By Elena Dini
ROME — David Angeles Garnica, a Lay Centre alumnus, presented his first book at the Pontifical Gregorian University March 1.
His book, published by the Gregorian & Biblical Press, is his doctoral thesis in philosophy titled, “El caballo negro del Phaedrus. Demostrar, mostrar y armonizar el conflicto del alma” (“The Black Horse of Phaedrus. Demonstrate, Show and Harmonize the Conflict of the Soul”).
Angeles defended his thesis in October, earning the prestigious Bellarmino Prize in 2018 for the best doctoral thesis at the Gregorian University.
His thesis director, Father Kevin Flannery, SJ, as well as Father Louis Caruana, SJ, dean of the faculty of philosophy, and Father Antonio Nitrola, director of the editorial series Analecta Gregoriana, joined Angeles for the presentation.
A native of Mexico, Angeles and his wife, Janette, lived at The Lay Centre during their studies in Rome. We asked this new author and professor of philosophy and bioethics, both at the diocesan seminary in Morelia and at the Universidad Vasco de Quiroga UVAQ in Mexico, a few questions about his work.
In a few words, what would you say is the importance of the black horse in “Phaedrus”?
The figure of the black horse gives us the chance to enter philosophical reflection about the role of the passions in our human life, that is, in the human psyche. The psyche, in fact, can be translated as life sometimes. For sure, these a-rational passions might get us in trouble. But here we understand as well the importance of the black horse representing them: if well-guided or controlled, they give us the possibility of achieving true human life, not reduced to simple passions but not even exclusively rational. Human life, in its fullness, is not balance but a harmony of the whole soul in a movement toward the (heights).
You advocated for the use of irony as an academic at the beginning of your presentation. Could you say something more about that?
The irony Socrates talks about comes when one acknowledges one’s own limits. This awareness allows us to walk the path of research between the Cariddi of dogmatism and the Scilla of skepticism. In fact, seeing that one doesn’t see is not equal to being blind. There is something one sees: the fact of not seeing.
What supported you the most during your years of research on this topic?
For sure, what most supported me was the love I received from my family — actually from my two families. I received so much love from my family in Mexico, who had faith with me in this “Roman adventure.” First of all, my wife, Janette: without her, this story would have never existed. Therefore, this book is more hers than mine.
But there is my family at The Lay Centre, too. I carry in my heart the friendships that were born and nurtured around the academic research and the experience of faith lived together; the joy of football matches, as well as the incertitude because of illness, even some days at the hospital. I am so grateful for the friends I made here at The Lay Centre and I would like to especially thank my group of Leadership Scholars: Veronika, Janette, and Filipe. By taking care of each other, we became not only companions on this pilgrimage but friends in life.
These friendships were made possible by the commitment of two other friends, Donna Orsuto and Riekie van Velzen (who founded The Lay Centre). I want to thank them wholeheartedly for what they made possible for all of us.