176 pages, 6” x 9”, introduction, notes
Regensburg and the Enlargement of Reason
Gained Horizons takes up Pope Benedict XVI’s invitation, issued in his lecture at the University of Regensburg, to enter into the dialogue of cultures by “broadening our concept of reason” to “once more disclose its vast horizons.” Benedict placed in the foreground the notion of God as acting with reason, and said of “this great logos, this breadth of reason,” that “to rediscover it constantly is the great task of the university.” The contributors to Gained Horizons conduct their inquiries down the paths of their disciplines of thought – philosophy, theology, political thought and literary criticism – examining the broader nature of reason and the forces that oppose it today in politics, culture, and education.
Several of the most distinguished and most stimulating commentators on the public scene come together in Gained Horizons to focus on the challenges and hopes of reason. Jean Bethke Elshtain finds in the conception of a God Who is approachable by reason the root of the subjection of rulers to law, even laws that they themselves have made. To Peter Lawler, Pope Benedict articulates a science adequate to the achievement of the American Founders and thus urgent to recover, since American public opinion tends both to deny reason in the name of freedom and to rigidify reason in the name of democratic science. R. R. Reno looks at the contemporary university and finds not so much a relativism as a loss of intellectual ambition, of the confidence that the disciplines can help us understand how we can live our lives. As Reno points out the dangers of relying on theory without traditional wisdom to solve human problems, Glenn Arbery describes Dostoevsky’s vision of modern man imprisoned in theory and his rescue by reason and grace in the action of Crime and Punishment. Nalin Ranasinghe then sketches out some of the implications of the Regensburg Address for philosophers in particular and the university in general; Pope Benedict challenges the academy to recove the full richness of the gift of reason. These and other contributors combine to launch not only a critique of the contemporary scene but an envisioning of the ever-present sources of logos that stand ready to be regenerated in our time.
Bainard Cowan is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Louisiana State University. He is the author of Exiled Waters: Moby Dick and the Crisis of Allegory and editor of Poetics of the Americas and Uniting the Liberal Arts: Core and Context.