This is the third in a series of posts based on the event, UD Interdisciplinary Celebration of Human Dignity.
How does the University of Dallas curriculum encourage us to live in community? A panel of UD professors addressed the question on March 23, 2017, 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. John Macready, Adjunct Professor of Philosophy, began the discussion by calling out the UD motto: Veritatem, Justitiam, Diligite–Love ye Truth and Justice. He said that truth and justice, as the proper ends of the human mind, cannot be pursued in isolation. “We do not come to the truth alone,” he said, “but in dialogue with others.”
Macready defined justice as giving each person his or her due by respecting their humanity and personhood and honoring their differences. To do so, Macready submitted, we must cultivate a habit of mind that respects the dignity of others. But how to do so?
“St. Thomas Aquinas was indebted to dialogue with partners outside Christian thought,” Macready said. “Look at the attention he gave to the writings of Jews like Maimonides, Muslims like Ibn Sina, and pagans like Socrates.” According to Macready, creating an enlarged habit of mind that recognizes the dignity of others requires one to think independently, consider outside perspectives, and then synthesize those perspectives, all while maintaining consistency in one’s own beliefs. Quoting Hannah Arendt, Macready said. “To think with an enlarged mentality means that one trains one’s own imagination to go visiting.”
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