The Modernist as Philosopher

The Modernist as Philosopher: selected writings of Marcel Hébert

C. J. T. Talar
Elizabeth Emery
Edited by C. J. T. Talar
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 252
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  • Book Info
    The Modernist as Philosopher
    Book Description:

    This volume, the first to be published in English about Hébert, is essential for a full understanding of Catholic Modernism.

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1939-4
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-24)
    C. J. T. TALAR

    Roman Catholic Modernism, in France, was prominently represented by scholars whose interests were, in significant measure, historical.¹ Louis Duchesne, Alfred Loisy, and Albert Houtin come readily to mind.² Where philosophy was concerned, Maurice Blondel was largely successful in distancing himself from the movement as it grew more radical and was condemned by Rome in 1907.³ Though suspected by Scholastic critics of conceding too much to the subjectivity of human knowing, too little to the gratuity of the supernatural, Blondel managed to escape ecclesiastical sanction—unlike his collaborator, Lucien Laberthonnière, whose work found its way onto the Index and who was...

  5. Part I. Articles
    • 1 Thomism and Kantianism Paper Read to the Société de Saint-Thomas d’Aquin
      (pp. 27-48)

      The encyclical Aeterni Patris could be called the generative act of our society. Hence I do not need to defend it before you. But we should not forget that a considerable number of intelligent and influential men see in the “restoration of Thomism” merely an abuse of ecclesiastical power and the triumph of retrograde ideas. This is a deplorable misunderstanding that can perhaps be remedied by highlighting a few passages of the celebrated document.

      The mere idea of a traditional philosophy outrages certain modern thinkers. Philosophy and tradition; are not the two words contradictory? Philosophy is free, autonomous, ever-open exploration;...

    • 2 Memories of Assisi
      (pp. 49-69)

      Editor’s Note for Revue blanche: For the last few years now, an extremely interesting movement has been growing within the Catholic world and whose long-term consequences can barely be grasped: according to some it will renew the spirit of French Catholicism; others say it may even destroy Catholicism as a religion while reviving it as a philosophical system.

      We shall not choose between these two hypotheses. Attentive spectators of the times, we limit ourselves to informing our readers about a development likely to mark the history of French ideas.

      This is not just a question of the attempt to establish...

    • 3 The Last Idol: Study of the “Divine Personality”
      (pp. 70-84)

      The harrowing problem that troubles many consciences today is this: Must the old belief in the transcendent God give way to the affirmation of the immanent Divine? Is not the All–Powerful (the “King of Kings”) one of these Chaldean metaphors that Christianity has passed on to us along with its doctrine, of much moral stature, but so intermingled, so encumbered with archaic conceptions and comparisons? Metaphysics has done its best to repair this image, increasingly correcting and idealizing it, but it has preserved the notion of personality in such a way that this imaginative construct, made not to resemble...

    • 4 Anonymous or Polyonymous: Second Study on the “Divine Personality”
      (pp. 85-105)

      The Divinity is called by many names and yet none are suitable. Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite noted this apparent contradiction in his time and resolved it by justifying divine appellations by an analogy between the Creator and the creature indicated centuries earlier by the author of the Book of Wisdom.¹

      Today the problem remains. Is the Divinity literally unknowable, and consequently anonymous? But we know what we want to say in formulating the problem of the Divine; so we have at least a minimum knowledge that allows us to distinguish the notion (the feeling if you like) of the infinite, of...

    • 5 The Bankruptcy of Despotic Catholicism
      (pp. 106-132)

      Catholic theology has always had the honesty to require that faith be grounded; it does not allow one to take advantage of the mysterious character of belief, in order to use it to justify its own existence; it has even condemned this claim under the name of fideism. The grounds on which faith must rest are borrowed, on the one hand, from philosophy: the existence and personality of God; the existence of the soul; the possibility of miracle and of revelation; on the other hand, from history: the authenticity of the Old and New Testaments; the historicity of Christ’s Resurrection ...

  6. Part II. Pragmatism:: A Study of Its Various Forms, Anglo-American, French, and Italian, and of Its Religious Value
    • Foreword
      (pp. 135-136)

      When, in an essay on the Divine, I focused on the various forms (emotive, intellectual, active) of religious experience [sentiment], I made a simple allusion to pragmatism.¹ At that time I imagined that pragmatist expressions were only a kind of American idiom, common expressions used to make truths accessible to businessmen and men of action little concerned with logic and criticism. The books of Mr. James and Mr. Schiller and the interest they have received in Latin countries have changed my mind. There are, it seems to me, so many good things and also so many paradoxes in these systems,...

    • 1 Mr. Peirce’s “Pragmatism”
      (pp. 137-148)

      It is thirty years now since Mr. Peirce set forth his doctrine in an American journal though not yet using the actual term “pragmatism.”¹

      He started from the following psychological fact: uncertainty and doubt cause us malaise and irritation, in short, a disagreeable state. Can we emerge from this painful state? Yes, if we succeed in creating a conviction, a “belief.” The belief calms the pangs of doubt, which is why we seek it:

      “We may fancy that this is not enough for us, and that we seek, not merely an opinion, but a true opinion. But put this fancy...

    • 2 Mr. W. James’s “Pragmatism”
      (pp. 149-160)

      Pragmatists like W. James and F. C. S. Schiller have not in any way repudiated Peirce’s Principle: the concept of a thing is only the concept of its effects. But instead of formulating a simple practical rule for “rendering our ideas clear”¹ they seek to justify it by a theory.²

      In his recent work on pragmatism, W. James devotes a special chapter to the notion of truth.³ In it he develops Mr. Schiller’s ideas; thus it is not to set these thinkers in opposition that we devote two distinct sections to their theories, but to gain greater clarity in exposition....

    • 3 Mr. F. C. S. Schiller’s “Humanism”
      (pp. 161-178)

      “Humanism,” states Mr. Schiller, “is simply being aware that the philosophic problem concerns human beings striving to comprehend a world of human experience by the resources of human minds.”¹ The emphasis is ours, serving in this way merely to highlight Mr. Schiller’s primary goal which is: to rule out the absolute, the a priori, and take the side of human beings who interpret human experience by purely human means.

      To render his exposition more striking, more lively, he fleshes out his doctrine in the person of Protagoras—“Protagoras the humanist.”² It is well known that only one line remains from...

    • 4 Pragmatism: “A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking”
      (pp. 179-192)

      I would like to contribute some points and some reservations relative to the subtitle W. James gave to his work on pragmatism: “A new name, etc.” It is important to begin by distinguishing among the rather varied types of doctrines that go by the same name. I will distinguish them thus:

      pure pragmatism;

      mitigated pragmatism;

      partial pragmatism.

      First, pure pragmatism consists of leaving out (pragmatism as method) or denying (pragmatism as theory) the representative value of knowledge; knowledge has only an “instrumental” value as means of action; this value can thus be judged and verified only by practical consequences.


    • 5 Religious Pragmatism
      (pp. 193-216)

      In our countries, the pragmatic tendency seems to be manifested in forms more or less linked with one of three modes of expression of religious experience: moralism, fideism, symbolism.¹

      I. Pure moralism would consist in granting value to religious dogmas and ceremonies only insofar as they inculcate moral lessons, stimulate us, and help us practice them.² They do not in any way augment our knowledge; they make us better.³

      When the apostle St. James⁴ asserts that true devotion, pure and undefiled, consists in knowing how to hold one’s tongue, visiting the unfortunate, avoiding the defilements of the world, he is...

  7. Notes
    (pp. 217-238)

    Aristippus asked Socrates about beauty. Socrates replied that “everything useful is good and beautiful relative to the use for which it is intended.—Then is a basket used for dung a beautiful thing?—Certainly, if it is suitably made for that use, otherwise no. . . . Socrates also said that the comfort of a house constitutes its true beauty.”¹

    This is an early example of aesthetic pragmatism. Again we must recognize that the perfect proportion of means to an end truly constitutes for the mind a type of beauty. But who would dare say that beauty is only this?...

  8. Part III. Review of Hébert’s Le Pragmatisme
    • 1 Pragmatism
      (pp. 241-246)

      The word pragmatism has been coined only recently. It entered philosophy to designate a tendency to judge a doctrine’s truth or value based on its outcomes in practical life. In the last century, the adjective pragmatic was already in use in Germany, but in another sense. It was freely applied to an author’s way of writing; one spoke of a pragmatic style to designate an energetic, vivid, concrete, gripping style, the opposite of abstract or colorless language.

      We are grateful to M. Marcel Hébert for a brief work that provides an illuminating survey of the different meanings certain French and...

  9. Bibliography
    (pp. 247-250)
  10. Index
    (pp. 251-254)