Being and Some Philosophers

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PIMS, 1952 - Biography & Autobiography - 235 pages
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The study of being was one of the main preoccupations of Etienne Gilson's scholarly and intellectual life. Being and Some Philosophers is at once a testament to the persistence of those concerns and an important landmark in the history of the question of being. The book charts the ways in which being is translated across history, from unity in Plato and substance in Aristotle to essence in Avicenna and the act of existence in Aquinas. It examines the vicissitudes of essence and existence in Suarez and Christian Wolff, in Hegel and Kierkegaard, in order to uncover the metaphysical and existential foundations of modern thought. And yet Being and Some Philosophers remains not so much an historical investigation (although it could only have been written by a scholar steeped in the history of philosophy) but, in the words of its author, "a philosophical book, and a dogmatically philosophical one at that." Its passionate vigour has proven, over many years, at once fresh and provocative. Indeed, the appendix to this revised edition contains critiques of the book by two Thomists as well as Gilson's replies to their objections.
 

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User Review  - Jack Stephens - Goodreads

A good concise history on the philosophy of being, especially from a Thomistic tradition. Read full review

Contents

On Being and the One
1
AppendixOn Some Difficulties of Interpretation
216

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About the author (1952)

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.

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