constraints and the inevitable social-political influences it cannot transcend will provide a more integrated and comprehensive picture thereby restoring wisdom to its rightful place. Approaching the various disciplines, including science, as self-verifying methodologies and historically contingent narratives engaged in an internal dialogue within the constraints of terms and definitions that are systemic in scope will dictate a more interdependent conceptual scheme. While providing the variables within the specific disciplines the needed structural objectivity this view will necessitate the need to converge with other narratives for a unified vision, resulting in what wisdom, in the least should be.
Todd C. Ream
Associate Professor of Humanities and Senior Scholar for Faith and Scholarship
John Wesley Honors College / Indiana Wesleyan University
Perry L. Glanzer
Associate Professor, School of Education
In 1975, William B. Eerdmans published The Idea of a Christian College by Arthur F. Holmes, a noted philosophy professor at Wheaton College. Neither Arthur nor officials at Eerdmans could have guessed this book would be in print 35 years later and have enlisted such a large following. Countless numbers of first-year students have read and discussed this book as part of their introduction to the Christian college experience. Some faculty members still require this book in settings such as orientation groups and first-year seminars.
In 1987, a revised edition of the book was offered as a way of introducing some needed material - chapters concerning the relationship the liberal arts share with career preparation and the marks or definitive qualities of an educated person. Otherwise, the version published 35 years ago remains in print unchanged. The insights Arthur initially offered are still received by an appreciative and eager audience. However, enough has changed in both the Church and academe to leave even some of the book's most faithful supporters eager to see a full-scale reexamination.
What we do in this paper is to outline a reexamination of The Idea of a Christian College in the light of recent scholarly contributions which have transformed discussions currently taking place concerning Christian higher education. In particular, we would like to focus on two-the increased importance placed upon ecclesiology and philosophical anthropology.
In simple terms, the emphasis placed upon ecclesiology has focused upon worship's rightful place in orienting our lives. Through particular worship practices such as baptism, communion, and the reading of God's Word, the Church introduces us to a definitive set of commitments that then help us to interpret and live the rest of our lives. As Stanley Hauerwas mentions in his memoir Hannah's Child, the Church teaches us that our lives depend "on learning to worship God" (William B. Eerdmans, 2010, p. 159). Everything else we do as Christians is an extension of our willingness to learn such lessons. What would the idea of a Christian college thus look like if it were an extension of these lessons?
In addition, the new emphasis upon philosophical anthropology will reflect contributions made by scholars seeking to enlarge or, in some cases, simply de-throne the modernist impulse to reduce human beings to mere thinking selves or to selves divorced from our God-given identities. The Church is more than just a place where cognitive debates over doctrine occur or a place where we talk about values in general. The Church, as an expression of the Kingdom of God, exemplifies what it means for God to lay claim over all domains of our existence-our minds, our bodies, and our emotions, as well as what it means in specific divine and social relationships.
In reality, learning to worship God makes demands upon what it means for us to uman in the largest and most all-encompassing terms possible. In What is a Person?, Christian Smith contends few of us would find theories of personhood in the social sciences to be reflective of "what we understand about ourselves as people. Something about them fails to capture our deep subjective experience as persons, crucial dimensions of the richness of our own lives, what thinkers in previous ages might have called our 'hearts' and 'souls'" (The University of Chicago Press, 2010, pp. 2-3). What would the idea of a Christian college thus look like if it reflected an understanding of human personhood that considers every dimension of our personhood?
As a result, what we argue in our reexamination is that the Christian college is a setting where the impulse to allow God to lay claim over all domains of our existence means that the cultivation of wisdom, not simply the acquisition of knowledge, is the end of our common existence. Knowledge, while important, is merely the base level of expertise within a profession or life. Wisdom pertains to that special form of knowledge that comes from years of practice within a profession or life as a whole. For Christians, it grants us a vision of why and how knowledge is to be put to use in all areas of our lives. In such an environment, students and educators (curricular and co-curricular alike) join together in an effort to fully appreciate what it means to offer our lives as expressions of worship of God.
Assistant Professor of Practical Theology and Director of Spiritual Formation
George W. Truett Theological Seminary, Baylor University
Contemporary universities are filled with emerging adults who are engaged in intense personal quests. They are searching to find themselves and to discover what they will commit their lives to. Universities provide resources and support to students who seek careers that match their skills and talents. This kind of support is certainly critical, but it does not fully address a deeper dimension of the quest. Emerging adults are searching for more than a body of knowledge or even a degree that will gain them entrance into the field of their choice. They are on a quest for wisdom, a kind of wisdom that guides them toward wholeness so that they may live out their full potential as human beings. In our culture, this kind of wisdom is closely akin to what many call "spirituality." By some estimates, around 75% of emerging adults do not find organized religion helpful in their journey of self-understanding. These same individuals who might call themselves "spiritual but not religious" fill our classrooms with their wondering curiosity.
This state of affairs leads us to ponder several questions. What is (and is not) the role of a university that embraces both Christian faith and academic study in the personal quests of students? How are we to respond to the contemporary search for a kind of spiritual wisdom that is hard to define and harder to locate? What resources of the historic Christian tradition can we embrace which might enable us to better direct our students? How can a faculty member in sociology, a resident chaplain, a career counselor, or a fellow student accompany others on the search for wisdom?
This paper will explore these questions by beginning and ending with a brief case study and by drawing on a practical theological framework. First, we will consider a short overview of the contemporary spiritual milieu with the help of Wade Clark Roof in order to better understand the spiritual wisdom that many students seek. Second, we will explore the historical Christian tradition of spiritual guidance or direction, drawing on a few key figures such as the Apostle Paul and Julian of Norwich and identifying characteristics that are especially well-suited to the questing nature of our time. Some of these characteristics include learning to listen, embracing mystery, attending to God's presence in everyday life, the role of soul friends in the quest, and discerning participation in God's call to serve the world. We will ultimately consider the argument that true spiritual wisdom values self-discovery but such wisdom cannot end in the self. Wisdom in the Christian tradition of spiritual guidance also incorporates community and mission. Third, we will explore practical suggestions for providing spiritual guidance to students within various roles in the university context.
Daniel E. Ritchie
Professor of English
Our proposal inquires into the wisest ways of imparting a global perspective to students in the 21st-century university.
One of the most striking areas of growth in the university over the last decade is the rise of programs, departments, or institutes identified with "global citizenship." Over two-thirds of the top 50 U.S. News & World Report universities and over half of the top 25 liberal arts colleges have such programs. In the 29 for which we found starting dates, only three were launched before 2001.
A number of these are excellent study abroad programs or simply new names for older (often distinguished) "international studies" programs. Our concern is not with these. It is with the theory underlying the movement toward global citizenship in the university.
The dozens of books, chapters, and articles we have surveyed on global citizenship, from Martha Nussbaum and David Held through Nigel Dower and Luis Cabrera, nearly all begin their moral inquiry from a set of highly abstract principles. This may appear to be "wisdom that comes down from above" in the development of a global perspective on justice, community, and our common humanity. However, we have been struck by the theorists' lack of interest in actual political communities in real nation states. Nations are merely "contingent" in their thinking. They believe we can become global citizens without a country.
*Questions our paper will raise*
With the help of a summer grant, our research has highlighted several questions:
- How can these theories avoid Gnosticism if they consider "accidental" the embodied customs of actual societies?
- Many of the proponents of global citizenship couch their theory in opposition to the policies of the United States after 9/11. Can a wise global perspective be sustained on this basis?
- Global citizenship finds much of its practical expression in NGOs and IGOs (such as the UN). But although its advocates have much to say about the corruption of nations, why is their theory relatively silent on the shortcomings of these organizations?
*Our alternative: global sympathy arising from local affections*
Our proposal is to reverse that phrase from the Epistle of James and seek the global "wisdom that comes up from below." It begins in the affection one has for the good practices in one's own culture and spreads out, in sympathy, to analogous customs, habits, and institutions in the actual practices of other cultures.
Although we will acknowledge current critics of global citizenship (e.g., David Miller), our focus will be on the record of Edmund Burke (1730-97). Burke's last dozen years in Parliament were dominated by his attempts to reform the East India Company and impeach its Governor-General, Warren Hastings.
Among those who had never traveled to India, Burke was one of the most "multicultural" Europeans of his era. His study of India's Muslim and Hindu cultures was deep - not entirely accurate by modern standards, but as painstaking as possible in his day.
According to the best recent scholarship, Burke's approach is almost the opposite of what the "orientalist" critique would predict. Rather than viewing India as an inferior, exotic, or threatening "other," Burke made his India "comprehensible to British audiences by incorporating it into the world in which they themselves lived." He did this through analogies between British culture and the cultures of India.
For example, Burke opened his house to the only high-caste Brahmin visitor to 18th-century England, Humund Rao, so that he could prepare his meals and carry on his life in accordance with Hindu requirements. Burke's affection for Anglican practices and English social life helped him sympathize with this culturally different man. On issue after issue Burke carried this sympathy - extending to Hindu and Muslim civilizations - into the debates and pamphlets that convinced the public that any intervention in India's affairs must ultimately benefit the Indians themselves. Burke's rhetoric begins by analogy and affinity. It ends in appeals to natural law, providence, and a common human nature.
The order is significant - and significantly different from that of most advocates of global citizenship. It begins in embodied custom, not abstraction; its global affections are an outgrowth of local ones; and it maintains a clear-eyed acknowledgment of human failure.
Evan Christopher Rosa
Talbot School of Theology
The resurgence of virtue in twentieth-century ethical theory offers a propitious opportunity to educate and form a society steeped in advancing technology by extending the wisdom of classical moral education into applied technological ethics.
I suggest that an Aristotelian eudaimonistic framework best explains the formative nature of technology in the pursuit of human flourishing, particularly by contrasting two competing ordering principles of the soul, the virtue of phronesis and the technological disposition. I offer an ethical analysis of pharmacological behavior modification as an illustration of this application. And I argue that individuals and communities experience the good of technology only to the extent that our technological attitude is developed as subordinate to phronesis.
Phronesis is a disposition of overall guiding moral wisdom, a deliberative and calculative rationality concerned with action; it is the highest good in the realm of human rational-moral activity. Technology, following Ellul and Heidegger, is a state of human rational mastery of their natural environment, by which technical-rational control is achievable from a disposition in the technician to use his resources well. It is commonly held in the philosophy of technology that particular technologies are value-neutral: ethical evaluation is dependent solely on the intentions of technicians. Even so, the human technological disposition is deeply formative of our souls - as makers and as users, collectively as we adopt certain technological practices and attitudes.
Is the technological disposition of modern biotechnology inconsistent with a disposition of phronesis? If it is an essential conceptual inconsistency that is in question, the answer is no. Phronesis is for deliberation about those actions that best promote the human good. This may very well include the use of certain technologies in many circumstances. In fact, it appears that man's phronetic and technological dispositions must be consistent, insofar as certain technologies are kinds of moral actions, which is just what phronesis is concerned with. If there is any conflict between phronesis and a technological disposition, I suggest that it has to do with (1) the appropriate hierarchy and internal ordering of our ends, and (2) the external practices that, by habituation and community adoption, serve to form our souls and our actions. The technological disposition (because it is so inclined toward mastery and environmental control), if not rightly ordered as subordinate to a honed and practiced phronesis, cannot but occupy a position of dominance over the entirety of the human telos. It is phronesis, prescriptive over human action for the sake of eudaimonia, which contributes to order, and therefore, goodness, in human technological action.
Techniques in biotechnology are instructive here since humanity is not only the agent but also the subject. As Leon Kass has commented, "technology now works on the technologist, on man himself." In cases of pharmacological behavior modification (e.g., use of Ritalin to treat ADHD), chemical technology is employed in an attempt to control a given subject's will or appetite, ultimately to condition the subject's actions toward a desired end. This is a paradigmatic case for eudaimonistic analysis, in which the technological disposition in the conditioning agent(s) is offered as an alternative to the disposition of phronesis in the subject. That is, technology acts as a surrogate for moral formation. This leads to moral-psychological disorder on three counts. First, the agency and psychological integrity of the subject are threatened-casting doubt over the value of such treatment to make the subject's life morally better. Second, the agency and psychological integrity of the biotechnological agent (i.e., researcher, prescribing doctor, or parent) are called into question-what kind of and how much control is appropriate for one individual to exert over another? Third, the order of the community that undergirds both the endeavors of biotechnology and moral education is in question-modern humanity's technological disposition has created new problems for moral development among members of technological communities.
Eudaimonism's metaphysical and teleological resources for understanding moral agents and their formation offer a uniquely powerful perspective on these moral-psychological problems. The ordering of phronesis over technology is the key factor in promoting human flourishing in technological society.
Professor of Urban Studies
Warner Pacific College
For almost 10 years now I have been teaching a course on wisdom, "Wisdom: Its Acquisition and Practice," at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. At both levels the course has served as the capstone course for several majors: Sociology, Urban Studies, and the Masters in Urban Economic Development.
For years I have recognized the reality that schools do a great disservice to students if all they do is to give them knowledge, and not wisdom. The greatest evil in the world today is perpetrated not by stupid people, but by very smart and intelligent people, who use their knowledge for selfish pursuits. Everyday the media are replete with such accounts. But what is lacking in all these endeavors is wisdom - insight for the widest common good.
In this paper I propose to show how this course got started and how I go about teaching wisdom in the classroom. One caveat: wisdom cannot be taught; it can only be caught. A copy of my latest syllabus will be made available as a handout. This is a practical session on how to do it.
Because this course is not coming out of the Philosophy department but out of Sociology and Urban Studies departments it takes a more practical approach. The chief question that I ask my students at the capstone senior/graduate level course is this: "Now that you have gained all of this knowledge, how do you intend on using it? If we just let you graduate with all this knowledge and not give you the wisdom as to how to best use this knowledge, we will not have served you well." Because of the nature of the subject matter, the course builds on a foundation of ethics.
I have taught this course at three different institutions: Eastern University in Philadelphia as part of the sociology and graduate program in urban economic development; at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, CT as part of the Sociology Department; and currently at Warner Pacific College in Portland, OR, as the capstone course for Urban Studies.
Glenn E. Sanders
Professor of History
Oklahoma Baptist University
What might a college education for wisdom look like from the perspective of undergraduate students?
One way to answer is to ask the students themselves to address the question directly and systematically.
A college's official statements normally distill some institutional concern that students grow in some form of wisdom, even if these statements omit the term or concept. Goals for learning, campus atmosphere, and public service prescribe how students should gain wisdom within a particular institutional setting. Such prescriptions are only the dreams of teachers and administrators, however, unless students can actually indicate a positive effect.
"But wisdom is proved right by all her children" (Luke 7:35, NIV). The proof of acquired wisdom is a well-lived life-something obviously beyond four years of undergraduate education. Developmental theory suggests that, while the formative explorations of emerging adults may count as a type of wisdom, the virtue may really be appropriate only for later stages (Parks, Big Questions, Worthy Dreams, 34-126; Fowler, Becoming Adult, Becoming Christian, 14-61). Nonetheless, Stephen S. Hall is correct when he says that "one of the most appealing things about wisdom is the elevated form of self-awareness it inspires. . . . Thinking about wisdom almost inevitably inspires you to think about yourself and your relationship with the larger world. With diligence (and luck), it might make you think about how both can be made better" (Wisdom, 18).
In late August 2011 I will start twice weekly meetings with an honors colloquium of fifteen students on the subject "Is Wisdom Possible?" The culmination of the colloquium will be attendance at the Baylor conference in late October. Should the program committee think it appropriate, I would like the students to make a panel presentation of their conclusions.
My goal for the colloquium is to create the richest possible environment for students to reach concrete conclusions about an undergraduate education for wisdom. I presently plan to include the following approaches:
- regular devotional exercises that appeal to silence and solitude, active listening, prayer, singing, meditation, and service as means for focusing on wisdom and its acquisition;
- historical representations of wisdom from literature and art;
- the division of the colloquium into five work teams responsible for beginning the colloquium's deliberations by looking closely at different key concerns:
--general definitions of wisdom;
--biological and psychological foundations of wisdom;
--biblical teachings on wisdom (given the mission and identity of the school);
--both past and present philosophical explorations of wisdom;
--practical wisdom in select professions;
- the inclusion of ideas from colleagues on the nature of wisdom and an education in it, as a way of drawing upon the collective experiences and insights of the college community.
I cannot yet tell what ideas or approaches the students would emphasize in a conference presentation. Primarily junior and senior students, their views on education for wisdom will likely draw on their experiences at our school and their discussions and readings in colloquium. Initial conversations with half of the participants last spring suggested a range of topics as possible:
- pre-conditions for an education for wisdom (high school preparation);
- recommendations for the formal curriculum;
- recommendations for co-curricular programs and emphases;
- exploration and evaluation of the current institutional mission in light of an education for wisdom, with recommendations;
- recommendations for emotional "training" for wisdom (attention to sentiments and virtues);
- recommendations for an environment or ethos conducive to an education for wisdom, including its intentionality in building strong communities, good habits, and strong friendships.
Although the colloquium will plan to attend the October conference in any case, the opportunity to present their perspectives on an education for wisdom would strongly encourage the students in their efforts and would focus their work. In addition, I hope to set up meetings with acquaintances at the conference to discuss cogent topics with the students in greater depth. A colleague from Union University, Justin Barnard plans to bring a group of undergraduates to the conference as well. We have tentatively planned for his group to join ours for the session with conference colleagues.
Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, University of Virginia
The American Christian philosopher Theodore Meyer Greene (1897-1969), who taught for long periods at Princeton and Yale, was among the influential Kant scholars of his era. More importantly, he was one of the leading contributors to national dialogue about the purpose of liberal arts education in the United States during the mid-twentieth century. His ideas about the liberal arts were grounded in his Christian convictions and shaped by the theological climate of his time. Historians, however, have scarcely examined Greene's work and influence. This paper will expound Greene's ideas about educating for wisdom through liberal arts in their historical context and explore their significance for the 21st century.
Greene's most important work on liberal arts education came in the early 1940s when he served as the chair and chief visionary of the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) committee on the goals of liberal education in a democracy. He was lead author of the committee's book-length report, Liberal Education Re-examined: Its Role in a Democracy (1943). Greene argued that democracy and liberal education should both be means to the end of the good life characterized by the search for truth, goodness, and beauty. He particularly emphasized the concept of intrinsic values, even defining the good life as "the richest possible participation in intrinsic values."
This emphasis on the importance of intrinsic values for liberal arts education placed Greene in a broader philosophical stream concerning the concept of value and one of its prominent tributaries. The broader stream was characterized by the new centrality of the concept of value in Western philosophy after Kant. The work of Nietzsche and Weber moved value further into the spotlight. It became a central framework for American thought in the 1910s, particularly with the writings of Ralph Barton Perry.
John Dewey's work on value constituted a tributary of this larger stream. Greene's position on intrinsic values implicitly countered the ideas of Dewey, the most influential American philosopher of the early 20th century whose views had special importance for the philosophy of education. In later works such as "Christianity and its Secular Alternatives" (1946) and "The Basic Tenets of a Liberal Christian Theology" (1949), Greene attacked Dewey more directly and made his case for objective values that could be discerned and experienced by an intellect properly honed through the liberal arts.
Greene's intrinsic values-centered framework for liberal arts education had several implications, two of which are of particular concern for this paper. One is Greene's understanding of how allegiance to intrinsic values should motivate and direct vocational and professional activities. The other, which focuses directly on the notion of wisdom, reflects Greene's belief that liberal arts education grounded in intrinsic values sets as one of its most important goals teaching the student to "evaluate wisely." These implications will guide our discussion of the importance of Greene's thought for the future.
Joel A. Schwartz
In an age where education is often reduced to regurgitation and test results, I believe that we need to return to an education of the whole person. We need to be concerned with helping each individual student reach his/her respective fullness as a human person, each one's telos. While many would agree with that statement, how exactly does one bring that about? In this paper, I will explain the personalism of Karol Wojtyla, drawing on his understanding of the connections between the good of the individual, the good of interpersonal relationships, and the common good. Using the connections between these different categorizations of the good, I will discuss the intimate relationship that Wojtyla sees between the good and the telos of human persons. I will then argue the education should engage each of these goods in order to help each student reach his/her own respective telos, using examples from my experience in the classroom both as a teacher and a student.
A key component of Wojtyla's personalism is the directive of the participants toward the Good. He explains this Good through categorizing three perspectives on the Good. The first good is the good of the individual human person, that is, the good that is the telos of the individual. This good respects the uniqueness of the individual, celebrating that particular instantiation of what it means to be a human person. The second good is the good of interpersonal relationships. This good is expressed in what Wojtyla calls "participatory relationships", where one both forms and is formed by the other. The third good is the common good, that is, the good toward which a group of people together are aiming.
These three goods are interrelated with one another, such that when one is moving toward the Good, there is no conflict between any of these goods. Therefore, when one of these goods is actually expressing the Good, the other two goods are not in conflict. We must approach the Good as individuals, as small, interpersonal groups, and as larger groups in order to fully grasp the Good.
By making distinctions between these goods, we can appropriately address each of them in our pedagogical approaches, both inside and outside of the classroom. While leaving one of them out does not prevent students from being shaped toward the Good, if we engage all three of the goods, relating that the three approaches all move toward the same Good, the students may come to understand the role of learning as individuals, small interpersonal groups, and as a larger, collective group, and be wiser for it.
"What story does American education wish to tell now? In a growing Technopoly, what do we believe education is for?" (Postman, p. 174)
"[E]ducation no longer has a humanist end or any value in itself; it has only one goal, to create technicians." (Ellul, p. 348)
It's a fact. Today's college students have more access to and use more technology, particularly communications technologies, than ever before. Students create PowerPoints for class, photoshop pictures for projects, tune in to YouTube for fun or enlightenment, and reveal their daily lives on Facebook. They tweet, google, and remix. In this sense, techne, technical skills or the knowledge of how to do and make things, prevails. Moreover, students gain credentials in college; curriculum has itself become techne - as Wikipedia puts it, "the rational method involved in producing an object or accomplishing a goal or objective" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Techne). Students gain access to jobs, their goal. However, one 2010 study shows that college students now have less empathy (http://healthland.com/2010/05/28/college-students-short-on-empathy), and according to Neighmond (2011), depression among college students is increasing. College students also follow the Casey Anthony trial and attend films like Hangover II. Professors might agree that college students often seem distracted. Does wisdom - which according to Webster's includes insight, good sense, the ability to discern inner qualities and relationships, and deep understanding - still have a place in contemporary education, in particular the Christian university?
In The Technological Society (1964), Ellul, the French Christian sociologist, predicts that "education will no longer be an unpredictable and exciting adventure in human enlightenment, but an exercise in conformity and an apprenticeship to whatever gadgetry is useful in a technical world" (p. 349). In the contemporary university, this prediction seems all too true. As state funds for higher education decrease, most public universities increasingly reward faculty for grants, not teaching. Patents count more than profound ideas or powerful mentoring. Students often see college as their ticket to a comfortable living, not the means to making a life (as Postman says). The humanities are under serious attack. The university itself seems to have lost any sense of mission beyond the bottom line.
What has happened and what can be done?
In The Technological Bluff (1988/1990), his last book, Ellul discusses the "technological bluff . . . the gigantic bluff in which discourse on techniques envelopes us, making us believe anything and, far worse, changing our whole attitude to techniques: the bluff of politicians, the bluff of the media . . . the bluff of publicity, the bluff of economic models" (p. xvi). To counteract this bluff, this discourse which focuses on technology and technique as solutions to all human problems, one thing educators can do is to incorporate media literacy in their teaching. Media literacy is generally defined as the ability of a citizen "to access, to analyze, to evaluate, and to create" messages in a variety of media (Aufderheide, 1992). At the heart of media literacy lies critical thinking about and with media technologies; media literacy is rhetoric for today. Media literacy education is growing in K-12 schools; it also has a key role in university education. Media literacy is one way of cultivating wisdom in an age of techne. As Postman (1992) adds, "Every technology is both a burden and a blessing; not either-or, but this-and-that" (p. 4-5). The cell phone can cause driving accidents, but it can also allow the marginalized a voice in their societies. Shultze (2000), Christian communications/media scholar, notes as follows:
The mass media are communities of mixed motives that produce mixed blessings. On the one hand, they can reflect the good found in life. On the other hand, the media can highlight some of our weakest tendencies to love money, to express destructively our own egos, to seize power over others... Although we often think of the media as mere sources of entertainment, they are really extensions of our God-given ability to cocreate culture. (p. 121)
This paper will argue that media literacy education is one means for cultivating wisdom in God's world despite the culture of techne.
Ellul, J. (1964). The Technological Society. New York: Vintage.
Ellul, J. (1990). The Technological Bluff. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans.
Neighmond, P. (2011). Depression on The Rise in College Students. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/2011/01/17/132934543/depression-on-the-rise-in-college-students
Postman, N. (1992). Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology. New York: Vintage.
Schultze, Q. (2000). Communicating for Life: Christian Stewardship in Community and Media. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic.
Gary S. Selby
Director, Center for Faith and Learning
Increasingly Americans question the worth of college education. According to one study, most believe that "the higher education system in the United States fails to provide students with good value for the money they and their family spend." Another found that almost half of US students demonstrate no significant learning in their first two years of college and more than a third did not improve over their entire four years. The authors concluded that most undergraduates are simply "drifting through college without a clear sense of purpose (1)."
In response to these disturbing findings, some have called for a return to the academy's historic focus on "practical wisdom" or "practical reason." One recent Carnegie Foundation report called educators to pursue the kind of reasoning that would enable students to move "back and forth between specific events and the general ideas and common traditions that might illuminate them, in order to interpret and engage the particular situation more fruitfully." The result is the development of a critical rationality "oriented toward decision and action (2)."
This proposal echoes the thought of the influential 4th century B.C.E. rhetorician and educator, Isocrates, who argued that education for fruitful life and work should cultivate phronesis, practical wisdom. Often viewed as the father of liberal education, Isocrates extolled the importance of broad exposure to learning in the arts and sciences; he emphasized the vital importance of students' character development; but most importantly, he offered a remarkably cogent vision of education aimed at preparing students to respond with skill, virtue, and creativity to the problems and challenges they would face in the real world.
Isocrates' educational program grew out of his understanding, widely shared in the classical rhetorical tradition, that public oratory was always governed by the kairos, the "opportune moment." Unlike philosophy of the day, which dealt with abstract ideas divorced from concrete circumstances, civic discourse always sought to persuade a particular audience situated in a unique, unrepeatable moment-this configuration of hearers gathered in this place under these circumstances. Excellence in rhetoric was thus "timeliness," the ability to grasp and respond appropriately to the concrete problems and challenges one faced in the moment. Like an expert jazz musician, the skilled rhetor balanced thought and action, form and content, in an improvisational performance that perfectly fit the kairos.
According to Isocrates, the education that best prepared students for this challenge was one devoted to phronesis. He writes,
"Since it is not in the nature of man to attain a science by the possession of which we can know positively what we should do or what we should say, in the next resort I hold that man to be wise who is able by his powers of conjecture to arrive generally at the best course, and I hold that man to be a philosopher who occupies himself with the studies from which he will most quickly gain that kind of insight (3)."
Isocrates admits that the circumstances in which we must speak and act are often uncertain and complex, that the range of options before us is not always clear or obvious, nor the outcomes of any particular course of action guaranteed. What we need, then, is to develop our powers of insight and judgment so as to arrive at the best course of action. Education's focus should thus be on the formation of students as wise citizens.
This essay explicates that vision as a resource for re-visioning higher education today. First, it explores four specific qualities that Isocrates believed characterized the wise person: (1) Knowledge, the repertoire of frames and skills that one brings to a particular situation; (2) Virtue, the set of core moral values that one possesses as dispositions of personality; (3) Critical awareness, the ability to apply a wide range of perceptual and ethical frames in order to comprehend one's situation; and (4) Creative engagement, the ability to choose a course of action that best fits the demands of that situation. Second, the essay explores the pedagogy that Isocrates offered in support of this vision, a pedagogy centered on mimesis-the imitation of the teacher as model-and praxis, the enactment of knowledge. The essay concludes by considering practical possibilities for contemporary higher education drawn from Isocrates' vision.
"Is College Worth It?," http://pewsocialtrends.org/2011/05/15/is-college-worth-it/
"Academically Adrift," http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2011/01/18/study_finds_large_numbers_of_college_students_don_t_learn_much
R. Sullivan and M. Rosin, A New Agenda for Higher Education: Shaping a Life of the Mind for Practice, (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2008), xvi-xvii.
Isocrates, Antidosis, 271.
Professor of Psychology
Grove City College
Professor of Psychology
Biola University, Rosemead School of Psychology
Dean of Humanities, Professor of Psychology
Fresno Pacific University
In recent years, a study of the positive aspects of human behavior and mental experience has become an important area of investigation in psychological science. Known as positive psychology, it seeks to understand the strengths and virtues of humanity and incorporates research from a variety of scientific fields including social psychology, cognitive science, and the neurosciences. This panel will present some of these recent developments that pertain to a scientific understanding of wisdom.
The first panelist (Seybold - "Cognitive and Neural Mechanisms in Decision Making and Judgment") will discuss research from neuropsychology, cognitive science, and brain science that is relevant to decision making and judgment. Particular attention will be placed on scientific studies investigating moral judgment and decision making. Some of the questions addressed in the presentation include: What brain areas and systems are implicated in making decisions and how does damage to these neural regions affect a person's ability to efficiently and accurately make judgments (including moral judgments)? What role do emotions play in these tasks? To what extent are we "rational" creatures when it comes to passing judgments and making decisions? What effect do nonconscious "biases" have in guiding our judgments and decisions in lieu of conscious deliberation?
The second panelist (Hill - "The Wisdom and Witlessness of Cultivating Humility") will provide a conceptual overview of humility as a psychological construct as it is informed by a Christian theological perspective. Popular conceptions of humility as low status, a negative self-view, timidity, or weakness will be countered by an understanding of humility as a self-understanding that involves the ability to see one's self not as a sole referential point, but as part of a larger community or creation, leading to a sense of connection rather than isolated, individualistic striving. It is proposed that humility stems from a fundamental sense of security and personal worth that allows individuals to look at themselves honestly, considering both their strengths and limitations in balanced and non defensive ways. Self-esteem, for the truly humble, is therefore not easily threatened, in that a proper sense of humility enables people to "forget themselves" by focusing on the needs of other people and issues. Developing humility does not come easily nor without potential costs in that it can easily slip into the abyss of self-deprecation and weakness. Hurdles in the study of humility will also be identified and discussed. Perhaps most challenging in developing a research program on humility is the issue of measurement. By its very nature, developing a self-report measure of humility is difficult given that it requires humble people to indicate their humility. They may feel uncomfortable in rating themselves as humble, even if they truly are. Thus, one of the great paradoxes in the study of humility is that once it is identified, it quickly disappears. Nevertheless, our ability to scientifically study humility depends on the extent to which we can assess it. This presentation will include efforts at measurement through self-report both at dispositional and state levels.
The third panelist (Reimer - "Practical Wisdom in Semantic Space: Development of Humanitarian Values in L'Arche Caregiver Assistants") will present empirical research on practical wisdom and the development of humanitarian values in caregivers. Practical wisdom involves real-world application of values associated with prosocial commitments, evident through the development of humanitarian expertise. As an index for practical wisdom, this study considers the extent to which values become explicit in novice and expert humanitarian social knowledge. Eighty humanitarian caregivers were sampled from L'Arche communities for the developmentally disabled. Caregivers in these communities live with the disabled for diminutive compensation excluding benefits or retirement. In the absence of financial reward, caregiver turnover is high. More than half of incoming caregivers leave their communities before one year of service. These "novices" typically struggle with the burden of humanitarian commitment. By contrast, a number of "expert" humanitarian caregivers persist for years and decades in L'Arche. To consider practical wisdom in terms of values and humanitarian expertise, L'Arche caregivers were given social knowledge interview prompts to assess temporal (i.e., past, present, future) and relational expectations for the self. Responses were compared to four paragraphs comprised of values (i.e., just, brave, caring, religious) using a computational knowledge representation model known as latent semantic analysis. Consistent with predictions, humanitarian caregiver experts displayed more self-relevant social knowledge than novices on future and romantic partner expectations. Findings suggest that practical wisdom is associated with simulation related to future goal achievement and humanitarian values modeled by close intimates.
Doctoral Student in Philosophy
The first works we have of St. Augustine are a set of four dialogues knows as the Cassiciacum Dialogues. The first of these dialogues, the Contra Academicos, is Augustine's response to the skepticism of the New Academy. Early work on the dialogue examined it for analytic style arguments against epistemic skepticism. Recent work has begun to re-examine the work in light of Augustine's eudaimonistic concerns with skepticism. However, most have neglected to examine Augustine's dialogue in light of the work to which he is responding, Cicero's Academica. In the paper I hope to show that Augustine is directly responding not only to certain arguments within Cicero's work, but more importantly, to the place of that work in Cicero's philosophical program.
A common practice in philosophical education in ancient philosophical schools was to have a set of works through which the student would be guided. This can most clearly be seen in Aristotle's works, beginning with the Logic and Categories and ending with the Metaphysics. Cicero adopts the propadeutic approach with a distinctly Platonic emphasis. In 46 b.c. he started a new series of philosophical writings beginning with his Hortensius, then the Academica, followed by two ethical works (On Ends and Tusculan Disputations), and finishing with several religious/metaphysical dialogues on the gods and fate. The Academica, in this program, was to set forth and defend the best method and boundaries of philosophical examination. There, Cicero defends a form of skepticism, arguing that nothing can be known with certainty, but only probability. Human reason is restricted, even in the wise man, who can only have probable knowledge. In the Cassiciacum dialogues, Augustine follows the exact ordering of Cicero's philosophical program. Throughout the dialogues, Augustine is teaching two students, Licentius and Trygetius. We are told in the preface to the first work that he began by leading the boys through Cicero's Hortensius. This is followed by a critique of the Academica, an investigation into happiness, then a response to the issues of evil and fate. That Augustine follows Cicero's ordering is significant and can help given insight into his critiques.
Augustine's main critique against the Academic Skeptics can be considered educational in nature. Far from leading to a life that encourages the best way of life, it leads to an educational disaster by corrupting each part of the soul. By denying the possibility of knowledge, they immediately stunt the desire for wisdom begun in the Hortensius. The frustrated desire for wisdom then leads to several intellectual vices. The three main intellectual vices associated with skepticism are intellectual despair, curiositas, and sloth. But Augustine also thinks skepticsm can lead to certain moral vices. He offers a unique twist to the inactivity argument lodged against skepticism. The inactivity argument suggested that assent was necessary for any kind of activity. Since the Skeptics denied assent should be given to anything, the Skeptical wise person would be incapable of any activity. Augustine, however, argues that Academic Skepticism can justify too many kinds of activities. Since what is persuasive is sufficient to guide activity, someone with corrupted desires may find morally reprehensible activities as persuasively good activities in which to engage.
The remaining portion of the paper will briefly examine three specific ways Augustine corrects the Academic philosophical program. The skeptical approach was adopted by Cicero and other Academicians, to lead the student away from a dependency upon authority and to a dependency upon one's own reason. They not only hid their opinions on important issues, but, as Augustine thought, intentionally deceived others to help the student learn to depend on reason alone. Augustine, however, saw this method of teaching as potentially dangerous when taken to an extreme. In response, Augustine will change his method of education in at least two ways. First, though he will hide his opinion from the boys at times, using irony and Socratic questioning to encourage the boy's development of dialectic, he never lies or leads without a purpose in mind. Deception is an unacceptable teaching method. Second, Augustine offers a more "hands on" moral formation of the boys, both in the encouragement of specific intellectual virtues and the correction of certain moral and intellectual vices. The hope will then be to spark a discussion that applies these changes to a contemporary classroom, examining ways we can encourage a desire for wisdom, can help make the student independent without leading them astray, and how direct moral education could be implemented in the classroom.
Daniel John Sportiello
Doctoral Student in Philosophy
University of Notre Dame
Contemporary educators take it for granted that, in the face of the profound and interminable moral disagreements that rock our culture-those over abortion, euthanasia, gay marriage, and the like-students are best served when they are presented with the very strongest arguments for each side and left to decide for themselves. Such presentation is common in introductory philosophy courses, but it is even more common in applied ethics courses-medical ethics especially.
Standing behind this practice is the same ideal that stands, ultimately, behind most of our practices-that of "objectivity," the radical emancipation from external authority that defines modernity: the arguments are presented without evaluation-a task left to the students themselves, who are free to endorse whatever conclusions seem rational to them. That this method is problematic, however, is immediately obvious: as Alasdair MacIntyre argues in his After Virtue, our culture lacks any shared moral standard that would allow a student to commensurate and thus rationally evaluate such arguments. This leaves the student open to rhetorical manipulation-whether intentional or not-on the part of her current teacher or previous teachers, whoever they happen to have been.
But there is an even deeper problem with this method of education. Drawing upon the conclusion of Bernard Williams in his Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy - that, in ethics, "reflection destroys knowledge" - I argue that, if the debates in medical ethics really have the importance that we attach to them - if, say, abortion really is murder-then too much is at stake for teachers to present to their students arguments on both sides of every debate: even if a student is, somehow, rationally convinced of the truth of one side - of the wrongness, say, of abortion - the arguments with which she was presented can serve only to weaken her resolve-for if the best philosophers cannot prove that it is wrong, the student will be tempted to think, who can blame her for choosing abortion? After all, she heard some pretty convincing arguments that it was permissible!
More generally, an education should impart to students not only skills - knowledge of how to fulfill the desires that one happens to have - but also wisdom - knowledge of how to transform one's desires such that they are those that one ought to have. But such an education requires as its context a tradition that privileges a certain form of life - that is, certain virtues - and thus does not consider every possible question legitimate: not to be asked are those questions that, because of human intellectual or moral limitation, are apt to lead one too far from the truth.
Such an education, in other words, requires as its context a tradition in which certain options are unthinkable-in which, that is, they aren't options at all. To present them to students as though they are is to fail as teachers - to fail, that is, in the teaching of wisdom.
Myron Samuel Steeves
Trinity Law School
The law gives a great deal of insight into how a culture applies abstract ideas. Ultimately, our laws reflect the values of those who have ultimate power and influence in a society. Sometimes, the law is beautiful and accomplishes its end in a magnificent way that can be appreciated by even those opposed to it.
When laws fail to accomplish their desired end, then tend to do so because human behavior, spread over a large population, shows insights in to general attitudes of the population that differ from the intent of those who have enacted the law.
In this way, law is a great teacher in wisdom. A careful study of how laws succeed and fail gives a narrow insight into an aspect of wisdom. Examples can be given about how law, when it is well constructed, shows aspects of human nature that are consistent with the anthropology taught in holy scripture, and help us understand true wisdom.
Over the span of centuries, the development of the common law in our English tradition shows real insight into how human beings think. As one example, the development of our law regarding perjury demonstrates both an understanding of the value of truth-telling, and a similar lack of ability for human beings to be reliably truthful.
By generally accepted ethical thinking, telling the truth is an important value, and should be encouraged. However, human beings tend to not tell the truth consistently. The application of the law to this value is insightful. If the law were to punish the failure to tell the truth generally, everyone would breach the law, and in the process, the inability of the law to correct this behavior has meant that not telling the truth cannot generally be a wrongful act for which one should be punished.
This creates a problem for our legal system, however. In our courts, great penalties and rewards are linked to truth being disclosed. Thus, there needs to be a means by which citizens become aware that in certain circumstances, the law requires that they tell the truth; and that if they fail to do so, the sanction may be severe. To that end, the concept of perjury was recognized. While failure to tell the truth should generally not be punished, under circumstances defined as perjury, such a failure will be.
The development of the law in this area, as with all aspects of life that are impacted by law, gives an insight into wisdom. As such, the development of law as it has been refined by human behavior gives instruction in what wisdom really is.
In this way, the study of law is an excellent model on how education can inform other disciplines in the academy. Few other disciplines have the comparative luxury of spending vast resources on examining human behavior on such a grand scale as what happens in our courts as they apply the law thousands of times each day.
The insights from the development of the law over a long passage of time can aid those who seek to train students from a perspective that is steeped in Christian traditions. In this way, an aspect of wisdom that can be transferred to others can be organized in a manner that can instruct others.
The paper that will be presented at the conference is intended to give concrete examples of how law, and society's response to it, gives insights into wisdom that can be integrated into teaching in other disciplines, and can serve as a model for an academic Christian world-view.
Jason David Stevens
Assistant Professor of English
This paper will argue that the wisdom of lyric poetry is found in its most valuable gift to its writers and readers: ignorance. Ignorance is a heuristic condition and a condition for receiving poetic wisdom. Ignorance in this sense is defined as the condition of rational privation that necessitates exploration by way of the senses. In other words, ignorance, to borrow Gloucester's line from King Lear, forces the poet to "see feelingly." Thus, it is often figured as blindness, darkness, being lost, or as an encounter with a remote past or artifact from that past. Though the experience of ignorance generated by the dense and resistant surfaces of lyric poems may seem initially limiting, something to be overcome- especially so as university education often focuses on a type of reading ordered toward rational mastery of the text- "standing aloof in giant ignorance," as Keats puts it, actually calls forth and validates "bodily sense" as we feel our way through the language of a poem. Thus, learning to move in ignorance presents one with the opportunity to sharpen bodily sensitivity to the world, and in so doing, to receive again one's body as a gift. It returns us to our humanity.
Granted, a culture that loves easily accessible knowledge does not always cherish such gifts nor look with gratitude upon experiences of ignorance. Even within the academy, the discomfort, shame, and hostility that ignorance too often provokes can make reading, writing, and teaching lyric poetry a confusing, frustrating, and poorly understood endeavor. Yet, in learning to read lyric well, sitting with difficult passages until they yield wisdom, we are learning the proper response to ignorance and mystery.
The paper will explore the ramifications of these ideas in the poetry of John Keats and Seamus Heaney, two poets deeply skilled in the art of ignorance. Keats was profoundly aware of his lack of education. Yet, his embrace of ignorance led him to develop a "negative capability," which he famously defined as the disposition wherein "a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason." This taught posture of patient longing ultimately educates one in all types of reading-texts as well as people. Using Keats's sonnet "To Homer" as a springboard, the paper will go on to an examination of ignorance in the Odes.
Turning to Heaney, the paper will explore lyric wisdom and the poetic vocation in the face of political and religious violence. In particular, Heaney's volume North explores ignorance as a response to political and sectarian violence. In the collection's title poem, the voices of history inspire the poet to pursue his vocation through ignorance:
It said... 'compose in darkness...
trust the feel of the nubbed treasure
your hands have known.
North suggests that poetic wisdom in the face of cultural and political strife, even the horrific violence of Northern Ireland, is of the utmost necessity. Those who seem to retreat from atrocity to pursue poetic wisdom do not become irrelevant or ineffectual. On the contrary, they become a source of nourishment for others, a "pap for the disposed."
Ultimately, this paper argues that poetic ignorance is necessary in the academy because it forms the bedrock of wisdom. It engenders humility and the awareness of embodiment and finitude. It is blindness only in so far as it creates potential for illumination. It also reminds us, as Wendell Berry suggests, that, though there is much we can and must learn, "our ignorance ultimately is irremediable that some problems are unsolvable and some questions unanswerable-that, do what we will, we are never going to be free of mortality, partiality, fallibility, and error. The extent of our knowledge will always be, at the same time, the extent of our ignorance." The necessity of poetic ignorance is hard to overstate. Berry soberly reminds us of this: "Creatures who have armed themselves with the limitless power of destruction should not be following any way laid out by their limited knowledge and their unseemly pride in it." But those who learned the proper response to ignorance and mystery- the response of embrace-may begin to teach others the art of ignorance.
Professor of Christian Education
Liverpool Hope University
There are many possible purposes for education that compete for priority in a university. These purposes prioritize some combination of the intellectual, moral, social, economic, political and cultural dimensions of life. Some educational purposes take more into account the needs of individuals, while others focus more on the needs of the wider community. Some purposes espoused by educators are integrally linked to the concept of sapientia or wisdom, while others deliberately restrict themselves to a concern with scientia or specialized and ordered knowledge. Not only can there be disagreement about purposes; there can also be a mismatch between purposes, even when agreed upon, and how these are interpreted and put into practice. There can be disparity between goals, pedagogy, and ethos, tensions between the explicit and the implicit curriculum experience of students. These differences surface in all types of university, including in Christian universities. In this paper I will argue that a central purpose of any university is the facilitation of serious reflection on vocation - where it comes from, its nature and scope, the demands it makes, its implications, and how it might be discerned, interrogated, prepared for, lived out, renewed and sustained. Teaching students how to listen for, to understand, and to embrace a vocation requires faculty who themselves continue to consider, reflect upon, and who strive to live out, their own vocation. How vocation is interpreted and understood will differ, not only between those of religious faith and those who adopt a non-religious worldview, but also between those who come from different traditions even within the same family of faith. Thus, for example, there are subtle but potentially significant differences between Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox Christians in how vocation is thought about, and, one must also acknowledge, important variations of interpretation and emphasis within each of these broad Christian 'streams'.
The paper begins with a brief analysis of the multiplicity of purposes jostling for attention in a university. Then I bring out some of the differences - as well as the relationship - between wisdom and knowledge, suggesting that universities should strive to go beyond a concern for developing knowledge, deliberately seeking to promote wisdom among learners (who include faculty). In unpacking what is entailed by wisdom, one of its key features, it will be argued, is self-knowledge. In section three I make a case for vocation as a central focus for university education. Here I address how vocation can be understood along a continuum, from purely secular considerations to deeply religious ones, recognizing along the way different understandings of vocation among Christians. Finally, I explore how the promotion of attention to vocation might be addressed in universities, particularly linking vocation to self-knowledge as integral to wisdom, but also indicating ways in which sapientia and scientia can be brought together in learning. In this way, the notion of vocation in the educational experience and in the life of a student can help build bridges between wisdom and knowledge.
Associate Professor of English and Spanish
Oklahoma Baptist University
In a conference on educating for wisdom in the 21st century university, many will look to the past for guidance, that is, to the ancient Greeks in general, and to the philosophical tradition embodied in Plato and Aristotle in particular. While these foundational thinkers can give us some guidance, I argue that their answers are problematic and that their forgotten rival Isocrates provides us with a better concept of wisdom, one which corresponds more closely to the Biblical wisdom tradition and which correlates better to the ethos of our own times.
I agree with Dr. Darin Davis that we can refound the humanities on wisdom to confront what Anthony Kronman calls "the crisis of meaning," and that this renewed attention to wisdom can help us answer "the question of what living is for" (Education's End 242). However, I do not believe that the dominant philosophical tradition can provide us with an adequate foundation for wisdom because that tradition is part of the problem. Platonic philosophy over-emphasizes contemplation, and relegates practical wisdom as the lesser member of that binary (as does the Aristotelian tradition, but to a lesser extent). In either philosophy, the best life is one of contemplation, an occupation open only to an elite with the requisite social position and resources. Whether cast as a beatific vision of the Good or as a search for first principles, the notion of contemplation does not provide an adequate foundation for wisdom in the 21st century university because contemplation demands withdrawal from the normal activities of life; this withdrawal is hardly in keeping with our Internet age, which emphasizes constant connection. The ultimate problem with the dominant philosophical tradition is that wisdom is correlated with abstract, esoteric, and speculative knowledge and not with successful living in the hurly-burly of daily demands and activities.
The work of Isocrates offers a better foundation for wisdom in the university and holds a key to the revival of the humanities because, broadly speaking, for Isocrates wisdom means successful living. In the first place, whereas Plato asks his disciples to withdraw from active life, Isocrates encourages civic engagement and social interaction. The greatest good for Plato is to behold the eternal verities of the Forms, but for Isocrates the best life is one lived in community, for the good of one's fellow citizens. This goal is in keeping with the biblical book of Proverbs, where wisdom is often equated with successful social relations; in our own day, young people value volunteerism and civic engagement more highly than speculative knowledge. Plato's emphasis on contemplation also contrasts with Isocrates' emphasis on what I would call "reflection." Reflection has as its object the world of sense and experience. Isocrates asks his disciples to consider their lives, their material and historical situations, and to learn from that activity how to live better. This focus accords with the empirical bent of Proverbs, which consists mostly of observations based on experience, not deductions based on abstract first principles. I suggest that our own emphasis on student-centered learning is more consonant with Isocrates' approach than with Plato's. The chief means of reflection for Isocrates is the written word. Whereas Isocrates teaches his students to organize their world (and to influence it for good) by means of the fairly recent technology of writing, Plato is ambivalent about its effects; thus Isocrates is a better guide for questions about the uses of technology and its effects than is Plato. Students in today's university are fully immersed in technological innovation, so we as their teachers should learn how to exploit those technologies to their best effects and to our students' greatest good. Most of all, Isocrates' emphasis on prudence, or phronesis, offers a better foundation for wisdom than Plato's insistence on "truth." As an empiricist and a mild skeptic, Isocrates believes that wisdom consists in "the ability to reach the best opinions most of the time" (Antidosis 271). Isocrates is not a relativist, but rather a realist who knows that, as finite humans, we cannot attain absolute knowledge; the next best thing, he claims, is to develop an ability to make sound decisions in a world of contingencies. This accords, again, with Proverbs: while the OT sages take YHWH's ordering and governing of the world as their first principle, they are much more concerned with developing in their disciples the ability to live well. For Isocrates, as for the sages, wisdom means living successfully.
P. Mark Taylor
Forty-three U.S. states and territories have agreed to adopt the Common Core Standards by 2014 and more are expected to join them soon. The common core standards represent the latest in an evolution of standards that began in 1980. Since this is the first effort to create a cohesive and reliable national curriculum for K-12 education, it can be expected to have a tremendous impact on the thinking and knowledge base of students for decades to come. What kind of wisdom will a college freshman bring to our college campuses in the year 2020?
This presentation will begin by presenting the history of the Standards Movement and the impact of No Child Left Behind in order to provide participants with the background knowledge necessary to understand the reasoning and evidence behind the current set of standards.
This will then be followed by an analysis of the current set of standards looking specifically at the construction of knowledge and capacity for wisdom that the standards would claim to build in students.
Finally the presenter will make an educated conjecture of the efficacy of this effort and the kind of students that we should expect to be arriving on our campuses by the year 2020. This conjecture will be based on other historic changes in curriculum, such as the New Math and Whole Language, and the lessons learned from their successes and failures.
Phillip Marshall Thompson
Emory University, Aquinas Center
This paper will discuss the peculiar challenges in contemporary higher education for professors to support or students to pursue the ideal of the "cultivated mind" proposed by Cardinal John Henry Newman in The Idea of the University. Newman's concept was that a liberal university education will expose a student to the rigor of thinking in diverse fields of study. Moreover, knowledge is pursued for its own sake and not for its utility in improving one's wealth, power, or status. The end result is a "cultivated" mind capable of rigorous analysis and careful reflection in many disciplines.
While Newman's ideal has always had many detractors, the ideal confronts a new challenge in the internet age. Now, we have quick and easy access to streams of endless data. We want not only instant access to data, but instant answers. We click and move from data point to data point, skimming along on the surface of information, most of it trivial or insubstantial. This is the substantive challenge to the cultivated mind. Thee is also damage from the processes of the internet age. Newman's cultivated mind has trouble surviving in this context. There is increasing neurological research to support the view that our brains are being rewired to handle relentless short bursts of data. The research also indicates that as a consequence of this trend that long term memory and the synthesizing of ideas from serious reading and reflection is being lost as we point and click our lives away. The cultivated mind is being rewired into the shallow mind.
Linn Marie Tonstad
Assistant Professor of Christian Theology
Perkins School of Theology, SMU
How, as theologians, do we practice our craft wisely? In this paper, I reflect on the context and method of academic or university theology in the USA today to suggest some possibilities for wise theological practices.
Three issues are most significant in describing the context of the practice of academic theology. First, we are at war on at least two levels: the wars in Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan, and the near-metaphysical war against terrorism, expressed through the dehumanization of those who offer so-called 'material support' to terror. No practices of theology can ignore such contexts and remain responsive to God's love for creation.
Second, the ongoing neo-liberal restructuring of the university according to the logic of capital, intensified by the recent financial collapse, has rendered the territory of the humanistic academy into a state of crisis. This sense of scarcity, attached to the rewards of the professorial profession as well as to the conditions of its exercise, and effective as much on the imaginary as on the concrete level, poses a theological problem of its own. The story of the university itself becomes one of scarcity and competition, so moral formation, wisdom, recedes beyond the horizon of immediate needs and the defensive posture these developments engender. This affects both how the possibilities for teaching wisdom are perceived in the university and how academic theology itself is practiced.
Third, the most exciting developments in academic theology in recent years have been what we might term "repristinative": arguments that we need a return to the pure, peaceful Christian message, because no other avenue allows for anything other than nihilism. But the form of the engagement of repristinative projects with other discourses is more often than not hostile rather than appreciative, or at best appropriative. The justification of the project of repristination often takes the form of demonstrations of the ethical, intellectual, and metaphysical bankruptcy of other projects, thus marring repristinative projects with rhetorical violence. The assertion of a peaceful Christian message takes place, after all, inside the market of higher education.
Being a theologian is a strange practice. Our 'subject' is God, yet we exchange theological teaching for payments on our mortgages and for funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We exchange the best gifts we have been given, divine treasures, for cold hard cash. That is, if we're lucky. Or clever enough to hit on some irresistible theme, some new theoretical language, or some forgotten, yet world-historically-significant thinker upon whom we can make our careers. Or if we can make the argument that everything the world was looking for, that it did not even know that it was missing, was available all along in the Christian tradition. Although we see ourselves as offering the most gorgeous message of peace, to many, we are offering discredited, even poisonous gifts (in German, gift means poison). We worry about Christian distinctiveness and about our positioning in the academic landscape as bearers of special treasures. In so doing, though, we situate our offerings firmly within the logic of marketplaces, even as we wrap them up and tag them "Gift" while offering them to the highest bidder.
Focusing on the goodness of the wares we have to offer forbids the consideration of the place of Christian theology within, rather than without, a world of violence, scarcity, and war. As long as academic Christian theologians refuse to make their own status a part object of theological inquiry, such forgetting of the academy's political and economic conditions will continue to allow theology to cloak its purported message of peace in the rhetoric of war: asserting the nihilistic bankruptcy of other discourses. What we need is not repristination but therapy of our desire for recognition. We need to move away from our exceptionalism to enact wise practices in our professional lives - concretely, practices of cooperation, rhetorically peaceful rather than rhetorically violent practices, and an openness to the wisdom of others - perhaps particularly those within our own Christian traditions with whom we disagree. The distance between gift and Gift is short, and may be traversed only too quickly. Lack of resolution and ongoing contestation are not bugs in the 'system' of the world. Instead, they are expressive of the many forms of God's engagement with the world. Wise theological practices will be expressive of and responsive to the diversity of such forms, and will seek to enact practices of plenitude rather than scarcity.
Andrea L. Turpin
Assistant Professor of History
The secularization of American higher education, which began in earnest in the second half of the nineteenth century, created a crisis in what constituted education for wisdom, which is to say training students to discern the best and highest goal along with the surest means of attaining it. Scholars such as George Marsden, Julie Reuben, James Turner, Jon Roberts, Christian Smith, and David Setran have enriched our understanding of the complicated processes by which many colleges and universities gradually released the religious elements of collegiate education during the decades surrounding 1900. The result was the need to articulate new, non-theological grounds for imparting wisdom and moral vision to students.
This paper argues that we cannot fully grasp the implications of different models of wisdom transmission in the modern university until we consider how the first secularized models made use of a phenomenon often ignored in accounts of the secularization of the academy: the entrance of women into higher education on a broad scale. This watershed occurred during the exact decades when leading colleges and universities increasingly abolished required religious instruction and worship-the 1870s through the 1910s. In order to attract students and donors, colleges in this era had to argue for their broad appeal and national significance. The advent of competing men's, women's, and coeducational institutions provided a new type of identity marker that could replace a school's now seemingly parochial denominational one: institutions instead emphasized the sex(es) they served.
This paper considers the implications of this shift by examining the most common model of educating for wisdom used by conservative Protestant men's and women's colleges in the 1860s-1880s, followed by three sex-based models that leading turn-of-the-century colleges and universities used in the wake of removing required doctrinal instruction and religious worship. I draw on the archives of six prominent colleges: two men's colleges (Princeton and Harvard), their coordinate women's colleges (Evelyn and Radcliffe), and two independent women's colleges (Wellesley and Bryn Mawr). Coeducational institutions would use a mixture of the approaches used by these single-sex institutions.
Before the shift away from required religious instruction and worship, conservative Protestant colleges, male and female, most often sought to impart wisdom by transmitting the central truths of Protestant faith and seeking to foster in students conversion of the mind and heart. Administrators and faculty did not as often seek to direct students toward particular avenues of future service; rather, they believed that students brought into direct relationship with God and grounded in the values of Christianity would thereby possess the wisdom needed to determine an appropriate future path. After the shift away from required religious instruction and worship, three alternate models emerged. The most prominent one educated for wisdom by explicitly connecting students' training with specific types of future service college leaders believed appropriate for each sex: men would wisely direct the nation from prominent positions of influence in the public sphere while educated women would improve homemaking, teaching, and, increasingly, social service. The two alternate models came from some of the women's colleges and also drew on their sex-specific identity. One did not seek to instill a vision of a specific type of future service because it assumed most graduates would go on to be wives and mothers. It therefore focused instead on instilling character traits that would make women successful at these ventures. The other model argued that receiving the same training as men instilled in female students the wisdom to consider entering the traditionally male occupations that they were then equally capable of performing.
Gains and losses accompanied the shift from fostering wisdom through religious instruction to fostering wisdom through explicitly connecting education with the types of future service students could render their communities. On the one hand, students received a concrete service-based vision for their lives. On the other hand, instilling religious conviction as a source of wisdom could foster in students more creativity about possible future lines of service: they then had to grapple for themselves with how to unite divine priorities with their individual gifts and calling. Appreciating the ways in which advocating sex-based service has historically been substituted for collegiate religious instruction should cause us to consider our models for transmitting wisdom to students. Different approaches may serve either to help students put their unique talents and identities - including their identities as women or men - in the service of God, or, alternately, they may subtly constrict students' freedom to serve God according to conscience.
Stan van Hooft
Professor of Philosophy
Deakin University, Australia
This paper describes the ideal of wisdom in the Western humanist traditions that stem from Plato, Aristotle and the myth of Prometheus. The first, Platonic tradition, involves a turning away from the world in order to find wisdom in a metaphysical realm. Even in the cases where this realm did not comprise religious entities and events, it postulated such abstract and idealized human capacities as free will, pure reason, and the moral law, and hoped for the realization of such perfectionist ideals as complete release from suffering, absolute purity of heart, a bond of love with the infinite, an irrefutable scientific theory of everything, world-wide unanimity in beliefs and values, perpetual peace, and the total elimination of injustice everywhere in the world. These concepts and ideals are Platonic in that they devalue anything that is imperfect, changeable, or uncertain. The Aristotelian tradition is more complex. It stresses the need to be at home in the world and happy in life even as we contemplate their unchangeable realities. It speaks of the perfectibility of human beings in muted tones and shows a reverence for the changeable world as well as for the fragile, vulnerable, fallible, and mortal condition of being human. But it is the Promethean tradition, with its celebration of science, progress, and technology, that has had the greatest effect upon modern civilization and thought. The recovery of our capacity for wisdom will require a re-evaluation of Prometheanism guided by such thinkers as Emmanuel Levinas and Paul Ricoeur. Through their interpretations of Plato and Aristotle we can learn that wisdom consists in a longing for transcendence in the forms of subjectivity, the Other, beauty, goodness and truth.
Robert B. Strimple Chair of Systematic Theology and Christian Ethics
Westminster Seminary California
To recapture the place of wisdom in higher education, or in ethics generally, it would be of great value to establish its connection to the Christian natural law tradition. In this paper I seek to do just that by exploring the contribution that the book of Proverbs can make to a theology of natural law. In addition to enriching the case for wisdom's role in education, this paper also serves the recent renaissance of Protestant interest in natural law by providing further evidence of the crucial place that natural law has in the Scriptures themselves.
My basic argument is that the call to wisdom in Proverbs is presented through a view of God, the cosmos, humanity, and the acquisition of moral knowledge that is in harmony with traditional Christian notions of natural law and provides grist for further refinement of the natural law tradition.
First, Proverbs teaches that God himself created the world through wisdom. By wisdom, God established a universe, a holistic natural order in which cosmic, animal, and human realms are interconnected. Second, though Proverbs does not use the term "image of God," its anthropology is consonant with the idea. Proverbs presents human wisdom as the reflection of divine wisdom, such that in the possession and use of wisdom in their lives human beings mirror the activity of God. Third, Proverbs communicates an epistemology in which human beings come to understand their moral responsibilities primarily through wisdom's perception of the natural moral order. Beginning from a basic religious commitment (the fear of the Lord), people are to observe, experience, and reflect upon the course of the world around them and draw moral conclusions that are fitting and appropriate for particular situations. Fourth and finally, Proverbs makes clear that the quest for and practice of wisdom, grounded in the natural moral order, is universal. Though true and ultimate wisdom is found only among fearers of the one true God, Proverbs provides numerous clues that a genuine wisdom exists among people outside the covenant community and that believers are obliged to learn wisdom from them as well.
The implications for a Christian theology of natural law and for a Christian perspective on higher education are numerous. Through its call to wisdom, for example, Proverbs shapes a view of natural law that is theocentric (and thus not about autonomous human reason), communicated through an objectively meaningful universe, and knowable through human sensory and rational faculties. Proverbs' call to wisdom also shapes a view of Christian higher education that, for instance, grounds acquisition of knowledge in the fear of the Lord, requires profound appreciation for non-Christian learning, and recognizes the importance for learning of virtue and character, far beyond sheer mastery of facts.
In this paper I interact primarily with contemporary scholarship on Proverbs and the Old Testament wisdom literature generally. To provide historical perspective I also interact with important texts from the Christian natural law tradition, both recent and older.
Michigan Technological University
The subject of love has long been wedded to philosophical inquiry. It is at once that great commandment and ambiguous passionate conqueror of the heart. Love sutures and strikes and we are left pondering the consequences of her presence in the world. The recent work of French Philosophers Luce Irigaray and Alain Badiou consider the appearance of love as a truthful and militant project, but beyond militant vigilance there seems, at least upon first glance, to be little congruence between their versions of love. Indeed for Badiou, truth and thereby love is necessarily universal and as such pays little heed to differences among subjects. While Irigaray maintains the particularity of the loving project to the degree that the gendered subject is not only different but ultimately inhabits entirely different worlds. My paper imagines a dialogue between these thinkers where love is not so much the answer to the myriad problems of human existence as it is the bodily comportment of wisdom, and as such a universal truth that spans the ages.
Within my paper, building upon the Socratic notion of Eros as mediator between divinity and humanity, I examine Badiou's St Paul: Foundations of Universalism and Second Manifesto for Philosophy against Irigaray's Sharing the World and The Way of Love. I do not presume to provide an exhaustive answer to the question of love, rather this paper serves as a starting point for reflection in the direction of love, and thereby wisdom, as a bridge across worlds of difference.
University of Notre Dame
In the fifth canto of his Inferno, Dante describes a scene that many readers over the years have taken to be a critique of reading secular literature, particularly in the romance genre. As Dante-pilgrim listens to Francesca tell of the love that blossomed between herself and Paolo as they read the tale of Lancelot, he swoons with sorrow, a reaction Dante-poet assumed his readers would share. Yet, by including the line: "that day we read no further," Dante-poet indicates that he does not want his readers blindly to empathize with the pair, nor does he mean simply to condemn this literary genre. Rather, Dante offers a critique of certain dangerous reading practices through Francesca's tale. Not only did Francesca and Paolo not read the entire work before making a judgment about its "teachings," they made this judgment in isolation from any other texts or ideas about truth. They neither engaged with the text carefully nor attempted to use the text to look at their own lives critically. Rather, they blindly lived out what they believed the message of the text to be, and Dante shows how this choice landed them in Hell.
However, Dante does not merely provide an example of bad reading in the Commedia, he also gives his readers a counterexample to Francesca and Paolo with the figure of Statius, a Latin poet whom he meets in Purgatory. Statius explains to Dante that reading Virgil effected his moral conversion from a profligate life: he recognized the truth of Virgil's words, used them to judge his own life, and then modified his behavior. What is even more interesting is that he also attributes his spiritual conversion to reading Virgil. This process, however, required him to examine Virgil alongside the early preachers of Christianity, using his critical thinking until he became convinced of the truth of their claims. By this critical engagement with a variety of sources, he comes to a salvific understanding of reality.
Reading Dante is, rather like reading T.S. Eliot, an argument for the necessity of a Great Texts or liberal arts education. But what Dante shows in these two episodes is that the breadth of reading that is required for understanding the text he wrote is still of secondary importance to reading texts critically with one another, and applying them to our own lived experience. Dante presents here an ethics of reading that is relevant for attaining to wisdom inside the classroom as well as out of it.
Visiting Assistant Professor
Many of those concerned with the state of higher education have suggested that the modern research university provides an inhospitable environment for liberal education. The organization of the research university, it is often argued, undermines undergraduate education by providing a system of incentives that values scholarly productivity over, and at the expense of, excellence in teaching. Furthermore, the increasingly specialized nature of work within the academic disciplines has led to programs of graduate education which provide an apprenticeship that often fails to produce academics who are equipped to provide a liberal education to their students or to deliberate productively with their colleagues about the proper content of such an education.
A second source of obstacles to contemporary liberal education is the increasing pressure to justify the educational mission of the modern university is starkly economic terms. Against this tendency, academics often claim that the knowledge that is the goal of their inquiries has intrinsic value that cannot be captured through economic metrics.
I argue that recent attempts to defend a liberal arts education (as found, for example, in Martha Nussbaum's Not For Profit or Anthony Kronman's Education's End) would be put on a firmer footing if they recognized the central role that the cultivation of intellectual virtue plays in such an education.
Nussbaum argues that liberally educated citizens are essential to the flourishing of democratic life because a liberal education provides critical reasoning skills that are needed for democratic deliberation. I argue that the failures of contemporary democratic discourse are more commonly the result of failure of character rather than a lack of reasoning skill. Unless accompanied by the cultivation of intellectual virtue, critical reasoning skills can be deployed as just another component in the sophists arsenal; the sophist doesn't care about the validity of his arguments, but he will happily make a valid argument or a cogent criticism when it is to his advantage to do so.
Turning to the research mission of the university, to make the case that the value of the research a university produces cannot be accurately determined using only economic measures, we must avoid making the case for knowledge-for-its-own-sake that makes it sound as if any knowledge whatsoever has value. In other words, we must defend the intrinsic value of knowledge in a way that acknowledges that some knowledge is important and other knowledge is trivial. I argue that here too, the most plausible account will be one in which the notion of intellectual virtue plays a central role.
Hendrik Dirk Windhorst
Assisant Professor of Education
Redeemer University College
The writings of John Dewey (1859-1952) and Simone Weil (1909-1943) are analyzed with a view to answering 3 main questions: What is wisdom? How is wisdom connected to experience? How does one educate for a love of wisdom? Using a dialectical method whereby the presenter's understanding of Dewey (a pragmatist) is critiqued by his understanding of Weil (a Christian Platonist) and vice versa, commonalities and differences are identified and clarified.
For both, wisdom involved the application of thought to specific, concrete problems in order to secure a better way of life. For Weil, wisdom was centered on a love of truth that involved a certain way of applying one's attention to a concrete or theoretical problem. Weil believed that nature was subject to a divine wisdom and that a truly democratic society had supernatural roots. Dewey believed that any attempt to move beyond nature would stunt the growth of wisdom. For him, wisdom could be nourished only by natural streams-even if some of them were given a divine designation.
For both, wisdom emerged through the discipline of work understood as intelligent activity, a coherent relationship between thinking and acting. Although Weil and Dewey differed on how they distinguished these 2 activities, they both advocated a type of education which involved practical experience and confronted concrete problems. Whereas Dewey viewed each problem optimistically with the hope of solving it, Weil saw wisdom in contemplating insoluble contradictions. For both, educating for a love of wisdom meant cultivating a student's desire to keep thinking in line with acting-wanting to test ideas in action and striving to make sense of actions observed.
Executive Director, Extended Studies
The College of St. Scholastica
This paper explores the context for the development of wisdom in the Benedictine tradition, and compares this to that of the modern academy. The theoretical lens used to interpret historical Benedictinism (including aspects of the Rule of Saint Benedict and the Plan of Saint Gall), as well as characteristics of the 21st century university, is activity theory (Engestrom, 1987). Activity theory examines how actors (individuals and groups) simultaneously make and are made by their environment through the effects of three principal mediators: rules, roles, and artifacts. The paper shows that while the activity systems of historical Benedictine monasteries and modern institutions of higher learning are separated in time and context, they may share similar objectives. For instance, both may encourage the development of discernment, a frequently cited component of wisdom. However, other characteristics, including humility, may be central in one context, but less so in the other. Through comparison guided by theory, this paper illuminates areas of convergence and divergence across activity systems, and derives practical implications for higher education today. Special consideration is given to the potential for independent, mission-driven colleges to foster the development of virtues, habits of mind, and emotional skills associated with wisdom.
Ph.D. Student, Religion
T. Laine Scales
Associate Professor, School of Social Work
Students consistently report that their advising relationships can make or break their doctoral degrees. But doctoral advisors do not always treat that relationship with the appropriate wisdom and care. In a recent comic on life as a PhD student, a professor explains to an overworked doctoral student that there are no breaks and no paid vacations. When the student asks what she does get, the professor responds, "Exploited, mostly." Sadly, such is the case for some doctoral students. In this paper we argue that a PhD advisor with the wisdom of Christ must transition from envisioning students as serviceable underlings to envisioning them as contributing partners-and help students make that transition themselves. We turn to Paul's letter to Philemon as a biblical source of wisdom for motivating that transition. In Philemon, Paul sends the recently-converted runaway slave Onesimus home to his master Philemon. But Paul calls on Philemon to accept Onesimus back "no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a beloved brother" (Phlm 16). The underlying message of Philemon is one of reconciled relationships, regardless of class or other distinctions, especially how those in a position of authority treat those without authority. Paul's letter offers a number of lessons for doctoral advisors who place themselves within the Christian tradition. Advisors must let go of their "ownership" of students, not exploit students as slaves but work towards a more collegial relationship. Advisors must also keep their advisees from "running away," daunted by the heavy burden of doctoral work. As Paul sought to develop Onesimus into a new fellow-worker, so advisors must keep in mind that they are helping to form their own future colleagues. Ultimately, we ask Christian advisors to consider that belonging to Christ changes how we treat each other, just as Paul challenged Philemon to center his relationship with Onesimus not on their respective roles of power and vulnerability, but on their common bond in Christ.
Institute for Faith & Learning
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