La Isla de las Muñecas

21 04 2010

One of the odder sites in the area of Mexico City, in the floating gardens of Xochimilco, this is the former habitation of a man who collected dolls to defend himself from the ghost of a small girl who had drowned there. It has now been converted into a tourist spot, because Mexicans like to hustle like that…

Anyway, the most interesting part of the video above is around the four minute mark when the caretaker describes the “Miraculous Doll” that people bring gifts for in exchange for favors and miracles. She apparently has a following.

As we have written before, such fetishism was not uncommon in much of the Catholic world, as sacred wells, holy dirt, and other phenomena attest.

The Rise and Fall of Neo-Thomism – part II

21 04 2010

Maritain – Gilson – Resourcement – VII

In our last segment, we spoke both of the rise of “orthodox” Neo-Thomism, and the rise of a transcendental Thomism more concerned with dialogue with the modern world. Following the line of Fr. McCool’s book, From Unity to Pluralism, we continue with the discussion of Thomist philosophers, Jacques Maritain and Etienne Gilson, as well as the scholarship that led to the decline of the Thomist movement. In closing, I will give the reader a sense of my own philosophical sympathies, as well as a brief word on why philosophy matters.

Jacques Maritain needs almost no introduction, but I think it is useful to point out his liberal background and his brief discipleship under the French philosopher, Henri Bergson. Like many in the Thomist movement, he was seeking a way out of the conundrum of modern philosophical skepticism. Because of this, Maritain’s critique was quite blunt and to the point. Philosophy that begins in thought (such as the idealism of Kant) can only end in thought, and that is essentially nowhere. Real philosophy, the philosophy of the Angelic Doctor, is grounded in being. The human mind does not grasp phenomena, but the firmness of being itself. The mind abstracts universal form from the individual matter of the concrete. For Maritain, this was a foundational principle in reinstalling the hierarchy, or degrees, of knowledge, in which metaphysics would retake its primacy over the natural sciences, both informing and augmenting them within a system of integral humanism. For Maritain, the restoration of Thomist epistemology would serve as the cornerstone for the fulfillment of liberal aspirations.
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