Center for Ethics and Culture to host conference on modernity

Author: Arts and Letters


“What clearly stands behind the modern era’s demand for freedom is the promise: You will be like God,” wrote theologian Joseph Ratzinger a few years before he became Pope Benedict XVI. “The implicit goal of all modern freedom is, in the end, to be like a god, dependent on nothing and nobody…Being completely free, without the competition of any other freedom, without any `from’ or `for’—behind that stands, not an image of God, but the image of an idol.”

The seventh annual fall conference of the University of Notre Dame’s Center for Ethics and Culture, to be held Nov. 30 to Dec. 2 in McKenna Hall, will explore Pope Benedict’s assertion that an understanding of freedom is indispensable to an understanding of modernity.

The conference, “Modernity: Yearning for the Infinite,” will bring together a large group of historians, law scholars, theologians, philosophers and other academics to discuss the relationship between modernity and the Church during the last century as well as the impact of modernity on philosophy, theology, law, literature and the arts.

Bishop John D’Arcy of Fort Wayne/South Bend will be among the more than 100 speakers at the conference. Other invited speakers include Jean Bethke Elshtain of the University of Chicago; Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete, national director of Communion and Liberation; Paul Sigmund of Princeton University; Paul Griffiths, Schmitt Professor of Catholic Studies at the University of Illinois-Chicago; and Notre Dame faculty members Alasdair MacIntyre, O’Brien Senior Research Professor of Philosophy; Kevin Hart, Notre Dame Professor of Philosophy and Literature; Rev. Wilson D. Miscamble, C.S.C., associate professor of history; and Rev. Marvin O’Connell, professor emeritus of history.

Topics addressed in the conference’s lectures and discussions will include the history and nature of the modernist heresy, post modernity and the rationality of ethics, modernism in the arts and popular culture, the implications of modernity for ethics, the modern liberal state and its critics, modernity and the role of women, modernity and the rise of individualism, modern science and the disenchantment of the world, spirituality and modernity, and the Enlightenment project and its critics.

Originally published by Michael O. Garvey at on November 22, 2006.