Although "faith and reason" were inseparable during the founding years of America, the two concepts are now treated separately, a California government professor told a group of 25 Monday evening.
"Reason without morality proves intolerable," said Charles R. Kesler '78 in a speech sponsored by the Association Against Learning in the Absence of Religion and Morality.
Kesler discussed Kant's and Hobbes's descriptions of how morality, faith and reason exist in our society, and how they are treated by conservative and liberal ideologies.
Kesler, who is professor of government at Claremont McKenna college in California, spoke for an hour in the Leverett junior common room and answered questions for another hour.
During his speech, Kesler stressed the fact that faith and reason are intrinsic to America's heritage. While promoting faith, he cautioned that "faith without reason has no defense against irrationality of the crudest kind."
Kesler said that one can form ideas by reading the Bible, but said reading the Bible is a subjective action. He concluded that the American society needs to have "faith in reason, and faith in faith."
Later, while answering a question on why Americans elected a conservative president but a largely liberal congress, Kesler said the Republicans could not beat the Democrats because of the Democratic ideology. He argued that the rational choice for human beings is the selfish choice. Hence, by choosing a conservative president, the people make sure that they will have a president who is stingy on taxes and a Congress that is lavish in its spending, Kesler said.
Kesler attacked deconstructionism, which he said goes against faith and reason. He called it "the last gasp of academic leftism, an implosion of modern philosophy."
Kesler encouraged the audience to know the limits of reason. So, we must "know what reason can know so that we show dignity to what reason cannot know." According to Kesler, it is only through reason that we come to know what is correct for human beings to do and what is not.
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