Romano Guardini on Teleology in Nature


I have just discovered that the the Catholic Academy of Bavaria has a searchable concordance of Romano Guardini’s works online. It’s one of those things that I have always wished existed; how splendid to find that it actually exists. The database contains not only the works published during his lifetime, but also many of the lecture notes posthumously published in recent decades. I recently read his lectures on Dante–they are amazingly good. Someone ought to translate them into English. Here is a passage on the arbitrariness of an a-teleological view of nature:

The world is not a mere mass of reality causally ordered, and indifferent from an ethical point of view. That is how modernity sees it. And we would do well to realize clearly that this way of looking at things is not at all the result of science, but rather an a-priori. Modern man sees the world thus not because the world is thus, but rather because that is the way he wants to see it, and thus his view is the result of a selection. Max Weber’s famous definition according to which science must remain value-free–pure ascertainment of fact and analysis of reality– is a postulate, an expression of a certain attitude towards reality, not the result of an authentic encounter with the real. One of the points on which our future hinges is this: whether or not we recognize that the good is not some humanly imposed valuation of things, but rather that condition of the fulfillment of life which is given in being itself.

[Die Welt ist nicht eine vom ethischen Gesichtspunkt aus indifferente Wirklichkeitsmasse, die rein kausal geordnet ist. So sieht sie die Neuzeit, und wir tun gut, uns klarzumachen, daß diese Sehweise durchaus nicht Ergebnis von Wissenschaft, sondern ein Apriori ist. Der neuzeitliche Mensch sieht die Welt nicht so, weil sie so wäre, sondern weil er sie so sehen will, und nach dieser Voraussetzung eine Auswahl vollzieht. Die berühmte Definition Max Webers, wonach Wissenschaft wertfrei bleiben müsse, reine Wirklichkeitserfassung und Wirklichkeitsanalyse, ist Postulat, Ausdruck von Gesinnung, nicht Ergebnis echter Wirklichkeitsbegegnung. Und es ist einer der Punkte, an denen sich unsere Zukunft entscheidet, ob wir wieder erkennen, daß das Gute keine vom Menschen her aufgesetzte Charakterisierung des Daseins ist, sondern im Sein selbst gegebene Voraussetzung der Lebenserfüllung bildet]

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