Étienne Gilson

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Étienne Gilson
Born(1884-06-13)13 June 1884
Paris, France
Died19 September 1978(1978-09-19) (aged 94)
Auxerre, France
Alma mater University of Paris
Collège de France
Era 20th-century philosophy
Region Western philosophy
School Thomism
Neo-Scholasticism
Main interests
Theology, metaphysics, politics, literature, history of philosophy
Notable ideas
The Thomistic distinction between being and essence
Coining the term "mathematicism" [1]

Étienne Gilson (French:  [ʒilsɔ̃] ; 13 June 1884 – 19 September 1978) was a French philosopher and historian of philosophy. A scholar of medieval philosophy, he originally specialised in the thought of Descartes, yet also philosophized in the tradition of Thomas Aquinas, although he did not consider himself a Neo-Thomist philosopher. In 1946 he attained the distinction of being elected an "Immortal" (member) of the Académie française. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature. [2]

France Republic with majority of territory in Europe and numerous oversea territories around the world

France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.02 million. France is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.

Philosopher person with an extensive knowledge of philosophy

A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term "philosopher" comes from the Ancient Greek, φιλόσοφος (philosophos), meaning "lover of wisdom". The coining of the term has been attributed to the Greek thinker Pythagoras.

Thomas Aquinas Dominican scholastic philosopher of the Roman Catholic Church

Thomas Aquinas was an Italian Dominican friar, Philosopher, Catholic priest, and Doctor of the Church. He is an immensely influential philosopher, theologian, and jurist in the tradition of scholasticism, within which he is also known as the Doctor Angelicus and the Doctor Communis. The name Aquinas identifies his ancestral origins in the county of Aquino in present-day Lazio, Italy. He was the foremost classical proponent of natural theology and the father of Thomism; of which he argued that reason is found in God. His influence on Western thought is considerable, and much of modern philosophy developed or opposed his ideas, particularly in the areas of ethics, natural law, metaphysics, and political theory.

Contents

Biography

Born in Paris into a Roman Catholic family originally from Burgundy, Gilson attended the minor seminary at Notre-Dame-des-Champs, then finished his secondary education at the Lycée Henri IV. After finishing his military service, during which he began to read René Descartes, he studied for his licence (bachelor's degree), focusing on the influence of scholasticism on Cartesian thought. After studying at the Sorbonne under Victor Delbos (1862–1916), and Lucien Lévy-Bruhl and at the Collège de France under Henri Bergson, he finished his degree in Philosophy in 1906. In 1908 he married Thérèse Ravisé of Melun, and he taught in the high schools of Bourg-en-Bresse, Rochefort, Tours, Saint-Quentin and Angers.

Minor seminary

A minor seminary or high school seminary is a secondary day or boarding school created for the specific purpose of enrolling teenage boys who have expressed interest in becoming Catholic priests. They are generally Catholic institutions, and designed to prepare boys both academically and spiritually for vocations to the priesthood and religious life. They emerged in cultures and societies where literacy was not universal, and the minor seminary was seen as a means to prepare younger boys in literacy for later entry into the major seminary.

René Descartes 17th-century French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist

René Descartes was a French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist. A native of the Kingdom of France, he spent about 20 years (1629–1649) of his life in the Dutch Republic after serving for a while in the Dutch States Army of Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange and the Stadtholder of the United Provinces. One of the most notable intellectual figures of the Dutch Golden Age, Descartes is also widely regarded as one of the founders of modern philosophy.

A licentiate is a degree below that of a PhD given by universities in some countries. The term is also used for a person who holds this degree. The term derives from Latin licentia, "freedom", which is applied in the phrases licentia docendi meaning permission to teach and licentia ad practicandum signifying someone who holds a certificate of competence to practise a profession. Many countries have degrees with this title, but they may represent different educational levels.

In 1913, while employed in teaching at the University of Lille, he defended his doctoral dissertation at the University of Paris on "Liberty in Descartes and Theology". His career was interrupted by the outbreak of World War I, as he was drafted into the French Army as a sergeant. He served on the front and took part in the battle of Verdun as second lieutenant. He was captured in February 1916 and spent two years in captivity. During this time he devoted himself to new areas of study, including the Russian language and St. Bonaventure. He was later awarded the Croix de Guerre for bravery in action.

University of Paris former university in Paris, France from 1896 to 1968

The University of Paris, metonymically known as the Sorbonne, was a university in Paris, France, active 1150–1793, and 1806–1970.

World War I 1914–1918 global war starting in Europe

World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the resulting 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.

French Army in World War I

This article is about the French Army in World War I. During World War I, France was one of the Triple Entente powers allied against the Central Powers. Although fighting occurred worldwide, the bulk of the fighting in Europe occurred in Belgium, Luxembourg, France and Alsace-Lorraine along what came to be known as the Western Front, which consisted mainly of trench warfare. Specific operational, tactical, and strategic decisions by the high command on both sides of the conflict led to shifts in organizational capacity, as the French Army tried to respond to day-to-day fighting and long-term strategic and operational agendas. In particular, many problems caused the French high command to re-evaluate standard procedures, revise its command structures, re-equip the army, and to develop different tactical approaches.

In 1919, he became professor of the history of Philosophy at the University of Strasbourg. From 1921 to 1932, he taught the history of medieval philosophy at the University of Paris. As an internationally renowned thinker, Gilson was first, along with Jacques Maritain, to receive an honorary doctorate in philosophy from the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) in 1930. [3]

University of Strasbourg university in France (from 2009)

The University of Strasbourg in Strasbourg, Alsace, France, is a university in France with nearly 51,000 students and over 3,200 researchers.

Medieval philosophy

Medieval philosophy is a term used to refer to the philosophy that existed through the Middle Ages, the period roughly extending from the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century to the Renaissance in the 15th century. Medieval philosophy, understood as a project of independent philosophical inquiry, began in Baghdad, in the middle of the 8th century, and in France, in the itinerant court of Charlemagne, in the last quarter of the 8th century. It is defined partly by the process of rediscovering the ancient culture developed in Greece and Rome during the Classical period, and partly by the need to address theological problems and to integrate sacred doctrine with secular learning.

Jacques Maritain French philosopher

Jacques Maritain was a French Catholic philosopher. Raised Protestant, he was agnostic before converting to Catholicism in 1906. An author of more than 60 books, he helped to revive Thomas Aquinas for modern times, and was influential in the development and drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Pope Paul VI presented his "Message to Men of Thought and of Science" at the close of Vatican II to Maritain, his long-time friend and mentor. The same pope had seriously considered making him a lay Cardinal, but Maritain rejected it. Maritain's interest and works spanned many aspects of philosophy, including aesthetics, political theory, philosophy of science, metaphysics, the nature of education, liturgy and ecclesiology.

He also taught for three years at Harvard. At the invitation of the Congregation of St. Basil, he set up the Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies in Toronto in conjunction with St. Michael's College at the University of Toronto, which hosts an annual Étienne Gilson Lecture. He was elected to the Académie française in 1946.

Harvard University Private research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States

Harvard University is a private Ivy League research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with about 6,700 undergraduate students and about 15,250 postgraduate students. Established in 1636 and named for its first benefactor, clergyman John Harvard, Harvard is the United States' oldest institution of higher learning. Its history, influence, wealth, and academic reputation have made it one of the most prestigious universities in the world.

Congregation of St. Basil community of priests, students for the priesthood, and lay associates

The Congregation of St. Basil, also known as the Basilian Fathers, is a community of priests, students for the priesthood, and lay associates. It is an apostolic community whose members profess simple vows. The Basilians seek the glory of God, especially in the works of education and evangelization. The Congregation was founded in 1822 in the aftermath of the French Revolution. In the early 19th century the Basilian Fathers' educational and pastoral work brought them to a variety of locations in Canada and the United States. In the 1960s, the priests began to minister in Mexico, and in Colombia in the 1980s.

Toronto Provincial capital city in Ontario, Canada

Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the most populous city in Canada, with a population of 2,731,571 in 2016. Current to 2016, the Toronto census metropolitan area (CMA), of which the majority is within the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), held a population of 5,928,040, making it Canada's most populous CMA. The city is the anchor of the Golden Horseshoe, an urban agglomeration of 9,245,438 people surrounding the western end of Lake Ontario. Toronto is an international centre of business, finance, arts, and culture, and is recognized as one of the most multicultural and cosmopolitan cities in the world.

With the death of his wife, Thérèse Ravisé, on 12 November 1949 Gilson endured a considerable emotional shock. [4]

In 1951, he relinquished his chair to Martial Gueroult at the Collège de France to devote himself completely to the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies until 1968. He knew the Jesuit theologian and cardinal Henri de Lubac. Their correspondence has been published. Although Gilson was primarily a historian of philosophy, he was also at the forefront of the 20th century revival of Thomism, along with Jacques Maritain. His work has received critical praise from Richard McKeon.

Work

Gilson undertook to analyze Thomism from a historical perspective. To Gilson, Thomism is certainly not identical with scholasticism in the pejorative sense, but indeed rather a revolt against it. [5] Gilson considered the philosophy of his own era to be deteriorating into a science which would signal humanity's abdication of the right to judge and rule nature, humanity made a mere part of nature, which in turn would give the green light for the most reckless of social adventures to play havoc with human lives and institutions. Against "systems" of philosophy, Gilson was convinced that it was the revival of the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas that opens the way out of that danger zone.[ citation needed ]

In his time Gilson was the leading scholar of the history of medieval philosophy as well as a highly regarded philosopher in his own right.[ citation needed ] His works continue to be reprinted and studied today — perhaps alone among "Thomist" philosophers, his work and reputation have not suffered from the general decline of interest in and regard for medieval philosophy since the 1960s.[ citation needed ]

Publications

Translations

Gilson's "Painting and Reality" was also published in English.

See also

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References

  1. Gilson, Étienne. The Unity of Philosophical Experience. San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 1999, p. 133.
  2. "Nomination Database". www.nobelprize.org. Retrieved 19 April 2017.
  3. Piero Viotto, Grandi amicizie: i Maritain e i loro contemporanei, 38, https://books.google.com/books?id=aonOg8KLOdIC&pg=PA38 Accessed 28 February 2016. Jean Leclercq, Di grazia in grazia: memorie, 60. https://books.google.com/books?id=jxKnMfTj81AC&pg=PA60 Accessed 28 February 2016
  4. Biography of Étienne Gilson’s Intellectual Life
  5. The Christian Philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas, University of Notre Dame Press, Indiana, 1956, pp. 366–367

Further reading