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Reason Fulfilled by Revelation

Reason Fulfilled by Revelation: The 1930s Christian Philosophy Debates in France

Edited and translated by Gregory B. Sadler
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 326
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  • Book Info
    Reason Fulfilled by Revelation
    Book Description:

    This selection of previously untranslated documents from the French debates about Christian philosophy provides a long-needed complement to available English-language literature on the subject.

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1913-4
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-96)

    In 1931, a set of extended and complex debates began in earnest within Francophone philosophical and theological circles. From their beginning they embroiled numerous luminaries of the French philosophical and theological scenes, ultimately provoking production and publication of a substantial and at moments brilliant body of literature discussing, debating, and widening the scope of the issues in the pages of numerous Francophone journals and reviews. The issues raised provided central topics motivating contentious discussions in meetings of the Société française de Philosophie, the Société d’Etudes Philosophiques, and the Société Thomiste,¹ scholarly contributions made in other meetings, and even popularized presentations...


    • 1 Is There a Christian Philosophy? Revue de Métaphysique et de la Morale 38, no. 2 (1931)
      (pp. 99-127)

      [133] In a note in his The Christian Philosophy of Saint Augustine, M. Gilson says that it would be appropriate to submit the concept of Christian philosophy to reexamination.¹ In matters of the history of ideas, questions are in actuality often more difficult to set out than they are to resolve once they are set out. We have to deal not only with defined entities, but with human thoughts that struggle for and seek an equilibrium ceaselessly compromised by the research itself. Fixed concepts are at the end of history, within an imaginary horizon. They are not at the beginning...

    • 2 The Notion of Christian Philosophy Accounts of Meetings, Société française de Philosophie, 21 March 1931
      (pp. 128-140)

      [37]Mr. Etienne Gilson presents to the Society the following considerations:

      The expression “Christian philosophy” is used frequently enough in our time, but it is not clear whether it corresponds to a distinct notion. We propose to rigorously examine whether this notion exists and, if it exists, to define it. Is such a notion possible?

      1. One first point of view can be defined from which it appears impossible. It is that of certain medieval theologians for whom philosophy, because it is a purely rational discipline, is by definition a source of error. There cannot be a Christian philosophy then because...

    • 3 Does Christian Philosophy Exist as Philosophy? Letter in Appendix to Accounts of Meetings, Société française de Philosophie, 21 March 1931
      (pp. 141-149)

      [86] Employed rarely in the past, thrown around too frequently in certain contemporary milieus, the expression “Christian philosophy” calls for a critical examination. And to eliminate abusive uses, summary negations, imprecise and equivocal adherences, as Mr. Gilson has done, is to do us a great service.

      There is no use returning to the distinctions his initial analyses rightly and firmly establish. One might perhaps desire that certain of his formulations be made less rigid. To suggest, as he does, the idea that the Thomist philosophy is extrinsic to Christian data so that it is established in its rational and closed...

    • 4 Is There a Christian Philosophy? Revue de Métaphysique et de la Morale 30, no. 4 (1931)
      (pp. 150-158)

      [599] My dear Director,

      I would not solicit your hospitality if, after the important article Mr. Emile Bréhier had just published in the June 1931 issue, I had not received multiple letters and identical questions expressing my diverse correspondents’ common surprise. Unable, in my state of health, to respond directly to each one and supposing at any rate that, among your readers, many of the silent ones might themselves wish for some clarification on Bréhier’s passages that drag me into the fray, I make recourse to your ever-welcoming friendship.

      I have to thank Mr. Bréhier right away for having been...


    • 5 Regarding The Spirit of Medieval Philosophy by Mr. Etienne Gilson La nouvelle Revue des Jeunes (1932)
      (pp. 161-175)

      [308] Today Mr. Etienne Gilson gives us the ten lectures delivered last year at the University of Aberdeen (the Gifford Lectures) under the title The Spirit of Medieval Philosophy. This course is extended this year by a second series of lectures, so that the book will have a successor bearing on Christian politics and morals. In reality, the problem Mr. Gilson has dedicated himself to resolving, by resting on that imposing body of work he has dedicated to the philosophy of the Middle Ages and to its underground prolongations within the heart of Cartesianism itself, is one possessing quite clear...

    • 6 On a “Christian Philosophy” That Would Be Philosophical Esprit (November 1932)
      (pp. 176-181)

      [335] The problem is not only that of knowing whether Christian philosophy is a historical reality illustrated by names of notable weight, a St. Augustine or St. Thomas Aquinas, Malebranche or Maine de Biran, or whether Christianity is or is not a climate favorable to metaphysical research and discovery. The philosopher’s attitude toward these secondary problems will depend on what he makes of a fundamental problem, one that must be raised with the most brutal simplicity: is the idea of Christian philosophy a contradictory notion, one that claims to wed fire and water, critical and autonomous reason with blind and...

    • 7 The Problem of Catholic Philosophy Les Etudes Philosophiques 7, no. 1 (1933)
      (pp. 182-222)

      [13] Under the name of Christian or even Catholic philosophy (which has been used in very different ways since the second century and has reappeared down the course of the ages, even on titles of lengthy works) is something else hidden besides a literary expression or a historical label, useful perhaps for designating certain movements within civilization in general, but lacking possible definiteness and technical justification? In short, from the rational point of view, is it not wrong for us to speak of a problem that would be up for debate as the object of a critical examination, an examination...


    • 8 On Christian Philosophy La Vie Intellectuelle 24, no. 1 (1933)
      (pp. 225-233)

      [9] Speaking formally and with complete rigor about the term, there has not been, there cannot be, Christian philosophy. This noun and this adjective are essentially ill-fitting and can only more or less accidentally be assembled together, although then they can be with truth. Whoever says the word “philosophy” names a doctrine grounded in reason, proceeding only by demonstration and knowing, at least by itself, only objects of reason. Whoever says the term “Christian” attributes to that doctrine that it is grounded on faith, that is, proposing objects of faith and reasoning in virtue of faith. These two are contradictory....

    • 9 The Problem of Christian Philosophy La Vie Intellectuelle 25, no. 3 (1933)
      (pp. 234-243)

      [215] Lords, Ladies, and Gentlemen,

      Once a year, the universities open wide their doors to the public. And the public enters there with a sympathetic curiosity, in the hope of gaining a glimpse of the mysterious occupations of the university’s inhabitants. We are in one of those days, and the delicate task falls upon me of forcing you to make an excursion into our domain. It is vast and includes quite varied regions. Which one should I choose for our excursion this year? Although our studies travel ceaselessly alongside the immutable substance of things, they nevertheless do not neglect to...

    • 10 The Societé Thomiste’s Second Day of Studies, and the Notion of “Christian Philosophy” Revue Néo-Scolastique de Philosophie 35 (1933)
      (pp. 244-259)

      [539] We remember the success that crowned the initiative last year of the organizers of the Societé Thomiste’s First Day of Studies,¹ held at Juvisy, 12 September 1932, and devoted to the subject of phenomenology. The Second Day of Studies, 11 September this year, attracted a equally numerous group of philosophers, historians, and theologians, come from France, Italy, England, Austria, and Belgium. Among the persons present, let us note the Dominican Order’s many illustrious representatives: the Reverend Father Mandonnet, the Reverend Father Sertillanges, and the Reverend Father Chenu, president of the Societé Thomiste. The French university was represented by Mr....

    • 11 For an Integral Philosophy Revue Néo-Scolastique de Philosophie 37 (1934)
      (pp. 260-275)

      [49] Mr. Fernand Van Steenberghen’s vigorous article seems to be of the right sort to clarify the formulation of a problem so complex that it has perhaps been a mistake to call it the problem of “Christian philosophy,” a term that is highly equivocal in the use that has been made of it and that, stricto sensu, remains inevitably hybrid. That author, by the conciseness of his criticism and the direct character of his own assertions, usefully dispels certain misunderstandings, and raises some reflections certainly of profit to many. In many of the objections he sets forth and the desiderata...

    • 12 The Notion of Christian Philosophy Revue Néo-Scolastique de Philosophie 37 (1934)
      (pp. 276-282)

      [337] The question of Christian philosophy has been quite forcefully debated these last years, ever since it was the object of an interesting session at the Société française de Philosophie, on 21 March 1931. Articles and pamphlets followed, and a new discussion on 11 September 1933, this time at the Société Thomiste, ended up adding a certain number of points of view to those that had already been raised.

      The question shows us two sides. First, there is a historical side. In my opinion, in his beautiful book The Spirit of Medieval Philosophy, Mr. Etienne Gilson has decisively shown that...

  7. Bibliography of Works on the Christian Philosophy Debates and Their Issues
    (pp. 283-312)
  8. Index
    (pp. 313-317)
  9. Back Matter
    (pp. 318-318)