Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Political Philosophy

Can Interfaith Dialogues Exist?

Our old friend Bob Reilly reflects on the difficulty of interfaith dialogues, taking the instance of Catholic-Muslim exchanges.  He sketches how interpreting the seemingly simple episode of Adam's naming of the animals leads to fundamental disputes.  The centrality of natural law and reason for Catholics does not appear to have an equivalent in Islam, making dialogue, as an exercise in reasoned speech, impossible on religion.  Reilly's book The Closing of the Muslim Mind is a thoughtful study of the development of a Muslim radicalism and its sharpening of attitudes essential to Islam.

Bob's column came to me as I am plunging into a vital work by one of the academy's major thinkers, Robert Sokolowski, Phenomenology of the Human Person. It seems to be trying, among other things, to relate Aristotle's two descriptions of man:  as the being with logos and the political animal by nature.  Language enables this connection.  Politics properly speaking requires persuasion, not brute force.  Barbarians only babble; political men debate and deliberate.  And for language to exist there must be grammar and syntax that enable us to distinguish between babytalk and real logos.

Discussions - 4 Comments

Your mentioning of the importance of language reminded me of a passage from the recent Metaxas' biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer which I'm currently reading.

At this point, Bonhoeffer is in America, but extremely agitated, desperate to return to his native Germany, and soon. From his diary the summer of 1939:

"Spent the whole day in the library. Wrote English lectures. I have great difficulty with the language. They say that I speak English well, and yet I find it so utterly inadequate. How many years, how many decades has it taken to learn German, and even now one does not know it! I will never learn English. That is already one reason for going back home soon. Without language one is lost, hopelessly lonely."

FYI - I am getting a dialogue box from google saying that this is a suspected malware site. Just thought you should know. I do enjoy the blog...

Thanks, we are looking into it.

To be human is to speak, but not necessarily in the same language. Speech is natural, language is conventional. Too elementary?

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