Sunday, May 15, 2011

Christian Philosophy

homistica: New book on Christian Philosophy debates

A collection of the original sources; it won't have later and non-French contributors like John Wippel and Ralph McInerny.

I wrote a paper on this once -- I'd have to revise part of it at least. The first question that needs to be answered is: "How are we to define philosophy?" Do we accept the scholastic definition, or do we define philosophy as something less exact, so that the lyrical expressions of wannabe poets can be considered philosophy? Is philosophy about the mode in which it is expressed or the reasoning? Are there universal rules for good reasoning (including how to define well), which are studied in logic? How much logic did moderns like Blondel study? I think the debate is illustrative of what happens when people have lost the art of definition and name without guidance.

Some could interpret those who affirmed that there is such a thing as Christian philosophy as making an apologetical argument - Gilson and Maritain, for example. A last gasp of Christian triumphalism, unwittingly put forth by "existential" Thomists? Or another attempt to discredit scholasticism, with its philosophical compnent as the target.

If we accept that philosophy is reasoned-out knowledge, then there is no such thing as "Christian" philosophy. Some may be referring instead to how faith and reason interact or how grace affects reason, and naming this nexus as "Christian" philosophy; while it is true that the supernatural life does have benefits for those who seek reasoned-out knowledge, to say that this is "Christian" philosophy is potentially misleading, as our starting points or logic are not affected.

(And if it is claimed that the life of grace enables reason to reflect upon truths "natural" reason cannot come to know, then this would not be philosophy at all.)