The Very Rich Hours of Jacques Maritain: A Spiritual Life/Jacques Maritain: An Intellectual Profile

Article excerpt

The Very Rich Hours of Jacques Maritain: A Spiritual Life. By Ralph M. McInerny. (Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press. 2003. Pp- viii, 235. $32.00.)

Jacques Maritain:An Intellectual Profile. By Jude P Dougherty. (Washington, D. C. The Catholic University of America Press. 2003. Pp. 128. $21.95 paperback.)

These two books show the reason for the long-term influence and inspiration of the French Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain (1881 -1973). Convert, Thomist, man of letters, statesman, teacher, churchman, little brother of Jesus, Maritain could be the single best representative of the twentieth-century Thomist revival spawned by Aeterni Patris. Dougherty's Profile presents a series of seven themes in Maritain's broad corpus concerning philosophy of science, metaphysics, aesthetics, political philosophy, church and state, and ecclesiology. Each chapter is sharply focused and provides an incisive account of Maritain's treatment of the given problem. Dougherty shows how Maritain drew upon the Thomistic sources, developed their inner possibilities, and arrived at timely and creative approaches to problems of the day. Dougherty does an especially fine job at providing points of comparison in twentieth-century philosophical developments around similar themes. Dewey, Royce, Eddington, Harré, Ortega y Gasset, and Rawls are effectively used as counterpoints to Maritain. In each case, Maritain is shown to be a philosopher with a keen grasp of major problems of the twentieth century who holds his own in the market place of ideas. With the issue of state sovereignty and international co-operation Maritain developed a prophetic stance, anticipating some of the best of Anglo-American political philosophy. Behind Maritain's philosophical sketches, one finds an abiding love of Christ and the Church. Maritain's intellectual prowess was always at the service of Catholic truth. Dougherty handles well the issue of Maritain's apologetic stance. He did not sacrifice intellectual rigor or integrity, but he always found the splendor of truth pointing to the mysteries of faith. …


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