Wednesday, May 24, 2017

MacIntyre on Teaching and Enquiry & Respect for Truth

Aquinas's refutation of the Averroist view was important not only for the future history of philosophy, but also for the future history of universities. The schools that were the predecessors of universities had been primarily places of teaching and only secondarily, and, on occasion, places of enquiry. But even in them it had been becoming clear that teaching, which is to succeed in making the resources of past learning available in the present, is inseparable from ongoing enquiry, from reformulating old questions, testing established beliefs, asking new questions, and so providing new resources for teaching. With the establishment of universities this relationship between teaching and enquiry becomes institutionalized. [...]
Every one of us, in our everyday lives, needs in a variety of ways to learn and to understand. The ability of those outside universities to learn and to understand what they need to learn can be helped or hindered by the good or bad effects on their intellectual formation and their thinking of those who have been educated in universities, by the good or bad influence, that is, not only of parents, but also of school teachers, pastors, and others. One condition for that influence being good rather than bad is that what is communicated to and shared by the whole community of teachers and learners is a respect for truth and a grasp of truths that presupposes, even if it is never or rarely explicitly spelled out, an adequate conception of truth. One of our debts to Aquinas is that he, both in his own account of truth and in his disputes with the Averroists, taught us to appreciate this.
-Alasdair MacIntyre, God, Philosophy, Universities: A Selective History of the Catholic Philosophical Tradition (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2009), pgs. 68-9.