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Evil triumphs when good men do nothing - Edmund Burke

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Considerations on Catholic Culture - Part 1 - Prof. Plinio Correa De Olivera

Today I will publish an article of Prof Plinio. Since it is quite large i am braking it up in parts which will publish from today onwards.

Considerations on Catholic Culture - Part 1

What is culture? The question has received a variety of responses, some inspired in the study of literature, others in philosophic or social systems of every kind. So complicated are the contradictions surrounding this term and another related to it—civilization—that international congresses of professors and other learned men have met especially to define them. As usually happens, much discussion shed little light on the subject.

It is impossible in the space we have here to mention all the theses and arguments of the various currents, to affirm and justify our own thesis, and afterwards to treat of Catholic culture. We can, however, seriously consider the subject, taking the term culture in the thousand modes in which it has been clothed by the language of so many peoples, social classes, and schools of thought. We begin by showing that in all of them, “culture” contains an invariable basic element, the refinement of the human spirit. At the heart of the notion of refinement is the idea that every man has in his spirit qualities susceptible of development and defects that can be restrained.

Refinement, then, has two aspects: one positive, signifying the growth of what is good, and the other negative, the removal of what is bad. Many current ways of thinking and feeling about culture are explained in light of this principle. Thus, we do not hesitate to recognize as cultural a university, a school of music or acting, or even a chess club. These entities or social groups directly seek the refinement of the spirit, or at least pursue ends that in themselves refine the spirit. We also recognize that a university or any other cultural institution may work against Culture, however, as happens when, because of errors of any kind, its action deforms the spirit. One could affirm this, for example, about certain schools that impress upon their students disdain for everything philosophical or artistic. A person whose state of spirit moves him to adore technology as the value supreme and the only foundation of the soul, to deny every certainty not derived from laboratory experiment, and to scornfully reject everything beautiful is, without a doubt, suffering from a deformation of spirit. Deformed also would be the spirit that, moved by an inordinate philosophical appetite, were to deny any worth to art, poetry, or even more modest activities that also require intelligence and culture, such as technology.

We would say that universities which form their students according to some of these false orientations exercise an anti-cultural action or propagate a false culture. In this current sense, fencing is recognized as an exercise of a certain cultural value, for it supposes physical dexterity, vivacity of soul, and elegance. But it would be contrary to common sense to attribute any cultural value to boxing, which, aiming heavy and brutal blows at the very face of a man, is inherently degrading to the spirit.

1 comment:

Warren said...

I have a hard time with intellectuals who would say anything like "it's so obvious that Boxing is a bad idea that we need not even bother discussing why it is so".

Um. Really?