Fides et Ratio 7

Contrary to pop philosophy these days, there is no legitimacy to the idea that something can be true for me, but not true for you (unless of course we’re talking about whether broccoli is delicious or not). This is nothing more than the law of non-contradiction in action. But this is true not just for you and me, but also for different cultures and societies. Truth is not culturally relative, as John Paul II points out in Fides et Ratio §72:

[I]n engaging great cultures for the first time, the Church cannot abandon what she has gained from her inculturation in the world of Greco-Latin thought. To reject this heritage would be to deny the providential plan of God who guides his Church down the paths of time and history.

For the same reason it is philosophically and intellectually illegitimate to seek to divorce the enterprise of philosophy from the truths we know by way of divine revelation.

Moreover, the demand for a valid autonomy of thought should be respected even when theological discourse makes use of philosophical concepts and arguments. Indeed, to argue according to rigorous rational criteria is to guarantee that the results attained are universally valid. This also confirms the principle that grace does not destroy nature but perfects it: the assent of faith, engaging the intellect and will, does not destroy but perfects the free will of each believer who deep within welcomes what has been revealed.

It is clear that this legitimate approach is rejected by the theory of so-called “separate” philosophy, pursued by some modern philosophers. This theory claims for philosophy not only a valid autonomy, but a self-sufficiency of thought which is patently invalid. In refusing the truth offered by divine Revelation, philosophy only does itself damage, since this is to preclude access to a deeper knowledge of truth. [FR §75, Emphasis added]

Posted in Fides et Ratio, John Paul II, Magisterium

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