Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Conceptual Analysis of the Potentiality Argument in Favor of a Human Embryo's Right to Life

The Center for Ethics and Culture and the Nanovic Institute for European Studies are  co-sponsoring a lecture by Nanovic Institute Visiting Scholar Pavol Labuda (Catholic University in Ruzomberok, Slovakia) entitled, “A Conceptual Analysis of the Potentiality Argument in Favor of a Human Embryo’s Right to Life,” on Thursday, March 31st at 12:30 pm in 119 O’Shaughnessy Hall.  A limited number of lunches will be provided on a first come, first served basis.

We hope that you will be able to join us.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Medical History of the Pill

On Wednesday, March 30, at 7 p.m. at Holy Cross College, renowned oncologist/internist Jose A. Bufill, MD will speak on "Medical History of the Hormonal Contraceptive Pill" followed by a screening of the documentary "Eggsploitation" (shown at the Edith Stein Conference this February, if you missed it) on health issues associated with women's egg harvesting. The event will be in Vincent Hall at HCC in room 143.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Right to Life Spring Lecture Series, Part II

On Tuesday, March 29, the Notre Dame Right to Life Club will sponsor the second event in its spring lecture series. At 7 p.m. in the Geddes Hall Auditorium, "Bring It On!" will address your questions about the toughest pro-life issues with a panel of four presenters: Dr. Maureen Condic of the University of Utah, Prof. Carter Snead of the Notre Dame Law School, Dr. David Solomon of the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture, and Ryan Anderson, a political science Ph.D. candidate. Come early, at 6:15 p.m., for pizza!

Evangelical and Catholic Dialogue

On Tuesday, March 29, Professors Mark Noll & Brad Gregory from the Notre Dame History Department will be presenting "Evangelicals & Catholics Together? Some Real Progress but some Real Problems Too" at 8:30pm in the Cavanaugh Hall Chapel.  This lecture is sponsored by Campus Ministry and was originally scheduled to occur during Notre Dame Campus Ministry’s “Christian Unity Week 2011” in early February, but had to be canceled on account of the snow day.  All are indeed welcome to attend!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Integritas Seminar V

Integritas met for its fifth seminar last night, this week considering the integration of body and soul. The discussion was led by Dr. Alfred Freddoso of the Philosophy Department and drew upon his essay "Good News, Your Soul Hasn't Died Quite Yet," an excerpt from Lost in the Cosmos by Walker Percy, and a summary of possible solutions to the mind/body problem. It sought to address the questions: What are the logical possibilities for understanding human nature (materialism, idealism, dualism, hylomorphism)? What sort of anthropology is compatible with the Christian doctrine of the Resurrection? What view of body and soul could reasonably constitute a Catholic anthropology? If humans are a unity of body and soul, what would the essential features of pursuing health, integrity, and happiness include?

Dr. Freddoso began by asking if just any chunk of marble is a piece of art. The students concluded that we recognize marble statues, but not uncut marble, as art. A thing's identity as a piece of art depends upon the form an artist has intentionally given to it. Its identity is found in its configuration: in this case, the configuration of marble as a statue. This is also true for living things.The configuration of plants, fungi, and bacteria gives them certain characteristics that allow us to identify them as living: growth, reproduction, the capacity to heal. Their configuration sets them apart from statues and other non-living things.

We went on to wonder what sets animals apart from plants. Animals can grow, reproduce, and heal, but they also have much more complex features, such as sensations, feelings, and instincts which seem to have both a physiological component and a cognitive component. Still, the source of all these features is apparently in their configuration- the physical configuration of their matter to make a body.

But when we get to humans, we seem to have features that cannot be accounted for by the corporeal. We can will something that runs contrary to all of our instincts; we have a unique ability to set goals and to plan; we have a concern for social conventions and self-control; and these things are not shared by the rest of the animal kingdom. It's obvious from our peculiarly human endeavors: aardvarks don't build universities, publish books, erect statues to glorious aardvarks of the past, or even make pornography. As Walker Percy describes our human experience: "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." So in the human case, the special configuration that makes a body human must be more than corporeal, and philosophers give it the name of 'soul.' The Aristotelian tradition takes it that our higher functions are tied to our souls, but that they function dependent upon our bodies. There is no rift between soul and body; humans are understood to be a unity of body and soul. This theory is called hylomorphism. 

Most of contemporary philosophy dismisses this philosophical anthropology. We discussed dualism and materialism, the two most prominent theories that have had currency since Descartes. Materialism dismisses the notion of an immortal soul and claims that everything can be reduced to the physical: to biochemical reactions, the firing of synapses, to DNA. Dualism divorces body from soul, claims that there is no way for the material and immaterial to interact, and locates our personal identity in the soul which is somehow accidentally connected to the body. Both notions contradict how we instinctively understand ourselves: the experience of intense pain strongly discourages one from thinking that the body could possibly be incidental, and it seems incredible to think one's whole interior life is reducible to biochemical reactions.

Materialism and dualism are also fatal to culture and ethics. Once one begins to think of oneself as separate from one's body, one no longer has to take responsibility for one's body. It has devastating moral ramifications. One no longer sees oneself as deeply involved in one's actions or how one treats others. Much of Lost in the Cosmos is taken up by illustrating the chaos and degradation we leave in our wake when we take up materialist or dualist anthropologies.

The students gave Walker Percy an appropriately Lenten last word on our human predicament of self-understanding when he proposes: "A new law of the Cosmos, applicable only to the recently appeared triadic creature: If you're a big enough fool to climb a tree and like a cat refuse to come down, then someone who loves you has to made as big a fool of himself to rescue you."

Monday, March 21, 2011

APPLY for Integritas today!

We are now taking applications for the 2011-2012 Integritas program! The program will run from September 8, 2011-April 26, 2012. It is open to undergraduates from Notre Dame, Saint Mary's College, and Holy Cross College. Students from all class years and majors are welcome to apply; we seek a diverse group of students studying in all fields. Apply by Thursday, April 21 to reserve your place in the 2011-2012 academic year program. Notifications will be sent to applicants by April 29. The program is limited to 23 students, so apply now! Download the application here and e-mail it to Greer Hannan, the program director, at, or send it via campus mail to 424 Geddes Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556.

Participation is open to those who:

  • will be an undergraduate student enrolled at Notre Dame, Saint Mary's College, or Holy Cross College for the 2011-2012 academic year (freshmen through seniors welcome!)
  • can commit to Integritas September 2011-April 2012
  • can commit to weekly activities, typically on Thursday evenings, 5 pm-6:15 p.m., plus three weekends

In Fall 2010 the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture launched Integritas, a new student formation program, designed to integrate the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. The program provides a unique venue to promote reflection on how scholarship, spirituality, and service, fundamental aspects of the Christian life, complement one another and integrate to form a whole, an orientation to God and neighbor undergirded by Christian philosophy and theology. Through reading a common set of texts, reflecting on them in a seminar setting with guest professors, and participating in the spiritual, social and service-oriented activities sponsored by Integritas, the students grew into an intellectual community with a vibrant Christian spirit. Our inaugural group of 13 dedicated students from Notre Dame, Saint Mary's College, and Holy Cross College are participating in dynamic seminars, engaging in service in the South Bend community, worshiping together, and went on retreat to the Abbey of Gethsemani in Trappist, Kentucky in the spring.

In the course of the program, students will:

  • Participate in monthly seminars to reflect on central texts in the Christian intellectual tradition, led by guest professors.
  • Deepen their spiritual lives through liturgies and a spring retreat.
  • Engage in service in the South Bend community to put their faith into action
  • Visit Chicago to enjoy the culture the city offers.
  • Create an intellectual community of professors and students with a vibrant Christian spirit.

Right to Life Spring Lecture Series

Notre Dame's Right to Life Club kicks off its spring lecture series this week on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Co-Mo Lounge. Dr. Patricia White-Flatley presents, "Rethinking Down Syndrome: Revolutionary Research Advances”...Learn how Down Syndrome might save YOUR life and how YOU can make a difference! Free Pizza!

Mark your calendars for the rest of the series:

Tuesday, March 29th. 7 PM Geddes Auditorium, free pizza! (no food allowed in auditorium, so come get food at 6:15) 1st Annual "BRING IT ON!!"Night Come ready to debate/ ask questions of an excellent faculty panel on any pro-life issue. Topics may include but are not limited to stem cell research, abortion, healthcare policy, voting, and conscience protection. Panel includes Dr. Maureen Condic (University of Utah), David Solomon (Director of the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture), Carter Snead (Notre Dame Law School), and Ryan T. Anderson (The Public Discourse; University of Notre Dame)

Friday, April 8th. 4:30 PM McKenna Auditorium. Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M., Cap. (Archdiocese of Denver) will deliver the Keynote Address.

Please contact Gabby Speach ( or Kelly Jones at ( with any questions.

Presentation on The Religious Sense tomorrow

What Are We Really Made For?
A presentation of The Religious Sense, a book by Msgr. Luigi Giussani
Tuesday, March 22, 2011• 7:15 pm
Andrews Auditorium, Geddes Hall
With Fr. Antonio Lopez, FSCB, Dean of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at the Catholic University of America and Dr. John C. Cavadini, Director of the Institute for Church Life and Associate Professor of Theology
"What Monsignor Giussani teaches us is to rise above the smallness of our own minds and open ourselves up to the core spiritual experience of what it means to be human. This is a book for all faiths and no faith."
—Rabbi Michael Shevack, speech to the United Nations in 1997
Sponsored by Communion and Liberation at Notre Dame •

Sacred Art lecture today

On Monday, March 21st at 5 p.m. in the Bond Hall Auditorium, artist and sculptor, Dony MacManus, will speak about the new Sacred Art School in Florence, which he founded and currently directs. A native of Dublin, MacManus received both his Bachelor of Design and Higher Diploma in Art and Design Teaching at the National College of Art and Design in Ireland. He completed a Master of Fine Art at the New York Academy of Art and has since been commissioned to do a variety of work around the world. Please visit his website for more information:

Friday, March 18, 2011

TODAY: Clarke Lecture in Medical Ethics

Today at 4 p.m., Thomas Cavanaugh will lecture on "Asclepius' Snake and Hippocrates' Oath: The Birth of a Medical Ethic" in McKenna Hall Auditorium as part of our annual medical ethics conference. Reception to follow. Free and open to the public.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Adoration in Malloy Hall Chapel

If you are on our side of campus, consider spending some time in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament on Thursday mornings in Malloy Hall's Chapel, Our Lady Seat of Wisdom. From now until the end of the semester, adoration will be open from 9 a.m. until noon, in time for the regular noon lunchtime Mass. All are welcome for this new weekly prayer opportunity.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Integritas retreat to Gethsemani

Integritas was on the road again this week, this time traveling to Gethsemani, Kentucky for a weekend retreat at the Trappist monastery there. After about seven hours on the bus, we arrived at Gethsemani (about an hour south of Louisville) on Friday night, in time to join the monks for Compline, their last prayer of the day. We knelt in the balcony of their cavernous church, which was in darkness except for the light of the tabernacle and candles lit in front of the icon of Our Lady, Gethsemani's patroness. The monks chanted their last psalms of the day, and when the service concluded, all were welcomed forward to be sprinkled with holy water before going to their beds. This might seem awfully early to college students for a bedtime, but the community rises every morning at 3:15 a.m. for vigils, their first prayers of the day, so turning in early is essential for a long day of work and prayer, lived according to the rhythm of the Liturgy of the Hours.

The monks' life, structured as it is by seven periods of communal prayer each day and Mass, along with work in the fields or making cheese, fruitcakes and fudge, and marked most of all by silence, excluding all idle talk, is radically different from the life of a college student. College is chaotic, spontaneous, unstructured, saturated with information and constant noise: smart phones, mp3 players, and all the distractions of constant internet access. It's not that life on a college campus is busy purely for the sake of being busy: students are pursuing their goals and ideals in the name of education. "God, Country, Notre Dame," read the slogan on the T-shirt of one retreatant. How different from the sign that emblazons the entrance to the cloister of Gethsemani: "God Alone." Waking up at three every morning, praying and working without ceasing, is done at Gethsemani for the sake of God alone: to consecrate every hour of every day to God, intentionally and explicitly. Trappist asceticism strips everything away: sleep, rich food, even church decoration. The simplicity of the church, where they spend most of their waking hours, was striking: bare, white walls, exposed beams, no decoration whatsoever. The stations of the cross were simply small, dark crosses hung up high at intervals along the wall. Even the tabernacle was a plain, black box suspended below the single candle. Their chanting was similarly simple: no harmonizing, no polyphonic parts, just the antiphonal recitation of the psalms, hour after hour.

Gethsemani is a serene and beautiful place; a place where far away from the world's distractions, it is easier to listen to what God is saying and to see how He is working. It invites visitors to give up for a few days their struggle to be individual, to be productive, to be in charge of their own lives, and instead to enter into the ancient tradition of the Liturgy of the Hours: Vigils at 3:15 a.m., Lauds at 5:45 a.m., Eucharist at 6:15 a.m., Terce at 7:30 a.m., Sext at 12:15 p.m., None at 2:15 p.m., Vespers at 5:30 p.m., and Compline at 7:30 p.m. If you stay for two weeks, you will have chanted all 150 psalms. Meals are taken in silence; work is done in silence, so that they pray without ceasing.

God speaks to each of us differently in the silence of our hearts, so I can't say what each student took away from our retreat there. But I can say that I was moved to see them creeping in through the door of the dark chapel at three in the morning, an hour by which they ordinarily would not yet have even gone to bed, to pray the psalms and listen to the Lord, coming to pray in the darkness, before the light of the tabernacle, at every hour of the day and night.

Deadline for pro-life student research grants approaching

Summer Research Grant Opportunity - Deadline Approaching!

The Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts (I.S.L.A.) announces a special track for U.R.O.P. applications from all majors within the College of Arts and Letters who propose to conduct original research on life-related topics across the spectrum of study in the liberal arts.

Such proposals are especially welcome from juniors who wish to write senior theses in the 2011-2012 academic year based on research conducted during the summer of 2011.  Students may apply for one, two, or three months of funding at $1,500.00 per month.  A regular faculty member must endorse a proposal and supervise the project.  For more information, see

Deadline for submissions is March 11, 2011, at 4:00 P.M., in 101 O’Shaughnessy Hall

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Lecture on Neuroscience and Moral Responsibility

There will be a public lecture by Prof. Walter Sinnott-Armstrong entitled “Does Neuroscience Undermine Free Will and Moral Responsibility?” on Thursday, March 3 at 4:00 p.m. in Geddes Hall Auditorium (B001).

Walter Sinnott-Armstrong is the Chauncy Stillman Professor of Practical Ethics in the Department of Philosophy and the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University.   Professor Sinnott-Armstrong’s work explores the interface of morality, biology and the brain sciences and the uses of neuroscience in the legal system. 
He has also written on the philosophy of law , informal logic, moral skepticism and the relationship between morality and theism.  Professor Sinnot-Armstrong’s most recent book is called “Conscious Will and Responsibility” (Oxford Series on Neuroscience, Law and Philosophy) which he co-edited with Lynn Nadel.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

TODAY: Ronald Knox and Sherlock Holmes

Join us today, March 1 at 7:30 p.m. in the Hesburgh Center Auditorium of the Kroc Institute for Prof. Michael Crowe's lecture on "Ronald Knox and Sherlock Holmes: The Origin of Sherlockian Studies." He will examine the genesis of the popular movement that treats Sherlock Holmes as a figure worthy of historical and not just literary study, which Ronald Knox launched. Prof. Crowe has recently edited and published a book of essays on the subject. A reception will follows the lecture.

Copies of Professor Crowe's book, Ronald Knox and Sherlock Holmes: The Origin of Sherlockian Studies, are available for purchase and autographing after the lecture.

Gasogene Books, the publisher, explains the background of Sherlockian Studies:

A popular pastime among followers of Sherlock Holmes is to treat his adventures as though they were real. Unique in all literature, this pursuit is known as the "Grand Game," an intellectual exercise played in order to discover a deeper knowledge of the tales by examining clues in the stories themselves, or by correlating the Sherlockian Canon with historical fact. It's an unprecedented phenomenon that began with one man—Monsignor Ronald Knox—and his 1912 essay "Studies in the Literature of Sherlock Holmes."

But this wasn't Ronald Knox's only written work about Sherlock Holmes. Here you will find all five ground-breaking Sherlockian pieces by Ronald Knox. These classic works are sure to enhance the reader's enjoyment and understanding of The Great Detective. By providing documented (and sometimes surprising) answers to a perceptive series of questions, Michael Crowe reintroduces us to the very origin of "The Great Game" of Sherlockian Studies, a game that, as he says "brought the great detective back from the non-living."

About Knox on Holmes:

"I cannot help writing to you to tell you of the amusement—and also the amazement—with which I read your article on Sherlock Holmes. That anyone should spend such pains on such material was what surprised me."
—Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
   From a letter to Ronald Knox

"A special place of honor as the cornerstone work in any collection of Sherlockiana must certainly go to Father, later Monsignor, Ronald A. Knox for his 'Studies in the Literature of Sherlock Holmes.'"