• Dermot Griffin
    133
    "Born and nurtured when the human being first asked questions about the reason for things and their purpose, philosophy shows in different modes and forms that the desire for truth is part of human nature itself." - John Paul II, Faith and Reason

    Two of the greatest impacts on the history of philosophy are St. Thomas Aquinas, the father of Thomism, and Edmund Husserl, the father of phenomenology. We see two ways of doing philosophy: A philosophy concerned with the nature of Being and a philosophy concerned with the nature of consciousness and this union births Phenomenological Thomism (sometimes called Existential Thomism). It is through a marriage of the classical Aristotelian-Thomist tradition and the modern phenomenological-existential tradition that we find an objective ethical and metaphysical dogma; One needs both objective fact and subjective experience to understand reality. The project undertaken by Edith Stein, the Lublin School of Thomism, and to some extent Dietrich von Hildebrand all sought to fulfill this. A version of personalism, another movement in philosophy and theology, could be considered the brainchild of this marriage, and John Paul II called this "Thomistic Personalism," which I identify closely with. Inspired by the ethical personalism of Max Scheler, John Paul II saw the union between these two as essential for the development of a concrete Christian ethics. Personally, I think it is unwise to try to base everything in phenomenology or humanistic existentialism (Kierkegaard, Berdyaev, and Buber are a different topic). There needs to be some presupposing objectivity. On the contrary, it is unwise to boil everything down to the nature of Being. There needs to be room for lived experience. Phenomenology and existentialism provide adequate methods of analysis of Thomistic metaphysics. The traditions of Phenomenological Thomism and Thomistic Personalism provide a healthy balance between subjective experience and transcendental truth.

    A few great articles on these topics are the following:

    https://www.academia.edu/49069917/Thomism_and_Contemporary_Phenomenological_Realism_Toward_a_Renewed_Engagement

    https://www.academia.edu/82195007/Transcendentalising_Reduction_The_Heuristic_Role_of_the_Phenomenological_Epoch%C3%A9_in_the_Metaphysics_of_Existential_Thomism

    https://www.academia.edu/104950563/What_Is_Phenomenological_Thomism_Its_Principles_and_an_Application_The_Anthropological_Square

    https://www.academia.edu/78838205/On_the_Essence_of_Karol_Wojty%C5%82as_Personalism
  • Astrophel
    435
    Two of the greatest impacts on the history of philosophy are St. Thomas Aquinas, the father of Thomism, and Edmund Husserl, the father of phenomenology. We see two ways of doing philosophy: A philosophy concerned with the nature of Being and a philosophy concerned with the nature of consciousness and this union births Phenomenological Thomism (sometimes called Existential Thomism). It is through a marriage of the classical Aristotelian-Thomist tradition and the modern phenomenological-existential tradition that we find an objective ethical and metaphysical dogma; One needs both objective fact and subjective experience to understand reality. The project undertaken by Edith Stein, the Lublin School of Thomism, and to some extent Dietrich von Hildebrand all sought to fulfill this. A version of personalism, another movement in philosophy and theology, could be considered the brainchild of this marriage, and John Paul II called this "Thomistic Personalism," which I identify closely with. Inspired by the ethical personalism of Max Scheler, John Paul II saw the union between these two as essential for the development of a concrete Christian ethics. Personally, I think it is unwise to try to base everything in phenomenology or humanistic existentialism (Kierkegaard, Berdyaev, and Buber are a different topic). There needs to be some presupposing objectivity. On the contrary, it is unwise to boil everything down to the nature of Being. There needs to be room for lived experience. Phenomenology and existentialism provide adequate methods of analysis of Thomistic metaphysics. The traditions of Phenomenological Thomism and Thomistic Personalism provide a healthy balance between subjective experience and transcendental truth.Dermot Griffin

    If you are looking for a way to breathe some life into phenomenology, perhaps you would find Michel Henry helpful. I for one find the epoche is only as meaningful as one is predisposed to predisposed to reduce the world. Some will read Husserl and find it jarringly out of place with common sense, as
    Maritain seems to. But if one takes Heidegger's pov on gelassenheit (Discourse on Thinking and elsewhere) and allow oneself to stand in the openness of being, withdrawing one's "totality" of possible engagement to let the world stand forward, and allow the epoche to find its mark, then all forms of naturalism fall away.
    Naturalism has, putting aside the way it fits with our familiarity of the world, only one foundational principle that lies in its analytical depths, and that is causality. And causality has nothing epistemic about it, and while this really doesn't refer to the epoche, it does make an astounding discovery: the naturalistic realism cannot conceive of how any knowledge claim about transcendental objects, those out there, the dogs and cats and fence posts, can be grounded. This needs time to set in, but it is a powerful motivation to seek knowledge affirmation somewhere else than in a naturalistic account.
    Certainly not that one is trapped in some solipsistic idealism; this is not what phenomenology reveals, for nothing really changes in our day to dayness. Phenomenology insists there are objects in the world that are not me/ Itis just that when one thinks in the phenomenlogical attitude and out of the naturalistic one, the world becomes a very different place.
  • Joshs
    5.2k


    Phenomenology insists there are objects in the world that are not me/ Itis just that when one thinks in the phenomenlogical attitude and out of the naturalistic one, the world becomes a very different place.Astrophel

    It certainly does. How would you interpret the meaning of transcendence as Husserl uses it to refer to such entities as spatial objects? For instance, when he says that a real object like a ball is transcendent to the various perspectives of it that we actually see? Does he mean the ball is external to the constituting ego, or that we constitute its transcendence via an idealizing gesture immanent to the ego?
  • Count Timothy von Icarus
    2k
    An interesting element of John Paul II's thought is his views on love and marriage. He takes it, partly from Scripture, that man and woman are created to be in communion with each other. In the ideal state, both are subjects, persons to one another. Our bodies are "sacramental," outward signs of a more important internal (spiritual) truth about our personhood and our internal experiences.

    Thus, the body as object is not what should be essential. The body is a sacramental gift through which the inner unity of personhood can express itself to others. Love then is communion of persons. A man and woman becoming "one flesh," (Genesis) is an outward sign of this spiritual communion.

    The body is freely given as a gift to the other person as a means of communion, but it is spiritual communion that is most important, the recognition of one person that part of their self lies in/is completed by an other.

    This mirrors the relationship between the persons of the Godhead, each of which is distinct but in communion. There is the love of the Father for the Son, and that reflected love. That is, Lover/Beloved. The Holy Spirit is in here as hypostatic abstraction (Thirdness), as "the love of the lovers," (Saint Augustine, De Trinitate).

    Likewise, human love, through the powers of procreation, also produces a person from the relation of lover/beloved. Very neat.

    Of course, in our fallen world we become estranged and begin to treat each other as objects instead of persons. This is where the sin of lust comes on the scene. People see each other as objects or present themselves as objects. So too does shame enter here, as a coping mechanism to deal with lust. Mankind, in its originally innocence (the innocence of childhood) feels no shame because it has not yet made its body and others an object to itself.

    Good stuff from what I've read so far, although I'm not sure what's particularly Thomistic about it.
  • Astrophel
    435
    It certainly does. How would you interpret the meaning of transcendence as Husserl uses it to refer to such entities as spatial objects? For instance, when he says that a real object like a ball is transcendent to the various perspectives of it that we actually see? Does he mean the ball is external to the constituting ego, or that we constitute its transcendence via an idealizing gesture immanent to the ego?Joshs

    Looked around for the best way to look at this, and found in the chapter on noesis and noema (Ideas I) where he speaks of the transcendental object only in the context of the naturalistic pov. But the external object is, in the epoche, found in a systemic eidetic horizon and the object is epistemically secured in the intentional relation. So in the phenomenological reduction, the ball is no longer a ball, but its taken-as-a -ball (I see where Heidegger got this); the ball as a ball in space is suspended.
  • alan1000
    181
    the ball as a ball in space is suspended.Astrophel

    Like if you're not wearing underpants?
  • Johnnie
    13
    Isn’t existential thomism a child of Gilson, only christened like that by Maritain? It’s a reading of Thomas in which existence is taken as a principle in a being actualizing the essence, as opposed to „essentialism” which is supposed to take existence as derivative or even an accident of being and sometimes taking the subject of metaphysics as possible being is added to essentialist thomism. It isn’t necessarily connected to phenomenology, hell some existential thomists I know dunk on Husserl horribly. Lublin thomists are known from looking at phenomenology with thomistic ontology. But the founder of the school, Krąpiec, was known for debating local phenomenologists. But it may be the case that all phenomenological thomists are existential thomists, because nowadays it’s the only position really. There’s just differing views on the subject and procedure of metaphysics. Like Maritain starts with the intuition of being, Rahner with the act of knowing, Krąpiec in Lublin starts with an existential judgement, Gogacz starts with verbum cordis, River Forest thomists start with natural sciences. Maybe rare cases after Gilson, like McCool, wouldn’t call themselves existential but its definition is so minimal and apparent in Thomas that no thomist denies the thesis really.
  • Count Timothy von Icarus
    2k


    I think you are right on the nomenclature. W. Norris Clarke's "The One and the Many: A Contemporary Thomistic Metaphysics," presents itself as "existentialist," Thomism, and doesn't seem to draw on phenomenology at all. Unfortunately, he doesn't really expand much on what he thinks is particularly "existentialist" in his system. The two seem discrete, with some existentialists not being influenced much by Husserl and Stein. But they can also overlap, e.g. Sokolowski draws heavily on Husserl and the Aristotlean tradition, but also from St. Thomas as well, producing a blend of phenomenology, personalism, and Thomism.

    But it's a confusing area because personalism is associated with both phenomenology and existentialism. E.g., basically every personalist also gets labeled as an existentialist in encyclopedias.

    And then some folks who want to go back to 19th century Thomism call themselves "paleo-Thomists."
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