Philosophy and religion ask the same questions, according to philosophy professor and author Peter Kreeft.
“Nobody isn’t interested in philosophy,” said Kreeft, a Boston College professor. “To be human is to wonder about good, evil, life, death, God, self, eternity, etc. People who hate philosophy have only been exposed to dull, scholarly, ‘analytic’ philosophy.”
Kreeft, the author of more than 60 books, is bringing his relevant and robust philosophy to Memphis next week as part of the Distinguished Catholic Lectors Series at Christian Brothers University. He will discuss “Happiness: How Do You Get It? Christ’s Version vs. the World’s” at 7 p.m. Friday in the university theater. The even is free and open to the public.
Kreeft, who was raised as a Protestant and converted to Catholicism at age 21, is an unapologetic apologist, rigorously defending absolutes and, more specifically, Christianity.
“Christ not only transcends, not only contradicts, but exactly reverses the world’s concepts on all the most important points,” Kreeft said in a recent e-mail interview.
Kreeft’s books reveal a crisp, quirky, well-stocked and well-ordered mind that doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously, despite the weighty subject matters he engages in.
His resolute assertions, sometimes delivered acerbically, may be bracing for some, or exasperating for others. The man who has been teaching since 1962 doesn’t traffic in cheap emotionalism and manipulation. Rather, he uses a head-on intellectual approach to relevant subjects such as abortion, or suffering, or Marx, as well as heavy doses of humor.
“Humor is one of the attributes of God,” Kreeft said. “No one who looks an ostrich in the face can doubt that. And all the attributes of God that we know of (there are so many more!) are important for understanding ourselves and our world. Humor is not ‘comic relief,’ it is an essential quality of wisdom.”
Included in his large repertoire are what he calls his “Socrates Meets …” books, in which Socrates meets an author of a Great Book in the afterlife and explores and debates the merits of the ideas. Included in this series are “Socrates Meets Hume — Questions the Father of Modern Skepticism” and “Socrates Meets Marx — Questions the Founder of Communism.”
He plans to publish next “Socrates Meets Freud” and “Socrates Meets Kierkegaard.” He has also recently finished three of four volumes in a history of philosophy for beginners called “Socrates’ Children.”
In his books “A Refutation of Moral Relativism: Interviews with an Absolutist,” and “Three Approaches to Abortion,” Kreeft uses a debate between two fictitious characters, Libby and Isa, to explore the subject and deliver his points. Isa, the pro-life character, accuses Libby of being “sheepish” and a “weak conformist.”
When asked if the creator of Libby and Isa believes that people are easily led, he responded, “You ARE kidding with this question, right? If people are not fools who are easily (mis-)led, how do you explain the mess that is history?”
Melissa Ruleman is an editorial assistant at The Commercial Appeal. For more information about Kreeft’s lecture at CBU, contact Dr. James Wallace at (901) 321-3018 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To listen to Kreeft’s lectures or read his writing, visit peterkreeft.com.