Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

God, Philosophy, Universities: A Selective History of the Catholic Philosophical Tradition

Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

God, Philosophy, Universities: A Selective History of the Catholic Philosophical Tradition

Article excerpt

God, Philosophy, Universities: A Selective History of the Catholic Philosophical Tradition BY ALASDAIR MACINTYRE ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD, ?8? PAGES, $2.9.95

Without intending it, Alasdair Maclntyre may have written the most important response to the New Atheists. Of course he never even mentions them, and atheism isn't really his target, which may explain why this book is such an important contribution to that discussion - and much more. The problem is that most everyone, Catholics included, is ignorant of the great tradition of Catholic philosophy. This leaves believers vulnerable to attacks from atheists whose shoddy screeds engage none of that tradition. Maclntyre, arguably the most influential living Catholic philosopher, remedies some of that ignorance with a concise overview of the history of Catholic philosophical thought on the questions relating to God.

God, Philosophy, Universities really tells two intertwined stories. First, Maclntyre traces competing strains of Catholic philosophical reflection on God, showing how they became tangled, knotted, and then severed from each other, and how they are now being strengthened by modern Catholic thinkers, particularly with the revival of Thomism, phenomenology, and the thought of John Paul II. Along the way readers are treated to discourses on early Catholic philosophers such as Augustine, Boethius, Pseudo-Dionysius, and Anselm; medieval Islamic and Jewish contributors such as Avicenna, Al-Ghazali, Averroes, Al-Farabi, and Maimonides; the medieval apex marked by Aquinas, Scotus, Ockham, and Suarez; the rise of skepticism and modernity with Montaigne, Descartes, Pascal, and Arnauld; and finally our own age's luminaries: Newman, Leo XIII, Bergson, Maritain, Stein, Anscombe, and John Paul II. …

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