Joseph Maréchal

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Joseph Maréchal
Born 1 July 1878
Charleroi, Belgium
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, neo-scholasticism
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.

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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.

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.

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.

Main works

See also

References