Sunday, September 24, 2006

beauty of reason is a philosophical one

The incendiary reaction by some Muslims against the Pope's academic recollection of a medieval Christian emperor's view of Islam's fetish for the sword is fair fodder for cartoon.

Now, Iran's Nasrallah in Lebanon exclaims that no army can remove Hezbollah's extant 20,000 swords (i.e., rockets) that are devoted to godknows what “resistance”—apparently resistance against a U.N. order of rights that Israel symbolizes.

Fundamentalist Islam is a campaign of the sword that nostalgically idealizes a new caliphate, contrary to all the Muslim lives flourishing peacefully within modern societies the world over. What Israel basically symbolizes for fundamentalist Islam (not just for violent extremists) is EuroAmerican modernity, and it is this realm of reason that was the point of the Pope's discourse earlier this month—something which has everything to do with the evolution of democracy within the Islamic world.

Judism, Christianity, and Islam dwell relative to—belong together in the same order Of—“God”, which shows Itself in reasons of Love's Reason, according to the Pope (and, in secular terms, according to contemporary virtue ethics, e.g., Harry Frankfurt of Princeton University in Reasons of Love, 2004). In light of modernity, what's divine shows in intellectual virtue of humanity, in which we all belong as planetary phenomenon by grace of the cosmological order that is irrefutable.

But equally irrefutable is that our planetarity is geographically “comprehended” by its cultures. Europe was born from Christian historicality. According to the Pope in his Regensburg lecture (who's not connoting merely Church doctrine here): The “inner rapprochement between Biblical faith and Greek philosophical inquiry...,” which evented Christianity, “finally took on its historically decisive character in Europe. We can also express this the other way around: this convergence, with the subsequent addition of the Roman heritage, created Europe and remains the foundation of what can rightly be called Europe.”

More than that, according to Habermas recently, “Universalistic egalitarianism, from which sprang the ideals of freedom and a collective life in solidarity, the autonomous conduct of life and emancipation, the individual morality of conscience, human rights and democracy, is the direct legacy of the Judaic ethic of justice and the Christian ethic of love” (“A Conversation About God and the World,” Time of Transitions (Polity Press, 2006, mentioned recently at First Things, which refers to a summary of Habermas’ discussion with Joseph Ratzinger and an article about Europe by Pope Benedict.

No wonder, then, that latter day Islam would find its resurgent fundamentalisms essentially troubled by the global appeal of Westernity's universalism (which was born from Christian ecumenism) exemplified by the U.N. order currently led by the West.

But fundamentalism fails to understand that universalism is constitutively unhegemonic (thus non-essentially Western), due to its primordial humanism (whereas theocentrism cannot be primordially humanist and must be ultimately threatened by universalist humanism). Philosophical Christianity (distinct from fundamentalist Christianity) has a constitutional basis in reason that ensures its adaptability (e.g., its hybridity in South America and Africa), which fundamentalism ultimately cannot bear, since appropriation of such adaptability dissolves the anger (and the sword) that’s integral to fundamentalism.

Just before his trip to Bavaria, a keynote of the Ratzinger/Benedict’s annual meeting with former students was conveyed (“an important meeting at the highest academic level,” according to Vienna Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn [Reuters, Sept. 4]), to the effect that the Church has no problem accepting evolution, unlike fundamentalism (in its unscientific resort to creationism), because the Church’s reasoning is “a philosophical one” which fundamentalism lacks.

“There’s a controversy in the United States,” according to Father Joseph Fessio S.J., provost of Ave Maria University in Florida, “because there is a lack of awareness of a thing called philosophy. Evangelicals and creationists generally lack it and Catholics have it. When you look at the world and see what appears to be order and design, the conclusion that there is a designer is not a scientific conclusion, it’s a philosophical one.”

Concordantly, I would argue that a universalistic humanism of lovely reason may be understood to express an evolving humanity to which each of us may contribute, and the bridgework between faith and science—facilitation of human flourishing—is ultimately a matter of philosophical reasoning. Here is a hand offered to Islamic hermeneutics (ijtihad, which I related to democratic interests earlier). The truth of “God” is at least as subtle as reason’s capability (but only as comprehensible as one’s developmentality)—truth relative to capability for reason (religion in human development rather than “religion within the limits of reason”)—which expresses evolving human comprehensibility, representable always only relative to developing lives.

Beauties of reason appear to varying degree, always relatively speaking. Yet, the highlands of humanity may speak singularly—for example: as our shared planetarity of Time in “Being,” i.e., Our evolving.

How we may each authentically live expresses potentials of flourishing accessible, in principle, to each one of us in belonging together in the “same” humanity of oneself.