26 j CHRONICLESnBy absence, he comes again.nThe handing down of the torch ofnhuman understanding is a risky business.nEach generation may drop it ornrun off in a direction that ends in ancul-de-sac. There is more. Each generationnleaves to its successors problemsnwithin the tradition that are unresolved.nOther traditions will arise and a choicenmust be made between running away,nconquering, or assimilating aspects ofnthe alien. At any one time all three maynbe happening. Cicero made Greeknthought live in great literature in Latin.nThe genius of Augustine and Aquinasnassimilated Christian perspectives intonthe living reality of Plato and Aristotle.nThat tradition, by genius and humanenassimilation, survives through the MiddlenAges and Renaissance. The dividingnline is the Enlightenment. The task ofnassimilating so much novelty calls for angreat mind, a new Aquinas. We getnHume and Kant. Instead of working tonrevise and revivify the great tradition,nReligion & PublicnAffairsnA Directory OfnOrganizations & PeoplenBy Phyllis ZaganonNEW!nFrom ThenRockford InstitutenA first-of-its-kind directory of religiousnorganizations, people, and publications,nengaged in public affairs. More than 160nlistings with backgrounds and budgets.nFormatted for quick reference for thosenwho need the facts fast. ONLY $6,951nMail your check and the coupon belownfor your copy.n• Please! Rush me. . copy(ies) ofnthe new directory, Religion & PubiicnAffairs at $6.95 apiece.nCITY STATEnMail to: The Rockford Instituten934 N. Main St.n. Rockford, IL 61103nwhich was still alive, as Maclntyrenshows, but in need of some first-ratenrethinking, they undermine it, by positingnthe possibility of practical thinkingnthat is valid for the individual, anywhere,nanytime—not for a member ofna social and intellectual community. (Itnseems to me that this account worksnbetter for the heavily Rousseau-izednKant than for Hume, who was trying tondo for Scotiand what Cicero did fornancient Rome.)nSo the Enlightenment vendettanagainst tradition and prejudice is established.nGadamer pointed out the Enlightenmentnprejudice against prejudice.nMaclntyre surveys briefly the story ofn”the history of attempts to construct anmorality for tradition-free individuals,”nthe story of “Liberalism Transformedninto a Tradition.”nThis attempt has failed both for thenprofessional philosopher, who keeps itnup because c’est son metier, and for thenaverage citizen, who is driven to subjectivismnand hypocrisy. Maclntyre offersnno easy way out of the dilemma.n”Any hope of discovering traditionindependentnstandards of judgmentnturns out to be illusory.” Does this notnleave us more or less where liberalismnleft us, with no rational way to makenpractical ethical decisions where traditionsnconflict? Not necessarily. Thinkingnwithin a tradition is not onlyn”tradition-constituted” but alson”tradition-constitutive.” Thinkingnwithin a tradition is creative, indeed, itnprovides the only basis for creativity. Tonput it another way, what we call creativitynin thought and literature is reallynthe humane assimilation of old problemsnand new insights. There are traditionsnthat have shown themselves ablento respond creatively and positively tonoutside insights and visions — for example,nthe tradition that extends fromnHomer through Plato and Aristotie,nand then is kept alive by Augustine andnAquinas. Societies have been built onnthese foundations. Great works of literature,nfrom Plato’s Symposium tonAugustine’s Confessions and Dante’snCommedia, have been written out ofnthem. This tradition can be made tonlive again and we must try, as we watchnthe tradition of liberalism sink into thenmiasma of violence, racism, and pornography.nThere are other lively traditions thatnneed to be tested. Maclntyre specifi­nnncally mentions Judaism, Islam, andnLutheranism. I think he is right and Inbelieve that one of them is more likelynthan the others to provide a rationalnbasis for the creation of a validntradition-constituted and traditionconstitutivenphilosophy for an AugustiniannChristian, as Maclntyre stylesnhimself Where he sees no hope isnfrom the tradition of Whig conservatismnthat began with Burke and is nownrepresented by the neoconservativesnand other liberals who are commonlyncalled “conservatives.” For them, traditionnis passive, an environment and notnan agon. Burke’s English cattie ignorenthe buzzing of the radical flies ofnsummer. Unfortunately, those cattlenhave been stampeded by the flies’nstingers. These conservatives use thenGreat Books, translated into a misleadingncontemporary English, to lead usnback to the liberalism and subjectivismnthat is suffocating our society.nMaclntyre has nothing but scorn forn”the confident teaching of texts fromnpast and alien cultures in translationnnot only to students who do not knownthe original languages but by teachersnwho do not know them either.” Thenreader should not be surprised thatnMaclntyre devotes pages to the problemnof translation, of understandingntexts written in foreign languages.nClassics in translation in education isnthe equivalent to strip mining in ecology.nReading Homer and trying to benfair to your neighbor both involvenactivities which are not satisfactorilynexplained by the world view of individualism.nFor our society to survive, we mustnescape from a rapidly imploding liberalismninto a tradition of ethical reasoningnthat can provide the basis fornconsensus and progress. As LordnDevlin told us in his Maccabean Lecturenin 1959, “No society has yetnsolved the problem of how to teachnmorality without religion.” In addition,nwe must take the center of our educationalnestablishment from the hands ofnthe economist and the engineer andngive it back to the teacher of languagesnand the teacher of philosophy. It isnhard to decide which imperativensounds more Utopian. It is the irony ofnour age that it is the pragmatic alternativenwhich is really Utopian and mustnend in disaster for our society and ournchildren.n