Author Archives: arthurhippler

The Loss of Moral Language

Tsze-lu said, “The ruler of Wei has been waiting for you, in order with you to administer the government. What will you consider the first thing to be done? “The Master replied, “What is necessary is to rectify names.” (Analects … Continue reading

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Moral Education with “The Letter from a Birmingham Jail”

Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” still stands as one of the most persuasive pieces for the cause of desegregation. Its rhetoric still  has power today, with memorable phrases like “justice too long delayed is justice denied” and … Continue reading

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Is Morality Determined by Culture?

Many consider “cultural relativism” a new phenomenon. But people have long recognized that cultures differ in their moral beliefs and practices. It was not a modern anthropologist, but the Greek historian Herodotus who observed, “if one were to offer men to … Continue reading

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Moral Judgments – Facts or Opinions?

Allan Bloom began his Closing of the American Mind with this memorable observation: “There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of: almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative.” (25) College … Continue reading

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Are there answers for human life apart from science?

There are always students at the beginning of my Moral Theology course who wonder why the class matters. To them, “moral theology” is perhaps a pretentious way of getting immersed in a set of rules dictated by the Church. For … Continue reading

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Figurative Language and the Poetic Art

Many years ago, I was doing research in the Catholic University of America library, and by chance discovered Shakespeare’s Use of the Arts of Language by Sister Miriam Joseph. At first, I was overwhelmed by the breadth and depth of … Continue reading

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Classical education — “learning to read.”

In his Confessions, Augustine expresses gratitude for his classical education. Although he is highly critical of the pagan mythology that saturated his curriculum, he observes, “those primary lessons were better, assuredly, because more certain; seeing that by their agency I … Continue reading

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Jacques Barzun on Reading the “Classics”

Many readers will be familiar with Jacques Barzun from his monumental From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life, which he completed at age 93. (Barzun died in 2012 at the ripe old age of 104!) Among his … Continue reading

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