Sounds crazy, but would be fun. All right so, we're at TAC ultimately to study St. Thomas and holy Scripture, to learn from God himself. This makes it sometimes difficult to give a fair treatment of certain authors that appear later, such as Spinoza, Hegel, Marx. Often the conflict with reality is manifest, some of these authors are difficult. So, in order to study them more carefully, it would be fun to write the story of a student captivated by the arguments, unable to find faults in the words of Hegel and Marx, taking them as the culmination of the world-historical motion toward self-consciousness.
Of course our central character would have to see himself as the culmination or next step, and he would also have to be active in bringing forth history.
Sometimes these thinkers seem to put forth what amounts to a justification of evil, self love, and so on. The problem is that many already live according to principles laid down in these authors. One need not be a philosopher to act against nature. Hm, I'll have to think about this more but not be absorbed by it. I should to spend my free hours in a more direct pursuit of wisdom. Of course a student who is capable of understanding Marx and Hegel must have some keenness of wit, and therefore cannot abandon the truth found in Aristotle or St. Thomas. Unfortunately he would have to be either an apostate or one who never believed if he is able to embrace what such thinkers teach.
I was talking to someone yesterday who called Epictetus the anti-Christian, and this surprised me. Yet he said it because Ep teaches one to find truth in one's own will rather than in something outside. I tried to defend him by saying that spiritual goods are indeed better than material goods, but he seemed that there is denial of the external good. That will also mean a rejection of a common good. Does any one see how isolated is the world of Descartes or Hume? Despite his errors, Marx must seem like a breath of fresh air. Yet he is a materialist and therefore cannot embrace or teach a true common good.
Where could our character go after seeing the troubles in denying God or immateriality? Perhaps he doesn't see them. But then isn't he merely a slave? Either to his passions or to material necessity. Isn't he alone?
He couldn't be alone. We live in an intellectual community. Would he be capable of dialogue? He would be a beastly man if he reduced all intellectual habits to mere material processes. Yet could he really hold anything else? Even about himself?
I'm torn now between whether or not he could retain anything of ancient wisdom. Is it not explained away by the later thinkers? But if that is so, then it seems his understanding will only be of a shallow sort.
Some how he will have to meet people. They will have to be real persons. By real, I mean that they show forth the truths which are perennial. Yet perhaps our friend cannot see it. Perhaps he will even reduce it in his mind. This shouldn't be a difficult part to play: it is an evil man. To enter such a mentality does not sound appealing though, perhaps it would even be a danger to my own habits of mind. I don't want to preach a message in this book, I just want to see this character. If he appears absurd, I want that only to be because he is. But it must be seen, not said.
Who can live like that? Anyone. We are all sinners. Oh, but to see what is the true way of life and then to see this, is it anything less than pitiable in the highest degree?
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