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 2016 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for May 2016
Universal:
Respect for Women: That in every country of the world, women may be honored and respected and that their essential contribution to society may be highly esteemed.
Evangelization: Holy Rosary: That families, communities, and groups may pray the Holy Rosary for evangelization and peace.



Comments


More U.S.

Captain James Cook wreckage discovered! Watch

Image of Legendary British explorer Captain James Cook's vessel is believed to have been discovered (John Webber).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Captain James Cook was a famous British explorer who commanded the HMS Endeavour from 1768 to 1771. Since it was intentionally sunk, its whereabouts fell into question - until now? LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to CNN, researchers from  the Rhode ... continue reading


You won't believe why this ICONIC WWII image is being investigated! Watch

Image of Two amateur historians raised questions concerning a service member in the image (Corbis).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Two amateur historians believe one of the men in the iconic Mount Suribachi image was misidentified, prompting a Marine Corp investigation. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The image, taken by the Associated Press' Joe Rosenthal, reveals the struggle six servicemen ... continue reading


Puerto Rico drowns in debt - What is the U.S. going to do about it? Watch

Image of Puerto Rico missed its first nearly $400 million bond payment (YouTube).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

U.S. territory Puerto Rico defaulted its first payment of nearly $400 million - so what is the territory going to do? LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Puerto Rico has suffered a recession for the past decade, resulting in the government borrowing money from foreign ... continue reading


ISIS kills U.S. Navy SEAL in violent attack Watch

Image of ISIS breaks Peshmerga lins to kill U.S. Navy SEAL (navysealsmuseum).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

A U.S. Navy SEAL was killed in the line of duty when ISIS forces pushed their way through a Kurdish Peshmerga line. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "It is a combat death, of course. And a very sad loss," U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said during an official ... continue reading


'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


'Clown-in-Chief' Obama makes skit about retirement, but here's why we're not laughing Watch

Image of Obama thinks he's a comedian, but some matters are too serious to joke about.

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

President Obama, in an act of self-depreciating humor, has made a SNL-style spoof about his retirement. While amusing at moments, we can't decide if the video is good, because to make it he had to take time away from issuing executive orders, or bad, because it must ... continue reading


CIA under fire for 'live tweeting' dramatic Bin Laden raid on 5 year anniversary Watch

Image of Though some patriots were pleased to see the tweets, several compared the CIA to ISIS and their propaganda videos.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The CIA celebrated the 5-year anniversary of Osama bin Ladin's death by posting "live tweets" of the raid that killed him. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - For those who don't have a Twitter account, the CIA posted a timeline of the raid on their website.The tweets ... continue reading


Athanasius, Defender of the Incarnation: Defend the Faith! Watch

Image of St. Athanasius, Bishop and Doctor of the Incarnation

By Deacon Keith Fournier

The Bishop and Doctor of the Church whom we honor today in the Roman Catholic Liturgical Calendar was called the Defender of the Incarnation. This title summarizes a life given over to defending the central Christian claim - about who Jesus is and who we can 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


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

  • Your Daily Inspirational Meme: I fear no evil!
  • WARNING GRAPHIC VIDEO - Terrorists behead Canadian hostage, release ...
  • Daily Readings for Wednesday, May 04, 2016
  • St. Matthew HD Video
  • Daily Reading for Thursday, May 5th, 2016 HD Video
  • You won't believe why this ICONIC WWII image is being investigated!
  • St. Florian: Saint of the Day for Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Corinthians 15:1-8
1 I want to make quite clear to you, brothers, what the message of the ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 19:2-3, 4-5
2 day discourses of it to day, night to night hands on the ... Read More

Gospel, John 14:6-14
6 Jesus said: I am the Way; I am Truth and Life. No one can come to the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for May 3rd, 2016 Image

St. James the Lesser
May 3: St. James the Less, the author of the first ... Read More