People

R. J. Snell

R. J. Snell is Director of the Center on the University and Intellectual Life at the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton. Prior to his appointment at the Witherspoon Institute, Dr. Snell was professor of philosophy at Eastern University and the Templeton Honors College. He was also the executive director at the Agora Institute for Civic Virtue and the Common Good. His research interests include ethics, natural law theory, Thomas Aquinas, and Bernard Lonergan, SJ. He is the author of Through a Glass Darkly: Bernard Lonergan and Richard Rorty on Knowing without a God's-eye View (Marquette UP), The Perspective of Love: Natural Law in a New Mode (Wipf & Stock), Acedia and Its Discontents: Metaphysical Boredom in an Empire of Desire (Angelico Press), and (with Steve Cone) Authentic Cosmopolitanism (Wipf & Stock).

MARS HILL AUDIO Conversation 31

Unbearable Lightness: R. J. Snell on Acedia and Metaphysical Boredom

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In this interview, philosopher R. J. Snell draws from how Hanby uses the verb “noughting” to interpret boredom, and connects it with the capital vice of acedia—or its token symptom, sloth—to help us recognize how this particular vice captures the “mood of our age.” Snell argues that the metaphysical boredom of modernity is sustained by our deeply-held convictions about freedom and contingency, which view the former as necessary and the latter as offensive. Like a sulking child, the slothful prefer to choose nothing rather than accept the neediness and dependency implied by our finite existence. When this slothful posture expands to the metaphysical plane, boredom becomes the very denial of being itself or, in other words, the “noughting” of the world. 48 minutes.

MARS HILL AUDIO Journal

Volume 129

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Guests on Volume 129: Nicholas Carr, on how automation technologies make our lives easier — while detaching us from the practices of engaging the world that are most fulfilling for us; Robert Pogue Harrison, on the challenges of nurturing the inner lives and loves of our children to enable them to receive the legacies of our culture; R. J. Snell, on how the vice of acedia denies the being of Creation; Norman Wirzba, on how a Scriptural imagination allows us to perceive the world as Creation (not just as nature); Philip Zaleski and Carol Zaleski, on how the Inklings were critical of modernity in the interest of restoring Western culture to its Christian roots; and Peter Phillips, on the “tintinnabuli” style of composition in the works of Arvo Pärt.

MARS HILL AUDIO Journal

Volume 124

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Guests on Volume 124: John Fea, on how American individualism fuels indifference to the study of history, and how K-12 education can counter that apathy; Robert F. Rea, on how engagement with Church history deepens our faith and enriches our capacity as faithful servants; John C. Pinheiro, on how anti-Catholic prejudice in mid-nineteenth-century America was intertwined with beliefs about the virtues of Republicanism, "Manifest Destiny," and the Mexican-American War; R. J. Snell, on how newer ideas about natural law focus less on moral propositions and concepts and more on the thrust for meaning and value; Duncan G. Stroik, on how architectural styles function as languages that speak to us and enable buildings to speak to each other; Kate Tamarkin and Fiona Hughes, on the healing power of music.