Speaker: Jude P. Dougherty (Dean Emeritus, School of Philosophy, Catholic University of America): “Interpreting the middle ages”
How one views the Middle Ages is determined largely by the type of learning one brings to their assessment. Literary students tend one way; those with a predominantly scientific interest tend another. The last authoritative treatment of the period is undoubtedly that of the distinguished German Historian Johannes Fried, whose work, The Middle Ages, has recently been made available in English translation (Harvard University Press, 2015). His perspective is difficult to categorize, save that as an interpreter of the period, he angrily addresses the “dark age myth.” which he attributes to the renaissance humanists. Petrarch and his fellow humanists, Fried charges, dismissed the logic, science and art on which they drew, denigrating the scientific accomplishment that stood between them and an imaginary Rome and an idealized Antiquity. The “dark age myth,” he finds, persisted through the enlightenment at the hands of Kant and his followers, who, in Fried’s words, “simply ignored, knew nothing and did not see the need to know anything (of the period in question.”
Speaker: Peter L. P. Simpson (City University of NY): “Temporal and Spiritual Empire”
Two main principles of political life are solidarity and subsidiarity: uniting all into a supportive whole but having decisions made at the most local level possible. Both principles have been much taught and encouraged by Church teaching. How to achieve them? The first and chief means is a proper distinction between temporal and spiritual power, so that the spiritual power has public authority alongside and, if need be, over the temporal power. The Medieval settlement of Pope and Emperor, despite its faults, presents the idea in concrete form. Modern settlements introduce centralization, through national governments and supranational bodies like the UN and the EU, but destroy local autonomy. Something different is needed. Pope St. John Paul II gave helpful suggestions to the EU about the EU Constitution. They were ignored. One suggestion he made, which in my view is the best first step, at least in Europe and the First World generally, is to reintroduce Latin as a requirement in schools and universities. The rest will then come more easily. “Teach a child Latin by the time he’s seven, and he’ll be a Romanist for the rest of his life.”
Livestream of video from the Conference will be at the Holy Apostles College and Seminary YouTube Channel.
Next session scheduled for 1:30pm.