Joseph Maréchal

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Joseph Maréchal
Marechal philosopher.jpg
Born1 July 1878
Died11 December 1944 (1944-12-12) (aged 66)
Leuven, Belgium
Education Catholic University of Leuven (1901–1905; D.Sc., 1905)
Era 20th-century philosophy
Region Western philosophy
School Transcendental Thomism
Main interests
Metaphysics, philosophical theology

Joseph Maréchal (1 July 1878 11 December 1944) was a Belgian Jesuit priest, philosopher, theologian and psychologist. He taught at the Higher Institute of Philosophy of the University of Leuven and was the founder of the school of thought called transcendental Thomism, which attempted to merge the theological and philosophical thought of St. Thomas Aquinas with that of Immanuel Kant.

The Institut supérieur de Philosophie (ISP) is an independent research institute at the University of Louvain (UCLouvain) in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium. It is a separate entity to the UCLouvain School of Philosophy.

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.

Immanuel Kant Prussian philosopher

Immanuel Kant was an influential German philosopher in the Age of Enlightenment. In his doctrine of transcendental idealism, he argued that space, time, and causation are mere sensibilities; "things-in-themselves" exist, but their nature is unknowable. In his view, the mind shapes and structures experience, with all human experience sharing certain structural features. He drew a parallel to the Copernican revolution in his proposition that worldly objects can be intuited a priori ('beforehand'), and that intuition is therefore independent from objective reality. Kant believed that reason is the source of morality, and that aesthetics arise from a faculty of disinterested judgment. Kant's views continue to have a major influence on contemporary philosophy, especially the fields of epistemology, ethics, political theory, and post-modern aesthetics.


Life and thought

Maréchal joined the Jesuits in 1895 and after a doctorate in biology at Leuven (1905) he first specialized in experimental psychology, spending some time in Munich with Wilhelm Wundt (1911). Until the end of his life Maréchal would say that his real interest was more in psychology than in philosophy.

Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their physical structure, chemical processes, molecular interactions, physiological mechanisms, development and evolution. Despite the complexity of the science, there are certain unifying concepts that consolidate it into a single, coherent field. Biology recognizes the cell as the basic unit of life, genes as the basic unit of heredity, and evolution as the engine that propels the creation and extinction of species. Living organisms are open systems that survive by transforming energy and decreasing their local entropy to maintain a stable and vital condition defined as homeostasis.

Experimental psychology refers to work done by those who apply experimental methods to psychological study and the processes that underlie it. Experimental psychologists employ human participants and animal subjects to study a great many topics, including sensation & perception, memory, cognition, learning, motivation, emotion; developmental processes, social psychology, and the neural substrates of all of these.

Munich Capital and most populous city of Bavaria, Germany

Munich is the capital and most populous city of Bavaria, the second most populous German federal state. With a population of around 1.5 million, it is the third-largest city in Germany, after Berlin and Hamburg, as well as the 12th-largest city in the European Union. The city's metropolitan region is home to 6 million people. Straddling the banks of the River Isar north of the Bavarian Alps, it is the seat of the Bavarian administrative region of Upper Bavaria, while being the most densely populated municipality in Germany. Munich is the second-largest city in the Bavarian dialect area, after the Austrian capital of Vienna.

Prompted by the call of Pope Leo XIII to revitalize Thomist theology, he started studying in depth the works of St. Thomas Aquinas in order to understand the inner coherence of his system, along with the works of other scholastic thinkers, modern philosophers and scientists of the day. From this, and in particular from Kant's transcendental idealism, emerged a new and more dynamic Thomism, recapturing the union of ‘act and power’ in Aquinas. The development of his thought can be grasped in the five cahiers (see bibliography) in which, after exposing the weaknesses of traditional Thomism, he evaluated Kant's philosophy (3d cahier) with whose help he proposes a modernized Thomism in the 4th and 5th cahier. The work of Maréchal had a great influence on such contemporary theologians and philosophers as Andre Marc, Gaston Isaye, Joseph de Finance, Karl Rahner, Bernard Lonergan, Johannes Baptist Lotz, Bernard O'Brien and Richard De Smet.

Pope Leo XIII 256th Pope of the Catholic Church

Pope Leo XIII was head of the Catholic Church from 20 February 1878 to his death. He was the oldest pope, and had the third-longest confirmed pontificate, behind that of Pius IX and John Paul II.

Scholasticism A method of critical thought which dominated teaching by the academics ("scholastics", or "schoolmen") of medieval universities in Europe from about 1100 to 1700

Scholasticism is a method of critical thought which dominated teaching by the academics of medieval universities in Europe from about 1100 to 1700, and a program of employing that method in articulating and defending dogma in an increasingly pluralistic context. It originated as an outgrowth of and a departure from Christian theology within the monastic schools at the earliest European universities. The rise of scholasticism was closely associated with the rise of the 12th and 13th century schools that developed into the earliest modern universities, including those in Italy, France, Spain and England.

Transcendental idealism epistemology, proposed by Kant, in which space and time are merely formal features of how we perceive objects, not things in themselves that exist independently of us

Transcendental idealism is a doctrine founded by German philosopher Immanuel Kant in the 18th century. Kant's doctrine maintains that human experience of things is similar to the way they appear to us—implying a fundamentally subject-based component, rather than being an activity that directly comprehends the things as they are in themselves. The doctrine is most commonly presented as the idea that time and space are just human perceptions; they are not necessarily real concepts, just a medium through which humans internalize the universe.

In the same way, he proceeded to study the psychology of the mystics. Until his death on 11 December 1944 he taught philosophy and experimental psychology at the Jesuit House of Studies in Leuven (St Albert of Leuven's Philosophical and Theological College). He was a great friend of Pierre Scheuer, the Belgian Jesuit who has been described as a metaphysician and mystic.

Pierre Scheuer was a Belgian Jesuit priest, metaphysician and mystic.

Main works

International Standard Book Number Unique numeric book identifier

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.

Richard De Smet indologist

Richard De Smet was born 16 April 1916 in Montignies-sur-Sambre (Belgium) and died 2 March 1997 in Brussels. He was a Belgian Jesuit priest, and missionary in India. As Indologist he became a renowned Sankara specialist.

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