Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Brian Hanson

11/29/2013 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Truth is the universal (catholic) principle that makes a university

The modern university and culture has incapacitated human beings for being able to encounter a transcendent reality, a truth that transcends mere "facts". 

The 17th century Porta Ferrea or 'iron gate' which leads to the courtyard of Coimbra's Old University.

The 17th century Porta Ferrea or 'iron gate' which leads to the courtyard of Coimbra's Old University.

Highlights

By Brian Hanson

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

11/29/2013 (2 years ago)

Published in Blog

Keywords: Catholicity, Education, Technology, Family, Marriage, Science, University, Truth, Fides et Ratio, John Paul II


WASHINGTON, DC - In the first universities, education was about encountering truth, and through this encounter, the human being was introduced into a world that allowed his spirit to flourish.  It was simply good to know the truth; in a sense, the human being was fulfilled when he encountered truth.  This encounter entailed something of a conversion, an experience that allowed the human intellect to also flourish and "find a home" in the truth it was learning.  In this respect, the first universities implied a real unity - a unity of being in the truth.  The various disciplines that made up the university stemmed from this deeper reality that united them all: encountering truth.

Hence, the first universities were, in principle, truly catholic.  'Catholic' means 'universal', and that was the founding principle of education in the university.

Today however, education in the modern university is very different from what a university was originally meant to be.  To say that education is about encountering truth seems to be wholly gratuitous, and entirely unnecessary.  In fact the word "truth" means nothing more than "facts" collected from scientific data; and this is what the "educational experience" consists of in the modern university: not in encountering an intrinsic, universal (catholic) truth - the truth about reality as such - but in recording facts and data from scientific studies.  Without truth as a fundamental and universal principle, education is eradicated and replaced with an extrinsic forum with little or no concern for human flourishing.

In the modern university, data and "facts" are presented as means for achieving a goal, namely, a career.  People today typically ask one who attends a university, "What will you do with that ['that' being their degree]?"  Hence, a degree strictly serves a utilitarian purpose: its only value lies in its "usefulness".  

Shouldn't an education be more than striving for mere utilitarian means and ends?  The truth isn't good because it is useful, but because it is good!  The moment of conversion within an encounter with truth was the moment that transcended any utilitarian purpose that might be extracted from receiving an education - that was the original goal of the university.  It was the moment when the human person encountered the catholicity of truth.

Today, we could say that the modern university has reduced the unity of truth (or if you like, the catholicity of truth) to being data and "facts" that have no intrinsic connection to each other.  The experience of conversion is also one of unimportance, another "gratuitous fact" that bears no relationship to reality as such.

University of South Alabama Catholic Student Association.


It should go without saying that what goes on in the university spills over into the culture; in fact we could say the culture is an expression of the university.  What is happening in our North American culture and universities?  As George Grant would say, we no longer have universities - that is, those places of learning that are united by universal (catholic) truth - but "multiversities".  Without this unifying principle, the university is shattered and fragmented.  Is this not also indicative of the current situation of our North American culture?  Are we not also "shattered" and "fragmented" without any unifying principle to hold us together?

The modern university and culture has incapacitated human beings for being able to encounter a transcendent reality, a truth that transcends mere "facts".  It is the world of rationalism, which John Paul II so aptly described in his 1998 encyclical, Fides et Ratio: "It has happened... that reason, rather than voicing the human orientation towards truth, has wilted under the weight of so much knowledge and little by little has lost the capacity to lift its gaze to the heights, not daring to rise to the truth of being" (5).  

Perhaps healing the culture means reforming the university.  Sadly, even many Catholic universities suffer from disunity.

Obviously, some questions must be asked: what exactly is truth; what exactly is the unifying principle of truth that makes a university?  The answer can be approached from many angles, but for now it must be said that truth is a universal reality; it is catholic in the fullest sense of the word.  An education in truth is the only education worthy of a university; a catholic education is the right education.

A birth foretold: click here to learn more!

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copyright 2016 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for June 2016
Universal:
Human Solidarity: That the aged, marginalized, and those who have no one may findeven within the huge cities of the worldopportunities for encounter and solidarity.
Evangelization: Seminarians and Novices: That seminarians and men and women entering religious life may have mentors who live the joy of the Gospel and prepare them wisely for their mission.



Comments


More Blog

Orlando: Finding Peace in Tragedy Watch

Image of

By Chaplain Adele M. Gill

It is hard to be at peace watching the news these days, especially after seeing the coverage of the Orlando Shooting that just killed 50 innocent people and injured 53 more. As the world seems to be spinning out of control with mayhem, hatred, evil, and increased ... continue reading


Citizenship Begins at Conception Watch

Image of

By Chaplain Adele M. Gill, RN, BSN, CPC

Today, Hillary Clinton won the Democratic votes necessary to be the nominee for her party. A legendary and outspoken supporter of abortion, I am dismayed at the thought that Hillary could be president for a myriad of reasons, but especially her cold-blooded stance on ... continue reading


Abort! Abort! Watch

Image of

By Michaela Daphne

I was saying goodbye to a friend the other day - a friend who isn't from my Christian circles - and two little words tumbled out of my mouth before I could gather them up again:""God bless!"The thoughts that followed in my head went something like this:"Did I really ... continue reading


The idea of female ordination offends me Watch

Image of Not so fast!

By Michaela Daphne

My Uncle said that one day I'll be Pope. I'd like to point out at this point that I am female. He was joking of course, but unfortunately there are many people out there who would have taken his proclamation quite seriously and encouraged me to show the world that ... continue reading


A Corpus Christi Lament

Image of

By Michael Seagriff

When we entered Church yesterday on the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ,was it any different than walking into a movie theater, a school auditorium or other public place? How much consideration was given to He Who is really truly and substantially present ... continue reading


Thank You for Giving Me Something to Work With

Image of

By Cheryl Jones

I feel led to give a simple testimony that may help others who pray. There are certain prayers I do on a regular basis. Today I expanded the scope of these prayers and included a wider group. When finished, I heard the Lord say, "Thank you for giving me something to ... continue reading


When Bad Things Happen Watch

Image of

By Cheryl Jones

The question, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" has been asked more than once.  Job, in the midst of his trials gave a clue where to look when there are problems. But ye should say, Why persecute we him, seeing the root of the matter is found in ... continue reading


The Political Rise and Fall of Dr. Ben Carson (Part Two)

Image of

By Justin Soutar

Within two and a half years' time, Dr. Ben Carson's political star had climbed with extraordinary steadiness from the horizon to the zenith, where it shone with dazzling brilliance, and then suddenly it plunged toward the opposite horizon, disappearing from view ... continue reading


'Tolerate as I have tolerated you' Watch

Image of

By Michaela Daphne

Jesus is not nice."Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword." (Matt 10:34) BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - It's no accident that C.S. Lewis used a lion to represent Christ."Safe?" said Mr. Beaver; "don't you hear ... continue reading


Believing in God's Providence Watch

Image of

By Jackie Stammen

This is a tough one for me, but I am certain this is a lesson God is desperately trying to teach me. It's a lesson I need to learn if I want progress in this journey of life with the Lord. NASHVILLE, TN - When I say 'learn' I don't mean to simply understand what God's ... continue reading


All Blog News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Kings 19:16-21
16 You must anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king of Israel, and anoint ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 16:1-2, 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11
1 [In a quiet voice Of David] Protect me, O God, in you is my ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 9:51-62
51 Now it happened that as the time drew near for him to be taken up, he ... Read More

Reading 2, Galatians 5:1, 13-18
1 Christ set us free, so that we should remain free. Stand firm, then, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for June 26th, 2016 Image

St. Anthelm
June 26: Carthusian monk and bishop, defender of papal ... Read More