Professor John Haldane was in Hobart recently as a guest of the Christopher Dawson Centre for Cultural Studies. Centre Director, Dr David Daintree said it was an honour to host one of the world’s leading Catholic philosophers. “It was a huge privilege to have him visit us in Hobart,” he said. St Mary’s Cathedral Centre was close to capacity on Friday 15 April for Prof Haldane’s address on the topic Is Civilisation under Threat? Throughout his presentation Prof Haldane pointed to social changes that have increasingly lead to the sexualisation of children as one of the central anti-civilising factors.“ When people look at histories of civilisations they, and not only religious writers, have been interested in a feature in some of the later stages of civilisation, which is the movement of sexuality outside of the context of fairly strong social structures,” Prof Haldane said. “I do think that we are in a very interesting state of affairs of cultural development in which there is something quasi-pathological going on,” he continued, “in the disconnection of sexual interest from anything that one could see as serving the interests of family or community as well as the interest of the individuals themselves.” He described the current culture as suffering from what he called “sexual schizophrenia.” “What is interesting is that in the very culture that is denunciatory of paedophilia there is also an explosion of the barely legal pornography,” Dr Haldane said. “It’s a genre of pornography that is growing very, very rapidly.” Dr Haldane went on to speak about the threat of terrorism as an anti-civilising force in the world, especially for Western Countries in Europe, such as Britain, France, Holland and Belgium where terror attacks have occurred. He also gave insight into the Islamic State’s (IS) barbaric two-fold terror strategy. “Transgressive behaviour breaks down the norms of practice,” he said. “Then the idea is that you degrade the culture to such a degree that you then step in as the saviour of that culture.” He also mentioned that within this strategy IS co-opts children in their barbarous beheadings and ritualised executions. “I do think that the sexualisation of children on the one hand and this kind of barbarism on the other both represent profoundly counter-civilising influences,” Prof Haldane said in his concluding remarks. “I think there is a serious threat to civilisation and I think Western Societies are not well placed to meet those threats, partly because they are themselves engaged in the degradation of the human, but also partly because as Yeats says they have lost all conviction.” During his time in Australia Prof Haldane has also appeared on the ABC’s Q&A and Compass programs. “His recent television appearances reveal him as a man of sensitivity and tact in difficult situations, but with a towering intellect,” Dr Daintree said.