Jacques Maritain

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Jacques Maritain
Jacques Maritain.jpg
Born(1882-11-18)18 November 1882
Died28 April 1973(1973-04-28) (aged 90)
Alma mater University of Paris
Spouse(s)
Raïssa Maritain
(m. 1904;died 1960)
Era 20th-century philosophy
Region Western philosophy
School Existential Thomism
Main interests

Jacques Maritain (French:  [maʁitɛ̃] ; 18 November 1882 – 28 April 1973) 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. [2] 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.

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

Saint 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.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights Declaration adopted in 1948 by the United Nations General Assembly

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a historic document that was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly at its 183rd session on 10 December 1948 as Resolution 217 at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris, France. Of the then 58 members of the United Nations, 48 voted in favor, none against, eight abstained, and two did not vote.

Contents

Life

Maritain was born in Paris, the son of Paul Maritain, who was a lawyer, and his wife Geneviève Favre, the daughter of Jules Favre, and was reared in a liberal Protestant milieu. He was sent to the Lycée Henri-IV. Later, he attended the Sorbonne, studying the natural sciences: chemistry, biology and physics.

Jules Favre French politician and lawyer

Jules Claude Gabriel Favre was a French statesman. After the establishment of the Third Republic in September 1870, he became one of the leaders of the Opportunist Republicans in the National Assembly.

Lycée Henri-IV

The Lycée Henri-IV is a public secondary school located in Paris. Along with Louis-le-Grand and Lycée Condorcet it is widely regarded as one of the most prestigious and demanding sixth-form colleges (lycées) in France.

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.

At the Sorbonne, he met Raïssa Oumançoff, a Russian Jewish émigré. They married in 1904. A noted poet and mystic, she participated as his intellectual partner in his search for truth. Raissa's sister, Vera Oumançoff, lived with Jacques and Raissa for almost all their married life.

Raïssa Maritain was a Russian-born French poet and philosopher.

Russia transcontinental country in Eastern Europe and Northern Asia

Russia, or the Russian Federation, is a transcontinental country in Eastern Europe and North Asia. At 17,125,200 square kilometres (6,612,100 sq mi), Russia is by a considerable margin the largest country in the world by area, covering more than one-eighth of the Earth's inhabited land area, and the ninth most populous, with about 146.79 million people as of 2019, including Crimea. About 77% of the population live in the western, European part of the country. Russia's capital, Moscow, is one of the largest cities in the world and the second largest city in Europe; other major cities include Saint Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg and Nizhny Novgorod. Extending across the entirety of Northern Asia and much of Eastern Europe, Russia spans eleven time zones and incorporates a wide range of environments and landforms. From northwest to southeast, Russia shares land borders with Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia and North Korea. It shares maritime borders with Japan by the Sea of Okhotsk and the U.S. state of Alaska across the Bering Strait. However, Russia recognises two more countries that border it, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, both of which are internationally recognized as parts of Georgia.

Truth In accord with fact or reality

Truth is most often used to mean being in accord with fact or reality, or fidelity to an original or standard. Truth is also sometimes defined in modern contexts as an idea of "truth to self", or authenticity.

At the Sorbonne, Jacques and Raïssa soon became disenchanted with scientism, which could not, in their view, address the larger existential issues of life. In 1901, in light of this disillusionment, they made a pact to commit suicide together if they could not discover some deeper meaning to life within a year. They were spared from following through on this because, at the urging of Charles Péguy, they attended the lectures of Henri Bergson at the Collège de France. Bergson's critique of scientism dissolved their intellectual despair and instilled in them "the sense of the absolute." Then, through the influence of Léon Bloy, they converted to the Roman Catholic faith in 1906. [3]

Scientism is an ideology that promotes science as the only objective means by which society should determine normative and epistemological values. The term scientism is generally used critically, pointing to the cosmetic application of science in unwarranted situations not amenable to application of the scientific method or similar scientific standards.

Charles Péguy French poet, essayist, and editor

Charles Pierre Péguy was a noted French poet, essayist, and editor. His two main philosophies were socialism and nationalism, but by 1908 at the latest, after years of uneasy agnosticism, he had become a believing but non-practicing Roman Catholic. From that time, Catholicism strongly influenced his works.

Henri Bergson French philosopher

Henri-Louis Bergson was a French-Jewish philosopher who was influential in the tradition of continental philosophy, especially during the first half of the 20th century until the Second World War. Bergson is known for his arguments that processes of immediate experience and intuition are more significant than abstract rationalism and science for understanding reality.

In the fall of 1907 the Maritains moved to Heidelberg, where Jacques studied biology under Hans Driesch. Hans Driesch’s theory of neo-vitalism attracted Jacques because of its affinity with Henri Bergson. During this time, Raïssa fell ill, and during her convalescence, their spiritual advisor, a Dominican friar named Humbert Clérissac, introduced her to the writings of Thomas Aquinas. She read them with enthusiasm and, in turn, exhorted her husband to examine the saint's writings. In Thomas, Maritain found a number of insights and ideas that he had believed all along. He wrote:

Heidelberg Place in Baden-Württemberg, Germany

Heidelberg (German pronunciation: [ˈhaɪ̯dl̩bɛɐ̯k] is a university town in Baden-Württemberg situated on the river Neckar in south-west Germany. In the 2016 census, its population was 159,914, with roughly a quarter of its population being students.

Hans Driesch German philosopher and biologist

Hans Adolf Eduard Driesch was a German biologist and philosopher from Bad Kreuznach. He is most noted for his early experimental work in embryology and for his neo-vitalist philosophy of entelechy. He has also been credited with performing the first artificial 'cloning' of an animal in the 1880s, although this claim is dependent on how one defines cloning.

Thenceforth, in affirming to myself, without chicanery or diminution, the authentic value of the reality of our human instruments of knowledge, I was already a Thomist without knowing it ... When several months later I came to the Summa Theologiae , I would construct no impediment to its luminous flood.

<i>Summa Theologica</i> theological treatise by Thomas Aquinas

The Summa Theologiae is the best-known work of Thomas Aquinas. Although unfinished, the Summa is "one of the classics of the history of philosophy and one of the most influential works of Western literature." It is intended as an instructional guide for theology students, including seminarians and the literate laity. It is a compendium of all of the main theological teachings of the Catholic Church. It presents the reasoning for almost all points of Christian theology in the West. The Summa's topics follow a cycle: God; Creation, Man; Man's purpose; Christ; the Sacraments; and back to God.

From the Angelic Doctor (the honorary title of Aquinas), he was led to "The Philosopher", as Aquinas called Aristotle. Still later, to further his intellectual development, he read the neo-Thomists.

Beginning in 1912, Maritain taught at the Collège Stanislas. He later moved to the Institut Catholique de Paris. For the 1916–1917 academic year, he taught at the Petit Séminaire de Versailles. In 1930 Maritain and Étienne Gilson received honorary doctorates in philosophy from the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum. [4] In 1933, he gave his first lectures in North America in Toronto at the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies. He also taught at Columbia University; at the Committee on Social Thought, University of Chicago; at the University of Notre Dame, and at Princeton University.

From 1945 to 1948, he was the French ambassador to the Holy See.

Afterwards, he returned to Princeton University where he achieved the "Elysian status" (as he put it) of a professor emeritus in 1956. Raissa Maritain died in 1960. After her death, Jacques published her journal under the title "Raissa's Journal." For several years Maritain was an honorary chairman of the Congress for Cultural Freedom, appearing as a keynote speaker at its 1960 conference in Berlin. [5] From 1961, Maritain lived with the Little Brothers of Jesus in Toulouse, France. He had an influence on the order since its foundation in 1933. He became a Little Brother in 1970.

Tomb of Raissa and Jacques Maritain Kolbsheim TombeMaritain.JPG
Tomb of Raissa and Jacques Maritain

Jacques and Raïssa Maritain are buried in the cemetery of Kolbsheim, a little French village in Alsace where he had spent many summers at the estate of his friends, Antoinette and Alexander Grunelius. [6]

A cause for beatification of him and his wife Raissa is being planned. [7]

Work

The foundation of Maritain's thought is Aristotle, Aquinas, and the Thomistic commentators, especially John of St. Thomas. He is eclectic in his use of these sources. Maritain's philosophy is based on evidence accrued by the senses and acquired by an understanding of first principles. Maritain defended philosophy as a science against those who would degrade it and promoted philosophy as the "queen of sciences".

In 1910, Jacques Maritain completed his first contribution to modern philosophy, a 28-page article titled, "Reason and Modern Science" published in Revue de Philosophie (June issue). In it, he warned that science was becoming a divinity, its methodology usurping the role of reason and philosophy. Science was supplanting the humanities in importance. [8]

In 1917, a committee of French bishops commissioned Jacques to write a series of textbooks to be used in Catholic colleges and seminaries. He wrote and completed only one of these projects, titled Elements de Philosophie (Introduction of Philosophy) in 1920. It has been a standard text ever since in many Catholic seminaries. He wrote in his introduction:

If the philosophy of Aristotle, as revived and enriched by Thomas Aquinas and his school, may rightly be called the Christian philosophy, both because the church is never weary of putting it forward as the only true philosophy and because it harmonizes perfectly with the truths of faith, nevertheless it is proposed here for the reader's acceptance not because it is Christian, but because it is demonstrably true. This agreement between a philosophic system founded by a pagan and the dogmas of revelation is no doubt an external sign, an extra-philosophic guarantee of its truth; but from its own rational evidence, that it derives its authority as a philosophy

During the Second World War, Jacques Maritain protested the policies of the Vichy government while teaching at the Pontifical Institute for Medieval Studies in Canada. "Moving to New York, Maritain became deeply involved in rescue activities, seeking to bring persecuted and threatened academics, many of them Jews, to America. He was instrumental in founding the École Libre des Hautes Études, a kind of university in exile that was, at the same time, the center of Gaullist resistance in the United States". After the war, in a papal audience on 16 July 1946, he tried unsuccessfully to have Pope Pius XII officially denounce anti-semitism. [9]

Many of his American papers are held by the University of Notre Dame, which established The Jacques Maritain Center in 1957. The Cercle d'Etudes Jacques & Raïssa Maritain is an association founded by the philosopher himself in 1962 in Kolbsheim (near Strasbourg, France), where the couple is also buried. The purpose of these centers is to encourage study and research of Maritain’s thought and expand upon them. It is also absorbed in translating and editing his writings.

Metaphysics and epistemology

Maritain's philosophy is based on the view that metaphysics is prior to epistemology. Being is first apprehended implicitly in sense experience, and is known in two ways. First, being is known reflexively by abstraction from sense experience. One experiences a particular being, e.g. a cup, a dog, etc. and through reflexion ("bending back") on the judgement, e.g. "this is a dog", one recognizes that the object in question is an existent. Second, in light of attaining being reflexively through apprehension of sense experience one may arrive at what Maritain calls "an Intuition of Being". For Maritain this is the point of departure for metaphysics; without the intuition of being one cannot be a metaphysician at all. The intuition of being involves rising to the apprehension of ens secundum quod est ens (being insofar as it is a being). In Existence and the Existent he explains:

"It is being, attained or perceived at the summit of an abstractive intellection, of an eidetic or intensive visualization which owes its purity and power of illumination only to the fact that the intellect, one day, was stirred to its depths and trans-illuminated by the impact of the act of existing apprehended in things, and because it was quickened to the point of receiving this act, or hearkening to it, within itself, in the intelligible and super-intelligible integrity of the tone particular to it." (p. 20)

In view of this priority given to metaphysics, Maritain advocates an epistemology he calls "Critical Realism". Maritain's epistemology is not "critical" in Kant's sense, which held that one could only know anything after undertaking a thorough critique of one's cognitive abilities. Rather, it is critical in the sense that it is not a naive or non-philosophical realism, but one that is defended by way of reason. Against Kant's critical project Maritain argues that epistemology is reflexive; you can only defend a theory of knowledge in light of knowledge you have already attained. Consequently, the critical question is not the question of modern philosophy how do we pass from what is perceived to what is. Rather, "Since the mind, from the very start, reveals itself as warranted in its certitude by things and measured by an esse[ clarification needed ] independent of itself, how are we to judge if, how, on what conditions, and to what extent it is so both in principle and in the various moments of knowledge?"

In contrast idealism inevitably ends up in contradiction, since it does not recognize the universal scope of the first principles of identity, contradiction, and finality. These become merely laws of thought or language, but not of being, which opens the way to contradictions being instantiated in reality.

Maritain's metaphysics ascends from this account of being to a critique of the philosophical aspects of modern science, through analogy to an account of the existence and nature of God as it is known philosophically and through mystical experience.

Ethics

Maritain was a strong defender of a natural law ethics. He viewed ethical norms as being rooted in human nature. For Maritain the natural law is known primarily, not through philosophical argument and demonstration, but rather through "Connaturality". Connatural knowledge is a kind of knowledge by acquaintance. We know the natural law through our direct acquaintance with it in our human experience. Of central importance, is Maritain's argument that natural rights are rooted in the natural law. This was key to his involvement in the drafting of the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Another important aspect of his ethics was his insistence upon the need for moral philosophy to be conducted in a theological context. While a Christian could engage in speculative thought about nature or metaphysics in a purely rational manner and develop an adequate philosophy of nature of metaphysics, this is not possible with ethics. Moral philosophy must address the actual state of the human person, and this is a person in a state of grace. Thus, "moral philosophy adequately considered" must take into account properly theological truths. It would be impossible, for instance, to develop an adequate moral philosophy without giving consideration to properly theological facts such as original sin and the supernatural end of the human person in beatitude. Any moral philosophy that does not take into account these realities that are only known through faith would be fundamentally incomplete. [10]

Political theory

Maritain advocated what he called "Integral Humanism". He argued that secular forms of humanism were inevitably anti-human in that they refused to recognize the whole person. Once the spiritual dimension of human nature is rejected, we no longer have an integral, but merely partial humanism, one which rejects a fundamental aspect of the human person. Accordingly, in Integral Humanism he explores the prospects for a new Christendom, rooted in his philosophical pluralism, in order to find ways Christianity could inform political discourse and policy in a pluralistic age. In this account he develops a theory of cooperation, to show how people of different intellectual positions can nevertheless cooperate to achieve common practical aims. Maritain's political theory was extremely influential, and was a primary source behind the Christian Democratic movement.

Maritain also corresponded with, and was a friend of [11] the American radical community organizer Saul Alinsky [12] and French Prime Minister Robert Schuman. [13]

Criticism

Major criticisms of Maritain have included:

  1. An overdependence upon late scholastic commentators at the expense of fidelity to Aquinas' own text. However, Maritain is frequently developing his own thought to address contemporary problems. His work is that of a philosopher who makes use of historical sources to develop his own positions rather than that of a historian of philosophy.[ citation needed ]
  2. Santiago Ramírez[ who? ] argued that Maritain's moral philosophy adequately considered could not be distinguished in any meaningful way from moral theology as such. [14]
  3. Tracy Rowland[ who? ] has argued that the lack of a fully developed philosophy of culture in Maritain and others (notably Rahner) was responsible for an inadequate notion of culture in the documents of Vatican II and thereby for much of the misapplication of the conciliar texts in the life of the church following the council. [15]
  4. Maritain's political theory has been criticized for a democratic pluralism that appeals to something very similar to the later liberal philosopher John Rawls' conception of an overlapping consensus of reasonable views. It is argued that such a view illegitimately presupposes the necessity of pluralistic conceptions of the human good. [16]

Sayings

Writings

Significant works in English

Other works in English

Original works in French

See also

Notes

  1. Deweer, Dries (2013). "The Political Theory of Personalism: Maritain and Mounier on Personhood and Citizenship". International Journal of Philosophy and Theology. 74 (2): 115. doi:10.1080/21692327.2013.809869. ISSN   2169-2335.
  2. Donald DeMarco. "The Christian Personalism of Jacques Maritain". EWTN.
  3. Hanna 1996 , p. 39
  4. 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
  5. Hilton Kramer, "What was the Congress for Cultural Freedom?" The New Criterion, Volume 8, January 1990, page 7, January 1990.
  6. The most comprehensive biography of the Maritians is: Jean-Luc Barre, "Jacques And Raissa Maritain: Beggars For Heaven", University of Notre Dame Press.
  7. Beatification process for Jacques and Raissa Maritain could begin on YouTube (8 February 2011)
  8. Hanna 1996 , p. 40
  9. Richard Francis Crane (2011). "Heart-Rending Ambivalence: Jacques Maritain and the Complexity of Postwar Catholic Philosemitism". Studies in Christian-Jewish Relations. 6: 8–9.
  10. Maritain, An Essay on Christian Philosophy, (NY: Philosophical Library, 1955), pp. 38 ff.
  11. Wolfe, C.J. “Lessons from the Friendship of Jacques Maritain with Saul Alinsky” he Catholic Social Science Review 16 (2011): 229-240 Archived 26 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  12. Doering, Bernard E. (1987). "Jacques Maritain and His Two Authentic Revolutionaries" (PDF). In Kennedy, Leonard A (ed.). Thomistic Papers. 3. Houston, Tex.: Center for Thomistic Studies. pp. 91–116. ISBN   0-268-01865-0. OCLC   17307550.
  13. Fimister, Alan Paul (2008). Robert Schuman: Neo-Scholastic Humanism and the Reunification of Europe. p. 131. ISBN   978-90-5201-439-5. OCLC   244339575.
  14. Denis J. M. Bradley. Aquinas on the Twofold Human Good: Reason and Human Happiness in Aquinas's Moral Science. Washington: The Catholic University of America Press, 1997.
  15. Tracy Rowland, "Culture and the Thomist Tradition: After Vatican II" (Routledge Radical Orthodoxy)
  16. Thaddeus J. Kozinski, The Political Problem of Religious Pluralism: And Why Philosophers Can't Solve It, (Lexington Books, 2013)
  17. Maritain, Jacques (1946). St. Thomas Aquinas: Angel of the Schools. J. F. Scanlan (trans.). London: Sheed & Ward. p. viii.

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References

Further reading