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Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies

Volume 28, Issue 1/2, 2016

Freedom & Virtue: Re-Inventing Free Institutions in an Era of Globalization

Oskar Gruenwald
Pages 1-18

The Postmodern Challenge
In Search of Normative Standards

The thesis of this essay is that the central postmodern challenge is to recover stable, objective normative standards that presuppose cultural renewal and liberal arts education building on the classical paideia of educating the whole person. Humans possess an innate moral sense that requires nurturing and developing to encompass both résumé and eulogy virtues as proposed by David Brooks’ The Road to Character. Wisdom-seeking traditions aim at self-mastery, but need tempering by neo-Kantian epistemological modesty to eschew utopias in their quest for transcendence, recalling the Augustinian conception of humanity’s fallen nature, the need for community, the aspiration for good works in the City of Man, and the soul’s yearning for redemption and salvation in the City of God. The essay concludes with the “Angel Initiative” as an example of practical wisdom that reflects Brooks’ humility code, the wisdom-seeking traditions’ emphasis on the Way, and Christianity’s promise as “a religion of second chances.”

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