Published by the Center for the Study of The Great Ideas (founded in 1990 by Mortimer J. Adler and Max Weismann)
In association with the The Adler-Aquinas Institute and Aquinas School of Leadership
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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Herbert Ratner: Apostle of the Culture of Life

Donald DeMarco recalls Herbert Ratner, at the National Catholic Register

In 1937, Robert Maynard Hutchins, president of the University of Chicago, appointed Ratner as senior member of the Committee of Liberal Arts. There, he did research on the history of medicine as an assistant to Mortimer Adler, the founder of the Great Books program.

Adler, who was a Thomist, spearheaded a re-examination of the classical thinkers, particularly Aristotle and Aquinas. Impressed with the philosophy of Aquinas, many became attracted to the Catholic Church.

In 1938, Herb converted to Catholicism and remained a faithful and devoted member of the Church throughout his life. He was a longtime and active member of the Chicago Catholic Physicians Guild and served as the president of the Catholic Medical Association.

Having studied Aristotle and Aquinas, he realized all the more clearly the essential role of nature, not only for medicine, but also for the family.

"In an article entitled, 'The Family: Nature’s Institution,' he pays homage to what the great Thomist and historian of philosophy Etienne Gilson said of St. Thomas’ thinking:
'The central intuition which governs the whole philosophical and theological undertaking of St. Thomas is that it is impossible to do justice to God without doing justice to nature, and that doing justice to nature is at the same time the surest way of doing justice to God.'
Thus nature was a vicar general (or God’s representative in the natural order). And just as the vicar is of one mind with his superior, so, too, nature has a similar relationship with her Creator. In an address to members of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars in 1988, Ratner told his audience, "The notion of nature as a vicar general is a realistic and dynamic concept of nature which recognizes man as an integral part of biological nature and the universe 'tied within the divine mind by an indissoluble knot.'"

With regard to the family, he stated: 'The battle for the survival of the family centers in good part around the explication of the family as a natural institution communicating nature’s wisdom with its inherent power to persuade human reason and free choice.'

#family #nature

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