Methodical Realism

Front Cover
Ignatius Press, 2011 - Philosophy - 112 pages
0 Reviews
This short book is a work of one of the 20th century's greatest philosophers and historians of philosophy, Etienne Gilson. The book's title, taken from the first chapter, may sound esoteric but it reflects a common-sense outlook on the world, applied in a methodical way. That approach, known as realism, consists in emphasizing the fact that what is real precedes our concepts about it. In contrast to realism stands idealism, which refers to the philosophical outlook that begins with ideas and tries to move from them to things. Gilson shows how the common-sense notion of realism, though denied by many thinkers, is indispensible for a correct understanding of things--of what is and how we know what is. He shows the flaws of idealism and he critiques efforts to introduce elements of idealism into realist philosophy (immediate realism). At the same time, the author criticizes failures of certain realist philosophers--including Aristotle--to be consistent in their own principles and to begin from sound starting points. To these problems, Gilson traces medieval philosophy's failure in the realm of science, which led early modern scientific thinkers of the 17th century unnecessarily to reject even the best of medieval scholastic philosophy. He concludes with The Realist Beginner's Handbook, a summary of key points for thinking clearly about reality and about the knowledge of it.
 

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Contents

I
II
III
IV
A Handbook for Beginning Realists
ENDNOTES
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2011)

Born in Paris, Etienne Gilson was educated at the University of Paris. He became professor of medieval philosophy at the Sorbonne in 1921, and in 1932 was appointed to the chair in medieval philosophy at the College de France. In 1929 he cooperated with the members of the Congregation of Priests of St. Basil, in Toronto, Canada, to found the Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies in association with St. Michael's College at the University of Toronto. Gilson served as professor and director of studies at the institute. Like his fellow countryman Jacques Maritain, Etienne Gilson was a neo-Thomist for whom Christian revelation is an indispensable auxiliary to reason, and on faith he accepted Christian doctrine as advocated by the Roman Catholic church. At the same time, like St. Thomas Aquinas, he accorded reason a wide compass of operation, maintaining that it could demonstrate the existence of God and the necessity of revelation, with which he considered it compatible. Why anything exists is a question that science cannot answer and may even deem senseless. Gilson found the answer to be that "each and every particular existing thing depends for its existence on a pure Act of existence." God is the supreme Act of existing. An authority on the Christian philosophy of the Middle Ages, Gilson lectured widely on theology, art, the history of ideas, and the medieval world.

Bibliographic information