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FUMARE

Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Waxing Philosophical

Argument:

"If you would be a seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things."

--Descartes

Refutation:

"[I]ntellectual freedom is customarily defined by the mentality of free inquiry, the mentality which sees itself as not enslaved to any fixed conception but free to subject every doctrine to critical examination and possible rejection.
....
[F]ree inquiry is usually justified by its effect in the pursuit of truth. More truths will be discovered, and more surely held, it is said, if all beliefs are subject to question and possible reversal. But such an assertion, if it is not a "dogma," must be grounded on the actual examination of the issues upon which men have disagreed, a judgment where the truth lies in each case, and then a determination of whether and how much the principle of free inquiry was an advantage. It would then follow that the resolution of those issues--the test cases of intellectual progress--would be immune to criticism under the principle of free inquiry, since the value of the principle is predicated on their resolution.

A further difficulty is that the principle of free inquiry would be nullified by the achievement of its stated purpose. As long as a man is ignorant, it is consistent with his condition to remain open to both the affirmative and negative answers to the issue in question. But when and if he comes to know (which is the purpose of his investigation) the matter ceases to be doubtful to him, and his mind closes to the possibility that the opposite might be true. He is no longer free to doubt, except willfully. Thus by the assumed definition ignorance makes free, while knowledge enslaves."

--A Proposal for the Fulfillment of Catholic Liberal Education

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