Friday, 23 November 2012

An assumption of the 'enlightened'

"Absolutism is an invention, an inner consequence, of the Enlightenment. Advised by enlightened minds and himself at the pinnacle of the Enlightenment, the king knew the needs of the unenlightened people better than they did themselves. Therefore, he canceled their freedoms and the rights of the social classes that limited his powers in order thus to give full sway to the demands of that reason of which he was the representative. The absolutist / claim to power is not, as it were, a relic of the Middle Ages; it is a product of the Enlightenment and is represented symbolically by the Sun King." (324-5)

(Ratzinger, Joseph. Principles of Catholic Theology: Building Stones for a Fundamental Theology. Tr. Mary Frances McCarthy. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1987. Part 3: The Formal Principles of Christianity and the Method of Theology. Ch. 1. Questions about the Structure of Theology. B. The Church and Scientific Theology.)

Is this not the temptation of our Indian upper classes - the temptation to think of the simple rural folk as unenlightened, as unable to think and judge and decide for themselves? The unspoken assumption: Let the missionaries work in the towns and cities where we, enlightened people, know how to resist their guile. Let them not work in the villages where they run the risk of converting poor, unsuspecting people.

No comments:

Post a Comment