Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Matt C. Abbott

10/29/2013 (5 months 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.

Article Highlights

By Matt C. Abbott

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

10/29/2013 (5 months 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'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for April 2014
Ecology and Justice:
That governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources.
Hope for the Sick: That the Risen Lord may fill with hope the hearts of those who are being tested by pain and sickness.



Comments


More U.S.

Alabama Supreme Court Recognizes Child in the Womb Has Fundamental Rights

Image of The Alabama Supreme Court

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Because a human life with a full genetic endowment comes into existence at the moment of conception, the self-evident truth that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights encompasses the moment of conception. Legal ... continue reading


Help Make the Story of the Serial Killer/Abortionist Kermit Gosnell Into a Movie Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

In 1852, the great abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass was invited to speak on the Fourth of July and delivered the now famous speech entitled What to the Slave is the Fourth of July. Here is a stirring quote from that famous speech: 'For it is not light that ... continue reading


Their Eyes Were Opened: Walk With Jesus on the Road to Emmaus Watch

Image of On the Road to Emmaus: In the light of the encounter with the Lord in the breaking of the bread, their eyes were opened. So it is meant to be with each one of us. The Holy Eucharist is more than a commemoration; it is an invitation into communion with the Living God - right now because Jesus Christ is Risen from the dead and walks with us on the road of life.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

We are those disciples on the road to Emmaus, living our lives in the real world, walking along with Jesus who is always there accompanying us on the road, whether we recognize Him or not. He listens to us, and understands us, because he became like us, in "all ... continue reading


Made for Beauty: Liturgy and Music

Image of

By Deal W. Hudson

Some might flinch at my use of the word "satisfying" to describe a liturgy, but I used it deliberately because I want to think aloud about the fact that we were made for beauty as much as we were made for goodness and truth.  To be satisfied by the shape, ... continue reading


'COME AND TAKE IT' Texas AG blasts BLM scheming to seize state land, threatens fight Watch

Image of Texans are rallying against the federal government and its habitual overreach.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A major land war between the Bureau of Land Management and the state of Texas is brewing as Texas lawmakers push back against the feds plan to seize 90,000 acres of land along the Texas/Oklahoma border. AUSTIN, TEXAS (Catholic Online) - The Bureau of Land Management ... continue reading


SHOCKING NEW TWIST: Autistic boy defends teenage girls who filmed his sexual assault Watch

Image of The parents of the victim are insistent that they want their son's abuser, 17-year-old Lauren A. Bush to be tried as an adult.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Abused beyond belief by two teenage girls, who filmed their despicable activities with their cellphones, a 16-year-old autistic boy now says he doesn't want to press charges against them - concerned that it would damage their - "friendship?" LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Time to Live the Easter Way of Life Watch

Image of Easter is more than a Day; it is a way of living our lives in Jesus Christ. Darkness has been scattered by the Light which broke forth from that empty tomb. That Light is meant to infuse our daily lives with the radiance of Resurrected love.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

The early Christians lived their lives in the Lord, for the sake of the world. They exhibited a holy boldness; because they internalized the faith they professed and allowed it to transform every aspect of their lives. They experienced the transforming power of ... continue reading


50,000-strong OK Militia declares they will resist federal takeover attempts Watch

Image of The Oklahoma Militia is ready to defend property against unlawful federal seizure.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An Oklahoma militia which claims the allegiance of 50,000 members has sided with Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy in his recent clash against the feds. Although the standoff appears to be over, and is not likely to resume, the militia says it is ready to defend the rights ... continue reading


BLOODY EASTER WEEKEND IN CHICAGO: Six children shot in widespread violence Watch

Image of Five of the six children wounded, aged from 11 to 15 years, were shot during a drive-by shooting Sunday night.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

With 36 people wounded, and nine people dead, it was one of the most violent Easter weekends in Chicago within recent memory. Far more shocking was the fact that six young children were among those injured. Gang violence remains prevalent on Chicago's windy ... continue reading


Militant atheist organization seeks to ban schools from reciting the Pledge of Allegiance Watch

Image of The AHA says that the line

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An organization of militant atheists is suing a New Jersey school district of discrimination, on the behalf of a family who take offense to the line "Under God," within the Pledge of Allegiance. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The lawsuit against the ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 3:11-26
11 Everyone came running towards them in great ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 8:2, 5, 6-7, 8-9
2 even through the mouths of children, or of babes in ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 24:35-48
35 Then they told their story of what had happened on ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 24th, 2014 Image

St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen
April 24: Franciscan Capuchin martyr. He was born Mark Rey is Sigmaringen, ... 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