Studia Gilsoniana 4 (January–March 2015)


Inspired by selected passages from Wendell Berry’s story “A Place in Time,” the article discusses Étienne Gilson’s essay “The Future of Augustinian Metaphysics” with a special regard to the relation of habits to metaphysics. The basis of this relation is human being whose life, from the perspective of Augustinian metaphysics, is permanently unsettled. Man is the one mortal being whose perfection does not come with his being, but only with his own input into what it already is. Habits, then, prefect an already constituted human being in what he or she is. Man is not born, however, with habits, but acquires them through acts of the virtues or vices. The article develops the Augustinian idea according to which the moral effort of man to pursue virtues and escape vices results not so much from his natural desire of ‘beatitude’, but rather from the fact of being led to God by God.



The article discusses the issue of man’s participation in public life in the context of communication processes which play an important role in shaping the consciousness of community. Every community exists because of the relationships between the people involved in it. Thus, communication is the most perfect way for people to express themselves within the community. This relational dependency between the community and communication becomes the core of public participation. Persuasive communication plays the dominant role there, which is significantly important at the moment of message authentication. Persuasive communication has its foundation in the art of rhetoric and has been present in public life since the ancient Greece. Today, however, the mass media seem to dominate the communication in society by using means of persuasion and the public discourse detached from the context of interpersonal relationships.


Renata Kucharska, HUMAN SUBJECTIVITY IN THE LIGHT OF CHRISTIAN PERSONALISM, Studia Gilsoniana 4:1 (January–March 2015): 29-38

The article discusses human subjectivity from the perspective of Christian personalism. There are three complementary respects in which human subjectivity is examined: (1) its main source which is God, (2) its place of actualization which is the encounter of persons, and (3) its way of implementation which is the love of persons. Integrally understood, human subjectivity appears as a key parameter which facilitates properly shaping the individual development and social relationships of persons.



Both in his comments on the Sententiae of Peter Lombard and in his Summa Theologiae, Thomas Aquinas uses the term philosophia prima. Although it is not used by Aquinas frequently, this term marks the technical sense which links theologia and metaphysica as the first sciences with the second sciences, like physics. Against this background, this article attempts to clarify: (1) the need of first philosophy to exist, (2) the Thomistic position which claims that there is only one supreme science which, though possessing three names, has God as its only subiectum, and (3) the meaning of the term philosophia prima.


Richard Fafara, ÉTIENNE GILSON IN CHARLOTTESVILLE, Studia Gilsoniana 4:1 (January–March 2015): 63-73

Gilson became familiar with American academic life and language during the summer of 1926 when he first visited the United States and taught two summer courses at the University of Virginia. His international renown as well as his popularity at the University of Virginia resulted in a second visit in 1937 to present the Richard Lectures on Reason and Revelation in the Middle Ages, which focused on the challenging theme of attempting to bring faith and knowledge into an organic unity. His dissection of three main philosophical traditions in the Middle Ages constituted an important step in Gilson reaching a satisfactory understanding of the relationship between philosophy and theology within the thought of Saint Thomas Aquinas.


Didier Rance, GILSON—NEWMAN—BLONDEL?, Studia Gilsoniana 4:1 (January–March 2015): 75-92

The article analyzes the dispute between Étienne Gilson and Maurice Blondel. Their dispute is quite notorious and, even though all the reasons behind it are unknown, casts a shadow on the French philosophy of Christian inspiration in the last century. For both Gilson and Blondel are among the most illustrious representatives of it. The article attempts to reconcile Gilson and Blondel by referring to John Henry Newman. According to Henri de Lubac, “Blondel greatly admired Newman and, in that, Gilson joined him;” moreover, St. John Paul II, in Fides et Ratio, not only proposed the names of Newman and Gilson among the five thinkers of Western thought that he considered to be significant examples of “fruitful relationship between philosophy and the word of God” in their “courageous research,” but he also, considered their “philosophical works of great influence and lasting value.” The former Pope stated, “a philosophy which, starting with an analysis of immanence, opened the way to the transcendent,” just after devoting two paragraphs to praise the modern Thomistic revival and its fruits (§57–58). Could, then, blessed John Henry Newman be a possible tertium datum between Gilson and Blondel?


Silvana Filippi, AROUND “THE METAPHYSICS OF EXODUS”, Studia Gilsoniana 4:2 (April–June 2015): 99–115

The article is a contribution to the academic study on the transformations undergone by the notion of being, as the object of metaphysics, in the history of philosophy. It is concerned with the expression “Metaphysics of Exodus” forged by Étienne Gilson to describe the impact exercised by the Biblical passage of the Exodus 3:14 on the understanding of being in the Middle Ages. Beside Gilson’s understanding of being, in the scope of the article’s objectives a special place is taken by the analysis of Martin Heidegger’s interpretation of being and Jan Aertsen’s argument against Gilson’s position.


Natalia Kunat, EXISTENTIAL DETERMINANTS OF THE LANGUAGE OF METAPHYSICS, Studia Gilsoniana 4:2 (April–June 2015): 117–130

The article presents the existential determinants of the language of metaphysics primarily on the basis of the philosophical stances adopted by Stanisław Kamiński and Mieczysław A. Krąpiec. Realistic philosophy, which focuses principally on the problem of being, uses the language of metaphysics, which helps in understanding reality in itself. Moreover, the article analyses the structure of the language of metaphysics as well as the existential elements constituting its specificity, i.e., among other things, existential judgement and transcendentals.


Arturo Serrano, THE SPECTACLE OF REDEMPTION: GUILT AND VIOLENCE IN MARTIN SCORSESE’S RAGING BULL, Studia Gilsoniana 4:2 (April–June 2015): 131–148

Of all the characters that undertake a search for redemption in Martin Scorsese’s films, perhaps it is the story of Jake La Motta in Raging Bull that for many reasons presents the greatest challenge to understanding redemption’s role in the narratives of his films. Is Jake La Motta a redeemed character at the end of Raging Bull? I argue that Scorsese uses Raging Bull to criticize a ritualistic view of redemption by portraying the beginning of Jake’s search as a futile attempt to submit himself to a public spectacle of ritual violence in the boxing ring while visually relating this to the Catholic sacraments and the crucifixion. It will only be later—in the loneliness of a jail cell, estranged from his family and without having to have had gone through a rite—that Jake achieves the self-awareness redemption requires.


Fr. Hubert Wiśniewski, THE ACTS OF THE WILL ACCORDING TO ST. THOMAS AQUINAS, Studia Gilsoniana 4:2 (April–June 2015): 149–163

The article attempts to clarify an important aspect of St. Thomas Aquinas’s theory of human action, namely to show these acts of man which are immediately caused by the will. According to some contemporary philosophers, the acts of the will are limited to those of trying or of intending. Do they exhaust the whole possibility of the will to act? The author seeks to answer this question basing his considerations on the analysis of the Summa Theologiae by St. Thomas Aquinas.


Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P., THERE CANNOT BE GENUINE SENSATION WITHOUT A REAL SENSED THING, Studia Gilsoniana 4:2 (April–June 2015): 165–179

(Translated from Latin by Thomas DePauw, Edited by Edward M. Macierowski, Ph.D.)

In this essay, Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange refutes Kantian and occasionalist notions of sensation that have been smuggled into Thomism and Catholic thought. He maintains that sensation by its very nature requires an object that is sensed, since sensation without a sensible object is no sensation at all. To defend this position, he draws upon Aristotle, St. Thomas, and the Thomistic Commentators, arguing that the opposite position not only denies the distinctions between hallucination and sensation, bodily vision and imaginary vision, but also ultimately denies that the metaphysical certitude of the first principles of reason are materially resolved in that which is sensed.


Roberta Bayer, THE COMMON SENSE AMERICAN REPUBLIC: THE POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY OF JAMES WILSON (1742–1798), Studia Gilsoniana 4:3 (July–September 2015): 187–207

James Wilson (1742–1798), lawyer, Justice of the first Supreme Court of the United States, and Constitutional Framer argued, as did Étienne Gilson, that a citizenry who have adopted philosophical skepticism will lose their political freedom, as self-rule requires that citizens be able to reason rightly about the natural law. He advocated a common sense philosophical education in natural law for all lawyers, so that they might know the first principles of moral reasoning.


Benjamin M. Block, THE BALANCE OF FAITH AND REASON: THE ROLE OF CONFIRMATION IN THE THOUGHT OF ST. THOMAS AQUINAS, Studia Gilsoniana 4:3 (July–September 2015): 209–228

The evidentialist objection against Christianity, which states that the Christian faith does not have sufficient evidence to justify belief, can be troubling for Christians, for they do not wish to say that their beliefs are founded upon mere human evidence, and yet, they also wish to affirm that “those who place their faith in this truth, for which human reason offers no experience, do not believe lightly, as those following unlearned fables” (SCG I.6). St. Thomas Aquinas offers a unique and compelling solution to the evidentialist objection—a solution that confirms the Christian belief that faith is a gift from God, but which also respects the proper place of human reason within the believing life of men. St. Thomas teaches that God provides both internal and external confirmation of what He reveals, although only the internal confirmation of the work of the Holy Spirit is necessary to justify Christian belief. Aquinas’s teaching concerning the role of divine confirmation of revealed truths provides at least one important key to understanding the delicate balance between faith and reason within the Christian life.


Robert A. Delfino, THE FAILURE OF NEW ATHEISM MORALITY, Studia Gilsoniana 4:3 (July–September 2015): 229–240

New atheists, such as Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, generally speaking, are committed to two main beliefs. The first is scientism, which is the view that only science can give us complete and reliable knowledge of reality. The second is metaphysical naturalism, which is the view that no supernatural entities exist. In this article the author focuses on the metaphysical naturalism that new atheists and other naturalists accept, with the goal of answering the following question: Can metaphysical naturalism provide an adequate foundation for objective moral values? He argues that the answer is “no” and he discusses several serious problems inherent in a naturalistic account of the foundation of morality.


Jude P. Dougherty, WE ARE MODERN AND WANT TO BE MODERN, Studia Gilsoniana 4:3 (July–September 2015): 241–249

The author traces the thought of George Santayana, Brad S. Gregory, Pierre Manent, and Rémi Brague, who addressed the transformation of the West into its modern present. They all show that by being cut off from its cultural and political inheritance in modern times, Western Civilization presently finds itself in a burning need of recovering its identity. To save its identity, the West is to challenge the errors of modernity. We used to have the example of Winston Churchill and Charles de Gaulle in the darkest hours of World War II, and the remarkable example of John Paul II who through his leadership of the Solidarity movement inspired hope not only in his own people but also for others in the Soviet bloc at the time. “The cultural task awaiting Europe,” to use a phrase of Rémi Brague, challenging though it may be, may in time find its voice in another Churchill or John Paul II. At present, with no remedy in sight, all we can do is to hope.



Philosophical forces gathered in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Catholic Modernism have crystallized into theological views which permeate the antinomian atmosphere in the Church today, resulting in an ongoing Catholic identity problem, both within the Church and in relation to the world. In place of the perennial philosophy and its contemplative ideal, many now welcome the incoherence of broad philosophical and theological pluralism, while pastoral practice is infused with the fruits of pragmatism and the rhetoric of false dichotomies (justice/mercy, intellectual/pastoral, tradition/living faith, speculative truth/charity, for example). To reverse this anti-intellectual course, rehabilitation of Aquinas’s positions on the primacy of the speculative order and contemplative charism, his integration of natural, revealed and mystical wisdoms, and his sense of objective worship, is needed. A brief account of the robust role of philosophy in the Church’s mission and of Gilson’s nuanced position on the encounter of Thomism and Modernism supports this assertion.


Lois Eveleth, THE LURE OF PANTHEISM: ITS EVANGELICAL FLOWERING AND WORLD-WIDE DESIGNS, Studia Gilsoniana 4:3 (July–September 2015): 285–301

Identifying key elements in the writings of four classic pantheists (Bruno, Spinoza, Toland, Emerson) provides some conceptual access to contemporary pantheism. While pantheists seek to minimize or even avoid an accounting of transcendence, this metaphysical lack reduces the explanatory power of pantheism.



Catechesis and atheism are two polarizing words. Catechesis is meant to deepen one’s faith and strengthen one’s relationship with God, while atheism entirely negates the existence of God. The purpose of this article is to show that despite the fact that these two phenomena are so completely oppositional, yet there is an occasion of their encounter. In Polish society it may take place in catechesis—colloquially called religious instruction, which is conducted at schools. That is why this article is concentrated on outlining ineffective moments of catechesis which may have something to do with atheism. It does not mean, though, that the whole process of catechesis should be deemed ineffective and inefficacious. The main priority is to list those elements that are imperfect, causing aspects of the redemptive ministry of the Church to falter. In addition to this, vital recommendations are provided in order to run the catechesis process more effectively, providing more care for the faith and salvation of man.


Sr. Margaret J. Obrovac, F.S.P., CROSSING THE THRESHOLD OF HOPE INTO THE MEDIA CULTURE, Studia Gilsoniana 4:3 (July–September 2015): 319–331

The “new atheism” and the “new evangelization” have become the buzzwords of the age. Atheism is now the fastest growing “religious” group in the United States; the new evangelization decisively shaped the conclave that elected Jorge Bergoglio to the papacy. Twenty years ago, in Crossing the Threshold of Hope, John Paul II reflected pastorally on some of the philosophical, spiritual, and cultural roots of both. His insights, embodied in Christians who live them, offer the Church a key to our times. If evangelization today is to announce the Gospel in the languages of today, what script might it use? What images might it evoke? What might its cadence be like?


Fr. Pawel Tarasiewicz, STATE VS. GOD: ON AN ATHEISTIC IMPLICATION OF EUROPEAN STATISM, Studia Gilsoniana 4:3 (July–September 2015): 333–342

The article consistst of four parts. First, it gives an example of statism present in contemporary Europe which consists in giving a priority of loyalty to the state at the expense of loyalty to God. Secondly, it traces the idea of European statism in the thought of Hobbes and Hegel to show how the state was to replace or equal God’s authority. Thirdly, it considers whether democracy can efficiently protect against statism. Finally, it explores the words of Jesus Christ—“Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s”—to formulate an argument against trading Christian faith for the philosophy of statism.


Desmond J. FitzGerald, "Gilson, Darwin, and Intelligent Design," Studia Gilsoniana 4:4 (October–December 2015): 349–361

The article starts with stating the fact that today there is an increasing recognition of difficulties with Darwinism accompanied by vigorous responses on the part of Darwin’s defenders; among the instances of challenge to the dominant theory, one can find a book of Gilson, From Aristotle to Darwin and Back Again, and those behind the Intelligent Design movement. In relating the book of Gilson to the ID proponents, the author concludes that, while in some ways they are on the same side in opposing the anti-creation thrust of Darwinism, Gilson is neutral on the validity or truth of Darwin’s biological hypothesis. Gilson, however, whose book preceded the ID movement by some twenty years, seeks to analyze Darwinism from the perspective of the classical philosophy of nature. He well understands that, according to modern scientific method, final causes are excluded from consideration, but he calls for a biophilosophy which will be open to the reality of human experience as Aristotle was and recognize that teleology is present in nature. According to him, even if teleology seems to be a contestable explanation, chance as understood by Darwinists is the pure absence of explanation.


Brian Kemple, "Evaluating the Metaphysical Realism of Étienne Gilson," Studia Gilsoniana 4:4 (October–December 2015): 363–380

While there is an absence of treatises devoted to the question of ens ut primum cognitum, there is no shortage of brief and implicit treatments; indeed, nearly every Thomist of the past seven centuries seems to have at least something to say about the notion that being is the first of our intellectual conceptions. Most recent Thomist thinkers—including Gilson—assume this ens to be nothing other than the ens reale of things entitatively considered, operating as they do out of a framework within which realism and idealism are presumed to be exhaustive and mutually exclusive attempts to answer the question of human knowledge. It is the intent of this essay to examine how Gilson arrives at his position, which he calls “metaphysical realism,” and to point to some of the difficulties it entails.


Pawel Tarasiewicz, "Gilson, Krapiec and Christian Philosophy Today," Studia Gilsoniana 4:4 (October–December 2015): 381–392

The author undertakes an attempt to answer the following question: is Christian philosophy possible today? The question seems to be of great importance due to the fact that what Christians who try to do philosophy usually encounter is bitter criticism which comes to them from two sides at once: that of academy and that of the Church. In short, for academy their philosophy is too Christian, and for the Church it is too academic. Being indebted to the insights of Étienne Gilson and Mieczyslaw A. Krapiec (the original Polish spelling: Mieczysław Albert Krąpiec, pronounced: myechisuaf albert krompyetz), the author comes to the conclusion that Christian philosophy is possible today only if: 1) it is not identified with the art of persuasion, as its final end lies in gaining understanding rather than being convincing, 2) it is the work of a Christian, and 3) it has the real world as its object and metaphysics as its method. For Christian philosophy—which in essence consists in doing philosophy by Christians in order to get more rational understanding of their religious faith—should be identified with the perfection of the intellect achieved by practicing the classical philosophy of being.


Wojciech Daszkiewicz, "Culture from the Perspective of Realistic Philosophy," Studia Gilsoniana 4:4 (October–December 2015): 393–403

The article underlines the moments that define the metaphysical understanding of culture. According to this conception, culture in its most basic meaning is rationalization (intellectualization) of nature. The article is focused on the following areas: genetic-exemplarist analysis of cultural works and definition of culture from the perspective of realistic philosophy.


Mieczysław A. Krąpiec, O.P, Andrzej Maryniarczyk, S.D.B., "The Lublin Philosophical School: Founders, Motives, Characteristics," Studia Gilsoniana 4:4 (October–December 2015): 405–422

The article is focused on the Lublin Philosophical School; it explains its name, presents its founders, reveals the causes of its rise, and introduce the specific character of the School’s philosophy. It starts with stating the fact that in the proper sense, the term “Lublin Philosophical School” describes a way of cultivating realistic (classical) philosophy developed in the 1950s by a group of philosophers at the Catholic University of Lublin, Poland. The Lublin Philosophical School is characterized by cognitive realism (the object of cognition is really existing being), maximalism (taking up all existentially important questions), methodological autonomy (in relation to the natural-mathematical sciences and theology), transcendentalism in its assertions (its assertions refer to all reality), methodological-epistemological unity (the same method applied in objectively cultivated philosophical disciplines), coherence (which guarantees the objective unity of the object), and objectivity (achieved by the verifiability of assertions on their own terms, which is achieved by relating them in each instance to objective evidence). The term is the name of the Polish school of realistic (classical) philosophy that arose as a response to the Marxism that was imposed administratively on Polish institutions of learning, and also as a response to other philosophical currents dominant at the time such as phenomenology, existentialism, and logical positivism.


Mieczysław A. Krąpiec, O.P, Andrzej Maryniarczyk, S.D.B., "The Lublin Philosophical School: Achievements, Identity and Prospects," Studia Gilsoniana 4:4 (October–December 2015): 423–441

The article is concentrated on the Lublin Philosophical School which came into being in the institutional framework of the Department of Philosophy at the Catholic University of Lublin, Poland; it describes its achievements, which took place at different stages of the School’s development, as well as the School’s new initiatives and challenges.

The development of the School was connected with the involvement of new people and successive generations of new students who joined in the cultivation of realistic philosophy. One can regard the years 1950–1966 as the first stage of the School’s development, in which the School’s program was formulated. The following stages are the years 1967–1980, and 1981–2004, and the years that follow, in which new generations of students who take up inquiries in the spirit of the School’s program arrive.

The article also explains the reasons why today the Lublin Philosophical School cannot be identified with the Department of Philosophy of the Catholic University of Lublin, but rather with a special style of cultivating philosophy.