Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Fr Adolphe Tanquerey - The Spiritual Life: A Treatise on Ascetic and Mystical Theology

II. Defects Born of Pride

"From the intellectual point of view, we think ourselves capable of approaching and solving the most difficult questions, or at least of undertaking studies which are beyond the reach of our talents. We easily persuade ourselves that we abound in judgement and wisdom, and instead of learning how to doubt, we settle with finality the most controverted questions."

As I further explore Leo Strauss, I have come to the realization that one of my comments below was a cheap and facile remark based on nothing other than my complete lack of familiarity with Strauss. It has been withdrawn accordingly.

I include the quote from Fr Tanquerey as a reminder to myself that doubt, properly understood, is one of the rarest and most difficult intellectual virtues to cultivate. I do not refer here to the more popular conception of "doubt," popular today in "Emergent" Evangelical circles and certain quarters of the Catholic world, where "doubt" is a signifier for emotional ambiquity regarding some tenet of the faith, and is typically used as an excuse for one's unwillingness to engage in the difficult tasks of shunning vice and cultivating virtue.

As Fr Tanquerey indicates here, doubt is nothing other than the virtue of humility applied to the operations of one's intellect, and whose particular focus is the relation of one's own judgements and opinions relative to those of others. May God grant us all the grace of such humility.


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