The Intellectual Portrait Series: A Conversation with Ralph McInerny

Ralph McInerny talks about his work on Thomas Aquinas, catholic political and religious thought, and his best-selling Father Dowling mystery novels.

Watch the video on our YouTube channel.

Below are some prompts for further conversation.

by James Kurlich

6:00 - Philosophy and Writing

I- What forms can philosophy take according to McInerny, and what has been lost with the way that philosophy is often portrayed in modern times?

II- What does McInerny like about CS Lewis’ definition of literature, and how does that reflect on philosophy?

14:15 - Novels and Audiences

III- What does McInerny think about art in modernity and the interaction between regular people and academics in writing?

IV- How does McInerny respond to the posed question of novels failing as a form of literature? How does McInerny see novels as a part of education?

V- What does McInerny see in Catholic literature, and how does he respond to the seeming collapse of its relevance? How does McInerny see Vatican II as detrimental to the Catholic themes found in literature following it?

26:26 - Vatican II Extended

VI- Where does the disconnect between Vatican II and reality occur according to McInerny?

VII- What gave rise to a new tradition of dissent in the Catholic Church? According to McInerny, what problems has this dispute created in terms of understanding basic human relationships?

33:09 - Crisis and Communication

VIII- Why did McInerny and Michael Novak found Crisis Magazine? According to McInerny, does philosophy show that language requires a certain level of agreement between people?

IX- For what reasons does McInerny use analogy in his works, and what purpose does it serve?

43:36 - Religion and Rights

X- What influence does McInerny think the American Founding had on Vatican II?

XI- What concept does Ralph McInerny think helps hold societies together? What role does he think that Catholicism has in defining that concept?

XII- Which methods does Ralph McInerny say thinkers use to develop theories on rights? How does he think these methods interact with one another, and what does that say about the concept of rights as a whole?

50:55 - Philosophy as a Catholic

XIII- What does McInerny think of John Stuart Mill’s claim that his discussions of liberty do not require metaphysical argument?

XIV- Is determinism compatible with society according to McInerny? What does this say about human interaction, and whether there can be a sufficient philosophy of politics without free will?

XV- What does McInerny think about the relationship between St. Thomas Aquinas and Aristotle? What does this relationship say about the connection between theology and philosophy?

The Intellectual Portrait Series: A Conversation with Ralph McInerny (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2002).

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