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Monday, July 11, 2011

Sex and ....Great Books and..... Thomas Aquinas?

Dr. Kreeft. Lookin' all awesome
I recently read a Peter Kreeft essay on sexual morality and the liberal arts. Given that those are both matters of some interest for me (my grad school gets mentioned in a particularly positive light in the piece) and that I think his ideas are thought provoking at the least (and possibly quite illuminating) I thought I would give a brief summary and some of my own reaction to it here at heaven and earth questions, send y'all over to Dr. Kreeft's site to read the actual essay, and invite you back here to comment.

Quick note for full transparency: I am generally a big fan of Dr. Kreeft and most of his writing. His modern scholar class on St. Thomas Aquinas is great, and I have not found a better C.S. Lewis scholar.

Alright, with the disclaimers out of the way, lets charge ahead. In this essay Dr. Kreeft points out that the sexual revolution in the west was generally concurrent with a decline in appreciation for what we generally refer to as "liberal education" and specifically for the study of the great books. He recognizes that correlation does not equal causation and so He argues that both of these events are results of a common cause: a decline in our cultures tendency to value truth for it's own sake.
I went to school here. You should too.
As I understand him, he is arguing that when a person (or culture) values truth and the discovery of truth as an end in itself—a value he identifies as being at the core of a liberal arts education—that person or culture is much more likely to see other things, especially the good and the beautiful, as ends in themselves. Thus if we value truth for it's own sake, not as a means to some other end, we are also likely to value other people, sexual partners and even sex itself as distinct metaphysical entities which we will then value for their own sakes rather than as means to some other end (generally our own pleasure or fulfillment).
These are books

Now I am somewhat exited about this line of thinking because it would fit really well with a thesis I have been working on wherein I want to argue that we need to return to a pre-modern paradigm wherein we begin with metaphysics, asking what things are before we ask how they can be used or how we can know about them. So if Dr. Kreeft is right, then the reason I am so drawn to Liberal Arts education and so "squeemish" about newer sexual ethics, is that I want to discover the truth of what things are, to value things for their own natures and not as means to some other end.

But what do y'all think? Does Dr. Kreeft have point? Is he just dead wrong about everything? About some things? Does his approach to these issues fit more into a pre-modern paradigm? Is a pre-modern worldview worth pursuing?

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