Professor en Paus Benedictus

Nieuws | de redactie
11 februari 2013 | De Beierse hoogleraar Joseph Ratzinger bleef ook als Paus een echte Duitse intellectueel, vervuld van diepzinnige abstracte betogen en auteur van dikke boeken in zijn vak. Opvallend was zijn scherpe kritiek op een hoger onderwijs, "gecompromitteerd door nuttigheidsdenken."

In een uitvoerige rede tot een groep jonge Spaanse HO-docenten sprak Benedictus XVI harde woorden over de visie, dat studeren en leren er alereerst waren voor utilitaire doelen. Studeren noemde hij een doel op zich, want het “belichaamt een ideaal dat niet aangetast of gecompromitteerd mag worden door strikt utilitair denken.”

De deugd van humilitas 

Universiteiten en hogescholen, en de hoogleraren en docenten daarbinnen moesten maar liever een beetje bescheidenheid oefenen in de al te menselijke pretentie van alwetendheid en rationalistische correctheid. “We need to recognize that truth itself will always lie beyond our grasp. We can seek it and draw near to it, but we cannot completely possess it; or put better, truth possesses us and inspires us.”

“In intellectual and educational activity the virtue of humility is also indispensable, since it protects us from the pride which bars the way to truth. We must not draw students to ourselves, but set them on the path toward the truth which we seek together. The Lord will help you in this, for he asks you to be plain and effective like salt, or like the lamp which quietly lights the room (cf. Mt 5:13).”

“All these things, finally, remind us to keep our gaze fixed on Christ, whose face radiates the Truth which enlightens us. Christ is also the Way which leads to lasting fulfillment; he walks constantly at our side and sustains us with his love. Rooted in him, you will prove good guides to our young people.”

De echte ‘universitas’

Graag herinnerde hij zich zijn dagen als jonge professor in Bonn, toen in de jaren na de Tweede Wereldoorlog een nieuwe geest van vrijheid en besef van grote feilbaarheid ruimte kreeg. “I am reminded of my own first steps as a professor at the University of Bonn. At the time, the wounds of war were still deeply felt and we had many material needs; these were compensated by our passion for an exciting activity, our interaction with colleagues of different disciplines and our desire to respond to the deepest and most basic concerns of our students.”

“This experience of a ‘Universitas’ of professors and students who together seek the truth in all fields of knowledge, or as Alfonso X the Wise put it, this “counsel of masters and students with the will and understanding needed to master the various disciplines” (Siete Partidas, partida II, tit. XXXI), helps us to see more clearly the importance, and even the definition, of the University.”

Reductionistische, beperkte visie

In zijn rede voor de jonge docenten haald hij principieel uit naar de utilitaristische opvatting over de rol, waarde en betekenis van het hoger onderwijs. Benedictus zei onder meer: “At times one has the idea that the mission of a university professor nowadays is exclusively that of forming competent and efficient professionals capable of satisfying the demand for labor at any given time. One also hears it said that the only thing that matters at the present moment is pure technical ability.”

“This sort of utilitarian approach to education is in fact becoming more widespread, even at the university level, promoted especially by sectors outside the University. All the same, you who, like myself, have had an experience of the University, and now are members of the teaching staff, surely are looking for something more lofty and capable of embracing the full measure of what it is to be human.”

“We know that when mere utility and pure pragmatism become the principal criteria, much is lost and the results can be tragic: from the abuses associated with a science which acknowledges no limits beyond itself, to the political totalitarianism which easily arises when one eliminates any higher reference than the mere calculus of power. The authentic idea of the University, on the other hand, is precisely what saves us from this reductionist and curtailed vision of humanity.”

Ideaal zonder compromis

“In truth, the University has always been, and is always called to be, the “house” where one seeks the truth proper to the human person. Consequently it was not by accident that the Church promoted the universities, for Christian faith speaks to us of Christ as the Word through whom all things were made (cf. Jn 1:3) and of men and women as made in the image and likeness of God.”

“The Gospel message perceives a rationality inherent in creation and considers man as a creature participating in, and capable of attaining to, an understanding of this rationality. The University thus embodies an ideal which must not be attenuated or compromised, whether by ideologies closed to reasoned dialogue or by truckling to a purely utilitarian and economic conception which would view man solely as a consumer.”


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