Wednesday, August 26, 2009

"The prime question in life is value judgment"

I read an interview in Traces last night with one of the most fascinating people I have encountered (albeit indirectly- I am liking the word "albeit" these days) in a long time, Oscar Giannino. Mr. Giannino, a trained lawyer and economist who worked for many years at high levels of Italian politics and who is now a journalist discusses Giussani's assertion that "the root of the heart is judgment." Giussani goes so far as to state that "value judgment is the prime question in life," as well as to assert that knowledge of reality is not possible "without an argument drawn from a value judgment."

Oscar Giannino
Giannino does not try to make us all infallible, he states quite clearly that "[o]ne who judges often makes mistakes." A mistake should not and, in fact, cannot stop us from making further value judgments. At one point the interviewer asks Giannino whether his approach to reality is too philosophical. Giannino responds by saying he doesn't think it is. Instead, he says "that the relativism which impregnated the terrible 20th century, child of the crisis of modernity and of the prevalence of language over reality, condemns culture to being merely a descriptive shelf on which the prevalence of Non-being drowns, rather than the instrument for continuous transformation based on the person who wants Being."

In the speech he was not allowed to deliver at the now ironically named La Sapienza University in Rome, due to ideological dogmatism, the Holy Father captured well what Giannino alludes to about the relativism of "the terrible 20th century."- "The danger for the western world... is that today, precisely because of the greatness of his knowledge and power, man will fail to face up to the question of the truth."

We must first look at ourselves and ask Am I willing to face up to the question of the truth? To ask this is to ask yourself if you are willing to make value judgments and make those judgments according to the criterion based on what you believe without evasion, without caving in to popular opinion. To that end, Giannino states, when asked what being a witness means for him: "I prefer thinking in categories different from authoritativeness..." He prefers to think "of people who involve us with their heart, and with it offer better arguments to experience in the future on which they base 'the prime question of life,'" value judgment. Or, you can do your own personal enactment of Pontius Pilate who, when staring Truth in the face, asks, "What is truth" (John 18:38)? Remember, "if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice."

While this is not a long advertisement for Traces, it does give a good reason for you to make a judgment and subscribe.

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