The Rise and Fall of Neo-Thomism – part I

19 04 2010

Leo XIII to transcendental Thomism

In my life as a Catholic, it has veritably all been a game of “the more you know, the less you know”. You go through most of your life thinking that such-and-such is traditional, only to find out that it is less than a hundred years old: a drop in the bucket in the vast well of human history. The obsession of the Catholic Church, even prior to Vatican II, was an obsession for novelty, which was often compensation for the shame Catholic scholarship felt before that bitch goddess we know today as “historical scholarship”. Having not paid attention to what was really thought and believed, we found that what we had been doing and saying for centuries was all the fruit of novelty. And the only anecdote for novelty was more novelty. God forbid that we should actually stay the course.

In my own life, nothing has more tormented me in this regard than the all-too-modern Catholic obsession with the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas. Like a finicky child told to eat his vegetables, I was made quite scrupulous through finding that, for me, understanding the thought of the Angelic Doctor was work, but not in the good sense. Years in the local town library slaving through the thick volumes of the Summa and hours suffering through seminary classes on the difference between the agent and possible intellects made Aquinas no more palatable to me. But surely, the Supreme Pontiff Leo XIII in the encyclical Aeterni Patris was not wrong in officially making the Doctor of the Church’s moderate realism the “official” Catholic philosophy? In true quixotic fashion, I failed to realize that the rest of the Church had moved on, primarily because that which Leo XIII had seen as a bulwark against the “dictatorship of relativism” (to use another phrase preferred by a Vicar of Christ) really wasn’t very “Thomistic” at all.

This falling apart of the “Thomistic restoration” is the subject of Gerald A. McCool, S.J.’s book, From Unity to Pluralism: The Internal Evolution of Thomism. Fr. McCool’s philosophical portrait is of a movement officially supported by Church power that collapsed under the weight of its own scholarship. From figures like Rousselot and Marechal, who wanted to dialogue with modern subjectivist philosophy, to Maritain and Gilson who bitterly opposed all of these attempts, the Thomism of Aeterni Patris went through a process by which it sought to expel from itself all things foreign to the thought of the Angelic Doctor. It was only a matter of time before scholars such as Henri de Lubac and other resourcement theologians expelled the exclusivity of Thomism altogether. It was Vatican II, that veritable explosion of pluralism, that doomed the Thomist movement as the hegemonic force in Catholic thought.

McCool characterizes the Thomism around the time of Aeterni Patris as a militant if simplistic ideology aimed primarily at countering the perceived plague of subjectivism in modern secular discourse. Catholicism, according to its adherents, could not be built on the base of personal experience or opinion, but had to have a foundation in the external world. What comes in through our senses and is abstracted by our reason, that which is available to all, is one truth, solid and unchanging. This was seen as the fundamental principle of the moderate realism of the Angelic Doctor, and the perfect anecdote to the universal doubt of the Cartesian cogito. It mattered little that, deep down, much of the “Thomism” of the early characters of the “Aeterni Patris” movement had mistaken the opinions of later commentators like the Jesuit Francisco Suarez for the thought of Aquinas. According to McCool, the act of existence, a keystone of Thomas’s metaphysics and Gilson’s critique of modern philosophy, was never even mentioned.

“Thomas fever” struck the Church in the aftermath of the 1879 encyclical. Philosophers of the Roman school seen as sympathetic to modern philosophical concerns were weeded out, and such a process repeated itself throughout the Catholic world. Thomism seemed to be the law of the land, but it was not entirely triumphant. Maurice Blondel and other Catholic thinkers pursued their own path, and not even the Church could shut out all influences of the ideologies found around it. McCool focuses on two such figures, philosophers who were sympathetic to the philosophical methods of modern thought. They found that Thomas was more reconcilable to the concerns of modern critical philosophy than the initial Neo-Thomists had realized.

Pierre Rousselot was a brilliant Jesuit whose life was cut short by the brutal battlefields of the Great War. He was unable to reconcile “orthodox” Thomism with the perceived infinite Object of the human mind. He, like the resourcement theologians of a generation later, was disturbed by the idea of a purely natural scope of the human intellect. He found in the Thomas’ angelology the answer to his concerns. The human intellect, while immaterial, was at the lowest rung of intentional immateriality. Angelic knowledge, being without sensory abstraction and coming from infused knowledge intuitively, was a much higher model for knowledge. Indeed, Rousselot believed in a faculty of intuition in the human mind higher than reason. The stability of human knowledge was thus not founded on a pure “adequatio intellectus ad rem”, but rather on the dynamic motions of the mind towards its eternal object. Or to put it more succinctly, knowledge is only knowledge of the real insofar as it is knowledge of the divine.

Rousselot was unable to elaborate on these thoughts due to his tragic early death. Fellow Jesuit, Joseph Marechal, would take up the mantle and create what is known by contemporary scholars as transcendental Thomism. This form of Thomism sought to justify human knowledge on the basis of judgment rather than the object exterior to human thought. In this, Marechal sought to prove that one could have a Thomism completely in sync with the transcendental critique of Immanuel Kant: the great synthesizer of post-Cartesian philosophy. Using only methods acceptable to the critical method of Kant, Marechal sought to ground judgment in the affirmation tending towards the absolute noumenal object. In this, he wished to show that the concerns of Aquinas and Kant were not that far apart, and were indeed, on one level, reconcilable. Like Rousselot, he sought to ground the Thomist project on the dynamic tendencies of the human mind rather than the perceived static categories of the original Neo-Thomism.

These two thinkers, while influential, were far from the last word on what constituted “Thomist orthodoxy” in the first half of the twentieth century. Indeed, even today, when most people think about Neo-Thomism, they tend to think of two far more familiar names: Jacques Maritain and Etienne Gilson. Their approaches, and the collapse of the Thomist juggernaut, are the subject of part two of this essay, to be continued on Wednesday.


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12 05 2010
Hobbits, Thomists and the interpretive echo chamber « Ecclesiastical Hipster

[…] Arturo: In my life as a Catholic, it has veritably all been a game of “the more you know, the less you […]

24 04 2010
Sam Urfer

It’s not as alien to the Western Tradition as you might think:

http://goliath.ecnext.com/coms2/gi_0199-11773595/Mirror-of-experience-Palamas-and.html

24 04 2010
Henry Karlson

Michael is right, the E/E distinction is not incompatible with Catholic. This is because in all actuality, it is a part of Catholic dogmatic (though in a form less developed than in Palamas):at III Constantinople — where not only were two wills, but two energies in Christ affirmed, both following St Maximus the Confessor who pointed out that every essence has its energia. Beyond this, St Gregory Palamas is a Catholic saint.

Michael is also right in pointing out much of the confusion lies in cultural-linguistic issues, though of course, there are distinctions, and some of what Palamas says would be critical of what happened in scholasticism. Nonetheless, his greatest exposure to scholastic thought was not from its best representatives, but in Barlaam and his disciples, those who seemed to combine scholasticism with an apophaticism which Palamas rightfully saw leading to atheism ( a good work to see this is in t. Gregory Palamas, Dialogue Between an Orthodox and A Barlaamite. trans. Rein Ferwerda. Intr. Sara J. Denning-Bolle (Binghamton, NY: Binghamton University Press, 1999)). On the other hand, Palamas is not against divine simplicity. As the Trinity itself is not against divine simplicity, so the energies are not — it is, imo, a confusion that some have (not Michael) as to what divine simplicity means that they do not know it is not a simple monistic one — it’s a transcendent one which we best know in analogy.

24 04 2010
James Dominic James

In fewer words: Yes, it is similar. Sorry about that.

24 04 2010
James Dominic James

mcmlxix,

There is a lived, everyday way of appropriating concepts and propositions that is not completely determined by the concepts and propositions themselves. That happened in my own transactions with tradiland. But I think we would need to add more stuff to the list of beliefs, desires, and behaviors than that in order to have what it takes for a folk religion to be. In short, I sorta kinda agree with you somewhat.

23 04 2010
Michael Liccione

Lucian:

As I’ve often argued (somebody even cited me in the Wikipedia article on E/E, so I’m in the Internet Hall of Fame now….), there is nothing about the E/E distinction itself that is incompatible with Catholicism. I know there are some Orthodox who deny it’s compatible with how the Catholic Church defined divine simplicity as a dogma; but as I examine those definitions, I can find no basis for that conclusion.

Aquinas et al denied that we could have a direct intuition of God in this life, and I think he went a bit too far with that. But even what he said is perfectly compatible with saying that some have seen the Risen Lord, and therefore the Uncreated Light that comes to us through and because of him. I know a Catholic who claims to have seen it as part of her near-death experience, and I believe her. And I also believe those Orthodox who claim to have seen it in certain saints, such as Fr. Arkady in the Gulag, and in the Holy Fire at Jerusalem.

Most Catholics have never heard of the E/E distinction, and most Catholic theologians don’t know what to do with it because it comes out of a conceptual, cultural, and experiential matrix that their education rarely touches on. I hope that changes.

Best,
Mike

23 04 2010
Lucian

Orthodoxy also believes in (direct) intuition (of the divine). Catholicism, to my knowledge, denies that, since it doesn’t believe in the distinction between essence and energies in God.

23 04 2010
mcmlxix

Don’t worry. I won’t take away any suspicions of the SSPX. I just tend to think that, across the board, a lot of hyper-orthodoxy is tinged with some Gnosticism.

It’s interesting that you suggest that while the official teaching of the SSPX, it differs in how it may come across in practice. Isn’t this similar to our host’s thesis on the differences of official religion and folk religion in a way?

23 04 2010
James Dominic James

mcmlxix,

What I wrote has real problems. When the question is taken as something that points back to a psychological state that may or may not be present is an SSPX-involved or -inclined person, it does the work I want it to do. The SSPX teaches stuff that can work as a solution for someone haunted by a certain problem that is experienced as a kind of emergency.

But out on its own, the question risks misleading people. It looks like the claim that the SSPX teaches God will damn you if you don’t figure out the truth about what is legitimate doctrinal change and then perfectly use this standard to measure perfectly all utterances. But the SSPX does not teach this. It’s not what the church taught before Vatican II, so the SSPX doesn’t teach it.

Because they don’t, I hope you will not identify the SSPX with “that kind of über-orthodoxy [you’ve found] to be akin to Gnosticism,” depite my clumsiness a couple days back.

23 04 2010
mcmlxix

@ JDJ

“Is the Gospel really that God will damn you if you don’t figure out the truth about what is legitimate doctrinal change and then perfectly use this standard to measure perfectly all utterances? ”

I have always found that kind of über-orthodoxy to be akin to Gnosticism. It’s as if knowledge will set you free.

22 04 2010
ochlophobist

Mike,

I mostly agree with Rowland’s analysis as well. She ends in quite a different place than Arturo, but many of the things she observes are the sorts of things that Arturo observes in the catalogue of “what went wrong.”

Given that Arturo is a master at critique when it comes to the banal side of American convert Catholicism (the cousin of the banal side of American convert Orthodoxy), I wonder what he thinks of the whole notion of “whig thomism” and its relationship to neo-thomism.

An aside – it’s funny for me to think that the spirit of neo-thomism has some relationship to the opening of the door which would bring us to JPII phenomenology. That Maritain, in his josephite marriage to a hottie wife, would to some extent be among the intellectual pedigrees of Theology of the Body (not directly, I know, but he was a part of the intellectual milieu that made Theo of the Bod possible, Humanisme intégral to Gaudium et spes, etc.) is one of those great theological quirks of the 20th century.

22 04 2010
James Dominic James

@Mike–I appreciate your response and elaboration on McCool. That you studied with Ross was something I learned back in the days when your blog was more active. It can be creepy when someone you don’t know and cannot know because their name is totally fake–me–talks about who your teachers were. Sorry about that.

@Arturo–In terms of Lefebvrism, I don’t really understand the bitterness that some ex-followers have towards the SSPX. I have made it a point in my life to not totally spit on any of the mental avatars that I have found myself in.

Maybe you have a healthy personality.

21 04 2010
Arturo Vasquez

Potworowski also agreed that Chenu was too optimistic in terms of socialization. Let us not forget that Matthew Fox also studied under Chenu, and Chenu did a rather interesting essay for one of Fox’s anthologies of Creation spirituality. It’s okay, if that floats your boat. I am too much of a theurgic Neoplatonist to buy it.

In terms of Lefebvrism, I don’t really understand the bitterness that some ex-followers have towards the SSPX. I have made it a point in my life to not totally spit on any of the mental avatars that I have found myself in. So that means I am sympathetic to Sartrean existentialism, the language games of Wittgenstein, Derridean postmodernism, Foucault’s archeology of ideas, militant Trostskyism, fascistic Catholic integralism, modern Western “Eastern Orthodoxy”, Protestant Anglicanism, modern Neo-Thomism, theurgic Neoplatonism, Plotinian Neoplationism, and Mircea Elaide’s theories of “primitive religion”. Nowadays, my thought vacillates between Neoplatonic paganism and traditionalist Catholicism. I don’t think there was ever a time I was sympathetic with “Neo-Catholicism”, the thought of Pope John Paul II, Benedict XVI, the Patristic resourcement, or any of the other things that make “average” Catholics excited, and that is why I dump on that stuff so much. When the Catechism of the Catholic Church came out when I was a teenager, I thought it sucked, and my opinion of it hasn‘t changed. My seeming “liberality” stems not from having seen the light regarding my “Lefebvrist” past, but rather that my “mix” of sympathies makes me seem indifferent, but at bottom I am not.

I went to the local SSPX chapel on Good Friday since none of the official churches were having any of the Holy Triduum ceremonies according to the pre-Vatican II rites. I like the priest there: he is a bit long-winded, but he is the best homilist in the area, and one of the best homilists that I have ever heard. He doesn’t talk about “trad stuff”, and puts down some real meaty, Counter-Reformation knowledge. If I don’t go there more often, and if I tend to stay clear of the people there, it is because 1. the people are crazy, and 2. I am too much of a slacker to live as a Lefebvrist now. Perhaps if my personal circumstances were different and I weren’t such a bum…

But it is still comforting that they are there. To tell the truth, I would take what they say over that Hans-Urs-von-Balthasar shit any day of the week.

21 04 2010
Michael Liccione

JDJ:

Since you seem to have much better idea of who I am than I have of who you are—you’re aware, e.g., that I studied under Jim Ross—you have me at something of a disadvantage. I’ve read your comments in this thread, which enable me to infer that your spiritual and intellectual journey has been rather unusual. I’m glad you’re glad about being an ex-Lefevbrite, and I suspect we’d enjoy meeting each other to discuss all the things that have come up in this thread. But as of now, I really don’t know what I have to offer that might be relevant to you on your journey. So I’ll just confine myself here to a scholarly answer to the scholarly question you posed to me.

My criticizing McCool for overlooking “analytical” Thomism is not just a quibble about a book he wrote almost twenty years ago. At that time, the only such philosophers with a significant reputation were Geach, Anscombe, and Ross. (I mention Anscombe because I know firsthand that she was influenced even more by Aquinas’ thought than by Wittgenstein’s, even though her style and early concerns were, for obvious reasons, more like the latter’s.) Now I do think McCool should have taken note of those thinkers, because their work even then had significant influence among English-speaking philosophers generally. And that’s the sort of fact that influences the Church whether those in charge of Catholic institutions realize it or not. (Since 1992, analytical Thomism has spread considerably, beyond even the further names you mention. But instead of doing the sort of name-dropping that grad students like to do at professional meetings. I shall just suggest hunting down the references given in the Wikipedia article.) My real problem with McCool is that what he thought was important was, by and large, only what Jesuits thought was important. That’s why he could barely mention David Burrell, Ralph McInerny, and most of the Dominicans who had been churning out good stuff since Vatican II. The trouble with McCool was that, for all his erudition, his concerns were far too insular. As I said, only Jesuits and their fellow-travelers take transcendental-Thomist natural theology seriously.

Best,
Mike

21 04 2010
James Dominic James

Central to Chenu’s theological history is the emergence of Nature as something good in itself and not just a symbol of other-worldly goodness. Aquinas at one point in the Summa Theologiae that things are not just good because they particpate in God’s goodness, but the goodness is their property in every sense.

Amen. The dignity of causes. What God is up to by means of making human freedom to be is just amazing.

While Chenu would take his ideas too far in helping to draft Gaudium et Spes at the Second Vatican Council, his ideas are too persuasive to be discarded totally.

I’m still sorting out whether things went “too far”.

Where I do have reservations is on Chenu’s enthusiasm for “socialization.” Do you? I might be getting Chenu wrong, but it seems like he might say, “As the church is the sacrament of the coming unity of humankind, so the more intensive and extensive ‘socialization’ underway in the modern world points to the coming unity of humankind. So I’m super-psyched about humans working together on an ever-greater scale on ever-larger projects. See what the Holy Spirit is doing.”

Given the dignity of secondary causes, yeah, it’s cool to see human potentiality getting actualized, and “socialization” *can* be part of that. But if the concrete shape it takes is a bunch of disintegrated people disintegrating still other people under the gaze of panopticons in a world of loose nukes, then it’s a fiasco. He’d agree, it seems. For “socialization” to be itself, it needs to be humanizing. But nevertheless, even granting the existence of a dark side of modernity, he seemed optimistic about where things were headed. And that’s hard for me. Know what I mean?

But however hard it is, this is not a reason to reject the positive assessment of creation that comes with the teaching regarding the dignity of secondary causes. I’m afraid that it will be rejected by more and more Catholics. Some trads enjoy calling to mind Ratzinger’s labeling of parts of G&S as “neo-Pelagian” or “almost neo-Pelagian”. What I need to follow up on is the picture of creation presupposed in the practice of labeling things “neo-Pelagian”. It does not necessarily have to do with Pelagius. It could be–though I don’t know whether it is for Ratzinger-now-Benedict–the picture of the Augustinians who rent their garments over Aquinas.

What if Augustianians calling things they don’t like “neo-Pelagian” is something like trads calling things they don’t like “neo-modernist”? What if people mistake the optimism that comes from knowing the dignity of secondary causes for the optimism that comes from a particular view of Original Sin? What if a mistake like that is at work in the Gaudium et Spes wars?

21 04 2010
James Dominic James

Thanks for the link! I remember reading your blog back then, but I failed to remember this post. I probably failed to remember it because back then I was an anti-Chenu Catholic, faithful to the Magisterium of Écône.

(What I’m admitting to here is that I was a freak and that no one needs to listen to what I say because its source is tainted; I was “one of those Lefebvrists” and so obviously a bad human with some kind of personality disorder, otherwise why would I ever have been drawn to that scene: that’s the stuff of the shame some ex-Lefebvrists live with and must address in order to move forward, no? Neither sacramental confession nor the gospel proclaimed heals what’s broken in me for having been a Lefevbrist. Ego-death experiences do heal, of course, since whatever else but the ego would hang on to shame and guilt rather than experience forgiveness, but those experiences are few and far between, and always brief. Bottom line: Kids, don’t become Lefebvrists. For those tempted: Is the Gospel really that God will damn you if you don’t figure out the truth about what is legitimate doctrinal change and then perfectly use this standard to measure perfectly all utterances? Under such pressure, especially on account of the limitations of our knowlege given the relevance of so many academic fields for getting the answer right, is the prospect of Eternal Loss working to set you free for love? Or is it killing the you God already loves? Learn. Know today. Don’t put it off.)

21 04 2010
Arturo Vasquez

http://sarabitus.blogspot.com/2006/10/aquinas-and-his-role-in-theology-marie.html

That was three and a half years ago, but I still agree with some of the insights I wrote there. I also liked “Nature and Man in the Twelfth Century” and Potworowski’s introductory work, “Contemplation and Incarnation”. I tried reading, “Toward Understanding St. Thomas”, but I got lazy.

And the best thing about “Aquinas and His Role in Theology” is that it has pictures. Gotta love pictures.

21 04 2010
James Dominic James

Arturo,

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with social science roots. I’ve got the same roots, social science brother. And thanks for the feedback regarding tone issues. My questions for Liccione are real. My comment was a reflection of what is itching my brain these days and the desires this creates, including strange desires surrounding Davies, Stump, and MTV. Maybe I ought to have left that part out. I really am hoping Liccione reponds. I think he studied with Ross.

I look forward to the rest of your McCool stuff and how you think it hooks up with the social conditions of possibility that serve as the matrix for the life of the Church these days. And I can’t dispute what you say in your last comment about the non-English thinkers McCool selected being influential.

P.S. I think you’d really, really like reading more and more Chenu. No sarcasm there. Chenu is on fire. I think you’d enjoy the way his personality can come through. A few years ago Liturgical Press published his Aquinas and His Role in Theology. It’s cheap. Even if you disagree with him about what concrete stuff serves the common good of the Church, the guy is so alive and fun to think with. He said, “The more I work, the more God creates.” So how could he not be joyful? Chenu!

21 04 2010
Arturo Vasquez

Well, I am not really a philosopher per se, nor do I care to get in depth about the nuts and bolts of Thomistic controversy. The genesis of these posts come from a chance encounter with this book at a local bookstore here in New Orleans. So it is not like I am going to make a habit of all of this.

And truth be told, while I don’t feel I have the authority in the subject to speak with the same sarcasm expressed by Mr. James, I do feel I need to drop some knowledge concerning these subjects. Firstly, English speakers tend to over-inflate the influence of fellow English-speakers on Catholic thought. Newman, Chesterton, and McIntyre are not as well respected or known in other parts of the Catholic world, simply because their linguistic universe is far larger than the hundred to a hundred and fifty years of consistent Catholic history in the English language. In other words, English Catholic philosophers are not really worth mentioning simply because the languages of Catholic scholarship up to about forty years ago were French, German, and, of course, Latin. Who cares what a bunch of converts or immigrants in some Protestant backwater thought? That might be changing, but the tide has only started to turn.

Arguments over Maritain in Latin America changed entire countries. Chenu was practically the godfather of liberation theology. Gilson was no doubt discussed by clerics in Poland, and no doubt missionaries in Japan were reading Rahner under their pillows since their superiors were suspicious of that stuff.

Besides, analytical philosophy is a dreary subject, best left to those souless people who tend to run philsophy departments, and has little following outside the Anglophone world. But I am not a philosopher, and these posts are primarily about the collective impact of philosophy on an international institution. In that sense, I suppose I am staying with my social sciences roots.

21 04 2010
James Dominic James

What was analytic Thomism during the years just before McCool’s book was published in 1992?

James Ross
Peter Geach
the guys at Blackfriars
Anthony Kenny (to be included?)
Norman Kretzmann
anyone else?

Maybe it just wasn’t “happening” like it was in the 1990s and now. And oh is it happening now! Last night I had a dream in which Brian Davies OP and Eleonore Stump did a Problem of Evil face-off on MTV. The crowd loved it. And the whole world completely changed. People were getting excited about God and stuff. Ok, that’s not reality. Or though it’s a real dream, it’s still … ah, forget it.

McCool left out River Forest Thomism too. And because it was not powerful in terms of shaping Catholic intellectual history to the same degree that McCool’s subects were, its absence makes sense. But it’s got an appeal. Do you think it has a future? Ashley and Wallace are in their 90s. Where are the disciples? Are they powerful?

21 04 2010
Michael Liccione

Well Owen, I have read it, and I mostly agree with it. What, in your view, should we conclude from it?

Best,
Mike

21 04 2010
ochlophobist

Arturo,

While on the subject, have you ever read and do you have an opinion regarding “Culture and the Thomist Tradition: After Vatican II” by Tracey Rowland? I would particularly like to know what you think of Chapter 3 – “The Epistemic Authority of ‘Experts’ and the Ethos of Modern Institutions”, where she follows the analysis of MacIntyre on ‘epistemological crisis’.

20 04 2010
Michael Liccione

Arturo:

I’ve read several of Gerry McCool’s books, including the one you use in this post. In my judgment, he was a competent scholar of the history of philosophy, but not a good philosopher. (I say ‘was’ because he died five years ago.) That distinction is important for your purposes.

I will never forget my job interview at Fordham many years ago, at which he was on the search committee. After I gave my standard 7-minute spiel about my dissertation, to which the committee chair said “Bravo,” McCool just shook his head and said to me: “But that’s just obvious.” That wasn’t at all what I’d heard from the several well-known philosophers who had read my thesis when they didn’t have to, and praised it as a substantive contribution to metaphysics. And so, as the blood rushed to my head, I shot back: “Well Father, if it’s so obvious, why hasn’t anybody said it before?” I didn’t get the job. McCool was like that.

I’m inclined to agree that neo-Thomism, which took off after Aeterni Patris and peaked with the “transcendental-Thomist” Bernard Lonergan, has too many permutations to offer a coherent basis for combating the “dictatorship of relativism.” That’s not to deny that the thought of Aquinas himself is of great importance and contains much truth. I’m sure you’ll agree that some of his many interpreters have shown how. But McCool completely overlooked contemporary “analytical Thomism,” many of whose practitioners I know personally, and which I think dialogues with contemporary Anglo-American philosophers much more successfully than transcendental Thomism ever did or could. He just didn’t get that, any more than he got Gilson, or even what was worthwhile about my thesis. The last colloquium paper I gave was a thorough, analytical-Thomist critique of Maréchal’s “retorsive” argument for the existence of God. Only Jesuits take that kind of argument seriously.

As for your remarks about “novelty,” I’m just as puzzled as the first commenter, and your reply doesn’t clarify anything for me. Maybe I’ll just wait for your next installment.

Best,
Mike

20 04 2010
joelmartin

What about John Haldane?

19 04 2010
Arturo Vasquez

I think you have misread the paragraph. Indeed, I don’t believe what is written here, but express it for sake of argument, since I think much of modern Catholic scholarship is based on these suppositions. It is usually those most obsessed with “historical scholarship” who are the most vicious innovators. It is a strange paradox, but I find it true everywhere I go.

I could explain more, but I think it would take too long at this point. All I can say is, “stay tuned”.

19 04 2010
Tom

Arturo, your own thought here is simplistic. You write: “Having not paid attention to what was really thought and believed, we found that what we had been doing and saying for centuries was all the fruit of novelty.”

Care to elaborate? It’s all been novelty and there’s no core?

Really?

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