Father John Perricone spoke about what he believes to be the “liberal tyranny” that runs many of the secular colleges and universities in the modern United States to a full audience in Rockefeller Hall Wednesday. His talk, entitled, “The Importance of Making Judgments in a Non-judgmental Age” stressed the fact that by espousing ideals of strict non-judgmentalism people express “[non-judgmentalism] as being absolutely true,” and therefore impose their judgments upon others, Perricone said.
As a “full subscriber to the philosophies of St. Thomas Aquinas and Aristotle,” Perricone called upon many of their works throughout his talk.
AQUINAS, Cornell’s student-led Catholic Fellowship, sponsored the event. The organization’s president, JP Janowski ’03, said that because one of the organization’s goals is to “educate and facilitate a dialogue about the teachings of the Catholic Church,” Perricone’s speech was especially relevant. It was divided into three segments: an explanation of why Western society is not as non-judgmental as it claims to be, a definition of the nature of judgments and the importance of making judgments.
Perricone — a professor at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, N.Y., described by Janowski as a “dynamic speaker” — made a clear distinction between making a judgment and being judgmental.
Through the intimate act of receiving knowledge, people are constantly affirming or denying a thing, he said. This process, by definition, is the process of making judgments.
“Truth,” Perricone said, “is found in judgments.”
These judgments, in turn, are made through the use of intellect which all humankind has in common, he said.
Conversely, “By exercising true judgment, you will never become judgmental,” he said.
Perricone accused today’s society of lapsing in this regard.
“There has never been a more judgmental society than ours,” he said.
To protect oneself from becoming judgmental, Perricone says there is a need to look for the hidden agendas of all those who claim to be non-judgmental. The key is “making sure you have a passionate love for the truth,” he said.
To Perricone, the problem with modern Western society lies in his belief that “the liberal mind does not have any respect for the truth.”
Relating this issue to University students, this problem follows through to college campuses in the United States.
There is “literally a kind of Third Reich order on college campuses that stifles the free exchange of ideas,” Perricone said.
When an audience member said that there was at least one Cornell faculty member that was an open conservative, Perricone expressed his approval.
Other audience members questioned a human’s ability to have access to an “absolute truth.” Perricone responded by saying that just because people cannot have access to the “totality of truths” they can have understanding of some truths. When there are instances where an entire culture may not adhere to a universal truth, there is a “moral blind spot” within that society, Perricone said.
An example he gave was the practice of Aztec human sacrifice, which he described as going against the “universal truth” of killing innocent people.
After addressing such a controversial issue as moral relativism, students Sheerin Florio ’03 and Stephen Pelle ’06 agreed that the speech “brought up an issue that really needs to be brought up at Cornell.”
Florio found him to be “fantastically articulate and very convincing.”
She also said of his often-abstract ideas that “once you apply [his ideas] to real life, that’s where the real challenge is.”
Pleased with the diverse turnout, Janowski said he recognized members from groups such as the Cornell Philosophy Forum, the Cornell Democrats and the Cornell Christian Fellowship amongst the fifty person audience.
With such an audience, Perricone was “very good in explaining the Catholic perspective,” and should be respected for his explanations, Janowski added.
Archived article by Liz Goulding