Jacques Maritain (French: [maʁitɛ̃]; 18 November 1882 – 28 April 1973) was a French Catholic philosopher. Raised Protestant, he was agnostic before converting to Catholicism in 1906. An author of more than 60 books, he helped to revive Thomas Aquinas for modern times, and was influential in the development and drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Pope Paul VI presented his "Message to Men of Thought and of Science" at the close of Vatican II to Maritain, his long-time friend and mentor. The same pope had seriously considered making him a lay Cardinal, but Maritain rejected it. Maritain's interest and works spanned many aspects of philosophy, including aesthetics, political theory, philosophy of science, metaphysics, the nature of education, liturgy and ecclesiology.
|Born||18 November 1882|
|Died||28 April 1973 (aged 90)|
|Alma mater||University of Paris|
(m. 1904; died 1960)
Maritain was born in Paris, the son of Paul Maritain, who was a lawyer, and his wife Geneviève Favre, the daughter of Jules Favre, and was reared in a liberal Protestant milieu. He was sent to the Lycée Henri-IV. Later, he attended the Sorbonne, studying the natural sciences: chemistry, biology and physics.
At the Sorbonne, he met Raïssa Oumançoff, a Russian Jewish émigré. They married in 1904. A noted poet and mystic, she participated as his intellectual partner in his search for truth. Raissa's sister, Vera Oumançoff, lived with Jacques and Raissa for almost all their married life.
At the Sorbonne, Jacques and Raïssa soon became disenchanted with scientism, which could not, in their view, address the larger existential issues of life. In 1901, in light of this disillusionment, they made a pact to commit suicide together if they could not discover some deeper meaning to life within a year. They were spared from following through on this because, at the urging of Charles Péguy, they attended the lectures of Henri Bergson at the Collège de France. Bergson's critique of scientism dissolved their intellectual despair and instilled in them "the sense of the absolute." Then, through the influence of Léon Bloy, they converted to the Roman Catholic faith in 1906.
In the fall of 1907 the Maritains moved to Heidelberg, where Jacques studied biology under Hans Driesch. Hans Driesch’s theory of neo-vitalism attracted Jacques because of its affinity with Henri Bergson. During this time, Raïssa fell ill, and during her convalescence, their spiritual advisor, a Dominican friar named Humbert Clérissac, introduced her to the writings of Thomas Aquinas. She read them with enthusiasm and, in turn, exhorted her husband to examine the saint's writings. In Thomas, Maritain found a number of insights and ideas that he had believed all along. He wrote:
Thenceforth, in affirming to myself, without chicanery or diminution, the authentic value of the reality of our human instruments of knowledge, I was already a Thomist without knowing it ... When several months later I came to the Summa Theologiae, I would construct no impediment to its luminous flood.
Beginning in 1912, Maritain taught at the Collège Stanislas. He later moved to the Institut Catholique de Paris. For the 1916–1917 academic year, he taught at the Petit Séminaire de Versailles. In 1930 Maritain and Étienne Gilson received honorary doctorates in philosophy from the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum. In 1933, he gave his first lectures in North America in Toronto at the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies. He also taught at Columbia University; at the Committee on Social Thought, University of Chicago; at the University of Notre Dame, and at Princeton University.
From 1945 to 1948, he was the French ambassador to the Holy See.
Afterwards, he returned to Princeton University where he achieved the "Elysian status" (as he put it) of a professor emeritus in 1956. Raissa Maritain died in 1960. After her death, Jacques published her journal under the title "Raissa's Journal." For several years Maritain was an honorary chairman of the Congress for Cultural Freedom, appearing as a keynote speaker at its 1960 conference in Berlin. From 1961, Maritain lived with the Little Brothers of Jesus in Toulouse, France. He had an influence on the order since its foundation in 1933. He became a Little Brother in 1970.
Jacques and Raïssa Maritain are buried in the cemetery of Kolbsheim, a little French village in Alsace where he had spent many summers at the estate of his friends, Antoinette and Alexander Grunelius.
The foundation of Maritain's thought is Aristotle, Aquinas, and the Thomistic commentators, especially John of St. Thomas. He is eclectic in his use of these sources. Maritain's philosophy is based on evidence accrued by the senses and acquired by an understanding of first principles. Maritain defended philosophy as a science against those who would degrade it and promoted philosophy as the "queen of sciences".
In 1910, Jacques Maritain completed his first contribution to modern philosophy, a 28-page article titled, "Reason and Modern Science" published in Revue de Philosophie (June issue). In it, he warned that science was becoming a divinity, its methodology usurping the role of reason and philosophy. Science was supplanting the humanities in importance.
In 1917, a committee of French bishops commissioned Jacques to write a series of textbooks to be used in Catholic colleges and seminaries. He wrote and completed only one of these projects, titled Elements de Philosophie (Introduction of Philosophy) in 1920. It has been a standard text ever since in many Catholic seminaries. He wrote in his introduction:
If the philosophy of Aristotle, as revived and enriched by Thomas Aquinas and his school, may rightly be called the Christian philosophy, both because the church is never weary of putting it forward as the only true philosophy and because it harmonizes perfectly with the truths of faith, nevertheless it is proposed here for the reader's acceptance not because it is Christian, but because it is demonstrably true. This agreement between a philosophic system founded by a pagan and the dogmas of revelation is no doubt an external sign, an extra-philosophic guarantee of its truth; but from its own rational evidence, that it derives its authority as a philosophy
During the Second World War, Jacques Maritain protested the policies of the Vichy government while teaching at the Pontifical Institute for Medieval Studies in Canada. "Moving to New York, Maritain became deeply involved in rescue activities, seeking to bring persecuted and threatened academics, many of them Jews, to America. He was instrumental in founding the École Libre des Hautes Études, a kind of university in exile that was, at the same time, the center of Gaullist resistance in the United States". After the war, in a papal audience on 16 July 1946, he tried unsuccessfully to have Pope Pius XII officially denounce anti-semitism.
Many of his American papers are held by the University of Notre Dame, which established The Jacques Maritain Center in 1957. The Cercle d'Etudes Jacques & Raïssa Maritain is an association founded by the philosopher himself in 1962 in Kolbsheim (near Strasbourg, France), where the couple is also buried. The purpose of these centers is to encourage study and research of Maritain’s thought and expand upon them. It is also absorbed in translating and editing his writings.
Maritain's philosophy is based on the view that metaphysics is prior to epistemology. Being is first apprehended implicitly in sense experience, and is known in two ways. First, being is known reflexively by abstraction from sense experience. One experiences a particular being, e.g. a cup, a dog, etc. and through reflexion ("bending back") on the judgement, e.g. "this is a dog", one recognizes that the object in question is an existent. Second, in light of attaining being reflexively through apprehension of sense experience one may arrive at what Maritain calls "an Intuition of Being". For Maritain this is the point of departure for metaphysics; without the intuition of being one cannot be a metaphysician at all. The intuition of being involves rising to the apprehension of ens secundum quod est ens (being insofar as it is a being). In Existence and the Existent he explains:
"It is being, attained or perceived at the summit of an abstractive intellection, of an eidetic or intensive visualization which owes its purity and power of illumination only to the fact that the intellect, one day, was stirred to its depths and trans-illuminated by the impact of the act of existing apprehended in things, and because it was quickened to the point of receiving this act, or hearkening to it, within itself, in the intelligible and super-intelligible integrity of the tone particular to it." (p. 20)
In view of this priority given to metaphysics, Maritain advocates an epistemology he calls "Critical Realism". Maritain's epistemology is not "critical" in Kant's sense, which held that one could only know anything after undertaking a thorough critique of one's cognitive abilities. Rather, it is critical in the sense that it is not a naive or non-philosophical realism, but one that is defended by way of reason. Against Kant's critical project Maritain argues that epistemology is reflexive; you can only defend a theory of knowledge in light of knowledge you have already attained. Consequently, the critical question is not the question of modern philosophy – how do we pass from what is perceived to what is. Rather, "Since the mind, from the very start, reveals itself as warranted in its certitude by things and measured by an esse independent of itself, how are we to judge if, how, on what conditions, and to what extent it is so both in principle and in the various moments of knowledge?"
In contrast idealism inevitably ends up in contradiction, since it does not recognize the universal scope of the first principles of identity, contradiction, and finality. These become merely laws of thought or language, but not of being, which opens the way to contradictions being instantiated in reality.
Maritain's metaphysics ascends from this account of being to a critique of the philosophical aspects of modern science, through analogy to an account of the existence and nature of God as it is known philosophically and through mystical experience.
Maritain was a strong defender of a natural law ethics. He viewed ethical norms as being rooted in human nature. For Maritain the natural law is known primarily, not through philosophical argument and demonstration, but rather through "Connaturality". Connatural knowledge is a kind of knowledge by acquaintance. We know the natural law through our direct acquaintance with it in our human experience. Of central importance, is Maritain's argument that natural rights are rooted in the natural law. This was key to his involvement in the drafting of the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Another important aspect of his ethics was his insistence upon the need for moral philosophy to be conducted in a theological context. While a Christian could engage in speculative thought about nature or metaphysics in a purely rational manner and develop an adequate philosophy of nature of metaphysics, this is not possible with ethics. Moral philosophy must address the actual state of the human person, and this is a person in a state of grace. Thus, "moral philosophy adequately considered" must take into account properly theological truths. It would be impossible, for instance, to develop an adequate moral philosophy without giving consideration to properly theological facts such as original sin and the supernatural end of the human person in beatitude. Any moral philosophy that does not take into account these realities that are only known through faith would be fundamentally incomplete.
Maritain advocated what he called "Integral Humanism". He argued that secular forms of humanism were inevitably anti-human in that they refused to recognize the whole person. Once the spiritual dimension of human nature is rejected, we no longer have an integral, but merely partial humanism, one which rejects a fundamental aspect of the human person. Accordingly, in Integral Humanism he explores the prospects for a new Christendom, rooted in his philosophical pluralism, in order to find ways Christianity could inform political discourse and policy in a pluralistic age. In this account he develops a theory of cooperation, to show how people of different intellectual positions can nevertheless cooperate to achieve common practical aims. Maritain's political theory was extremely influential, and was a primary source behind the Christian Democratic movement.
Major criticisms of Maritain have included:
Alceu Amoroso Lima (Petrópolis, December 11, 1893 – Rio de Janeiro, August 14, 1983) was a writer, journalist, activist from Brazil and founder of the Brazilian Christian Democracy. He adopted the pseudonym Tristão de Ataíde in 1919. In 1928 he converted to Catholicism and eventually became head of Catholic Action in Brazil. Although he initially had some sympathy for certain aims of Brazilian Integralism he became a strong opponent of authoritarianism in general and Fascism in particular. That came in part through the influence of Jacques Maritain. He was a staunch advocate for press freedom during the period of military dictatorship.Art and Scholasticism
Art and Scholasticism (French: Art et scolastique) is a 1920 book by the philosopher Jacques Maritain, his major contribution to aesthetics. According to Gary Furnell, the work "was a key text that guided the work of writers such as Allen Tate, Caroline Gordon, Sally and Robert Fitzgerald, Francois Mauriac, Thomas Merton, John Howard Griffin, Flannery O’Connor and T.S. Eliot." Maritain's Thomist-Aristotelian distinction between Art and Prudence was highly influential on the sculptor Eric Gill, and were developed further in the seminal essay on theological aesthetics, entitled 'Art and Sacrament', by poet and painter David Jones.Catholic moral theology
Catholic moral theology is a major category of doctrine in the Catholic Church, equivalent to a religious ethics. Moral theology encompasses Roman Catholic social teaching, Catholic medical ethics, sexual ethics, and various doctrines on individual moral virtue and moral theory. It can be distinguished as dealing with "how one is to act", in contrast to dogmatic theology which proposes "what one is to believe".Centre Union of Catalonia
Centre Union of Catalonia (Catalan: Unió de Centre de Catalunya, UCC) was a political party based in Catalonia, created in 1978 as a result of the merging of Catalan Centre, League of Catalonia–Catalan Liberal Party, People's Party of Catalonia, Union of the Christian Democrats of Catalonia–Jacques Maritain Club, Social Democratic Party of Catalonia and Party of the Catalan People.Charles Fecher
Charles Fecher ( November 1, 1917 – January 19, 2012) was an American author and editor who is best known for his works about Jacques Maritain and H.L. Mencken. Fecher also wrote about issues concerning the Catholic Church. He won awards from the Catholic Press Association in 1977 and 1978 for his weekly column entitled "Books in Review" that appeared in the Baltimore Catholic Review.Fecher was born in Baltimore, Maryland to Adam and Elizabeth Fecher. He married Muriel Burmeister in 1953. The couple had two children.Committee on Social Thought
The John U. Nef Committee on Social Thought is one of several PhD-granting committees at the University of Chicago. It was started in 1941 by historian John Ulric Nef along with economist Frank Knight, anthropologist Robert Redfield, and University President Robert Maynard Hutchins.
The committee is interdisciplinary, but it is not centered on any specific topic; rather, the committee has, since its inception, drawn together noted academics and writers to "foster awareness of the permanent questions at the origin of all learned inquiry".Notable past members of the committee have included
writers Saul Bellow, J. M. Coetzee, and T. S. Eliot,
political theorists Hannah Arendt, Allan Bloom, and Mark Lilla,
classicist David Grene,
historians Marc Fumaroli, Marshall G. S. Hodgson and Paul Wheatley,
sociologist Edward Shils,
sinologist Anthony C. Yu,
anthropologist Victor Turner,
poet and philologist A. K. Ramanujan,
philosophers Vincent Descombes, Mircea Eliade, Leszek Kołakowski, Jacques Maritain, Yves Simon, Paul Ricoeur, Stephen Toulmin, and
economists Robert Fogel and Friedrich Hayek.Eliot, Bellow, Coetzee, Hayek, and Fogel have been awarded Nobel prizes.
Current faculty include religion scholar Wendy Doniger, theologian David Tracy, sociologist Hans Joas, literary theorist Thomas Pavel, theorist of German literature David Wellbery, classicist James M. Redfield, philosopher and psychoanalyst Jonathan Lear, philosopher Jean-Luc Marion, medieval historian David Nirenberg, philosopher Robert B. Pippin, classicist Laura M. Slatkin, historian of science Lorraine Daston, physician and philosopher Leon Kass (former chairman of the President's Council on Bioethics), political theorist Nathan Tarcov, art historian Andrei Pop, and poet Adam Zagajewski.Gregorio Peces-Barba
Gregorio Peces-Barba (13 January 1938 – 24 July 2012) was a Spanish politician and jurist. He was one of the seven jurists who wrote the Spanish Constitution of 1978 as a representative of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party.
Peces-Barba was born in Madrid. He studied Law in Madrid and Strasbourg, writing his thesis about Jacques Maritain. He was a member of the Socialist Party since 1972 and was chosen as congressman for the province of Valladolid in 1977 in the first democratic elections in Spain in forty years. He was one of the seven jurists who wrote the constitution approved in referendum in 1978, and so he is consider a father of the constitution. In 1982 he was elected president of the congress of deputies and held that chair until 1986 when he decided not to rerun. He helped to create the Charles III University of Madrid and from 1989 until 2007 he was rector of that university.
He was chosen by president José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero to be High Commissioner for the help of the victims of terrorism in 2004. He was strongly criticised by the Asociación de Víctimas del Terrorismo and decided to resign in 2006. No successor was chosen. He died, aged 74, in Oviedo.Integral humanism
Integral Humanism may refer to:
Integral humanism (Maritain), an aspect of Catholic social teaching originally advocated by French philosopher Jacques Maritain as "Integral Christian Humanism"
Integral humanism (India), the political philosophy practised by the Bharatiya Janata Party and the former Bharatiya Jana Sangh of IndiaIntegral humanism (Maritain)
Jacques Maritain, the French Catholic philosopher and author of over 60 books, advocated what he called "Integral Christian Humanism". He argued that secular forms of humanism were inevitably anti-human in that they refused to recognize the whole person.
Once the spiritual dimension of human nature is rejected, Maritain has argued that we no longer have an integral, but merely partial, humanism, one which rejects a fundamental aspect of the human person. Accordingly, in Integral Humanism he explores the prospects for a new Christendom, rooted in his philosophical pluralism, in order to find ways Christianity could inform political discourse and policy in a pluralistic age. In this account he develops a theory of cooperation, to show how people of different intellectual positions can nevertheless cooperate to achieve common practical aims. Maritain's political theory was extremely influential, and was a primary source behind the Christian Democratic movement.Jean Daujat
Jean Daujat (Paris, 27 October 1906 – 31 May 1998) was a French philosopher of neo-Thomism, a disciple of Jacques Maritain, and the founder of the Centre d'études religieuses, the Center for Religious Studies, specializing in teaching Christian doctrine.John F. X. Knasas
John Francis Xavier Knasas (born 1948) is an American philosopher. He is a leading existential Thomist in the Neo-Thomist movement, best known for engaging such thinkers as Bernard Lonergan, Alasdair MacIntyre and Jeremy Wilkins in disputes over human cognition to affirm a Thomistic epistemology of direct realism and defending the thought of Jacques Maritain, Étienne Gilson and Fr. Joseph Owens. He holds the Bishop Wendelin J. Nold Endowed Chair as Professor of Philosophy at the Center for Thomistic Studies at the University of St. Thomas in Houston and earned his doctorate at the University of Toronto, under the direction of Fr. Joseph Owens.List of Catholic philosophers and theologians
This is a list of Catholic philosophers and theologians whose Catholicism is important to their works. The names are ordered by date of birth in order to give a rough sense of influence between thinkers.List of philosophers of religion
This is a list of philosophers of religion.
Joseph ben Abraham
Anselm of Canterbury
St. Thomas Aquinas
Benedict Ashley, OP
Augustine of Hippo
Jedaiah ben Abraham Bedersi
Cardinal Thomas Cajetan, OP
Isaac Orobio de Castro
G. K. Chesterton
Stephen R.L. Clark
William Lane Craig
Joseph Solomon Delmedigo
Charles De Koninck
Aaron ben Elijah
Shem-Tov ibn Falaquera
Solomon ibn Gabirol
Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, OP
Johann Georg Hamann
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
Jeshua ben Judah
Isaac Nathan ben Kalonymus
Isaac ibn Latif
Leon of Modena
Elia del Medigo
David ibn Merwan al-Mukkamas
Robert Cummings Neville
Bahya ibn Paquda
Robert M. Price
John Duns Scotus
Isaac ben Sheshet
Hoter ben Shlomo
Walter Terence Stace
Melville Y. Stewart
John of St. Thomas (John Poinsot)
Samuel ibn Tibbon
Joseph ibn Tzaddik
Muhammad Alief Roslan
Hossein NasrRes Philosophica
Res Philosophica (formerly The Modern Schoolman) is a peer-reviewed academic journal covering all major areas of philosophy from antiquity to the present. Established in 1925, it is one of the oldest philosophy publications in North America. The journal publishes both articles and reviews, and occasionally publishes special issues on specific topics. Contributors include Robert Audi, Lynne Rudder Baker, Jean Bethke Elshtain, Étienne Gilson, Jürgen Habermas, Norman Kretzmann, Bernard Lonergan, Jacques Maritain, Wildrid Parsons, Kristin Shrader-Frechette, Paul Draper, and Nicholas Wolterstorff. The Modern Schoolman is published by the philosophy department at Saint Louis University, in cooperation with the Philosophy Documentation Center.
In 2013, beginning with volume 90, The Modern Schoolman was relaunched as Res Philosophica.The Degrees of Knowledge
The Degrees of Knowledge is a 1932 book by the French philosopher Jacques Maritain. In the book, Maritain adopts St. Thomas Aquinas’s view called critical realism and applies it to his own epistemological positions. According to critical realism, what we know is identical with what exists, and to know a thing is for its ‘essence’ to exist immaterially in the mind. In The Degrees of Knowledge, Maritain applies this view as he seeks to explain the nature of knowledge, not only in science and philosophy, but also in religious faith and mysticism. Maritain argues that there are different ‘kinds’ and ‘orders’ of knowledge and, within them, different ‘degrees’ determined by the nature of the thing to be known and the ‘degree of abstraction’ involved. The book is divided into two parts: Part one discusses the degrees of knowledge for science and philosophy – or ‘rational knowledge,’ and part two discusses the degrees of knowledge for religious faith and mysticism – or ‘super-rational knowledge.’The Person and the Common Good
The Person and the Common Good is a 1947 book by the philosopher Jacques Maritain, his major contribution to social philosophy.The Range of Reason
The Range of Reason is a 1952 book of essays by Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain. The text presents a Thomist philosophy regarding religion and morality. It contains a study of Atheism, titled "The Meaning of Contemporary Atheism", which has had a considerable impact on Catholic views of Atheism.William Sweet
William Sweet is a Canadian philosopher, and a past president of the Canadian Philosophical Association.École libre des hautes études
The École Libre des Hautes Études (lit. ‘Free School for Advanced Studies’) was a "university-in-exile" for French academics in New York during the Second World War. It was chartered by the French (the Free French) and Belgian governments-in-exile and located at the New School for Social Research. Its founders included Jean Wahl, Jacques Maritain, and Gustave Cohen, and it was supported by the Rockefeller Foundation.The philosopher Jacques Maritain, anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, historian Elias Bickerman, and linguist Roman Jakobson all taught at the École Libre.
After the war, it gradually evolved into one of the leading institutions of research in Paris, the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences), with which the New School maintains close ties.
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