Philosophy Word of the Day – Jacques Maritain

Jacques Maritain

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“(1882-1973).  The best-known neo-Thomist of the twentieth century.  Having become dissatisfied with secularism and scientism, at the age of 24 Maritain converted to Roman Catholicism and spent the following sixty or so years elaborating a comprehensive philosophical system based on the writings of Thomas Aquinas and his scholastic followers, most especially John of St Thomas (1589-1644).

“His major contributions are to epistemology (The Degrees of Knowledge (1932)), social philosophy (The Person and the Common Good (1947)), and aesthetics (Art and Scholasticism (1920)).  Maritain is a staunch realist in metaphysics and epistemology; he advocates ontological pluralism, claiming that there are various non-reducible levels of existence, e.g., the physical, the biological, the psychological, the social, and the spiritual; and similarly he insists upon the diversity of our ways of knowing reality, emphasizing the role of rational and creative intuition and thereby linking metaphysics and aesthetics.”

— John Haldane in The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, 522.

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Philosophy Word of the Day – Problem of Universals

Universals are features (e.g., redness or tallness) shared by many individuals, each of which is said to instantiate or exemplify the universal. Although it began with dispute over the status of Platonic Forms, the problem of universals became a central concern during the middle ages. The metaphysical issue is whether or not these features exist independently of the particular things that have them: realists hold that they do; nominalists hold that they do not; conceptualists hold that they do so only mentally.

(via Philosophical Dictionary)

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