Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Brian Hanson

11/29/2013 (1 year 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 (1 year 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'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for December 2014
Christmas, hope for humanity:
That the birth of the Redeemer may bring peace and hope to all people of good will.
Parents: That parents may be true evangelizers, passing on to their children the precious gift of faith.



Comments


More Blog

Triage in the Confessional

Image of Confession heals and makes us whole.

By by Tara K. E. Brelinsky

Last year, at around this same time in Advent, we were sitting in church. Mass having just been celebrated, Monsignor Williams was announcing the upcoming events on the calendar when he invited us all to a penance service. Ever eloquent, his description began to ... continue reading


Who Will Step Up This Christmas and Speak the Truth in Love?

Image of God's love is eternal.

By Michael Seagriff

This is one of the two times each year when, I believe, our Lord most dreads the silence that will envelop far too many of our parishes. Someone needs to give voice to His yearnings. Where is the zeal for the salvation of souls?  What follows is similar to some of ... continue reading


The Pagan Who Helped Build the Catholic Church

Image of Gaius Valerius Diocles was born sometime around the year 244. He took the Roman throne, persecute the early Christians but give the Church its base structure that survives to this day.

By Michael Clark

As we approach the Christmas season and the celebration of the birth of Jesus (and by extension, the Church), we would be remiss if we did not learn more about the pagan who helped give the Church its structure and the means to expand throughout the world: the Emperor ... continue reading


A Simple Reflection on Mary's Fiat

Image of Mary's 'fiat' changed the eternal fate of mankind.

By Michael Seagriff

In today's Gospel (Luke 1:26-38) we hear the angel Gabriel's familiar greeting to our heavenly Mother Mary: 'Hail full of grace'. We repeat that salutation every time we pray the 'Hail Mary.  As a result, we sometimes forget the significance of those words and the ... continue reading


Everything we have is a gift from God!

Image of Give God everything you desire, everything you are fighting to hang on to. Then wait for the Lord. In quiet and in calm, wait for the Lord. 'By waiting and by calm you shall be saved, in quiet and in trust shall be your strength' (Isaiah 30:15).

By Jackie Stammen

Nothing here on this earth is actually ours. Nothing. Our family is not even technically our own - they are on loan to us, a gift from God to help us through life and hopefully make us holy in order to obtain the ultimate gift, Heaven. NASHVILLE, TN - Even though I ... continue reading


When We Lived in the Wild West

Image of A would be burglar caught by police.

By by Tara K. E. Brelinsky

A fierce rage swelled inside of me as I considered the events of that night. My children and quite frankly I were unsettled at the notion that a stranger was casing our house, inventorying our belongings. I was annoyed that my neighbor wasn't free to unload his ... continue reading


Thank You for never giving up on us, Lord

Image of Lord, grasp my heart that I might always seek you and draw closer to You.

By Jackie Stammen

My heart has been all over the place today. This morning, I left those I love the most (my family) and made the 400 mile drive back to Nashville. A holiday weekend filled with the love of family is just what I needed, but it also stirred a multitude of emotions within ... continue reading


If You Have To Paint, Make It A Painting Party

By Jackie Stammen

It's been a really long time since I lasted posted on here, but I haven't forgotten about this blog.  NASHVILLE, TN -  Truthfully it's not even that I've necessarily felt uninspired. So many times over the past few months I have thought about writing, but my ... continue reading


Are You a Contractual Catholic-Christian?

Image of During mass at the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish, Cubao, Philippines

By Andee de Jesus

Every week, we celebrate the Lords day. We attended the mass not due to compliance and wishes. Our desires inspire us to keep moving, yet there are more reasons on how we should live our everyday lives with our Creator.  QUEZON CITY, PH - One Sunday afternoon, in ... continue reading


#StopEbolaStrike, Protect America

Image of Ebola has a very high death rate.

By Cheryl Jones

There is currently a #StopEbolaStrike under that hash tag on Twitter. LOS ANGELES, CA - Those who are studying this out, scientists, say that this Ebola is a different strain from those that have gone before. It may spread easier. It may go airborne. It may have an ... continue reading


All Blog News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for December 18th, 2014 Image

St. Rufus
December 18: Rufus and Zosimus were citizens of Antioch (or perhaps Philippi) ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter