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Poetry, Beauty, and Contemplation

Poetry, Beauty, and Contemplation: The Complete Aesthetics of Jacques Maritain

Copyright Date: 2011
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  • Book Info
    Poetry, Beauty, and Contemplation
    Book Description:

    Poetry, Beauty, and Contemplation provides a basic introduction to, and an extensive examination of, Maritain's philosophy of art and beauty

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1931-8
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
    (pp. 1-10)

    Jacques Maritain (1882–1973) is arguably the most significant disciple of St. Thomas Aquinas in the twentieth century. Although he made many important contributions to several different areas of philosophy, his philosophy of art is especially noteworthy. Unfortunately, this aspect of the French Catholic philosopher’s thought is often overlooked or underappreciated by those who miss the richness and depth of insight that his philosophy of art possesses because they do not have a sufficient background in the philosophy of St. Thomas. Lacking a familiarity with Aquinas’s conceptual framework, they are susceptible to misunderstanding the context of Maritain’s thought, especially since...

  6. ONE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND: Maritain’s Personal Development
    (pp. 11-26)

    Though deeply rooted in the Thomist tradition, Jacques Maritain was also an original thinker; he applied in a fresh and innovative way many of the basic insights found in the thought of his great mentor St. Thomas Aquinas. The philosophy of St. Thomas “is a living philosophy,” he maintained, “to read Thomas well, the help of genius is needed.”¹ Maritain understood philosophy as “a progress by deepening insight,”² and he applied his genius to the investigation of reality, whose “deep things” the philosopher aspires to understand. Thus Maritain’s insights into the “inexhaustible intelligibility” of reality occasionally go beyond St. Thomas;...

  7. TWO THEORETICAL BACKGROUND: Maritain’s Philosophical Development
    (pp. 27-39)

    Central to Maritain’s aesthetics and theory of creative activity is the role played by the intellect and human intelligence. The opening paragraph of Art and Scholasticism situates the term “art” as an intellectual virtue distinguished not only from the other intellectual virtues, but from the moral virtues as well. When we recall the biographical notes from the preceding chapter, this distinguishing characteristic comes as little surprise. The philosophical skepticism and scientific materialism that weighed upon Maritain as a young student were lifted initially by the Bergsonian notion of intuition that transported one into the very heart of the Real or...

    (pp. 40-52)

    Maritain and Intuition Maritain’s published writings on art span some forty years, from the original publication of Art and Scholasticism in 1920 to The Responsibility of the Artist¹ in 1960. Although the expectation of Yves Simon—that Maritain would continue “to write papers on art and beauty until his last day”²—was not fulfilled, his writings on epistemology, many of which contain specific references to the knowledge of the artist, do extend beyond the more than half century that makes up his philosophical life.³ While there is surely a good deal of change and growth in his ideas over the...

    (pp. 53-70)

    Although the discipline of aesthetics covers a multitude of experiences and problems, there are within it many issues that are specifically metaphysical and/or epistemological in nature.¹ For this reason, any theory of aesthetics must include a critical examination of the theory’s metaphysical and epistemological principles; a theory that omits this runs the risk of being foundationally deficient. Moreover, just as in the philosophy of science, where constructive progress is best made by those who are firmly grounded in both philosophy and science, so too in aesthetics, the philosopher of art should have not only a knowledge of the basic problems...

    (pp. 71-88)

    The term Poetry¹ does not appear in the first edition of Art and Scholasticism (1920). Maritain first uses it in his essay that he added in the second edition (1927), “The Frontiers of Poetry.”² Although the meaning of this term developed over a lengthy period, Maritain provides his clearest and perhaps most well-known definition of it in Creative Intuition in Art and Poetry (1953): “By Poetry I mean, not the particular art which consists in writing verses, but a process both more general and more primary: that intercommunication between the inner being of things and the inner being of the...

  11. SIX TWO PATHWAYS DISCERNED: The Priority of Poetry, 1920–1927
    (pp. 89-102)

    Chapters 2–5 systematically explored certain key concepts of Maritain’s epistemology in general and his aesthetics in particular. In addition to the all-important notions of Poetry and Poetic Knowledge, the list of other important terms included intuition, the intellect, connaturality, the Self and Things, as well as a discussion of aesthetic experience. On the evidence of certain decisively clear texts of Maritain, chapter 5 resolved that Maritain uses the term Poetic Knowledge as the exclusive privilege of creative artists alone. Moreover, since Poetic intuition is born of spiritualized emotion and emanates from a “most natural capacity of the human mind,”...

  12. SEVEN TWO PATHWAYS CLARIFIED: Maritain’s Turn to Poetic Knowledge, 1927–1938
    (pp. 103-119)

    The previous chapter traced the early developments in Maritain’s aesthetics from 1920 to 1927. Specifically, we noted that the notion of “Poetry,” central to Maritain’s philosophy of art, did not appear in his first book on art. While the notion does appear in 1927, its close relative, “Poetic Knowledge,” does not. With Maritain’s epistemological interests shifting to a greater focus on the knowledge proper to the creative artist, we will see Maritain’s progressive development of his notion of Poetic Knowledge. This relationship between Poetry and Poetic Knowledge is not always clear and precise, however, and so this chapter will trace...

  13. EIGHT THE PERCEPTION OF BEAUTY: The Key to Resolution
    (pp. 120-138)

    The conclusions from chapters 6 and 7 indicated clearly that, although Maritain used the term Poetic Knowledge to refer exclusively to creative knowledge, Poetry’s history reveals a duality. Poetry serves as the foundation for that creative knowledge which reaches its term only in a work (i.e., Poetic Knowledge), yet it also serves as the foundation for an alternative form of knowledge, one which, although sharing in the cognitive dimension of Poetic Knowledge, nonetheless bears no necessary orientation toward creativity. But what is this possible alternative use of Poetry that Maritain left undeveloped? This chapter will show that Maritain’s discussion of...

    (pp. 139-153)

    Having completed our discussion of Poetry and the way that it operates both in creativity and in the perception of beauty, we should note that this type of human knowing represents an overlooked, yet much needed addition to the canon of systematic epistemology, particularly within the Thomist tradition. Of the following classic Thomist epistemology texts,¹ none makes any mention of a knowledge, like Poetry, that is intuitive, connatural, nonconceptual, and pierced by significant or spiritualized emotion: Regis, Brennan, Klubertanz, O’Neill, Donceel, Royce, Gardeil, Van Steenberghen, Phillips, Peifer, and others.² Were this insight Maritain’s sole contribution to Thomistic epistemology, his contribution...

    (pp. 154-168)

    In chapter 5 of his Creative Intuition in Art and Poetry, Maritain takes up a consideration of the relationship between Poetry and beauty. Although reminiscent of his earlier treatment of the perception of beauty in Art and Scholasticism, his mature thought on the nature of Poetry enables him to make many new crucial observations about its relationship with beauty. For our purposes, two of those new insights are especially important.

    In our chapter on the perception of beauty, we observed the essentials of Maritain’s ideas concerning beauty: following Aquinas, beauty is id quod visum placet. The perception of it involves...

  16. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 169-172)
  17. Index
    (pp. 173-176)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 177-178)