Friday, October 25, 2013

Fr. Giussani Proctors an Exam

This is why we love Fr. Giussani. Below is a passage from, The Religious Sense, from the chapter titled, Unreasonable Positions Before the Ultimate Question: Emptying the Question, from the section heading, The Theoretical Denial of the Questions.

"I was giving a test in religion for my third-year students at the high school where I was teaching and, while the students were writing, I was walking up and down between the aisles. Having returned to the front row of desks, I picked up from one of the students the first book that caught my eye. It was one of his textbooks, Chronicles of Contemporary Philosophy by Natalino Sapegna. I began thumbing through it to pass the time, and my eye simply happened to fall upon a page where  the author  described the life of Leopardi. At this point. I began to read with interest, but after about half a minute I exclaimed: "'Class! Stop the exam! Now you, with all of your presumptions, with all of your desire for autonomy, you read these things and accept them without question, as if you were just drinking a glass of water?' Indeed, here is the text:
The questions into which one condenses the confused, indiscriminate, and reflective callow capriciousness of adolescents, their primitive and undeveloped philosophy (that is, what is life? what is the use of it? what is the purpose of the universe? and why is there pain?), those questions from which the true adult philosopher distances himself, seeing them as absurd and lacking in any speculative value and of such a nature that they bring no answer or any possibility of development, precisely these become Leopardi's obsession, the exclusive content of his philosophy.
"Ah I understand," I said to my students, "Homer, Sophocles, Virgil, Dante, Dostoyevsky, Beethoven would  also be adolescents, because all of their art is driven by these questions, cries out to these needs which--as Thomas Mann used to say--give 'burning immediacy to all we say, and significance to to all our striving.' I am happy to stand in the company of these men, because a man who tosses out these questions is not human!"

Giacomo Leopardi

1 comment:

  1. I confess that I was reminded of this passage when watching MasterChef Junior last week. A girl was flustered making a layer cake for an elimination challenge, and Ramsey came over and helped her figure it out so that she could complete the challenge.