Fides et Ratio: A 'Radical' Vision of Intellectual Inquiry

Commentators on Pope John Paul II's encyclical Fides et Ratio(1) have not failed to notice the incongruity that envelops the Pope's defense of the powers of reason against contemporary forms of skepticism. As Nicholas Wolterstorff has put it: "How surprising and ironic that roughly two centuries after Voltaire and his cohorts mocked the church as the bastion of irrationality, the church, in the person of the pope, should be the one to put in a good word for reason." (2) In fact, given that professional philosophers of all stripes have largely abandoned the classical search for a comprehensive and systematic wisdom that provides firm answers to the deepest and most pressing human questions, Pope John Paul's call for us philosophers to recover our 'sapiential' vocation is not just ironic but downright mortifying
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