The Spirit of Truth in the Forces of Freedom: A Study of Yves R. Simon's Political Philosophy

Dissertation, The Catholic University of America (2004)

Francisco Plaza
Palm Beach Atlantic College
This study explores the main themes of Yves R. Simon's political philosophy. By following his reflections on the nature of practical knowledge, it seeks to show that the solution to the tension between moral actualization and understanding is the overriding question that guides his political thought. For Simon, this tension underlies the struggle for horizons of meaning that haunts the liberal-democratic tradition. ;The first part of this study examines Simon's approach to the recovery of the foundational truths of the liberal order. His reflections on the limits of philosophy in conveying the incommunicable nature of the practical judgment provide the key for his broader insights about the ways to preserve truth in a liberal society. For Simon, the recovery of truth does not come from dogmatic formulations foreign to the liberal consciousness but, rather, through the recognition of the existential strength of those genuine convictions that remain embedded in the living practice of the liberal-democratic society. ;This broader perspective on Simon's thought guides the second part of this study, allowing a comprehensive approach to the main themes of his philosophy of democracy, particularly to his emphasis on the essential relationship between liberty and authority. Simon's engagement with the thought of Proudhon allows him to recognize that the existential drama between immanence and transcendence in the individual soul is the source of the systematic opposition of the modern conscience to the essential function of authority. The liberal surrender to immanent freedom distorts the necessary conditions for the promotion of autonomy in the life of communities. However, the modern quest for autonomy that sustains the liberal practice also points towards the transcendent source of man's dignity. Therefore, it is not necessary to look beyond the liberal intuition in order to confirm that the most crucial argument in favor of truth and authority has its roots in the excellence of autonomy. Through the exposure of this unexplored dimension in Simon's thought, this study calls attention to the need to further examine the efforts of the neo-thomist philosophers to reveal the Christian content of the liberal secular conscience
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