The Catholic University of America

Aug. 16, 2010

2010 Graduate’s Essay Wins $1,000 Prize

To answer the question posed by the Culture of Enterprise in its third annual international student essay contest — “Can Character and Communities Survive in an Age of Globalization?” — Austin Lipari, B.A. 2010, tapped the wisdom of a global group of thinkers, from Aristotle to poet Wendell Berry, to argue for local community and regional alliances. 

His essay, “After Virtue: Localism and the Restoration of Character and Community,” was awarded $1,000 as the fifth-place essay on the topic.

Associate Professor of Philosophy V. Bradley Lewis, who advised Lipari at Catholic University said, “I’m not at all surprised by this news of his winning: all the papers Austin wrote in my classes were based on careful reading and thinking and were always superbly written.”

In the essay, Lipari tackles complex subjects — the role of government in promoting the good life, for example, and identifying the spiritual emptiness of the “culture without boundaries” that has been created by the combination of globalism and materialism.

Then he traces the “spiritual emptiness” Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn spoke of to the Enlightenment’s emphasis of the state’s role in protecting the rights of individuals, exemplified in the Declaration of Independence. Lipari contrasts that view with the classical tradition of Aristotle in which the state “exists for the sake of the good life.”

In his title and throughout his essay, Lipari refers to the thinking of philosopher of modern life Alasdair MacIntyre, whose book After Virtue is a classic critique of contemporary moral philosophy.

Like MacIntyre, Lipari sees hope for saving Western society from the “moral vacuum that Solzhenitsyn sees” in the creation of Aristotelian communities based on local knowledge and friendship.

The Culture of Enterprise is part of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, whose purpose is to further in successive generations of college students a better understanding of the values and institutions that sustain a free and humane society, according to its website.

Lipari, originally from Loveland, Ohio, has been involved with ISI since attending the organization’s honors program in Quebec during the summer of 2007. “Through that experience and my coursework in philosophy at CUA,” he says, “I began to think seriously about the problems and shortcomings of contemporary society.

“This essay contest gave me the opportunity to put some of my thoughts on paper. I was honored when I was notified that I was a finalist. It was a vote of confidence for both my writing and thinking.”

Recently married to CUA alumna Allison Dutkowsky, B.A. 2010, Lipari will return to campus in late August as a first-year student at the Columbus School of Law. 

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