Silence took the place of applause as the room struggled to manifest a question to the finality of Peter Kreeft’s lecture; unfazed, the professor filled with excitement at the chance to quip the crowd quoting Aristotle: “human beings are curious by nature.” A smirk crept across his face as he both laid forth a potential congratulation for our ascension beyond curiosity as gods or the insult of being beasts below curiosity. With that, the air filled with questioning hands.
A few weeks ago at Acton University 2015, professor of philosophy at Boston College and at the King’s College and a prolific writer of Christian philosophy and apologetics, Peter Kreeft, taught the course: “Good, True, and Beautiful: C.S. Lewis.” Focusing on these three virtues known as cardinal or transcendental that are central to philosophical conceptions of God, Kreeft goes on as any philosopher must to define the three virtues and their place in the world. The cardinal “hinge” role of these virtues is because humanity never grows tired of goodness, truth, or beauty because these are the attributes of perfection, of God. Moreover, “everything God creates is imbued with these attributes to some extent” and Kreeft discussed their manifestation of the works of C.S. Lewis.
The brilliance of C.S. Lewis, Kreeft asserts, is the apparent presence of the transcendental in his writing: the goodness of content, the simplicity of truth told, and the unparalleled imaginative beauty of his allegorical imagery. Kreeft possesses a masterful knowledge of the intricacies of C.S. Lewis and pulled effortlessly from a breadth of Lewis’ books to substantiate and elucidate his own definitions of the transcendentals. The impact of the virtues was made clear in examples of each virtue and where it is especially present in Lewis’ work; however, the true brilliance of Kreeft was in his own bearing of the virtues not in the direction within Lewis’ works. Particularly impactful was his ordering of the virtues. “Goodness is first in value as truth and beauty have the end of good; beauty motivates us most; and, truth trumps both goodness and beauty” for no matter how beautiful or good something is, if we do not believe it true then we let it go. Unlike your average philosopher, Kreeft captured both the mind and heart of his audience inspiring smiles and new foundational thoughts with a simple, singular sweep of his perfectly phrased philosophies.