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John Paul II Identified the Source of Our Present Cultural Malaise
Crisis Magazine ^ | 8/8/12 | James Matthew Wilson

Posted on 08/08/2012 8:26:30 AM PDT by marshmallow

Late in life, Pope John Paul II gave a series of interviews subsequently collected in the book Memory and Identity (2005). There, in response to a question about the pervasive ideologies that had swept Europe during the past couple of centuries, and which had resulted in the slaughter of millions, he contended that in order to explain all this,

we have to go back to the period before the Enlightenment, especially to the revolution brought about by the philosophical thought of Descartes. The cogito, ergo sum (I think, therefore I am) radically changed the way of doing philosophy. In the pre-Cartesian period, philosophy, that is to say the cogito, or rather the cognosco, was subordinate to esse, which was considered prior. To Descartes, however, the esse seemed secondary, and he judged the cogito to be prior. This not only changed the direction of philosophizing, but it marked the decisive abandonment of what philosophy had been hitherto, particularly the philosophy of Saint Thomas Aquinas, and namely the philosophy of esse.

Before Descartes, philosophy was concerned with being (esse), with what was real and with the reasoning necessary to bring the mind to an adequate knowledge of that reality. Since Descartes, the concern has been primarily (even exclusively) with questioning the instrument of reason—that is, with analyzing thought. Citing this shift from metaphysics to epistemology as first philosophy was not an especially new observation.

What was new was the pope’s resurrecting this reading of intellectual history when he did. In the early twentieth century, the advocates of neo-Thomism (a renewal of Saint Thomas Aquinas’s method of philosophy and theology) chose this Cartesian “break” as the obstacle to be overcome: we must get back to the reality of being and out of the cobwebbed darkness of thought, where philosophy had in a sense languished.........

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: Catholic; Ministry/Outreach; Theology
KEYWORDS: descartes; philosophy; theology

1 posted on 08/08/2012 8:26:36 AM PDT by marshmallow
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To: marshmallow

My preference is Kant and the Critique of Pure Reasoning.

2 posted on 08/08/2012 8:44:43 AM PDT by Sacajaweau
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To: marshmallow

It’s The Pope’s fault?

What, Bush’s Fault isn’t working out well enough?

3 posted on 08/08/2012 8:58:05 AM PDT by Old Sarge (We are now officially over the precipice, we just havent struck the ground yet)
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To: marshmallow

This is quite surely.......a Treasure Found! I’ve done extensive research on this very topic and concluded that the core problem with the loss of faith by the general public was the adoption of Cartesian philosophy which inevitably leads to and provides the source underpinning of Secular Humanism and Relativism. Sadly and for reasons quite unclear, the Church has near abandonned any intellectual effort against Cartesian philosophy. The results have been a near catastrophic loss of progress in the effort to move human kind closer to a more perfect relationship with God.

Wilson nails it when he observes that: “If theology lost its grounding in sound realist metaphysics, its truths would inevitably be lost-by-metamorphosis in the processes of inculturation and ecumenical rearticulation”; and again: “Contemporary Continental philosophy takes its orientation from Nietzsche and, largely, sets out merely to describe what the world looks like to one who no longer believes in the integrity of the human person as subject or the integrity of the world as grounded in truth and being.”

This article should be read, studied, read again and researched thoroughly by anyone interested to understand the tragedy of this era.

4 posted on 08/08/2012 8:58:24 AM PDT by Rich21IE
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To: marshmallow

very good and important post.

Heidegger famously asks right at the beginning of Introduction to Metaphysics, “why are there essents rather than nothing?”.

I read this article to say that JPII would answer that question with a hearty “YES, that is in fact, precisely the question”. As it says, being is the point of contact that all humans (believers and non-believers) share. It seems to follow, then, that a discussion of being is one that we can have with non-believers.

At least that is one thing I take from this article. I ordered the interviews with JP II which were referenced...thanks again for the post.

5 posted on 08/08/2012 8:59:34 AM PDT by ConservativeDude
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To: marshmallow


6 posted on 08/08/2012 9:02:13 AM PDT by Sergio (An object at rest cannot be stopped! - The Evil Midnight Bomber What Bombs at Midnight)
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To: marshmallow

Superb post & article! Timely for me, and will commence a reading of Fides et Ratio.

7 posted on 08/08/2012 9:04:01 AM PDT by jobim (.)
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To: marshmallow

Wonderful article. Thanks for posting. So ironic—I defended Descartes fiercely versus Hume (who’s probably just too wrong to defend under any conditions) in one course and completely missed Descartes’ own massive failure. He really had put the cart before the horse—inside-out reasoning, truly the bane of modern society.

8 posted on 08/08/2012 9:10:16 AM PDT by Mach9
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To: Mach9
"He really had put the cart before the horse"

Rene Descartes walks into a bar.
A horse walks into a bar.
The bartender says: "I thought the horse came before Descartes."

Rene Descartes is sitting at the bar.
The bartender asks him: Will you be having a drink?
Rene Descartes says "I think not" and disappears.

9 posted on 08/08/2012 9:47:25 AM PDT by who_would_fardels_bear
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To: Old Sarge
You seem to have mis-read the headline.

I do that pretty frequently, myself. Darting eyes osutpacing slow brain.

I excuse myself on account of age.

10 posted on 08/08/2012 10:02:27 AM PDT by Mrs. Don-o ('Eat Mor Chikin." - William Shakespeare, Mark Twain and/or the U.S. Constitution)
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To: marshmallow

Philosophy ping!

11 posted on 08/08/2012 11:19:38 AM PDT by folkquest (Nothing is fool-proof because fools are so ingenious!)
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To: who_would_fardels_bear

Fantastic. Only good laugh today, and I needed it. Merci.

12 posted on 08/08/2012 11:48:42 AM PDT by Mach9
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