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CARD. SCOLA/ The good reasons for a broader reason

In this economic crisis, technical solutions and new rules are not enough to end the current paralysis. The new Archbishop of Milan argues for a new way to reason about economics.

ASSET Summer School ASSET Summer School

This article is an abstract from the paper that Card. Angelo Scola, new Archbishop of Milan and former Patriarch of Venice, presented at the ASSET Summer School held last week in Venice, entitled : THE WHOLE BREADTH OF REASON. RETHINKING ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL REASON. The School of Advanced Studies Society Economy Theology (ASSET), created within the Studium Generale Marcianum, aims to be an asset for the comprehension of the plural society. Areas of study are: philosophy and theology; social sciences and philosophy; canon law, constitutional law, philosophy of law; economy and social doctrine of the Church.

The persistence of the global economic crisis and the rapid geo-political transformations that are under way, in particular those involving the Middle East and North Africa, seem to confirm the need to rethink our conception of human reason, in particular of economic and political reason.

A realistic consideration of the crisis suggests in fact that if we are to emerge from it, the application of new technical solutions will not be sufficient, nor will the establishment of new rules that discipline the market, necessary though these may be.

Rethinking the hitherto dominant paradigm, one that has in fact reduced economic reason to rational calculation and political reason to mere realpolitik, requires us to concentrate on a third aspect of the crisis, which in my opinion is the crucial one – and more significant perhaps than the structural fragilities of our economic and political systems. I am referring to that sort of cultural paralysis which the crisis has on the one hand demonstrated and on the other contributed to accentuate, and which is manifest in certain attitudes that are now more or less general in many European societies: I am thinking of the lack of any tendency to plan for the future, of the prevalence of uncommitted relationships at the expense of stable bonds, of the need for wellbeing interpreted as an exclusive right to be satisfied through consumption.

What is at stake, and it is something much greater than the results that economic systems are capable of achieving, was stated very clearly by Benedict XVI in the course of his recent visit to Venice: "men and women – said the Pope – are free to interpret, to give a meaning to reality, and it is in this freedom itself that the great dignity of the human being consists.  In the context of a city, any city, the administrative, cultural and economic decisions depend, basically, on this fundamental orientation, which we may call “political” in the most noble, the loftiest sense of the term.  It is a question of choosing between a “liquid” city, the homeland of a culture that appears ever more relative and transient, and a city that is constantly renewing its beauty by drawing on the beneficial sources of art, of knowledge and of the relations between people and peoples"


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