Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Center for the Study of the Great Ideas

I just found out about the Center for the Study of the Great Ideas, founded by Mortimer Adler and Max Weismann. Their mission:
The CENTER has two primary missions:

One, to help awaken citizens from their moral and intellectual slumbers and to help them understand why philosophy is everybody's business: the possibility of finding sound and practical answers to questions about the good life and good society. And philosophy's ability to answer the most basic normative questions, WHAT OUGHT WE SEEK IN LIFE? And HOW OUGHT WE SEEK IT?

Two, to promulgate the insights and ideals embedded in Dr. Adler's lifelong intellectual work in the fields of Philosophy, Liberal Education, Ethics and Politics. To continue functioning as THE resource for, access to, and the on-going interpretation of his work
I think their manifesto is quite interesting. It is immanentist when it comes to the role of civil society in the pursuit of happiness. I think Gaudium et Spes would disagree with this strongly:
The only standard we have for judging all of our social economic, and political institutions and arrangements as just or unjust, as good or bad, as better or worse, derives from our conception of the good life for man on earth, and from our conviction that, given certain external conditions, it is possible for men to make good lives for themselves by their own efforts.

There must be sufficient truth in moral philosophy to provide a rational basis for the efforts at social reform and improvement in which all men, regardless of their religious beliefs or disbeliefs, can join. Such common action for a better society presupposes that the measure of a good society consists in the degree to which it promotes the general welfare and serves the happiness of its people—this happiness being their earthly and temporal happiness, for there is no other ultimate end that the secular state can serve.
Late in life Adler became Catholic. I wonder if he modified his belief that "happiness being their earthly and temporal happiness, for there is no other ultimate end that the secular state can serve."

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