I’ve just uploaded the third talk from last October’s Story Symposium:

“Heroes” by Dr. Peter Kreeft

Kreeft proposes seven preconditions for a hero — hierarchy, teleology/purpose/design, natural law, absolutes, free will, honor, and suffering — in order to start a discussion of the question: do heroes exist today?

Here’s a short excerpt from Kreeft’s introduction:

Do we live in a world without heroes? We can’t answer that question until we know what heroes are. So logically, we should first define the key term: heroes. But I don’t want to do that, because I think we have a deep, unconscious, intuitive understanding of what really important things are before we define them, and that should guide our definitions rather than vice versa. Define time, please. Define beauty. Define being. No, but you recognize it when you see it. So I think we know what heroes are because we know what a world without heroes would be like. It would be Brave New World, which I think is one of the most prophetic books of modern times.

Are we moving closer and closer to Brave New World? In the 50’s, Huxley, who wrote it in the 30’s, said “we’re almost there.” On the other hand, we’re not there yet. It’s still a cautionary tale. It’s a dystopia; it’s not a eutopia… except to some people. The first time I taught it in the 60’s at BC, I just threw it at the students, and said, “bring questions about it,” without any guidance. After about 5 minutes of questioning, I realized to my horror that most of them had totally misunderstood it. They thought that Huxley was for Brave New World, and then came a second horror, most of them agreed with him, and were very surprised that anyone wouldn’t want to live in Brave New World. So maybe we are closer than we think.

Who are our heroes today?

You can listen to the entire presentation in any number of ways by visiting the Act One Story Symposium site here.

3 thoughts on “heroes

  1. What a great resource these talks from the symposium are, Clayton! I’m recommending them to my student here at the University of Dallas for use in all of their writing projects- in Spanish or in English courses!Thanks a lot for taking the time to format and post them here.

  2. You’re welcome. Thank Act One, who sponsored the conference and who paid me to record, edit and post the content.Now that the Academy has shown favor to Slumdog Millionaire, it might be interesting to have a discussion of the following question: In what sense is Jamal a hero? Especially given the film’s ambiguous treatment of absolutes and free will?

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