The Sheed and Ward Anthology of Catholic Philosophy

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The Sheed and Ward Anthology of Catholic Philosophy. Edited by James C. Swindal and Harry J. Gensler, S.J. (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group. 2005. Pp. xvi, 585. $90.00 clothbound; $35.00 paperback.)

In a foreword to a volume honoring the British philosophers Peter Geach and Elizabeth Anscombe (Moral Truth and Moral Tradition [1994]), Cardinal Daly of Armagh, himself a philosopher, writes, "They have demonstrated that there is a Catholic way of philosophizing, which is still wholly philosophical, at once totally faithful to the laws of reason and the norms of philosophy and to the rigorous demands of logic, and also uncompromisingly loyal to divine Revelation and the teaching of the Catholic Church. They have shown that one can be intellectually as weË as spiritually happy, indeed proud, though never arrogant, about one's CathoËc faith, while still commanding respect from one's peers in terms of their own philosophy and language and logic."

The honrands well deserved the tribute, but it sets a high standard, and bypasses the prior question of what it means to be "a CathoËc philosopher." On one reading this suggests two attributes; on another, a single nature. Geach and Anscombe sometimes wrote on issues of no direct relevance to religion but often addressed matters of Catholic faith and morals, and they never knowingly wrote at odds with orthodoxy. That places them far toward one end of a spectrum, the terminus of which would be close to dogmatic theology itself. Running in the other direction would take one to points where philosophy and faith make no connection.

The selections in the present volume, which include pieces by Geach and by Anscombe, are spread across the range. Occasionally they also reach out beyond Catholicism (e.g., Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, Avicenna, Averroes, Maimonides), and beyond philosophy (mostly to scripture, theology, and spirituaËty). There are eighty-two readings ranging from a cluster of bibËcal passages to a useful survey of contemporary Catholic philosophy in the United States; authors from God to Arthur Madican of Boston College, respectively. …