Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Matt C. Abbott

10/29/2013 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Our human lives have many levels. What this book strives to do is to spell out the levels and to point to the pleasures proper to human living.

Obviously, the title of the book assumes that there are "unreasonable" pleasures. Actually, the un-reason does not lie in the pleasure itself but in the activity from which it flows. It is always my position that to live well, we must think well. This is why this book is really an exercise in thinking about pleasures in their different modes. We do not forget that our end is seeing God, eternal life. But this "seeing" this beatific vision, is also a delight. But we do not "see" God for the delight of seeing but for God Himself. The delight follows the seeing. Once we understand this relationship, we can better order our lives to delight in them.

Highlights

By Matt C. Abbott

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

10/29/2013 (2 years ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Matt C. Abbott, Catholicism, Catholic, James V. Schall, S.J, Georgetown


WASHINGTON,DC (Catholic Online) - The following is an interview with prolific Catholic writer Father James V. Schall, S.J., a longtime professor of political philosophy at Georgetown University until his retirement in 2012. Thanks to Father Schall for taking the time to answer my questions; and to Kevin Wandra of Carmel Communications for facilitating the interview. Father's latest book is Reasonable Pleasures: The Strange Coherences of Catholicism.
-------
Matt C. Abbott: Father, could you give my readers an overview of your latest book? What inspired you to write it?

Father Schall: This book was written during a semester that I was recovering from jaw cancer. I was given a semester sabbatical leave to recover. I was over the worst in a couple of months, so I had some time before the Spring Semester (2011) began. I had long wanted to take up the Aristotelian theme that all human activities have, by nature, connected with them a proper pleasure.

Obviously, a different kind of pleasure exists for every kind of activity. We forget that even thinking, or especially thinking, has its proper pleasure. Aristotle even says, speaking of politicians, that if they do now know or experience pleasure in the highest things, they will seek them in lower things. That is really the testimony of human experience.

The rightness or morality of a pleasure is not itself but the activity in which it ought to exist. Thus, if we separate the pleasure from the activity in which it should exist, we distort and abuse both the activity and the pleasure that belongs to it. Aristotle said that pleasure is one of the common definitions of happiness. But on examination, it cannot be its essence. Pleasure follows an activity. If the act is wrong, the pleasure remains, but it is distorted. If the act is good, the pleasure is proper and enhances the activity. This is what is rooted in our being.

The basic theme of the book is that pleasure as such is a good, a natural good that was intended to be consequent to or implicit in any act. Yet, it is clear that we have many possibilities to separate pleasure from its proper act. When we do this, we introduce disorder into our souls. Our lives should be full of delight and pleasure. But in a proper order. Putting order into our pleasures is the work of reason. It often takes understanding followed by discipline or practice. We are to order our lives. No one else will or can do it for us. Thus a principal part of education is simply to teach what sort of pleasure belongs to what act and why.

Our human lives have many levels. What this book strives to do is to spell out the levels and to point to the pleasures proper to human living. I do this in part to recall that many heresies or philosophic disorders want to make pleasure an evil. There can be evil connected with pleasure, but only when we separate it from its proper act.

Obviously, the title of the book assumes that there are "unreasonable" pleasures. Actually, the un-reason does not lie in the pleasure itself but in the activity from which it flows. It is always my position that to live well, we must think well. This is why this book is really an exercise in thinking about pleasures in their different modes. We do not forget that our end is seeing God, eternal life. But this "seeing" this beatific vision, is also a delight. But we do not "see" God for the delight of seeing but for God Himself. The delight follows the seeing. Once we understand this relationship, we can better order our lives to delight in them.

Matt C. Abbott: Over the last few decades, there has been an alarming decline of faith and practice in many Catholic colleges and universities (and in society at large). What can be done to restore the sacred in Catholic academia?

Father Schall: The decline of faith and practice is not an exclusively college phenomenon. Probably, when it comes to understanding and practicing the faith, universities are the last, not first, places to expect wide spread belief.

I have written a number of books that are vaguely addressed to this problem-Another Sort of Learning, Students' Guide to Liberal Learning, and The Life of the Mind. It does not take much to open the eyes of an intelligent young man or woman to the truth of things and to the fact that they are not finding it in what they are being presented. This means that they must find a different path. There is nothing wrong with learning what the culture stands for and demands. One must know his enemy, as it were. Eric Voegelin once remarked that no one has to participate in the disorders of his time. This is true. But it demands what can only be called "intellectual courage," the kind Socrates complimented Plato's brothers, Adeimantos and Glaucon, for having in book two of the Republic.

I have often been struck by something that I think Joseph Ratzinger said in one of his early essays. The reason we cannot pass on the faith automatically is because it is not possible to do so. Each generation must accept or reject what the previous generation believed and accepted. In both cases, what is believed should also be reasonable even faith is directed to reason and does not contradict it. In this sense, we should not be overly surprised that one generation loses faith and another gains it. After all, it usually happens that we can see the foibles and disorders of past generations. What we do not see is our own. We think that because we are different we are therefore right; sometimes yes, sometimes no.

What we need to do is to find the source of truth, both that which our reason can figure out and that which we hear from revelation, which is also addressed to the truth of things. Truth has a bad name today. And rightly so, because if you want to do simply what you want to do, you do not want to be bothered by truth. Therefore, it is best to deny its very possibility. But this path really does not work either. It cannot be true that nothing is true. Catholicism is an intellectual religion, or better a religion or a revelation directed to reason. Once we understand this, we can find writers and teachers who will guide us further. But to believe we also have to live well. Otherwise, we use our minds to justify our living as we want. We end with only our own paltry "truth" that does not conform to reality. Then we wonder why we cannot be happy when we are doing only what we want.

----------------------------------

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic columnist with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication, Media and Theatre from Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, and an Associate in Applied Science degree in Business Management from Triton College in River Grove, Ill. He has worked in the right-to-life movement and is a published writer focused on Catholic and social issues. He can be reached at mattcabbott@gmail.com.

Order your copy of Reasonable Pleasures: The Strange Coherences of Catholicism directly from the publisher, Ignatius Press, by clicking right here.  

---


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


Copyright 2015 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for April 2016
Universal:
Small Farmers: That small farmers may receive a just reward for their precious labor.
Evangelization: African Christians: That Christians in Africa may give witness to love and faith in Jesus Christ amid political-religious conflicts.



Comments


More U.S.

'It was an escape:' father of Scientology founder tells all Watch

Image of Ron Miscavige, the father of Scientology leader David Miscavige, opens up (20/20)

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Ron and Becky Miscavige escaped the California Scientology compound known as the "Gold Base" and have stepped forward to share their story. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Scientology is a quiet religion shrouded in secrets - many of which are believed to be ... continue reading


No Phony Truces in the Battle to Block Most Anti-Life, Liberal Court in a Generation

Image of The United States Supreme Court

By J. Kenneth Blackwell

While much of our attention is on the Presidential race, the looming battle over a Supreme Court nomination merits no less attention.  The battle lines are clear in this nomination and the future of the Court and our Constitutional principles are at ... continue reading


Fr Frank Pavone - Amoris Laetitia: Pope Francis' Encouraging Roadmap for Families Watch

Image of Fr Frank Pavone, National Director, Priests for Life

By Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director, Priests for Life

Amoris Laetitia is a timely and loving exhortation for families towards genuine charity that begins within the nuclear family. It can be described as a new road-map for a culture that has taken a sad and tragic detour. The Joy of Love recognizes women's ... continue reading


Catherine of Siena: We Need Saints for this Missionary Age Watch

Image of Today, in the Roman Catholic Liturgical Calendar, we commemorate one of the greatest women saints of Christian history, Catherine of Siena.  While praying at Peter's tomb, she experienced the great weight of the Church fall on her shoulders.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Father, raise up women like Catherine of Siena for this new missionary age of your Church. Women who are so in love with you, and so conformed to the Image of your Son, they can do for your Church in this hour, what she did in her own. Saints are a gift for the ... continue reading


Christian student shockingly dropped from master's program for practicing religious rights Watch

Image of Andrew Cash was discriminated against for practicing his religious rights (YouTube).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Andrew Cash practiced his religious rights at Missouri State University - and was dismissed from the master's program in counseling as a result. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to the Catholic News Agency, Cash was referring same-sex couples to another ... continue reading


Not a newsflash, U.S. government authorized use of propaganda on American people...in 2013. Here's who to blame Watch

Image of Obama signed the amendment into law in 2013.

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Does the news seem a little too pro-American to you? Does it seem reporters pull punches and that the real issues are ignored? Perhaps that's the result of a quiet change to the law that took place in 2013. A law banning the use of government propaganda on the American ... continue reading


The cost of incarceration: What can we do? Watch

Image of What can we do about overpopulated prisons and ex-cons' ability to find work (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)?

By Matt Hadro (CNA)

Experts from across the political spectrum are calling for criminal justice reform, as a new White House report shows the human and economic costs of the current justice system. Washington D.C. (CNA) - "This is a singular moment in one of the most challenging issues ... continue reading


Sickening portrayal of Jesus pinned to a dartboard presented as art in university library Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

An appalling portrayal of Jesus plastered to a dartboard was posted up as artwork inside the Art Library at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The "art piece," titled "Vitruvian Man," shows Jesus nailed to the dartboard ... continue reading


Which bathroom should you use? And why is this a question? Watch

Image of Figuring out which restroom to use isn't supposed to be a dilemma.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The American people are seemingly obsessed with public restrooms these days and precisely how people use the potty. The fear is being stoked by concerns that individuals who "self-identify" as the opposite sex, will take advantage of liberal policies and assault ... continue reading


Prayer Is the Path to Real Freedom Watch

Image of Prayer is the lifeline of a Christian

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Jesus said to his disciples: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. CHESAPEAKE, VA. ... continue reading


All U.S. 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, Acts 15:1-2, 22-29
1 Then some men came down from Judaea and taught the brothers, 'Unless ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8
2 Then the earth will acknowledge your ways, and all nations your power ... Read More

Gospel, John 14:23-29
23 Jesus replied: Anyone who loves me will keep my word, and my Father ... Read More

Reading 2, Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23
10 In the spirit, he carried me to the top of a very high mountain, and ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for May 1st, 2016 Image

St. Marculf
May 1: Marculf is also known as Marcoul. He was born at ... Read More