Publications from Zephyr Institute senior fellows and speakers
“Teleology and Transcendence: The Thought of Robert Spaemann” (Communio 45.3-4, Fall-Winter 2018)
“It is only after the end of someone’s life that we can take a look at his life as a whole—Robert Spaemann did not think this possible during one’s lifetime. Nevertheless, even during one’s lifetime, every part of it is already informed by the viewpoint of an ungraspable whole into which it transcends itself. Now that Robert Spaemann’s life has come to an end, it can come into view as a whole, and we can try to identify some of the basic themes that unify its parts: ‘teleology’ and ‘transcendence’ offer themselves, and the critique of misguided attempts to replace them with a paradigm of self-preservation. Spaemann’s early life might have predisposed him toward self-transcendence, but also toward strong survival instincts. For both can be the result of the exposure and vulnerability to which orphans are subject. Spaemann lost his mother to illness at the age of nine, and his father shortly after that to the priesthood (or at least that is how it felt to him initially). He was handed around in the extended family in Swabia and Cologne, all the while experiencing the dangers of the Nazi period. He witnessed the war: during the bombing of Cologne in 1942 he helped carry his dead neighbors out of their houses, and toward the end he saw the annihilation of Dorsten, where he lived. He felt that there was never a place in his life that he could call his home.” –Fr. Anselm Ramelow O.P.
The physician’s vocation
Society expects that physicians will be men and women of integrity. The article is an address given to the incoming medical students at the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine White Coat Ceremony on August 3 by Aaron Kheriaty MD.
Yves R. Simon – The Tradition of Natural Law: A Philosopher’s Reflections (Fordham University Press, 1965, 1992)
“The tradition of natural law is one of the foundations of Western civilization. At its heart is the conviction that there is an objective and universal justice which transcends humanity’s particular expressions of justice. It asserts that there are certain ways of behaving which are appropriate to humanity simply by virtue of the fact that we are all human beings. Recent political debates indicate that it is not a tradition that has gone unchallenged: in fact, the opposition is as old as the tradition itself.
By distinguishing between philosophy and ideology, by recalling the historical adventures of natural law, and by reviewing the theoretical problems involved in the doctrine, Simon clarifies much of the confusion surrounding this perennial debate. He tackles the questions raised by the application of natural law with skill and honesty as he faces the difficulties of the subject.
The timeliness of Simon’s discussion of natural law is made clear for the contemporary American reader by a thorough and lucid introduction by Russell Hittinger, new for this paperback edition.” –Fordham University Press
Karl Rahner – Spirit in the World (Bloomsbury Academic, 1994, reprint)
“One of Rahner's classic studies, this volume employs the German Jesuit theologian's deep understanding of the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas to explore the relationship between the spirit and matter, metaphysical and concrete realities.” –Bloomsbury Academic
The True Purpose of Medicine: Advice for Medical Students
As you enter into the medical profession, I encourage you to “start with the end in mind” by studying the Hippocratic Oath. The oath articulates the true aim of medicine, guiding physicians to provide treatments that align with the purpose of medicine and so are right for a doctor to do, and to refuse to provide treatments that go against this purpose and are wrong for a doctor to do.
Homo Abyssus: The Drama of the Question of Being (Humanum Academic Press, 2018)
“In addition to offering the first major work of Ulrich to appear in English, this translation includes a substantial introduction by Martin Bieler, and a helpful lexicon to help elucidate the book’s unusual vocabulary . . . In this speculative appropriation of Aquinas, Ferdinand Ulrich lays out a vision of being as an image of divine goodness, drawing out as-yet-undiscovered treasures from Aquinas’s texts through a fundamental engagement with modern philosophy, above all Hegel and Heidegger . . . The first part of the book offers a fundamental metaphysics, expounding in detail the basic structure of being in the light of creation ex nihilo interpreted as an act of radical generosity. This discussion presents novel insights into traditional themes such as the real distinction between essence and existence, participation, causality, and the analogy of being; and it explores from the same perspective of radical generosity themes associated more with modern philosophy, such as the relationship between being and nothingness, the ontological difference, and being and time. The second part of the book is a speculative anthropology, which proposes to think through the constitution of the human being as a kind of dynamic exemplar of the meaning of being: man not only shows the meaning of being, but co-enacts it in his relation to himself, to the world, and to God.” –Humanum Academic Press
Emmanuel Mounier – Personalism (University of Notre Dame Press, 1989, reprint)
“This volume is Mounier's final definition of personalism. First published less than a year before his death in 1950, it is a beautifully written, clear yet unsystematic statement of personalism.” –University of Notre Dame Press
Husserl – Cartesian Meditations
Ernst Bloch, trans. Dennis J. Schmidt – Natural Law and Human Dignity (MIT Press, 1986, reprint)
“Ernst Bloch (1885-1977), one of the most original and influential of contemporary European thinkers and a founder of the Frankfurt School, has left his mark on a range of fields from philosophy and social theory to aesthetics and theology. Natural Law and Human Dignity, the first of his major works to appear in English is unique in its attempt to get beyond the usual oppositions between the natural law and social utopian traditions, providing basic insights on the question of human rights in a socialist society. Natural Law and Human Dignity is a sweeping yet synthetic work that critically reviews the great legal philosophies, from Plato to the present, in order to uncover and clarify the normative features of true socialism. Along the way it offers thoughtful reflections on topics as diverse as the abolition of poverty and degradation, the nature of the state, and the installation of freedom and dignity. Taking the idea of natural law as his guiding thread, Bloch argues that revolution and right, rather than being antagonistic, are fundamentally interconnected. With their emphasis on human dignity, the traditions of natural law have an irreplaceable contribution to make to the socialist vision of a more humane society.” –MIT Press
Bernard Lonergan – Insight (University of Toronto Press, 1992)
“Insight is Bernard Lonergan's masterwork. It aim is nothing less than insight into insight itself, a comprehensive view of knowledge and understanding, and to state what one needs to understand and how one proceeds to understand it.
In Lonergan's own words: ‘Thoroughly understand what it is to understand, and not only will you understand the broad lines of all there is to be understood but also you will possess a fixed base, and invariant pattern, opening upon all further developments of understanding.’” –University of Toronto Press
Jean-Luc Marion, trans. Stephen E. Lewis – Prolegomena to Charity (Fordham University Press, 2002)
“In seven essays that draw from metaphysics, phenomenology, literature, Christological theology, and Biblical exegesis, Marion sketches several prolegomena to a future fuller thinking and saying of love’s paradoxical reasons, exploring evil, freedom, bedazzlement, and the loving gaze; crisis, absence, and knowing.” –Fordham University Press
Demopolis: Democracy Before Liberalism in Theory and Practice (Cambridge University Press, 2017)
“What did democracy mean before liberalism? What are the consequences for our lives today? Combining history with political theory, this book restores the core meaning of democracy as collective and limited self-government by citizens. That, rather than majority tyranny, is what democracy meant in ancient Athens, before liberalism. Participatory self-government is the basis of political practice in 'Demopolis', a hypothetical modern state powerfully imagined by award-winning historian and political scientist Josiah Ober. Demopolis' residents aim to establish a secure, prosperous, and non-tyrannical community, where citizens govern as a collective, both directly and through representatives, and willingly assume the costs of self-government because doing so benefits them, both as a group and individually. Basic democracy, as exemplified in real Athens and imagined Demopolis, can provide a stable foundation for a liberal state. It also offers a possible way forward for religious societies seeking a realistic alternative to autocracy.”
The Heroic Heart: Greatness Ancient and Modern (Encounter Books, 2015)
“Through its intimate portraits of historical and literary figures and its subtle depiction of the most difficult problems of politics, The Heroic Heart offers a startlingly original account of the passage from the ancient to the modern world and the part the heroic type has played in it. Lindberg deftly combines social criticism and moral philosophy in a work that ranks with such classics as Thomas Carlyle’s nineteenth-century On Heroes, Hero-Worship and the Heroic in History and Joseph Campbell’s twentieth-century The Hero with a Thousand Faces.”
Order and History, Volume 1: Israel and Revelation
“Eric Voegelin's Israel and Revelation is the opening volume of his monumental Order and History, which traces the history of order in human society. This volume examines the ancient near eastern civilizations as a backdrop to a discussion of the historical locus of order in Israel. The drama of Israel mirrors the problems associated with the tension of existence as Israel attempted to reconcile the claims of transcendent order with those of pragmatic existence and so becomes paradigmatic.
According to Voegelin, what happened in Israel was a decisive step, not only in the history of Israel, but also in the human attempt to achieve order in society. The uniqueness of Israel is the fact that it was the first to create history as a form of existence, that is, the recognition by human beings of their existence under a world-transcendent God, and the evaluation of their actions as conforming to or defecting from the divine will. In the course of its history, Israel learned that redemption comes from a source beyond itself.
Voegelin develops rich insights into the Old Testament by reading the text as part of the universal drama of being. His philosophy of symbolic forms has immense implications for the treatment of the biblical narrative as a symbolism that articulates the experiences of a people’s order. The author initiates us into attunement with all the partners in the community of being: God and humans, world and society. This may well be his most significant contribution to political thought: ‘the experience of divine being as world transcendent is inseparable from an understanding of man as human.’”
Seyyed Hossein Nasr – Knowledge and the Sacred [Gifford Lectures 1981] (SUNY Press, 1989)
“Seyyed Hossein Nasr’s lectures from 1981 was the first time a Muslim scholar was asked to speak in the entire history of the Gifford series. Published in 1989 it is a staggering work of scholarship and perhaps one of the finest introductions to Islamic thought available in the West alongside his other work Ideals and Realities of Islam. Nasr’s central thesis throughout the ten lectures is focused on the close and intimate connection between knowledge (in all of its many and diverse forms) and the sacred. Rather than stick to a single field Nasr moves fluently and impressively across a colossal range of traditions, disciplines and fields of knowledge drawing on Eastern, Judeo-Christian, Hindu and Islamic thought. This breadth of material would, in lesser hands, seem superficial, but Nasr’s scholarship is second-to-none and treats all the subject matter with the utmost seriousness. The aim of the lectures is to uncover firstly the historic links between the sacred and knowledge. Here Nasr shows his familiarity with all religious traditions emphasizing the shared ground of this bond between what is known and the Divine.” –Gifford Lectures
David C. Schindler – The Perfection of Freedom: Schiller, Schelling, and Hegel between the Ancients and the Moderns (Cascade Books, 2012)
“The Perfection of Freedom seeks to respond to the impoverished conventional notion of freedom through a recovery of an understanding rich with possibilities yet all but forgotten in contemporary thought. This understanding, developed in different but complementary ways in the German thinkers Schiller, Schelling, and Hegel, connects freedom, not exclusively with power and possibility, but rather most fundamentally with completion, wholeness, and actuality. What is unique here is specifically the interpretation of freedom in terms of form, whether it be aesthetic form (Schiller), organic form (Schelling), or social form (Hegel). Although this book presents serious criticisms of the three philosophers, it shows that they open up new avenues for reflection on the notion of freedom; avenues that promise to overcome many of the dichotomies that continue to haunt contemporary thought--for example, between freedom and order, freedom and nature, and self and other. The Perfection of Freedom offers not only a significantly new interpretation of Schiller, Schelling, and Hegel, it also proposes a modernity more organically rooted in the ancient and classical Christian worlds.” –Cascade Books
Knud Ejler Løgstrup – The Ethical Demand (University of Notre Dame Press, 1997, reprint)
“Knud Ejler Løgstrup’s The Ethical Demand is the most original influential Danish contribution to moral philosophy in this century. This is the first time that the complete text has been available in English translation. Originally published in 1956, it has again become the subject of widespread interest in Europe, now read in the context of the whole of Løgstrup’s work. The Ethical Demand marks a break not only with utilitarianism and with Kantianism but also with Kierkegaard’s Christian existentialism and with all forms of subjectivism. Yet Løgstrup’s project is not destructive. Rather, it is a presentation of an alternative understanding of interpersonal life. The ethical demand presupposes that all interaction between human beings involves a basic trust. Its content cannot be derived from any rule. For Løgstrup, there is not Christian morality and secular morality. There is only human morality.” –University of Notre Dame Press