Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Early Works of Orestes A. Brownson. Volume VI: Life by Communion, 1842

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Early Works of Orestes A. Brownson. Volume VI: Life by Communion, 1842

Article excerpt

The Early Works of Orestes A. Brownson. Volume VI: Life by Communion, 1842. Edited by Patrick W. Carey. [Marquette Studies in Theology, No. 46.] (Milwaukee: Marquette University Press. 2005. Pp. iv, 532. $47.00 paperback.)

This is the sixth in Patrick Carey's projected seven-volume coEection of Orestes A. Brownson's Early Works. The first volume appeared in 2000 (see ante 87 !July 2001], 530-531.)A11 but the last of this volume's twelve selections were published in 1842, two years before Brownson was received into the Catholic Church on October 20, 1844. Carey takes the title Life by Communion from a philosophical doctrine of the French socialist Pierre Leroux (1797-1871).

As Brownson explained life by communion in the volume's central essay, "Leroux on Humanity," "the ME can never manifest itself, that is live, save in communion with the NOT-ME" (p. 276).This "metaphysical principle" helped Brownson to think his way out of the subjectivism of modern philosophy. Brownson's language-he speaks of the subject and object as "so to speak soldered together, or amalgamated as the acid and the alkali in the formation of neutral salt" (p. 254)-suggests that he may not have been entirely successful in dissolving modern philosophy's subject-object dichotomy. Nevertheless, life by communion incited in him "a theological revolution" (p. 189) that restored him "to the great household of believers," (p. 276), "touched his heart," and instilled in him "a love [for preaching] I never felt before" (p. 216).

Such is the language of religious conversion and Carey's fifty-four-page introduction argues that, during 1842, Brownson experienced a real religious conversion, one that he later explained as a discovery of God's freedom. …

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