This is the second post in a series based on the event “UD Interdisciplinary Celebration of Human Dignity,” held March 23, 2017.
How does the University of Dallas curriculum encourage us to live in community? A panel of UD professors addressed the question, joining a conversation with students, other faculty, staff and alumni about the call to preserve human dignity regardless of race, country of origin, gender, religion or beliefs.
Dr. John Norris, Associate Provost, introduced the panel and topic. “At UD, although we promote the search for truth, there are still prejudices and pride, both inside our community and out,” he said. “A guiding question, then, is how can we show humble respect for the viewpoint of the other without falling into the trap of a relativistic morality?” Norris said that each panel member would reflect on how they approach human dignity in their classrooms.
Dr. Robert Kuglemann, Professor of Psychology, reflected during his talk on our treatment of others in relation to ourselves. “Jung said that liberal arts provides sustenance to the soul,” Kuglemann said. “But that doesn’t lead us away from nationalistic egoism.”
Kuglemann said that Jung was concerned with a tendency to confuse the nation with the individual and that intense patriotism and collectivism that eclipses the individual brings about a separation of others who do not fit into the collective.
“Are we safe from collectivism?” Kuglemann asked. In answer, he acknowledged that at UD, there is a sense of superiority over people who are not here. “Sometimes we discount the opinions of others because of this feeling of being correct,” he said. This feeling of “rightness” is evident in that fact that what we can’t see in ourselves, we can easily see in others. “We’ll say about ourselves, ‘We’re fighting the good fight,’ but about others, ‘They are irrational,’” Kuglemann said.
In order to fight this kind of collectivist superiority, Kuglemann said that we must gain self-knowledge of our own motivations. “We must pay attention to what fascinates us,” he said. “Are we looking for stories that reinforce our beliefs, like violence in immigrant neighborhoods or terrorism? This preserves our feeling of our own innocence. We want to know that we’re ignorant of our own complicity with evil.”
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