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the hillsdale

Forum 8 The Fight for Food and Freedom

Nathan Brand outlines the argument for meal plan reform.

10 Interview with Dr. Schlueter

14 Ring by Spring

The Hillsdale Forum talks with Dr. Schlueter about moral ecology.

Brett Wierenga and Martha Ekdahl explain the pros and cons to both sides of the question.


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VOLUME III, ISSUE 4 - MAY 2014

Contents

CONSERVATIVE FEATURES 4 Letters: Politics Majors

Devin Creed responds to Luke Adams’ “In Defense of Politics” (March 2014), and Adams defends his position.

7 The Four Loves of Harry Potter Micah Meadowcroft Should Christians be afraid of Harry Potter? Micah Meadowcroft says no.

8 The Fight for Food and Freedom Nathan Brand

Recently students have called into question the quality and necessity of Hillsdale’s meal plans. YAF president Nathan Brand outlines the argument for meal plan reform.

10 Interview with Dr. Nathan Schlueter

The Hillsdale Forum talks with Dr. Schlueter about moral ecology.

ESSAYS

16 Man’s Place in the Cosmos John Taylor

In his work, Walker Percy criticized the growing scientism he saw in the 20th century and defended an anthropocentric view of the Cosmos.

17 What is Metaphysics? Garrett West

Garrett West draws on Martin Heidegger, Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Emmanuel Levinas to explore historical conceptions of Being.

CAMPUS FEATURES

12 Spotlight on Triple Majors Andrew Egger

The Forum looks at three overachievers who couldn’t choose just one.

14 Campus Smackdown: Ring by Spring Devon Izmirian

Brett Wierenga and Martha Ekdahl explain the pros and cons to both sides of the question.

22 Humor: How to Live off Campus, on Campus Danielle Shillingstad

Danielle Shillingstad explains how to capture the essence of off-campus living from the comfort of your dorm.

23 Tragically Hip Sarah Albers

Albers has found something on the Internet, and she wants to share it with you.

{EDITORIAL} EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Chris McCaffery MANAGING EDITOR Chelsey Schmid EDITOR-AT-LARGE Wes Wright CONTENT EDITOR Matthew O’Sullivan, Luke

Adams FEATURED WRITERS Nathan Brand, Micah Meadowcroft, John Taylor, Garrett West STAFF WRITERS Sarah Albers, Devon Izmirian, Andrew Egger, Danielle Shillingstad {DESIGN} HEAD DESIGNER Meg Prom DESIGN EDITOR Lauren Wierenga PHOTOGRAPHER Nathaniel Meadowcroft {SPONSORS} BUSINESS MANAGER Ryne Bessmer FACULTY ADVISOR Dr. John Somerville Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s Collegiate Network

Mission Statement: The Hillsdale Forum is the independent, studentrun conservative magazine at Hillsdale College. The Forum, in support of the mission statement of Hillsdale College, exists to promote a return to limited government as outlined in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. We publish conservative opinion, editorials, and campus features. The Forum is a vehicle to bring the discussion and thought of the intelligent students and professors at the heart of the conservative movement beyond the classroom.

Follow us on Twitter @hillsdaleforum and like us on Facebook!


May 7, 2014

The Forum

LFE

Letter from the Editor

We’ll leave all [sic]s understood here Anyone who’s seen The Pape in the Grewcock Student Union on Sunday afternoons knows that it’s campus’ least-reliable news source. It’s written in a terribly transcribed New Yawhk accent and details the “adventahs” and interests of Jack Kelly and his staff of newsies. But as anyone who has taken the time to get to know it will attest, The Pape is one of the best things about Hillsdale College. It serves no purpose except the obvious enjoyment and love that goes into creating it, and that shines through in every sensational headline and misspelled word. We’ve paid some homage to the newsies here before, to their great amusement, but now it’s time to say goodbye to the campus publication that has a stronger social media presence than us and the Collegian combined. When seniors Katie Annett, Emilie Moore, and Ariel Torres sat down with me for my spotlight on The Pape in last week’s Collegian, it was immediately obvious what Hillsdale’s most sensationalist paper has been for them. Moore said it best: “It’s a record of our college experience.” She describes herself as the metaphorical “brains” of the publication, to Annett’s “heart and soul.” The Pape is written by and for people who are very comfortable not taking themselves too seriously, and that’s something more students at Hillsdale need. As senior columnist Erin Mundahl noted in her insightful column in the April 3 Collegian, “It’s a sorry thing to take a curious, hardworking student and push her to the point where all she can say is ‘I’m tired.’” Our education can take everything out of us. Reading and writing and studying and all that all over again the next day, schoolnight or weekend or federal holiday, coursework piles up and can bury us under a churn of papers and tests and reading until our eyes glaze over and the only response to “What’s up?” is “I’m tired,” if not a slow groan and a thousand-yard stare. Mundahl is right: “Properly understood, a Hillsdale education must include an ample amount of silliness, of wonder, of unexpected moments. Without a sense of leisure, we could become too tired to live out the education we have worked so hard to gain.” If all your days are spent studying, you’ll have a great GPA, but you won’t have anything good or true (improved or otherwise) in your life. The only thing your education will have really given you is the creeping suspicion that Macbeth

might have been exactly right about life, “Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Studying the humanities is useless if you’re the only human you know, and if you’re the only human you know, you’re a poor one at that. This is something the women behind The Pape have understood. They’ve taken their scant leisure time and made it into a whole world of headlines and dime novels and adventures. Over 36 issues, they’ve built a loyal following and put the “improved truth” in newsprint. The Pape staff knows that it’s essential to take a break from the swirl of Spinoza and Hayek and Aristotle so many students never stop spinning from. The Pape is a celebration of taking the time, of doing something silly and extraneous and poorly-spelled. They’ve taken their “adventures”—the story of their friendship— and made it into something that can leaven anyone’s day, if they’re open to it. The last issue of The Pape is a love letter to four years at Hillsdale, to friends and studies and the fictionalized diary of seven girls who have learned that the greatest advice is to “Stay out all night lookin’ at da stars, talkin,’ dancin’, and etc. on the cross country fields, and then just to top it off, get a warm breakfast at the Finish Line and crash...hopefully after makin’ it back to your room,” and to leave the weather in Santa Fe as “Everything you hoped it’d be.” College is a strange, ephemeral time. There can be a struggle to find something lasting in the constantly-changing community we move through—I hear often that it’s best not to bother. This carries no water for me. Cling to things here, because they’re good. You, Forum reader, are young. Look for the grace to accept the youth of others and take your own for what it is. Never allow whatever you think is important— even if it’s for Dr. Jackson—get in the way of loving someone next to you, or allowing them to love you. Souls unleavened become bitter, and people learn to spit them out. Have a great summer! The Forum will see you first thing next semester. Thanks to our fabulous design editor Lauren Wierenga—her work is all around this letter—and to Ryne Bessmer, who helps us to pay for these nice glossy magazines. We wish you all the best in graduation. F Chris McCaffery is a sophomore studying history. He is a member of the Dow Journalism Program.

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Creed vs. Adams

April 28, 2014

The Forum | Conservative | 04

In reply to Luke Adams’ “In Defense of Politics”

Devin Creed While not devoid of valid points, Luke Adams’ article “In Defense of Politics” (Forum, March 2014) misses the mark and demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the liberal arts and Hillsdale College. He is probably correct in thinking that politics majors are not sell-outs and that they should not be unduly criticized for their choice of major, but the flaw in his argument lies in his treatment of the purpose of the college and the purpose of liberal learning. Adams begins his essay by positing that Hillsdale is famous for politics, and he goes on to imply that Hillsdale’s mission somehow relates to politics. While Hillsdale may have gotten significant press for the decision not to accept federal funding, this does not mean that the school’s mission in any way relates to the political sphere. The college’s mission statement states in part that: It pursues the stated object of the founders: “to furnish all persons who wish, irrespective of nation, color, or sex, a literary and scientific education” outstanding among American colleges “and to combine with this such moral and social instruction as will best develop the minds and improve the hearts of its pupils. It then goes on to note briefly that the college is a trustee of the Judeo–Christian and Greco–Roman heritage (which is most clearly expressed in the American experiment), and that the college wants to train its students to be defenders of that Western legacy. The stated mission of the college is focused on an education that develops both mind and soul and teaches students to preserve the legacies we have inherited. There is no mention of influencing the political sphere, or

attempting to effect broad institutional change. Rather, the college is focused on its students as individuals, striving to cultivate them in multiple ways and teaching them to value the past. Russell Kirk drafted a statement of academic freedom for the faculty which was adopted in 1995, and it states that: Hillsdale College affirms that all these freedoms are dependent upon the maintenance of a moral order; and that academic freedom in particular requires attachment to a body of truth, made known through the order and integration of knowledge. Of such truths the College is the conservator and renewer, and the primary function of the college is to transmit, through these truths, some measure of wisdom and virtue. This statement also pushes political concerns to the periphery, for the college is first and foremost interested in conserving the truths passed down to us through the Western heritage and transmitting them to the students who attend the college. The college does not ascribe to any particular political philosophy in this statement, and neither does it note any desire to implement “the Good” in society, but rather to foster wisdom and virtue by the conversation of the truths of the past. An example of Adams’ misunderstanding of the college comes in his throw-away comment concerning Rush Limbaugh’s advertising for the school. Limbaugh lacks a college education, which was made apparent in his 2011 radio rant against classical education. He encouraged students to stay far away from classical studies because they were subjective and a tool of the left meant to trick students into paying for worthless degrees. Hillsdale is firmly rooted in the classical style of learning, however, requiring its students to take multiple courses in the classics (Great Books, Western Heritage) and offering majors in Latin, Greek, and Classical Studies. Though Limbaugh advertises for the school, he is clearly ignorant of what takes place in the classroom, so his misguided musings on Hillsdale and politics are very suspect. They illustrate a broader misunderstanding of the mission and purpose of the school. Adams then makes the claim that politics students are well-equipped because they have to take political philoso-


Creed vs. Adams

The stated mission of the college is focused on an education that develops both mind and soul and teaches students to preserve the legacies we have inherited. There is no mention of influencing the political sphere, or attempting to effect broad institutional change.

The Forum | Conservative | 05

Finally, and most distressing, Adams’ claim that politics majors seek to achieve “the Good” on a government scale articulates a mission of the most extreme hubris. He assumes that an education through the Hillsdale politics department gives students such an extensive idea of “the Good” that they can go out and implement it in the political sphere. I contend that “the Good” and other such sentiments require a lifetime of study to comprehend even in part. The hubristic project of seeking to bring about “the Good” through government falls prey to Voegelin’s concept of immanentizing the eschaton, of trying to bring about the heavenly in the present world. “The Good” cannot be brought about on this earth, and it is misguided for anyone to think that it can be effected through the government. In addition, this kind of goal flies in the face of liberal education at Hillsdale, which we see manifested in the individual rising to self-government through a cultivation of the mind, soul, and body. This mission—the very mission of our college and liberal education in general—presupposes that the way to influence others is through personal relationships, or as Martin Buber posits, humans find their meaning in I– Thou relationships. Therefore, broad institutional change through legislation misses the aim of liberal education and the purpose of Hillsdale College since it does away with personal relationships in lieu of trying to effect change quickly and by the force of the laws. While this essay was specifically a response to Adams’ article, I believe that several of these arguments apply to the politics department as a whole. I don’t want to be seen as simply bashing a group of my peers and professors, however. Rather, I would like to encourage a continuing dialogue on the subject.

May 7, 2014

phy classes. These political philosophy classes mostly focus on philosophy, so politics majors “gain an excellent understanding of the human soul.” The philosophy taught in the politics department, however, is a far cry from the philosophy in the philosophy department. The politics department employs an esoteric Straussian reading of classical political and philosophical texts. Strauss thought that political theorists masked their true ideas because of government censure. Therefore, treatises of political philosophy have a surface level meaning along with a deeper, esoteric reading only accessible to the intellectual elite. Esoteric readings are ahistorical because they are usually devoid of context. They are used in a circular fashion to impose modern ideas on old texts and then to claim that the modern ideas came to us from the past. Eric Voegelin identifies this kind of faulty hermeneutic as modern-day gnosticism. When a politics student (or any student for that matter) claims to have discerned the path of history and where it is tending, they assume the role of Voegelin’s gnostic prophet. I have experienced this gnosticism firsthand in a Constitution class where the professor told us that Abraham Lincoln cannot be called a racist (in the modern sense of the word). This professor argued that Lincoln used a laughing or joking tone in a speech in which he claimed that blacks had less rights than whites. How the professor discerned tone from a speech in which we only have a transcript is beyond me. I would like to stress that this instance did not make the class illegitimate, and I have the utmost respect for the professor who was teaching it. Nevertheless, it is important to realize that many of the readings done in the politics department lack any historical context and are oftentimes gross misinterpretations.


Adams vs. Creed

May 7, 2014

The Forum | Conservative | 06

In reply to Devin Creed

Luke Adams I’m happy that someone disagreed strongly enough with my piece to write a rebuttal. I’m also happy that this conversation remains just that and that we are not devolving into Burr–Hamilton-level debate—at least not yet. Also, thank you for your excellent outline of the definition and purpose of the liberal arts, as well as their specific application to Hillsdale College. I have two comments on your line of argumentation here. First, in reference to the mission of the college, you stated, “There is no mention of influencing the political sphere, or attempting to enact broad institutional change.” I grant this as a valid, but significantly misleading, sentence. As you point out earlier in the piece, the education we receive here is meant to develop the mind and the soul. My question, then, is why would this growth of the soul and mind not apply to those operating in the political sphere? While the college obviously does not make political change part of its explicit mission (which, by the way, I never stated or implied anywhere in my piece, contrary to your claims), it would make sense that one who received this type of education would be able to practice it in whatever field he finds himself. This is the purpose of the politics program. Next, your argument regarding my Rush Limbaugh comment could only have been inspired by a serious misreading of my piece. While I wholeheartedly agree that Limbaugh clearly does not understand at all the mission of Hillsdale College, I was illustrating the connection between the college and politically concerned students. For example, during the last election cycle Hillsdale students did more campaigning for conservative candidates than any other college in the state, including Michigan State and even the University of Michigan. Like it or not, Hillsdale has a relationship with conservatism, and it is often expressed through the political side of that philosophy. It is simply inconsistent for a school of this character to be so acrimonious towards a group of students who merely want to further their interests in this field in an academic or professional manner. You state that the political philosophy taught at Hillsdale College is misleadingly taught due to a Straussian method of ignoring historical context. Your main source against Strauss is Eric Voegelin. Voegelin wrote almost exclusively against major schools of historical revisionism such as Nazism and Communism, both of whom intentionally read history with a specific lens that changes facts and inserts a specific narrative where no particular one exists. I have never come across this level of revisionism in the politics department. The political philosophy classes are philosophy classes first, without any kind of slant, and then politics classes seeking only to understand if any applications to politics exist in the texts. Strauss was, after all, the first American political philosopher in the 20th century to place any kind of serious trust in the American

Revolution. Without him, it’s fairly safe to say that most conser vatives would land in the neocon category. Finally, you attacked the idea of Hillsdale students pursuing the Good in government by saying that once again it contradicts Mr. Voegelin’s admonishment not to attempt to immanentize the eschaton. Also, you once again misread my original argument. I did not say that Hillsdale politics majors were to seek to implement the Good on a societal scale. I said that they try to implement the Good in the governmental sphere. There’s a big difference. As to Voegelin, I think everyone here realizes that true perfection can never be reached while on Earth. Yet, at the same time, it would be absolutely ridiculous and fatalistic to say that we must not do our best. The liberal arts education is meant to equip students to be the best people they can be, always striving to better themselves and their work, no matter their field. All the politics major does is show students how to do this best in regards to statesmanship and public service.

LETTERS We welcome letters to the editor. Letters appear in the issue after the article to which they are responding. Letters under 400 words are preferred, and they may be edited for length and clarity. Please send them to: hillsdaleforum@gmail.com


The Four Loves in Harry Potter

T

hroughout its publication history Harry Potter, as a series, has been one of the most challenged and banned books in America. While it has received less and less attention in recent years due to its completion, both as books and movies, and its loss of global phenomenon status, it is still approached with caution and hostility in many conservative religious communities. While the Harry Potter generation grew up reading the books as they came out, maturing with the characters, the books were most often banned or challenged for various “anti-religious” themes and material. That remains the primary reason for families and communities to oppose the reading of the series. Those families and communities generally cite the Bible and their Christian faith as their motivation for challenging the series. Harry Potter is a series all about love and, as such, is profoundly Biblical. By borrowing conceptions of agape, philia, storge, and eros from C.S. Lewis’ short treatise, The Four Loves, we can examine Harry Potter as an exploration of love in all of its myriad expressions. This article also reveals spoilers—beware. Agape, unconditional love, powers the whole series. It is primarily expressed in three characters: Lily Potter, Severus Snape, and Albus Dumbledore. It is Lily Potter’s unconditional love of Harry that makes him “the boy who lived” in the face of her death. Her sacrifice protects him when he has no other defenses. Lily Potter’s death is also the crisis in Severus Snape’s life, when his romantic love for her becomes an unconditional devotion to her and a promise to protect what she loves, Harry. Every single major action Snape takes in the entire series is motivated by his love for Lily. He expects no reward, and none is coming, as he risks everything for who she was. Albus Dumbledore devotes his whole life to loving and protecting that which is good. He sacrifices private happiness for public good and leads

Micah Meadowcroft is a sophomore studyng history. He is a member of the Dow Journalism Program.

The Forum | Conservative | 07

BY MICAH MEADOWCROFT

narcissism transforms into sacrificial love. But best of all, and despite Rowling’s recent regrets, Hermione and Ron’s relationship is a beautiful picture of growth and forgiveness. Harry Potter is about love. So is the Bible. One can apologize for the series to concerned conservative Christians by emphasizing Harry as a Christ figure, or Dumbledore as a prophet, or Lily as a Marian figure. One can point to the series as a war between clear good and clear evil, with a community of faithful against whom the gates of hell will not prevail. One can see it as a story about death and life, the fear of death and lust for life, or the love of life that leads to welcoming death. Hell, Lily and James’ grave quotes 1 Corinthians 15:26 with “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” carved in stone for all time, looking forward to eternity. It is, however, above all, an exploration of love, an examination of its forms and nature. Harry Potter is a story of magic and the mundane, darkness and light, joy and pain, the human experience of love. As such, it is profoundly beautiful and profoundly Biblical. It is not high art. The writing is not groundbreaking—it will not be added to the canon of great books. But the story is a story that touches the story. To fear it is to fear the life we are living. Christians, anyone who is hesitant, should read Harry Potter. F

May 7, 2014

Christians should read Harry Potter, not fear it.

through selfless service. His love brings him meek as a lamb to the slaughter as he prepares the way for good’s triumph. These figures and their sacrifice are the examples that lead Harry to his own agape—his willing death for the foolish wizards of the world— as he fulfills his call to be “the Chosen One,” a Christ-type who lived and lives, who was loved and loves, defeating death, and death-eaters, in death. Agape may have propelled the plot of Harry Potter as a series, but philia, friendship, made each book a delight. Harry, Ron, and Hermione show close friendship, true appreciation of the other person, and delight in who they are, far more clearly than most literary heroes. Harry, Ron, and Hermione are a triune Jonathan and David, a relational union harmonized by their love for one another. Confusion from readers about the lack of sexual tension between them as a trio evidences the whole-souled companionship their friendship demonstrates. They fight, sure, but they value one another, have committed to one another. Their friendship is not natural. They are heart, mind, and soul brought together by choosing one another. Storge is the affection of family. Everyone wants to go to Hogwarts, not just because it is magical, but because of the community there. House rivalries may get nasty, but Hogwarts is a big family. The Weasleys are the uproarious family ideal. They love each other with a deep and abiding fondness and acceptance everyone seeks. No matter how dark the world of Harry Potter gets, it glows with friends’ and families’ honest affection for one another. Sirius Black loves Harry not only because Harry is his father’s son and Black’s godson, but also because they are truly fond of each other, truly kindred. Any coming of age novel wouldn’t be complete without the early explorations of eros. But romantic love is never limited in Harry Potter to the awkward “snogging” of hormonal teenagers. Of course Rowling spends plenty of pages illustrating both the positive and negative possibilities of being “in love” and exploring burgeoning sexuality, but she also illustrates mature romance in the vivacious love of Tonks and Lupin. In the flashback accounts of the life of James and Lily Potter, immature teenage mutual


The Fight for Food and Freedom

Students deserve more food options

May 7, 2014

The Forum | Conservative | 08

BY NATHAN BRAND

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T

oo often, students roam around the dining area looking for something to eat and end up with an unhealthy slice of pizza or a fatty bagel. They start their stroll at the Hilltop Bistro to see what the main course is for that meal. If it doesn’t look appealing, they may venture to the salad bar or the grill— repetitive after a while. So if you are at all like me, you find yourself heading over to the bread and bagel shelf or the cereal section and walking away with just a bowl of sugar-filled cereal. That bowl of cereal costs students anywhere from $8.53 to

$15.00 a meal, depending on their meal for only what they are going to eat, offerplan. ing more meal plan size options, or hiring Because of outlandish prices, limited a different food provider should all be options, and often-poor food quality, considered. Hillsdale College needs to reconsider how Hillsdale’s Young Americans for it does food service. Freedom chapter began a petition this This is the most important issue facing month asking the administration to students. Besides student housing and the consider the opt-out option of reform. core curriculum, this is the one area of The student group stands for many of the campus life that all students share in. And same ideals as Hillsdale and believes the it is in need of much improvement. college’s administration should live up to This is the most private of private insti- the standard it holds the government to. tutions. President Dr. Larry Arnn and The college’s widely read publication, the school’s administration do not take Imprimis, defends free markets and marching orders from anyone, so they limited government issue after issue. are free to operate the food service at the President Arnn and the college have gone college in any way they please. But this after the progressive government policies, should not stop students from voicing like Obamacare, more than Wile E. their concerns and ideas. Coyote goes after the Road Runner. These Students are more than welcome to institutions force everyone to pay for have discussions substandard goods about how the Hillsdale College prides and services they founding fathers don’t need, while would approach itself for the community the guaranteed the conflict in monopoly makes that it fosters, and we high prices the Ukraine or and ever-lower Aristotle’s take should look to improve it.standards the on immigration norm. Fortunately, reform, but none of it matters. To quote one of our favorites, Hillsdale College knew these problems Hillary Clinton, “What difference does it would arise when government involved itself in health care policy. make?” Yet students are forced to buy into a No one with authority is going to be reading your opinion on meal plan policy that creates many of the these topics. No one of us same problems. They are faced with the same restricted is an expert on national choice, high prices, and a school-sancissues. So it is important tioned monopoly—resulting in low to act and seek quality, high costs, and an absence of reforms in areas freedom and competition. The college refuses to allow a free where students can be effec- market inside campus, and this violates tive. Hills- the aims and the principles that Hillsdale dale College publically stands for. Before outlining reform, it is importprides itself on the ant to remember that this a private insticommunity tution that we agree to attend. Nor does that it fosters, the college market itself as a place that and we practices these political and economical should look to principles internally. But these principles of freedom, and choice and competition, improve it. Students have are the best way of organizing ourselves, been creative and students should not be prevented when coming up from speaking out on an issue that will with reform ideas, improve the quality of life on campus. Practical change starts with allowing and the administration should take note. Reforms students to opt-out of having a meal plan. such as allowing students to This will allow students choice and force opt-out of having a meal plan or pay the current monopoly to compete for


As much as this has been a call to action for administrators to reform the meal plan policies at the school, they have been very receptive of student’s thoughts and concerns. Students should continue to meet with administrators to add their input as to how the school could improve their meal plan policy. The administration prides themselves on their willingness to schedule time to meet with any student and hear their ideas and concerns. Students are the ones eating the food, students should be encouraged to voice their opinions about the food. Whatever the administration chooses to do in the future with food service at the college, they must take into account the principles of the free market. If they need a refresher as to what those principles entail, Hillsdale College’s free online Economics 101 course is now enrolling. F Nathan Brand is a junior studying economics and minoring in mathematics. He is the president of Hillsdale’s chapter of Young Americans for Freedom.

The Forum | Conservative | 09

avenues of reform, maintain the current meal plan system, but offer to buy back students’ unused meals at the end of the semester. Even if it is a partial buy-back, students will still have incentive to eat in the Knorr Dining Room, but will have more freedom over their own money. The ideas students have come up with are not limited to these listed above. The Hillsdale administration has concerns with these alternatives. In my meetings with the president’s office, they made the point that an opt-out reform may result in a reduction of the profit the school makes from the food service on campus. Once students are allowed to opt-out of a meal plan, if the food quality does not improve, many students are going to quit paying into the system. President Arnn’s primary concern is the loss of community if students opt out of buying a meal plan. If the food quality improves, though, students will be more inclined to eat in a convenient location with their friends. So community will thrive and the college will make money, assuming the food improves.

May 7, 2014

their dining business, hopefully improving quality. There are dozens of local businesses that would love to have Hillsdale students spending their money in their establishments. Imagine having that $15 the college charges you per meal back in your pocket, and having the freedom and money to go buy a BBQ special from the Filling Station Deli, for a third of the price. Better yet, make a nutritious meal for yourself in your own kitchen. Another practical option is to expand Charger Change. Instead of swiping into the dining area and using one of your meals, walk in, grab what you want to eat and then pay for only what you’re going to eat. For example, a bagel and cream cheese and a glass of chocolate milk make for decent breakfast. Don’t charge $15, charge $3 for the bagel and $2 for the glass of chocolate milk. Instead of “Saga” Steve Casai swiping you in, he would check you out. This alternative would allow students to speak with their dollars, and would create the opportunity for real choices. If the college is resistant to these


The

May 7, 2014

The Forum | Interview | 10

purpose of the law immorality, but to prom

Faculty Interview: Dr. Nathan Schlueter Public morality and the social order COMPILED BY WES WRIGHT Dr. Nathan Schlueter is an associate professor of philosophy and religon. The Hillsdale Forum recently sat down with him to discuss the idea of “moral ecology.” HF: In a number of your classes and public lectures, we’ve heard you mention “moral ecology”. Could you talk to us about that idea? NS: Sure. The basic idea here is that human behavior does not occur in a vacuum. Human beings never exist prior to and independent of their social order. Their whole development (intellectual, moral, and physical) is profoundly shaped by their culture. Culture is not merely a sum or aggregate of individual behaviors, as the individualist model would have it; it is a dominant pattern of social expectations, judgments, and moral norms that either enable or inhibit human development and flourishing. Just as human beings have an obligation in justice to avoid behavior that causes physical harm to others, such as emitting toxic chemicals into a common water source, so human beings have an obligation in justice to avoid behavior that causes moral harm to others, by undermining the cultural conditions for authentic freedom. This is an old idea, recognized in the common law and in the laws of every state as “public morality.” HF: How would you respond to the claim that this idea of public morality involves people imposing their private preferences on others? NS: This claim reflects the kind of confusion C.S. Lewis identifies in The Abolition of Man between subjective values

and objective goods. Not all evaluative statements are merely subjective preferences. “Chocolate ice cream is good” is a subjective preference. It can easily be translated without loss into “I like chocolate ice cream (though others may not).” Everyone immediately recognizes that it would be absurd for someone to attempt to ban vanilla ice cream based upon his preference for chocolate. But “rape is bad” cannot be translated into “I don’t like rape (but others might)” without serious violence to natural language and intentional meaning, and every intelligent person can acknowledge why the legal prohibition of rape is reasonable and justified. HF: What’s the intellectual history of public morality? NS: Public morality has deep roots in the Western tradition, back to at least Plato and Aristotle. But it takes on a liberal meaning in the modern era. Put most simply, whereas many classical thinkers argued that the law should make men moral, the modern defenders of public morality argued that only men can make themselves moral through their own self-constituting choices. But the law can assist men in making themselves moral by protecting the cultural conditions for authentic freedom, as noted above. According to the modern idea of public morality, the law does not attempt to make all human beings conform to a single idea of human flourishing (such as participation in politics or contemplation), but recognizes the vast diversity of ways in which human beings can flourish (through work, art, marriage, love, music, etc.). The modern idea of public morality, therefore, is more about preventing harmful action than promoting good action. It is worth pointing out that not a single one of the classical liberals (Smith, Hume, Ferguson, Burke, etc.) advocated for the abolition of laws on public morality. The first philosopher to do this was John Stuart Mill, who, as Hayek and others point out, was not particularly friendly to the free market. HF: You mentioned moral harm above. What does that entail? NS: Good character is the source of personal integrity and the firm basis on which free moral choices are made. Character is built upon the accumulation of small and often difficult choices over time. It is a wrong of injustice, there-


w is not to prohibit all mote human flourishing. May 7, 2014

Stuart Mill was the first philosopher to argue that government should be “neutral with respect to competing conceptions of the good” (to use the phrase of John Rawls). But Mill relied for his argument on utilitarian premises, which were notoriously weak. It is only when Mill’s doctrine is combined with Kant’s notion of individual moral autonomy that the idea starts to take hold. This attack on the traditional understanding of public morality was not part of the progressive movement. It is a late arrival to America, and involves an interesting alliance of progressivism and libertarianism that is given its most influential expression in the writings of John Rawls. Notably, whereas the goals of progressivism (i.e. the administrative welfare state) were largely achieved through the democratic process, the abolition of laws protecting public morality was almost entirely imposed on unwilling democratic majorities by unelected judges, from the contraception and obscenity cases in the 1960s, to the abortion cases in the 1970s, to the sodomy cases in the 1980s and 90s, to the marriage cases in our time. Euthanasia and “transgender equality” are the next frontier. F

The Forum | Interview | 11

fore, to present human beings with powerful temptations to actions that contradict the order of objective goods. In the worst case, human beings seek to exploit such temptations in others for personal profit, as with drug pushers, prostitutes, and pimps. Such activity is a source of moral harm to the character and integrity of other persons, and thus an injustice which might be prohibited by law. For a particularly illuminating study of this, read up on the Opium Wars. HF: I hope most of our readers aren’t drug addicts or dealers. What might be a more common example? NS: Well, we might start with the seven deadly sins: pride, envy, anger, acedia, prodigality, gluttony, lust. All of these provide an opportunity for some persons to profit at the expense of others. If you don’t notice the pervasiveness of this in today’s culture, you’re not paying much attention. HF: So should all of these things be outlawed? NS: No. I’m with St. Thomas Aquinas on this. The purpose of the law is not to prohibit all immorality, but to promote human flourishing. Legal prohibition, therefore, is subject to three conditions: First, the action itself must be immoral (no prohibiting acts which are not themselves immoral). Second, the action must cause moral harm to others (no prohibiting acts that are purely private, and have no effect on public morality). Third, legal prohibition of the action must not result in worse harms than toleration (e.g. public expense, corruption of authority, corruption of persons through black market, etc.). HF: Can you draw a specific line? NS: We can’t know without deliberation. We need data and a pragmatic approach. Some things are obvious enough; murder (including abortion), for example, is a grave evil that should always be prohibited. Other actions depend upon a careful assessment of empirical data. Both Augustine and Aquinas asserted that prostitution should be tolerated, not because it is moral, but “lest the world be convulsed with lust.” This strikes me as a rather bad argument, but I am open to better ones. HF: How has the U.S. moved away from protecting our moral ecology? NS: This is a complex story. As I suggest above, John

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Wes Wright is a junior studying political economy and speech with a minor in classical education.


it g l o

: t h

Triple Majors

r gge E rew nd A by ed l i mp Co

p S Chelsea Kilgore

Chelsea will be graduating in May 2015 with majors in English, history, and exercise science, with a classical education minor.

when I got here I took one of the health and wellness classes just out of pure interest and ended up enjoying it so much that I took other classes in that as well. I ended up with an English major and a couple other areas of study that I was focusing on, and when I became interested in becoming a teacher I added the classical education minor because I would be teaching in classical schools. And then when I started looking at the interview process I started realizing I wanted to teach history as well. And to do that I would need context knowledge which would require at least a minor, and when I really thought about it, if I want to really be competitive for a teaching position in history I need a major. So when I had planned all that out this past summer, I realized I needed a fifth year to finish, and then I realized that the gaps that I had in my schedule were perfect for finishing out the exercise science major. And so that one came along out of surprise; I’d been taking those classes out of pure interest.

What have been some of the challenges of trying to juggle these three majors with a minor? Academics isn’t the only thing I’ve been involved in, so it’s kind of hard to say: I’ve been involved in music ensembles, cross-country, and track my entire time here. Without these, I would have so much more time. It probably would have felt easy. One of my first lessons I learned was time management. So if you get to a class early, do a little bit of your reading as you wait for the professor to come in. Probably one of the hardest lessons has been saying “no” to things. One of the reasons I’m a triple major is that I’m interested in so many things, which extends to clubs and other things I want to get Kokko graduated in May 2013 and majored in involved in, so you history, latin, and music. have to be careful to know where your Did you come in intending to pursue those limits are and not to particular majors? overstep those. No, not at all. I came in recruited for the orchestra—I’m a violinist. I came in and told What were the Professor Holleman I did not want to major in music. circumstances that I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do, but I was led you to pursue interested in American history, and was considering these majors? an American studies major for a little bit of time. So I Well, I’ve always didn’t come in with any intention to triple major. been interested in

Kokko Tso

English, because it was my favorite subject in high school—English and history both, really. In high school, I became a runner, so

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Are you glad that is where you ended up, or was it unduly burdensome? I’m not sure. I’ve had a couple students ask me, “You’ve triple majored, would you have done it any differently?” I’m not sure I would have done it any differently, but I’m not sure I could recommend it either. One of the things that’s very difficult as a triple major is making sure all the core requirements are in place, and not being able to take classes outside those disciplines because of time constraints. I would have liked to take more English classes, for instance. So there are many downsides to triple-majoring. There’s time constraints and the stress of trying to juggle everything. I’m not sure I would have done anything different—I probably would be the same idiot again

as I was back then. But having three very different disciplines and enjoying all three of them—I used to say that music kept me sane, latin was the steadying influence on my life, and history was the love. Looking back, there’s so many pieces to a college education, and you should get that liberal arts experience. I would probably encourage students to find out what they really like and throw themselves fully into that. So how did that develop? With music, mostly by accident. I started taking music classes because we have a unique music program here. If you’re a music student at most other colleges you have to be fully committed; you can’t do anything but music, and that’s what I didn’t want. When I found out here that you can take music classes as well as other classes and experience the full liberal arts without being pigeonholed in

Mark Kalthoff Dr. Kalthoff graduated in 1984 and majored in mathematics, biology, and history. What led you to choose those particular majors? I did not come to Hillsdale College intending to triple major. I didn’t know for sure what I’d major in, but I was interested in math and science. I was kind of one of those guys who hung out over in Strosacker. I was interested in biology, because I love the outdoors—plants, animals, backpacking, things like that—and I thought, well, let’s do some biology. I didn’t really think career path, I was just fascinated by the glory of God’s creation. But I had to take classes in the core curriculum, and I was in the Honors Program. My junior year I took a course in the history of science. It was really fascinating. Math and science ask a really big question: “How do human beings think about the world and how everything in it works?” And


Will you be involved with all three of your majors after college?

Would you have done anything differently? Most certainly I’m grateful to be graduating with what I have. I guess my only regret is that I can’t be here more years and pursue more subjects. I would warn people if they want to try for a triple major: don’t do it for the triple major’s sake, do it because you love the subjects.

In addition to teaching, I could use my exercise science major to teach PE… I plan to become a cross-country and track coach, so it will help for that as well. Having all of these subjects prepares me very well to fit into any niche a school might need me in, which is nice.

music, I said, “Oh, well I’ll take a couple,” and never stopped taking music. Still didn’t think I’d major for the longest time, but I ended up taking enough classes that it seemed natural. I decided to take latin my freshman year, partly because I was afraid of doing oral exams, so I thought, “Hey, I’ll take latin, it’s a dead language.” So I took three semesters for the core and really just fell in love with it. I thought it was a really neat language, and I had a really great prof too, Eric Hutchinson. Seeing his love for the language I just decided I’d consider a latin minor, and kind of like music I never stopped taking latin classes. History was the one where I made a conscientious decision to major in history. I liked reading through all the great works and especially American history interested me. I really liked the way the history history of science, I found out, asked an even bigger question: “How has man ever thought about the world and how everything in it works?” And in order to answer that question I came to realize that matters of philosophy and economics and politics and religion all brought to bear on the kinds of questions a scientist asks and the way they sought to answer them. Well, by that point I was far enough along with my math [and biology majors], so it didn’t make sense to stop either of those. I was thinking what to do was to pursue graduate work in the history of biology or the history of science, and it made sense therefore to have an undergraduate major in it, so I added a history major and ended up graduating with three majors. I didn’t come in with the idea of doing

department approached history as one of the humanities instead of as a social science. Of course they all disagreed on how to interpret history, but it all was fascinating to me. I was very interested in American intellectual history— it’s just so much crammed into two hundred years. It’s also easier to keep track of than European history—too many

it. I would never advise anyone to plan to do three majors, the only reason I did that was because I knew I was going on to graduate school to study history. So I declared that and it worked. I got into every grad program I applied to, so I got my masters and Ph.D. in the history and philosophy of science. . . . But majors really aren’t that important. Most people who go to a college like Hillsdale, when they graduate, prospective employers or opportunities are going to look and say, “Oh, you have a degree from a liberal arts college.” Most of what you studied is the core curriculum and your electives. If you put those together, it’s much more than a major. Majors are a modern invention, and they’re a modern invention that came about through a quirky set of circumstances. But we live in a world

May 7, 2014

kings dying, things like that. But since I was thinking about doing American studies, but decided English wasn’t something that interested me very much, I decided my sophomore year that I’d do history and spend a lot of time doing American history classes. They say the more you learn the more you learn you don’t know, and that’s one of the biggest things history did for me. that demands that we have them. So I just took all the courses I was interested in along the way, and by the time I was done it looked like I was pretty close to three majors, so I graduated with three. But I didn’t come in planning to major in three things, and I would never advise a student to do that.

The Forum | Spotlight | 15


SMACK Ring

By

SPEAKING FOR THE RINGS: BRETT WIERENGA Do you think college students are too young to get married? How would you respond to people who say that they are?

Did you ever feel pressured into getting married, or ever feel influenced by the Hillsdale “ring by spring” mentality?

I think the age at which people are ready to get married varies widely on a case by case basis, depending on background, maturity, etc. I’ve known high-schoolers who could be married. I’ve known grandparents who probably shouldn’t be. People who say that college students are too young to get married are often right, since I think that the current culture has pushed back expectations of maturity to later ages, but I’m not sure this is a good thing.

I don’t think “ring by spring” is a uniquely Hillsdalian expression; many college students decide to get married after they graduate, and I think a lot of it has to do with the obvious changes in living situation and occupation. That said, I’m not sure I have ever felt particular pressure from Hillsdale’s culture. If I had to speculate, I would say that women on campus would be more likely to experience such pressure.

As a man, getting married shows that you are able to make a long-term commitment and that you desire to care for and provide for your spouse and put her life before your own. That said, is it possible to reach the pinnacle of manhood without marriage? Absolutely. I could draw anecdotes from my own experience, but it might be better to point to more commonly known Biblical figures, such as Paul, Jesus, or any one of his Apostles. There is a reason many churches require celibacy from their priests.

Did you ever feel the overwhelming desire, or ever feel some sort of societal pressure to find “the one” to “complete you”? Actually, one of my pastor’s favorite things to say is, “If you’re discontent now, marriage sure isn’t going to help.” I’m not sure it’s good to think about marriage in terms of completion, because that seems to imply unmarried people are incomplete, which is clearly not true. But I do think there are certain realms of experience that only marriage affords, and I have long hoped to someday be married.

Do you think that the post-college “real world” is going to be more, or less difficult with a spouse? Probably both. It certainly makes the future more complicated, but I can’t really imagine a happier thing than a permanent best friend, someone with whom I can share everything, from faith to love to disagreements.

Were you desperately unhappy being single? Do you feel like you’ve finally just now started living since you’ve become engaged? Sorry, can you repeat that? It’s difficult to hear you over the “Hallelujah Chorus” sweeping through my soul. Everything has changed. The grass is greener on both sides, and the birds are singing harmony with the ice cream trucks. Did I just see a certain Southern California girl walk by in a blue floral dress? Be still my beating heart! (That last comment being completely serious.)

May 7, 2014

The Forum | Smackdown | 12


KDOWN Spring

SPEAKING FOR THE SINGLES: MARTHA EKDAHL Do you think it’s a good idea to get married in college?

It’s different for everyone, obviously, but there’s a lot to be said for waiting until you’re about 25 and have developed fully, both biologically and mentally. It’s not impossible to find “the one”, but it’s alarming the number of couples here who feel like they’re already at that point.

Do you feel pressured to get married or find your soul mate in college? Not really. My parents definitely want me to find someone I can share the rest of my life with. They got married at 23, but it was a different time. They also didn’t go to college and had jobs. As far as Hillsdale goes, I never thought I’d find someone to marry here. I still don’t. He’s not just going to show up. So I haven’t felt pressured, but it’s more just . . . it can be too much. As confident of where I am in life, when you see so many couples all the time—as happy as you are for them—it makes you think. Why don’t I have that, what is it I’ve done that I don’t have that? It doesn’t elicit feelings of envy, just confusion. I know that’s not where I want to be right now. Everyone’s path is different. We won’t all do the same things at the same time.

instantly make 10 friends. You’ll have to work for it, but it’ll make you a stronger person. You’ll get to travel . . . it just gets much harder with another person involved, much less kids. Being able to pick up and leave is one of the best things about it. Cats can only be left alone about two or three days before they get a little nutty.

Which is better: Husbands or Cats? Why? Cats don’t help with the bills, so probably husband. I have loved cats for a long time, but it’s not like I got to college, couldn’t find a man, and decided cats were the answer. As a baby, I slept with cats in my cradle. I’ve loved cats for a long time, but I’m a red-blooded American female. I’d rather have a husband in my bed than a cat.

Compiled by Devon Izmirian and Lauren Weirenga

Why is single life superior? What are the benefits? I’m going to have the rest of my life to worry about someone else’s thought and feelings, and I don’t want to do that if I don’t have a good grasp on myself. Knowing myself and God’s will for me will make me an even better person for the one I marry. Surface level reasons are: going to bars and flirting is a great confidence boost. You meet so many people that way. It’s important to meet people just for the sake of meeting people. It’ll help you in the real world. It doesn’t matter what vocation you have—the more experience you have, the more outgoing you are, the better. As a single person you tend to go out more. If a couple is super outgoing they’ll do that, but it’s so easy to just stay home with the person you love instead of getting out to see the world. Also, I can tell the companies I work for that I can go anywhere. I’ve felt separation anxiety even just with friends. It’s not going to be like Hilldale where everyone’s on the same page and you can May 7, 2014

The Forum | Smackdown | 13


The Forum | Conservative | 16 May 7, 2014

Man’s Place in the Cosmos Walker Percy’s Critique of Ideological Scientism BY JOHN TAYLOR

T

he southern novelist Walker Percy attempted to decipher the nature of man in the Cosmos, critiquing modern science’s reductionist and naturalistic false anthropology of man, instead demonstrating the non-contradictory relationship between science and faith. In his college years, the wandering Walker Percy looked to science for the truth of the universe. While maintaining his great love of literature, he trained to be a physician, specializing in pathology. Percy eventually became disenfranchised with his day’s pervasive, hubristic scientism, the belief that only the proper use of the scientific method can bring one to knowable truths. Percy discovered that scientism fails to offer a consistent definition of man as man, a conviction which ultimately led to his own conversion to Roman Catholicism on St. Lucy’s Day, 1947. Finding his calling as a novelist and semiotic philosopher, Percy diagnosed the ailments of 20th-century modernity, replacing his stethoscope with a typewriter. The writer left his career in medicine and published The Moviegoer at the age of 45 and continued drafting novels and essays until his death in 1990. A significant amount of his intellectual pursuits responded to and criticised the rampant 20th-century scientism, emphasizing its failure to honestly account for human consciousness and existence in the Cosmos, particularly in light of religious faith. His biographer notes, “As Percy would insist, science properly understood was not a contradiction of faith. Percy never turned a hostile eye toward science and technology...But he would use his understanding to resist the view that science could account for everything, including everything about the human creature.” This was Walker Percy’s Christian Humanism. Walker Percy offered a congruent understanding and sound critique of scientific

objectivism throughout his literary output. He found its project insufficient in its attempt to explain away mankind by means of methodological empiricism. This triumphalist spirit of modern science lords over “laymen”, writes Percy, the argument that “only science can utter a true word about anything.” Such scientists, according to Percy, “with all their understanding of interactions, energy exchanges, stimuli, and responses, could not seem to utter a single word about what man did and what they themselves were doing.” Although they theoretically uphold a pure rationale in pursuing truth, the pursuit dislocates the person of the scientist from his picture of the Cosmos. Since “objectivism requires a specifiably functioning mindless knower”, the individual’s personal acts of knowing become both meaningless and nonexistent. This action removes man from the very universe he wills to understand. Towards the end of his satirical self-help book, Lost in the Cosmos, Walker Percy writes: The earth-self observing the Cosmos and trying to understand the Cosmos by scientific principles from which its self is excluded is, beyond doubt, the strangest phenomenon in all of the Cosmos, far stranger than the Ring Nebula in Lyra. It, the self, is in fact the only alien in the entire Cosmos. The Modern objective consciousness will go to any length to prove that it is not unique in the Cosmos, and by this very effort establishes its own uniqueness. Name another entity in the Cosmos which tries to prove it is not unique. The earth-self seeks to understand the Cosmos overtly according to scientific principles while covertly exempting itself from the same understanding. The end of the enterprise is that the self understands the mechanism of the Cosmos but by the same motion places itself outside the Cosmos, an alien, a ghost, a vast machinery to which it is denied entry.

Percy demands consistency in the sciences; scientists should not claim total access to all knowledge and truth, for science can never offer definitive conclusions. Very many things cannot be accounted for by the empirical method. Claiming the opposite brings forth grave consequences. Percy expressly critiques the deconstructive tendencies of scientific objectivism, writing, “The scientist...has abstracted from his own predicament in order to achieve objectivity. His objectivity is indeed nothing else than his removal from his own concrete situation. No sentence can be received by him as a piece of news, therefore, because he does not stand in the way of hearing news.” Modern scientism claims the capacity to objectively analyse and understand rationally all truth within the universe through its empirical methodologies. But when it accounts for the incommensurable, mystical, mysterious, and metaphysical entities like God, self, consciousness, language, and signs, its project fails, becoming reductionistic dead ends. Regarding the idea of God and its relationship to science, Percy explains, “[W]hile the scientific method may be officially neutral toward God, scientism, an attitude which extrapolates from the objectivity of the scientific method, cannot be neutral.” The modern scientific outlook demands visible and quantifiable proofs. Walker Percy critiques this popular notion, for not everything can be accounted for through visible and quantifiable proofs. Since scientism supplants the anthropocentric vision of the cosmos, specifically regarding man’s unique and inexplicable consciousness and rationality, man finds himself void of meaning and purpose. Percy writes, “[S]cientists find it natural to deal with matter in interaction and with energy exchanges and don’t know what to make

Modern scientism claims the capacity to understand rationally all truth through its empirical methodologies.

Here Percy shows the absurdity of “objectivist” science demonstrating the insignificance of and superiority over man. Walker

of such things as consciousness, self, and symbols and even sometimes deny that there are such things, even though they, the scientists, act for all the world as if they were conscious selves...” The laws of physics and chemistry do not and can not account for this obvious fact. Thus the positivistic


According to Percy, the growing scientism of the last 300 years led to the “puncturing” of man’s “inflated claims to uniqueness in the Cosmos.” will) grasp all truth and when man concurrently finds himself lost, with no “place in the Cosmos.” According to Percy, the growing scientism of the last 300 years led to the “puncturing” of man’s “inflated claims to uniqueness in the Cosmos. For it proves man to be “beyond doubt an organism among other organisms, a species in continuity with other species, a creature existing in interaction with an imminent Cosmos like all other creatures, like all other elements, molecules, gaseous clouds, novas, galaxies.” If all things, including scientists, in the universe can be “objectively” accounted for solely through physical and chemical interactions, science places man within a hemisphere void of purpose. He must create his own purpose. For man has no significant character when the material reactions of his brain are treated and insignificant and scientifically understandable. Percy deems this event “the loss of the creature.” He finds the account of both man’s existence and behavior in the universe insufficient and incoherent. Walker Percy contends that more pragmatic and realistic scientists must understand that total empiricism cannot account for “the fact that with the appearance of man there also appeared for the first time in the Cosmos... language, mind, self, and consciousness.” Darwinian evolutionary science cannot “account for the appearance in the Cosmos of a triumphant, godlike, murderous alien, the only alien in the Cosmos, Homo sapiens sapiens, e.g., the scientist himself.” When the individual person’s unique existence, behavior, and consciousness is accounted for solely through physics, chemistry, material-

What is Metaphysics? An inquiry into the history and nature of Being BY GARRETT WEST John Taylor is a junior studying history. “Why are there beings at all, and why not rather nothing?”

H

eidegger asks this question throughout his oeuvre. This questioning does not allow the simple answers “God” or “necessity”. In fact, it is unclear whether we ought to find an answer. Instead, to situate oneself in such a questioning is to open oneself up to radical finitude. The questioner rejects the world as given and puts it to the test, and in so doing, he puts himself to the test. In the entire course of Western civilization, according to Heidegger, man has ceased to question. Man has taken on this or that question about this or that being, but forgotten the question of Being as such. In taking up beings in the inquiry, “humanity is turned away from the mystery”. Heidegger gives

himself a particular task: He wants to reawaken man to the question of Being. In this paper, I will attempt to briefly recreate the “attunement” and the “mood” that one must have before truly doing metaphysics. This will be propaedeutic. It will introduce certain necessary aspects of Heidegger’s philosophy. Then, the paper will become more discursive. I will begin with the ancient Greeks and their understanding of phusis (nature) as discussed by Heidegger. Next, I will engage with Aristotle and the narrowing of phusis that occurs there. Then, I will turn to Thomas Aquinas, who implicitly introduces Heidegger’s fundamental question of metaphysics; yet, he asks it only superficially—as a man of faith. This question of the possibility of a “Christian philosopher” will, in turn, open up Heidegger to the criticism that he remains staunchly within the Western philosophical tradition that had supposedly reached its end; Levinas will levy this critique. I understand the breadth of this paper; I understand that I will not do justice to the topic. Nonetheless, I have here the opportunity to craft a grand narrative—bear with me. So, we begin: Why are there beings at all, and why not rather nothing? I don’t quite know how to proceed with the questioning; it seems too general for me to hold it all together. I’ll start with this book in my hand, Introduction to Metaphysics. What is this being? It’s made from paper, which comes from trees cut down and turned to pulp. There is ink here, too. When I drop it, it makes a thud, and I feel its weight in my hand and the breeze on my face as I turn the pages. But this seems superficial. It is a book. A man thought, and judged his thoughts meaningful, and so he wrote them down, and they found their way to me. This book could potentially—ah, there’s something. The book has possibilities. I can read it or burn it or let it rot through the ages. It is not just a brute fact out there in the world. In fact, I cannot think of it except in terms of its possibilities. As something I can speak of, I always reference the possibilities of what it is; as something I can hold and feel. When I look at it, I already think of it as a thing that can be read. I recognize that the manipulating makes it be differently—for me. Yet, I do not think I’ve answered the question. Why is this being? Well, I’ve explained why it is; it was thought, and written down, and printed for someone’s benefit. More than that, this being persists as a possibility. It has a past and a future that already imbue it with meaning. Still, I’ve not answered the question. I’ve taken the book for granted, as already here

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ist Darwinism, Freudian psychology, and materialist utilitarianism, humanity itself disappears. Humans lose humanity. We must recognize man, according to Percy, as more than the mysterious but insignificant creature of “the pale blue dot” and thus forgo scientism’s errors. Critiquing the modern age’s rampant and ideological scientism, Percy found the vacuum of modern science incapable of providing a sufficient account of man’s place in the world, particularly concerning his relation to God, his consciousness, and his existence. He insists that we instead find and promulgate a truly humanistic and consistent anthropology, and shy away from the naturalistic reductivism which leaves man “lost in the cosmos.” F

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scientific project misunderstands personhood and what determines man qua man as opposed to beasts, and improperly theorizes concerning it. Percy links the project’s failure to adequately place man within contemporary cosmology to the heightened alienation of man in the 20th century, a time when science supposedly should (or eventually


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What is Metaphysics? with me. I’ve talked about it only after its appearance on the scene has happened. Here, I recognize the importance of the whole question that Heidegger asks: “Why are there beings?” is a different question if we add “and why not rather nothing?” If I ask this of the book in this way, I question it more fundamentally. Why is this book here, and why does it continue to exist for me? Well, it wouldn’t make sense for it to just disappear in front of my eyes. It’s here and won’t not-be until it rots away or is stolen or given away— but these only exercise potencies. I cannot make this not be for me without recourse to—Wait: It is sustained by the context. It cannot fade into nothing because it is held up by the beings that surround it—even the time-space-continuum-being that surrounds it. No, I must release the whole context. Every being must be allowed to fade away into the Nothing. So, I will let them fade—but I can’t. Why won’t they fade? The context sustains itself, somehow. The beings, the sum total of all beings in my world, sustain themselves in a web of intelligibility and meaning. Yet, I want them to fade into the Nothing. How does the Nothing appear to me? Heidegger claims that the Nothing itself reveals itself to man in particular moods, particular attunements. In particular, the Nothing reveals itself “rarely enough and only for a moment in the fundamental mood of anxiety”. This still doesn’t help me. What the hell does that mean, Heidegger? When I experience anxiety, I’m anxious for something. In anxiety, I commit the same intentionality that I did when I questioned the book’s not-being. Indeed, I felt anxiety just yesterday when I was running late for class, but that anxiety was a specific one: that the particular possibility of “being-late” would be realized instead of the particular possibility of “being-on-time.” No, that anxiety does not put me face-to-face with the Nothing. Yet, I remember once, as a child of five or six, I went stargazing with my cousins. Out there in the darkness, we lay on our backs and stared off into the stars, and my cousin said: “You know, earth is going around the sun at a billion miles an hour.” And I thought about that, and I stared off into the depths of space, and I realized just how small I was. Then, right there, I felt fear for—what? I feared—I do not know. I felt the radical contingency of the earth’s existence, and therefore the contingency of my existence on it. Then, the Nothing itself was present before me. Ah, now that I have

remembered this mood towards existence, I can—perhaps—better do metaphysics. I knew contingency because it implicated me in it. The beings that I took for granted in my average-everydayness lost that indisputable purposefulness. They became susceptible to interrogation in a way that they never had been before. Heidegger affirms this thought:

Human existence can relate to beings only if it holds itself out into the nothing. Going beyond beings occurs in the essence of Dasein. But this going beyond is metaphysics itself. This implies that metaphysics belongs to the ‘nature of man.’ It is neither a division of academic philosophy nor a field of arbitrary notions. Metaphysics is the basic occurrence of Dasein. It is Dasein itself. Because the truth of metaphysics dwells in this groundless ground it stands in closest proximity to the constantly lurking possibility of deepest error. For this reason no amount of scientific rigor attains to the seriousness of metaphysics. Philosophy can never be measured by the standard of the idea of science. In the above quote, Heidegger discuss-

did Being reveal itself to Dasein? The ancient Greeks had insight into Being that has long since been covered over, even in Aristotle. Their understanding of phusis (translated too narrowly as “nature”) originally captured the depth of the human experience of Being in beings:

Phusis as emergence can be experienced everywhere: for example, in celestial processes (the rising of the sun), in the surging of the sea, in the growth of plants, in the coming forth of animals and human beings from the womb. But phusis, the emerging sway, is not synonymous with these processes, which we still today count as a part of “nature.” This emerging and standingout-in-itself-from-itself may not be taken as just one process among others that we observe in beings. Phusis is Being itself, by virtue of which beings fist become and remain observable. Phusis, first and foremost, is experienced. It is not something that we analyze and pinpoint, as that would do violence to it. Instead, it happens in our experience of the world—often in our experience of nature. Yet, it is not just another happening in nature, but it happens beyond nature. It simultaneously transcends and grounds beings. Because it only ever happens in and through beings, it is never perfectly self-identical. It is never just something out there that we study. It is a “standing-out-in-itself-from-itself ” because it simultaneously emerges in beings and conceals itself in beings, but it nonetheless brings beings to light as intelligible. A deep understanding of phusis would indeed depend upon a certain attunement to beings that catches the happening that undergirds them in that moment that it emerges. The ancient Greeks first experienced phusis “on the basis of a fundamental experience of Being in poetry and thought”. In this abiding comportment towards Being, the Greeks were free, historical, and authentic men; the Greeks were great men. Heidegger reveals his romanticism. Do you hear Nietzsche’s lament? What happened to this attunement? “It came to an end in greatness with Aristotle,” Heidegger writes. The meaning of phusis began to narrow immediately. It began to

The book has possibilities. I can read it or burn it or let it rot through the ages. It is not just a brute fact out there in the world. es both what metaphysics is and what it is not. It is not a science, not a strenge Wissenschaft. It cannot be achieved with exacting rigor and methodological orthodoxy. Yet, it is a part of my nature. It is a fundamentally human endeavor—and a distinctly personal one. The investigation of Being demands that I take hold of myself as radically contingent. Then, the meaning of Being bursts onto the scene in its most robust sense. I have, perhaps, prepared myself to do metaphysics in my encounter with the Nothing that undermines, and at the same time grounds, any totality. Now, I will begin my real interrogation of Being. Historically, when and how


framework, and he subtly shifts the meaning of old terms. While Aristotle privileged form as the best candidate for substance (that which “is” primarily), Aquinas unequivocally claimed that substance is “a being.” Further, according to him, material substances are composed of matter and form: “We use the term ‘a being’ absolutely and primarily of substances”; “form and matter are found in composite substances.” Immediately, Aquinas deepens Aristotle’s account. That which ‘is’ primarily is no longer the form of the matter, but rather the thing, the being-in-the-world, ens. In order to accommodate such a change, Aquinas makes a distinction between essence and existence. When we examine a thing, we can ask two sorts of questions about it: What is it, and is it? What is its essence, and has it received esse (Being)? For Aquinas, when we know a thing, we know it by means of its whatness, its essence. Yet, the essence itself does not account for the Being of the thing. The essence of a natural thing cannot cause it to exist, and so if it is to exist it must receive Being. Thus, in experiencing ens in the world, it is not only something instead of something else: It is also something rather than nothing. Unlike with Aristotle, who primarily inquired about whatness, Aquinas allows us to discuss whatness and thatness. Even further, Aquinas’ account of creation discusses beings in similar language to the way in which Heidegger does. He writes in De Aeternitate Mundi:

But a creature does not have existence except from another; regarded as left simply to itself, it is nothing; prior to its existence, therefore, nothingness is its natural lot. Nor, just because nothingness does not precede being in duration, does a thing have to be nothing and being at the same time. For our position is not that, if the creature has always existed, it was nothing at some time. We maintain that its nature is such that it would be nothing if it were left to itself. The “lot” of creation, then, is to be nothing. Aquinas suggests that the nothingness is somehow fundamental to things. It undergirds them, and they continue to persist as potentially Nothing. For Aquinas, one can ask why there are beings, and why not rather nothing—at least superficially. Yet, Aquinas’ account also implicates a creator, something that Heidegger would think problematic. For Heidegger, to answer in such a way is

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refer to nature, to beings, not Being. It referred to the surging sea and the birth of animals— not the Being that gave itself to man in these things. Yet, even in this narrowing, an echo of the originary knowledge survived in Aristotle. So, how was this meaning obscured? Let us turn to his Metaphysics. His project seeks to study being qua being—i.e, the causes and principles that belong to being as such. In particular, the project seeks to elaborate the nature of substance: “Obviously that which ‘is’ primarily is the ‘what’, which indicates the substance of the thing.” Here we have nothing that directly undermines the originary meaning of phusis, but we should notice that the emphasis is on whatness. Aristotle’s Metaphysics is a study of beings, and it seeks to examine the causes of beings, not Being. An examination of substance does not necessarily undermine a questioning of Being, but Aristotle treats the issue of substance as the fundamental question—indeed, as the only question really worthy of asking: “Since we must have the existence of the thing as something given, clearly the question is why the matter is some definite thing.” Here, for Aristotle, the question of whatness does not only take on a reserved priority over Being, as a biologist might bracket certain chemical questions in the study of life. Instead, if the study of beings is to proceed at all, the existence of the thing must be taken for granted. We must pass over the mystery of Being. In this way, Aristotle never asks the fundamental question of metaphysics. “Why is there something rather than nothing?” must be left unasked so that science can proceed. Now, to temper the criticism, perhaps Aristotle meant the question to remain unasked to protect the mystery, in a sense. If Aristotle was aware of the original Greek meaning of phusis, then perhaps he ignored that questioning as something obvious. Nevertheless, the questioning of beings that discloses Being does not explicitly appear here in Aristotle. His questioning is not the questioning of Heidegger, even if Aristotle’s Greek comportment made such questioning superfluous. Historically, he left us his text and not his attunement, and so we can see the way in which the narrowing scope of phusis obfuscates Being. We have briefly discussed Aristotle. His metaphysics covers over the originary concept of phusis. He never asks the question of Being; he takes existence for granted. Let us turn to Thomas Aquinas. Though he is often painted as nothing more than a somewhat-Christianized version of Aristotle, it becomes clear that Aquinas largely reinterprets Aristotle; he brings in new terminology to the Aristotelian

Footnotes

Heidegger writes, “The possibility of being drawn along the blackboard and used up is not something that we merely add onto the thing with our thought. The chalk itself, as this being, is in this possibility; otherwise it would not be chalk as a writing implement. Every being, in turn, has this Possible in it, in a different way in each case” (Introduction to Metaphysics 32). Beings must be understood in terms of their possibilities; they persist as beings in their particular possibilities. 2 Heidegger writes of the scope of interrogation: “We are not interrogating this being or that being, nor all beings, each in turn; instead, we are asking from the start about the whole of what is, or as we say for reasons to be discussed later: beings as a whole and as such” (Introduction to Metaphysics 2-3). The questioning necessarily implicates the totality of beings. 3 I cannot vouch for the veracity of this claim. 4 Heidegger writes: “The great begins great, sustains itself only through the free recurrence of greatness, and if it is great, also comes to an end in greatness. So it is with the philosophy of the Greeks”; also, “As a counterphenomenon [to phusis] there arose what the Greeks call thesis, positing, ordinance, or nomos, law, rule in the sense of mores. But this is not what is moral but instead what concerns mores, that which rests on the commitment of freedom and the assignment of tradition; it is that which concerns a free comportment and attitude, the shaping of the historical Being of humanity, ēthos, which under the influence of morality was then degraded to the ethical”. 5 Heidegger suggests that Aristotle’s work, in a sense, reverberates with the deep sense of phusis: “An echo of knowledge about the originary meaning still survives in Aristotle, when he speaks of the grounds of beings as such” (Introduction to Metaphysics, 17). 6 In Heidegger’s texts, he often suggests that his work is written for the moderns, written for his present day. The Germans are caught between the twin pincers of the Russians and the Americans, and they must re-discover their historical rootedness. 7 In this way, Aquinas’ philosophy picks up on the distinction that was covered over in Aristotle. Heidegger discusses the ambiguity in the Greek language that, perhaps, contributes to Aristotle’s obfuscation of the question of Being: “Heidegger discusses this ambiguity in the Greek language: “In this way, Aquinas’ philosophy picks up on the distinction that was covered over in Aristotle. Heidegger discusses the ambiguity in the Greek language that, perhaps, contributes to Aristotle’s obfuscation of the question of Being: “Heidegger discusses this ambiguity in the Greek language: “What, for example, is the being in this piece of chalk? Already this question is ambiguous, because the word “being” can be understood in two ways, as can the Greek to on. On the one hand, being means what at any time is in being, in particular this grayish-white, light, breakable mass, formed in such and such a way. On the other hand, ‘being’ means that which, as it were, ‘makes’ this be a being instead of nonbeing, that which makes up the Being in the being, if it is a being. In accordance with this twofold meaning of the word ‘being,’ the Greek to on often designates the second meaning, that is, not the being itself, what is in being, but rather ‘the in-being,’ 1


What is Metaphysics?

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to answer cheaply and to avoid the legitimate questioning of Being and the Nothing:

On the other hand, Christian dogma denies the truth of the proposition ex nihilo nihil fit and thereby bestows on the nothing a transformed significance, the sense of the complete absence of beings apart from God: ex nihilo fit— ens creatum [From nothing comes—created being]. Now the nothing becomes the counterconcept to being proper, the summum ens, God as ens increatum. Here too the interpretation of the nothing designates the basic conception of beings. But the metaphysical discussion of beings stays on the same level as the question of the nothing. The questions of Being and of the nothing as such are not posed. The Christian doctrine of ex nihilo creation does not properly understand the Nothing. Instead, it understands it as the counterconcept to being, as not-being. When God creates, it is not that He has somehow crafted beings from the Nothing; the Nothing does not belong to beings. Rather, in the Christian account, the nothing is excluded from God and therefore never fully involved in the act of creation. The creation ex nihilo refers rather to the not-being of beings and the coming-to-be of beings. If the nothing is nothing more than the logical negation of beings, the not-being of beings, then we have not truly confronted the Nothing as such. Thus, Heidegger claims. “We are not saying that citing the words of the Bible, ‘In the beginning God created heaven and earth, etc.,’ represents an answer to our question. Quite aside from whether this sentence of the Bible is true or untrue for faith, it can represent no answer at all to our question, because it has no relation to this question.” The concept of creation excludes the Nothing from the constitution of beings, and so it never truly questions them. The question of “why is there something rather than nothing?” is answered, but it is never asked. The “why?” loses its significance in the cheapness of the answer of faith. God and beings are made wholly present and intelligible in their absolute explicability. Is this claim fair? Is a Christian philosophy a “round square and a misunderstanding,” or

has Heidegger somehow misconstrued the religious dimension of the human being? In an interview with Richard Kearney, Levinas responds directly to Heidegger’s claim that the man of faith cannot do philosophy. He seems to question the hard-and-fast break that Heidegger makes between doing philosophy and being a man of faith. He agrees that philosophy does assume, for the most part, a specifically Greek way of thinking. Western philosophy is “shot through” with Greek concepts—such as morphē, ousia, nous, logos, or telos. “But although philosophy is essentially Greek, it is not exclusively so,” he writes. Aspects of the Judeo-Christian tradition have been incorporated into the predominately Greek philosophical tradition, and in the same way, Greek tendencies have influenced the religious tradition. This seems quite obviously true. So what is the specifically Greek tendency? Levinas clarifies:

Perhaps the most essential distinguishing feature of the language of Greek philosophy was its equation of truth with an intelligibility of presence. By this I mean an intelligibility which considers truth to be that which is present or copresent, that which can be gathered or synchronized into a totality which we would call the world or cosmos. This makes sense in terms of what we saw in Aristotle. That which ‘is’ most primarily is the form, which is the substance of the thing. The form, as actuality, is supremely intelligible, and it explains the whatness of the things in the world. Further, Aristotle’s Metaphysics is the study of being qua being, wherein we find the highest principles of beings. That which ‘is’ primarily is substance, which is knowable in the utmost. It can be made present to us. Even the substance that is the unmoved mover can be understood as the cherry on top of our metaphysical sundae. Levinas claims that Heidegger, though critical of much of (read: all of) Western metaphysics, fits within this tradition. Along with the distinctly Greek way of thinking, Heidegger continues to think of Being as presence. Levinas characterizes this irony in Heidegger’s project: “Thus, while Heidegger heralds the end of the metaphysics of presence, he continues to think of Being as a coming-into-presence; he seems unable to break away from the hegemony of presence

which he denounces.” We can, perhaps, see this “metaphysics of presence” in Heidegger’s discussion of phusis. He writes: “Phusis means the emerging sway, and the enduring over which it thoroughly holds sway. This emerging, abiding sway includes both ‘becoming’ as well as ‘Being’ in the narrower sense of fixed continuity.” For Heidegger, man experiences phusis, and he incorporates this experience into his historical Dasein. He experiences the coming-into-presence of beings by virtue of the primordial encounter with Being. In the surging sea and the birth of animals, Being presents itself and discloses itself to the totality that Dasein constitutes for itself. No matter how primordial and originary my experiences of beings, beings are always for me. What is the alternative? If the Greek philosophy of presence excludes something, then what does it exclude? Levinas suggests that there is a “double axis” in the human experience of the world that consists in the juxtaposition of phenomenological intelligibility and ethical responsibility. This double axis is formed by the horizontal totality that is human experience and the radical interruption of the Other. Indeed, this juxtaposition can be understood as analogous to the earlier-referenced tension between Greek and Judeo-Christian thought:

The interhuman realm can thus be construed as a part of the disclosure of the world as presence. But it can also be considered from another perspective—the ethical or biblical perspective which transcends the Greek language of intelligibility—as a theme of justice and concern for the other as other, as a theme of love and desire which carries us beyond the finite Being of the world as presence. For Levinas, this interruption of the Other can only be understood in terms of an ethical mandate. The Other cannot be brought into my totality, and so my world ceases to be absolutely present to me. The Other as a vertical infinity incises my experience within its horizons such that beings cease to be beings for me; they become beings for the Others in my world. It is just this ethical dimension that Levinas accuses Heidegger of failing to recognize. Indeed, his philosophy tends to exclude the ethical, biblical perspective in his claim that there can be no


Footnotes (cont.) Christian philosopher cannot wholly put beings to the test; in the questioning, he already holds in his mind the answer to the question. Why are there beings and why not rather nothing? —Because God has created them. Yet, a more fundamental question presents itself. First, like Aristotle, we can ask what a being is. Then, like Aquinas, we can ask is it?—has it received Being. Finally, and this is the important question, we can ask why it has received Being? Why has this being been made to be instead of not? This question can never be answered—even if we have a creator in the metaphysical system. Its existence is not just radically contingent, but it is most fundamentally a gift. There can be no reason for Being except that it has been given, and the answer that “it has been given” never satisfies the questioning, but rather deepens it and draws the questioner towards it. Creation as radically contingent, radically gratuitous, allows the Christian to experience beings “as a theme of love and desire which carries us beyond the finite Being of the world as presence.” In the finiteness of beings (all beings, not just the Other), we realize that the love that ultimately constitutes Being for us can never be made present; its infinity breaks through the totality that is my world. Indeed, in light of this infinity, the first question of metaphysics takes on a deeper meaning. For Heidegger, we legitimately begin to question being in the fundamental mood of anxiety. In the overwhelming gratuity of beings, however, man ought not experience anxiety, but rather love, joy, wonder, or the like—I have no particular name for it. Further, this attunement of joy seems to be even more primordial than that of anxiety. The latter only occurs after I have grown accustomed to beings, grown calloused of their meaning; they have always been for me, and so the sudden retreat of meaning leaves me paralyzed and reveals the Nothing. On the contrary, joy refuses to take beings for granted. When do we most experience this mood? It awakens, usually, in the freshness of experience. I think of the first days of spring after winter. It has been cold; the days have been short and dark. The cold has crept deep into my demeanor. I rush from place to place, hunched over, bundled up, closed off to the world. Then, one morning, I walk outside—the sun shines on

beingness, to be in being, Being. . . . The first meaning of to on designates ta onto (entia), the second meaning to einai (esse)” (Introduction to Metaphysics 33). 9 I understand that here that the two thinkers mean “nothing” in significantly different ways. I mean this statement as a “first approximation” that will be, at least partially, clarified later in the paper. 10 The interviewer asks Levinas: “Would you go so far as to endorse Heidegger’s argument that genuine philosophical questioning requires one to suspend or bracket one’s religious faith? I am thinking in particular of Heidegger’s statement in his Introduction of Metaphysics that a religious thinker cannot ask the philosophical question, ‘Why is there something rather than nothing?’ since he already possesses the answer: ‘Because God created the world.’ Hence Heidegger’s conclusion that a religious (in a sense of Christian or Jewish) philosophy is a square circle, a contradiction in terms. 11 Ibid., 71. Here, Levinas responds to this questioner from the interviewer: “Would you agree then with Heidegger’s critique of Western metaphysics as a philosophy of presence?” 12 I recognize that I have not done justice to Levinas’ account of the Other. As this paper progresses, we will see why Levinas’ ethical account of the Other is not crucial; rather, his critique is what matters here. 13 He writes, among other things: “Ethics is, therefore, against nature because it forbids the murderousness of the my natural will to put my own existence first”; “God speaks through the glory of the face and calls for an ethical conversion or reversal of our nature”; “Ethics is not derived from an ontology of nature; it is its opposite, a meontology which affirms a meaning beyond Being, a primary mode of non-Being” (76). 14 Ibid., 72. I would like to add the caveat that I do not think this recognition of being as gratuitous is reserved only for the Christian. Rather, he is steeped in a tradition that talks in language such as this, so when the gratuity presents itself to him, he can better lay hold to that impression.

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such thing as a truly Christian philosophy. For Levinas, these two ways of approaching and interpreting experience are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, they are more than compatible; experience demands both approaches. Yet, Levinas reserves the experience of “what is ‘not of the world’ qua ethical responsibility” to the experience of the Other. Responsibility arises not in the experience of beings, not in ontology, but rather in the radical alterity of the trace of the Other. For Levinas, there is an incommensurability between ethics and metaphysics (or ontology): “So I would maintain, against, Heidegger, that philosophy can be ethical as well as ontological, can be at once Greek and non-Greek in its inspiration. These two sources of inspiration coexist as two different tendencies in modern philosophy” (emphasis added). Philosophy happens in two different ways, in a sense, and the study of Being becomes somehow secondary to the way in which we exist in the world. Repeatedly, Levinas insists that ethics is against metaphysics, against nature, against the way in which we typically understand the world as intelligible. It seems as if this would create something of a rift deep within the human person. How can the ethical mandate of the Other enter into my being-in-the-world? Responsibility makes demands of me in the way that it irrupts my world, but to me, it seems unclear how that irruption could ever translate into a mandate of action in the world. In short, Levinas’ radical separation of ethics and metaphysics seems to violently separate the human person from his own embodiment. Do ethics and metaphysics have to be in tension with one another? Is there a way in which metaphysics can be fundamentally ethical? I do not know Levinas or Heidegger well at all, but it seems that they reach two different extremes. Heidegger does metaphysics at the expense of the ethical, and Levinas does ethics at the expense of metaphysics. The former’s tendency occurs because he attempts to minimize the damage from previous philosophy, and the latter responds to the former. I want to turn back to Heidegger’s critique of the “Christian philosopher.” For Heidegger, the

my face, and I’m warm. Warm for the first time without closing myself off. Then, the world is more luminous. It takes on new meaning for me; I feel that it is and is for me. This is joy, and it takes nothing for granted. Heidegger even briefly suggests that the questioning of being appears in joy: “For then all things are transformed and surround us as if for the first time, as if it were easier to grasp that they were not, rather than that they are, and are as they are.” If Being is a gift, then man must be fundamentally joyful for this gift. In joy, perhaps, the human person adopts an empathic stance towards other beings that induces the outpouring of the self that mimics the gratuitous character of Being. Metaphysics is fundamentally ethical, fundamentally existential. F

Garret West is a junior studying philosopy. His paper was originlly written for Dr. Blum’s Philosophy 340 class.


How to live off campus, on campus Danielle Shillingstad

As

the final waves of off-campus permission crash upon the student body, there are many students, men and women alike, left standing on the shores of dorm life, watching others swimming off into the seas of off-campus freedom. As many rise into the upper classes, they feel that they’ve earned their chance to shake off the bonds of campus housing and begin to live independent lives. They seek to attain Self Government, which the college works so hard to instill in them, by learning to live like an adult. But sadly, for many of them, this dream has been crushed by a recent increase of available campus housing. Rather than ineffectively pleading for mercy to the deans, I write today to you, the student body trapped on campus for another two semesters. Having resigned yourself to the fate of on-campus housing, I offer you ways to delude yourself into living the life of an off-campus student—some practical, some nonsensical—with the hope that you might be able to get a taste of life outside. The Guide to Living that Off-Campus Life on the Inside: First, walking distance—Living in a dorm, you get to be a lot closer to your classes. So to simulate the beauty of a nice, long morning walk from your lovely off-campus house, you can either take a few laps around the quad each morning or consistently wake up 10 minutes later than you should to replicate the frantic madness of a commute you don’t have time for. Also, pack every book you’ll need. You won’t be going home until it’s dark. Studying—Since most off-campus houses are unfurnished, you need to trade your desk for something you found on the side of the road or bought at Goodwill/Walmart. If you are too broke, replicate off-campus living conditions by studying

May 7, 2014

The Forum | Humor | 22

exclusively at a table in Saga. Hopefully your professor likes grease stains on homework. The landlord—The biggest difference between living in a dorm and living off-campus is the landlord. To reproduce this experience as accurately as possible, appoint a roommate or suitemate to be the “landlord.” Whenever the thermostat isn’t exactly where you want it, or if one of the toilets clogs, write him ever more urgent letters and complain about him constantly. You can even play a game where he makes up bizarre rules for you to follow every semester If you happen to live neither off-campus nor in a dorm (e.g., the Suites, Park Place, any college owned house), here are some extra challenges. First, get a coveted off-campus meal plan and bicker with your housemates over who pays for randomly timed grocery runs. Second, intentionally break visitation rules. Your off-campus friends don’t have them, why should you? Finally, since you have no actual landlord to appeal to, make consistent passive aggressive remarks to your living mates about how much noise they make. But hey, anything beats dorm life! F Danielle Shillingstad is a sophomore studying music.


JACK WHITE Jack White is the man who everyone who is anyone wants to be when they grow up. He has collab-

orated with the likes of Beck, Norah Jones, Bob Dylan, Brian Burton, Alicia Keys, and the Rolling Stones. He has founded three different musical projects—the White Stripes, the Dead Weather, and the Raconteurs—resulting in nearly a dozen albums all told. He owns and runs his own Nashville record label, Third Man Records. He was almost a priest. He bears an uncanny resemblance to every Tim Burton character known to man. Oh, and he’s a Detroit native. His latest single, “High Ball Stepper”, is the first track to be released off of his second solo album, Lazaretto. It’s sharp. It’s manic. It’s loud. It’s Jack White through and through. The first single, the title track, is forthcoming. The album in its entirety will be released June 10, 2014. In the meantime, make sure to brush up on the highlights of White’s prolific career:

T he Dead Weather This is a supergroup if there ever was one. White is on drums, Allison Mosshart from The Kills is on

vocals, Queens of the Stone Age’s Dean Fertita provides guitar and keyboard, and Jack Lawrence—on bass—is a holdover from The Raconteurs, a past Jack White project. The grinding, visceral energy of the Dead Weather’s strong blues-rock influence is counterpointed by Mosshart’s cold, snarling vocals. Two studio albums, Horehound and Sea of Cowards, have been released thus far and a third is expected at some point in 2015.

TRAGICALLY HIP

Collaboration Jack White with Beck and Beck are both music

industry pioneers in their respective genres: White a blues-rock genius, Beck one of the most recognizable artists of anti-folk. Both are also very weird. So, when they collaborate, wonderful things happen. Want proof? “It’s Not My Fault For Being Famous”, one of several White Stripes tracks produced by Beck, serves as a good example of the blues/ folk nexus. The musical give and take, while intermittent, has been ongoing. Jack White played bass for “Go It Alone”, a track from Beck’s 2005 album Guero. In return, Beck produced a few songs here and there for the White Stripes and recorded three tracks off of his most recent album, Morning Phase, at White’s record label.

Two Against One

Sarah Albers is a sophomore studying English. She is a member of the Dow Journalism program.

May 7, 2014

The Forum | Music | 23

No, not Tim Burton. In 2011, Italian composer Daniele Luppi and American mega-producer Brian Burton (Danger Mouse) collaborated to produce a psychedelic folk rock album inspired by spaghetti westerns. Naturally, they called it Rome. Never a stranger to the odd and esoteric side projects of the music industry, Jack White was asked to contribute. Three tracks—including the particular standout “Two Against One”—feature White’s vocals and lyrics. Lead single status was reserved for ‘Black,’ a track featuring Norah Jones. F


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The Hillsdale Forum May 2014  
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