Joseph Maréchal

Joseph Maréchal (1 July 1878 – 11 December 1944) was a Belgian Jesuit priest, philosopher, theologian and psychologist. He taught at the Higher Institute of Philosophy of the University of Leuven and was the founder of the school of thought called transcendental Thomism, which attempted to merge the theological and philosophical thought of St. Thomas Aquinas with that of Immanuel Kant.

Joseph Maréchal
Marechal philosopher
Born1 July 1878
Died11 December 1944 (aged 66)
Leuven, Belgium
EducationCatholic University of Leuven (1901–1905; D.Sc., 1905)
Era20th-century philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
SchoolTranscendental Thomism
Main interests
Metaphysics, philosophical theology

Life and thought

Maréchal joined the Jesuits in 1895 and after a doctorate in biology at Leuven (1905) he first specialized in experimental psychology, spending some time in Munich with Wilhelm Wundt (1911). Until the end of his life Maréchal would say that his real interest was more in psychology than in philosophy.

Prompted by the call of Pope Leo XIII to revitalize Thomist theology, he started studying in depth the works of St. Thomas Aquinas in order to understand the inner coherence of his system, along with the works of other scholastic thinkers, modern philosophers and scientists of the day. From this, and in particular from Kant’s transcendental idealism, emerged a new and more dynamic Thomism, recapturing the union of ‘act and power’ in Aquinas. The development of his thought can be grasped in the five cahiers (see bibliography) in which, after exposing the weaknesses of traditional Thomism, he evaluated Kant’s philosophy (3d cahier) with whose help he proposes a modernized Thomism in the 4th and 5th cahier. The work of Maréchal had a great influence on such contemporary theologians and philosophers as Andre Marc, Gaston Isaye, Joseph de Finance, Karl Rahner, Bernard Lonergan, Johannes Baptist Lotz, Bernard O'Brien and Richard De Smet.

In the same way, he proceeded to study the psychology of the mystics. Until his death on 11 December 1944 he taught philosophy and experimental psychology at the Jesuit House of Studies in Leuven (St Albert of Leuven's Philosophical and Theological College). He was a great friend of Pierre Scheuer, the Belgian Jesuit who has been described as a metaphysician and mystic.

Main works

  • Maréchal, Joseph (2004). The Psychology of the Mystics. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications. ISBN 9780486436944.
  • Le point de départ de la métaphysique: leçons sur le développement historique et théorique du problème de la connaissance, 5 vols, (Bruges-Louvain, 1922–47).
  • Études sur le psychologie des mystiques, 2 vols, (1926, 1937) [translated as Studies in the Psychology of the Mystics, tr. A. Thorold, (New York, 1964).
  • Précis d'histoire de la philosophie moderne, (Louvain, 1933).
  • Mélanges Joseph Maréchal, 2 vols, (Brussels / Paris, 1950).
  • "The Intellectual Dynamism in Objective Knowledge." Tr. Richard De Smet and others. [Original, 'Le dynamisme intellectual dans la conaisance objective', in Revue néoscolastique de Philosophie 28 (1927) 137-165 = Mélanges Joseph Maréchal (Brussels / Paris, 1950) 1:75-101.] Poona: De Nobili College, 1963-65. 1-37. Unpublished. Available at Jnana Deepa Vidyapeeth Library, Pune, N13/M332.
  • "At the Threshold of Metaphysics: Abstraction or Intuition?" Tr. Richard De Smet and others. [Original in Revue néoscolastique de Philosophie 31(1929) 27-52, 121-147, 309-342.] Poona: De Nobili College, 1963-65. 38-149. Unpublished. Available at Jnana Deepa Vidyapeeth Library, Pune, N13/M332.
  • "The Natural Desire for Perfect Happiness." Tr. Richard De Smet and others. [Original in Mélanges Joseph Maréchal (Brussels / Paris, 1950) 2:323-337.] Poona: De Nobili College, 1963-65. 150-170. Unpublished. Available at Jnana Deepa Vidyapeeth Library, Pune, N13/M332.
  • A Maréchal Reader, ed and trans Joseph Donceel, (New York: Herder & Herder, 1970)

See also


  • Casula, M, Maréchal et Kant, Rome, 1955.
  • Lonergan, B.F, "Metaphysics as Horizon", in Gregorianum 44 (1964) 307–318 = "Metaphysics as Horizon," in Collection, Collected Works of Bernard Lonergan 4, ed. F.E. Crowe and R.M. Doran (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1988) 188-204.
  • Donceel, Joseph F., Philosophical Psychology (later titled Philosophical Anthropology), New York, 1961.
  • John, Helen James, The Thomist Spectrum, (1966), pp139–49
  • Kristo, J., Maréchal's approach to Mysticism, Notre-Dame, 1979.
  • Matteo, Anthony M, Quest for the Absolute: The Philosophical Vision of Joseph Maréchal, (1992)
  • McCool, Gerald A, From Unity to Pluralism, (1989), pp87–113
  • Savignano, A., Joseph Maréchal, filosofo della religione, Perugia, 1978.
  • Rieß, Klaus, Gott zwischen Begriff und Geheimnis. Zu einem Ende natürlicher Theologie als Aufgang neuzeitlicher Religionsphilosophie, St. Ottilien, 1991.
1944 in Belgium

Events in the year 1944 in Belgium.


Acosmism, in contrast to pantheism, denies the reality of the universe, seeing it as ultimately illusory, (the prefix "a-" in Greek meaning negation; like "un-" in English), and only the infinite unmanifest Absolute as real. Conceptual versions of Acosmism are found in eastern and western philosophies.

Agnostic existentialism

Agnostic existentialism is a type of existentialism which makes no claim to know whether there is a "greater picture"; rather, it simply asserts that the greatest truth is that which the individual chooses to act upon. It feels that to know the greater picture, whether there is one or not, is impossible, or impossible so far, or of little value. Like the Christian existentialist, the agnostic existentialist believes existence is subjective.

Argument from love

The Argument from love is an argument for the existence of God. The best-known defender of the argument is Roger Scruton.

Atheist's Wager

The Atheist's Wager, popularised by the philosopher Michael Martin and published in his 1990 book Atheism: A Philosophical Justification, is an atheistic response to Pascal's Wager regarding the existence of God.

One version of the Atheist's Wager suggests that since a kind and loving god would reward good deeds – and that if no gods exist, good deeds would still leave a positive legacy – one should live a good life without religion. Another formulation suggests that a god may reward honest disbelief and punish a dishonest belief in the divine.

Atheistic existentialism

Atheistic existentialism is a kind of existentialism which strongly diverged from the Christian existential works of Søren Kierkegaard and developed within the context of an atheistic world view. The philosophies of Søren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche provided existentialism's theoretical foundation in the 19th century, although their differing views on religion proved essential to the development of alternate types of existentialism. Atheistic existentialism was formally recognized after the 1943 publication of Being and Nothingness by Jean-Paul Sartre and Sartre later explicitly alluded to it in Existentialism is a Humanism in 1946.

Bernard Lonergan

Bernard Joseph Francis Lonergan (17 December 1904 – 26 November 1984) was a Canadian Jesuit priest, philosopher, and theologian, regarded by many as one of the most important thinkers of the 20th century.Lonergan's works include Insight: A Study of Human Understanding (1957) and Method in Theology (1972), as well as two studies of Thomas Aquinas, several theological textbooks, and numerous essays, including two posthumously published essays on macroeconomics. A projected 25-volume Collected Works is underway with the University of Toronto Press. He held appointments at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Regis College, Toronto, as Distinguished Visiting Professor at Boston College, and as Stillman Professor of Divinity at Harvard University.

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".

George I. Mavrodes

George I. Mavrodes is an American philosopher who is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Michigan.

Harald Høffding

Harald Høffding (11 March 1843 – 2 July 1931) was a Danish philosopher and theologian.

Karl Rahner

Karl Rahner (5 March 1904 – 30 March 1984) was a German Jesuit priest and theologian who, alongside Henri de Lubac, Hans Urs von Balthasar, and Yves Congar, is considered one of the most influential Roman Catholic theologians of the 20th century. He was the brother of Hugo Rahner, also a Jesuit scholar.

Rahner was born in Freiburg, at the time a part of the Grand Duchy of Baden, a state of the German Empire; he died in Innsbruck, Austria.

Before the Second Vatican Council, Rahner had worked alongside Congar, de Lubac, and Marie-Dominique Chenu, theologians associated with an emerging school of thought called the Nouvelle Théologie, elements of which had been condemned in the encyclical Humani generis of Pope Pius XII. Subsequently, however, the Second Vatican Council was much influenced by his theology and his understanding of Catholic faith.

List of philosophies

Philosophies: particular schools of thought, styles of philosophy, or descriptions of philosophical ideas attributed to a particular group or culture - listed in alphabetical order.

Natural-law argument

Natural-law argument for the existence of God was especially popular in the eighteenth century as a result of the influence of Sir Isaac Newton. As Bertrand Russell pointed out much later, many of the things we consider to be laws of nature, in fact, are human conventions. Indeed, Albert Einstein has shown that Newton's law of universal gravitation was such a convention, and though elegant and useful, one that did not describe the universe precisely. Most true laws are rather trivial, such as mathematical laws, laws of probability, and so forth, and much less impressive than those that were envisioned by Newton and his followers. Russell wrote:

"If you say, as more orthodox theologians do, that in all the laws which God issues he had a reason for giving those laws rather than others -- the reason, of course, being to create the best universe, although you would never think it to look at it -- if there was a reason for the laws which God gave, then God himself was subject to law, and therefore you do not get any advantage by introducing God as an intermediary. You really have a law outside and anterior to the divine edicts, and God does not serve your purpose, because he is not the ultimate law-giver. In short, this whole argument from natural law no longer has anything like the strength that it used to have."The argument of natural laws as a basis for God was changed by Christian figures such as Thomas Aquinas, in order to fit biblical scripture and establish a Judeo-Christian teleological law.

Nicholas Wolterstorff

Nicholas Wolterstorff (born January 21, 1932) is an American philosopher and a liturgical theologian. He is currently Noah Porter Professor Emeritus Philosophical Theology at Yale University. A prolific writer with wide-ranging philosophical and theological interests, he has written books on aesthetics, epistemology, political philosophy, philosophy of religion, metaphysics, and philosophy of education. In Faith and Rationality, Wolterstorff, Alvin Plantinga, and William Alston developed and expanded upon a view of religious epistemology that has come to be known as Reformed epistemology. He also helped to establish the journal Faith and Philosophy and the Society of Christian Philosophers.

Religious skepticism

Religious skepticism is a type of skepticism relating to religion. Religious skeptics question religious authority and are not necessarily anti-religious but skeptical of specific or all religious beliefs and/or practices. Socrates was one of the most prominent and first religious skeptics of whom there are records; he questioned the legitimacy of the beliefs of his time in the existence of the Greek gods. Religious skepticism is not the same as atheism or agnosticism and some religious skeptics are deists.

Robert Merrihew Adams

Robert Merrihew Adams (born 1937) is an American analytic philosopher of metaphysics, religion, and morality.


Theism is broadly defined as the belief in the existence of the Supreme Being or deities. In common parlance, or when contrasted with deism, the term often describes the classical conception of God that is found in monotheism (also referred to as classical theism) – or gods found in polytheistic religions—a belief in God or in gods without the rejection of revelation as is characteristic of deism.Atheism is commonly understood as rejection of theism in the broadest sense of theism, i.e. the rejection of belief in God or gods. The claim that the existence of any deity is unknown or unknowable is agnosticism.

Theological noncognitivism

Theological noncognitivism is the position that religious language – specifically, words such as "God" – are not cognitively meaningful. It is sometimes considered synonymous with ignosticism.

Transcendental argument for the existence of God

The Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God (TAG) is the argument that attempts to prove the existence of God by arguing that logic, morals, and science ultimately presuppose a supreme being and that God must therefore be the source of logic and morals.A version was formulated by Immanuel Kant in his 1763 work The Only Possible Argument in Support of a Demonstration of the Existence of God, and most contemporary formulations of the transcendental argument have been developed within the framework of Christian presuppositional apologetics.

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Concepts in religion
Conceptions of God
Existence of God
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Problem of evil
Philosophersof religion

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