Sunday, September 30, 2007

Features of a Catholic Philosopher

In a slight break from my usual fare of Scotism, I'm posting on a more general topic. The following is from a book by Nicholas Rescher, an analytic philosopher who dabbles in scholasticism (judging by his use of almost entirely outdated sources when rarely he mentiones Scotus; with the exception of the cambridge Companion to Scotus, he cites CRS Harris, some 19th c. study, and a 1910 single vol. ed. of the Ordinatio). This is not to say that he is an analytic Thomist, however. He is a catholic philosopher who respects the tradition, which he seems to identify mainly with the Fathers, Thomas, and the Thomist tradition. but he is open to the wider picture. Anyway, here are some quotes from his "Scholastic Meditations", p. 158, on five features that characterize a Catholic philosopher:
"1. Awareness of and respect for the great tradition of Catholic philosophy from the Church Fathers to the present day.
2. Concern for the big issues of philosophy and mindfulness that attention to matters of detail will exist for their sake. A reluctance to be caught up in the fashions of the moment.
3. A humanistic preoccupation with matters of morality, ethics, and philosophical anthropology--that is, with the fundamentals of how life should ideally be lived.
4. Care for the classics: special attention for the philosophers, moralists, and thinkers of Greco-Roman antiquity and their subsequent Latinate continuations.
5. Breadth of sympathies: A positive inclination to look for merit in the work of other philosophers at large. And corrrespondingly, a certain skeptical self-restraint through absence of cocksure certitude in philosophical matters."
"Question 1: What does a Catholic philosopher owe to the Church and its teachings? Answer: Allegiance and acceptance.
Question 2: What does a Catholic philosopher owe to the tradition of Catholic philosophy? Answer: Not allegiance and acceptance, but something else and rather different, namely, respect."

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