The Christian Intellect and the Mystery of Being; Reflections of a Maritain Thomist [Book Review]

Review of Metaphysics 20 (3):548-549 (1967)
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Abstract

A clear restatement of the essentials of the Maritain approach to Christian Wisdom, the work is concerned with the nature and hierarchy of the kinds of knowledge. This hierarchizing is accomplished from that standpoint of the philosophizing Christian in which the scientific is subordinated to the philosophic and especially the metaphysical, and in which the human is subordinate to the theological and especially mystical. In such a world view the ultimate value term is the contemplative, and the possibility and actuality of a "Christian Humanism" is affirmed through a relating of natural human knowledge and divine contemplation. The Christian philosopher is a finite intelligence confronting "Being" which is ultimately trans-conceptualizable and so mysterious; but God is Being Itself and so the finite intelligence tends toward God by a native and internal dynamism. The author is not concerned with the esthetico-epistemological reflections of Maritain but does carefully analyze knowledge through affective connaturality. He also attempts to develop a closer relation between a metaphysical "philosophy of nature" and modern science, construed as a mathematical interpretation and organization of phenomena, in his concept of "integrated knowledge of nature." Unfortunately there is a striking disaffection for dissenting philosophical views. In defending Thomism against its critics the author not only says that the critics do not understand it, but he also suggests that this is because its opponents, when they are sceptics and agnostics, lack Grace and so are deprived of a purely natural intellectual strength which accompanies its presence and are therefore intellectually defective. Such narrowness is offensive, not necessary to the author's thesis, and seems opposed to the spirit of Aquinas himself.—J. D. C.

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