Archive for October, 2011
…philosophy is not something done, finished, of which one may take a draught at his pleasure. In every man, philosophy is something which has to be fabricated (fabricarse) by personal effort. This does not mean that every person needs to start from scratch or invent his own system. On the contrary. Precisely because we are dealing with radical and ultimate knowledge, philosophy finds itself mounted (montada) on a tradition. And this means that, even in the case of philosophies already formulated, such an adscription is itself the result of personal effort, of an authentic intellectual life. The rest is a brilliant ‘apprenticeship’ of books or a splendid course of grand lectures. One can, indeed, write book after book and spend a long life as a professor of philosophy, yet not even graze the outskirts of philosophical life. Conversely one can totally lack any ‘originality,’ yet possess in the most recondite part of himself the internal and silent movement of philosophy.
–Xavier Zubiri, “Our Intellectual Situation”
Adolfo Nicolás, S.J., Superior General of the Society of Jesus, on what he calls the “globalization of superficiality”:
When one can access so much information so quickly and so painlessly; when one can express and publish to the world one’s reactions so immediately and so unthinkingly in one’s blogs or micro-blogs; when the latest opinion column from the New York Times or El Pais, or the new- est viral video can be spread so quickly to people half a world away, shaping their perceptions and feelings, then the laborious, painstaking work of serious, critical thinking often gets short-circuited.
One can “cut-and-paste” without the need to think critically or write accurately or come to one’s own careful conclusions. When beautiful images from the merchants of consumer dreams flood one’s computer screens, or when the ugly or unpleasant sounds of the world can be shut out by one’s MP3 music player, then one’s vision, one’s perception of reality, one’s desiring can also remain shallow. When one can become “friends” so quickly and so painlessly with mere acquaintances or total strangers on one’s social networks – and if one can so easily “unfriend” another without the hard work of encounter or, if need be, confrontation and then reconciliation – then relationships can also become superficial.
When one is overwhelmed with such a dizzying pluralism of choices and values and beliefs and visions of life, then one can so easily slip into the lazy superficiality of relativism or mere tolerance of others and their views, rather than engaging in the hard work of forming communities of dialogue in the search of truth and understanding. It is easier to do as one is told than to study, to pray, to risk, or to discern a choice.