An Introduction to Philosophy
Jacques Maritain's An Introduction to Philosophy was first published in 1931. Since then, this book has stood the test of time as a clear guide to what philosophy is and how to philosophize. Inspired by the Thomistic Revival called for...
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Jacques Maritain's An Introduction to Philosophy was first published in 1931. Since then, this book has stood the test of time as a clear guide to what philosophy is and how to philosophize. Inspired by the Thomistic Revival called for by Leo XIII, Maritain relies heavily on Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas to shape a philosophy that, far from sectarian theology in disguise, is driven by reason and engages the modern world. Re-released as part of the Sheed & Ward Classic series, An Introduction to Philosophy is sure to enliven the minds of students and general readers for years to come.
From the new introduction by Ralph McInerny:
You are about to read a magnificent introduction not only to a kind of philosophy but to philosophizing itself. Jacques Maritain was a relatively young man when he wrote this book, but his effort is one that attracts any philosopher more and more as he grows older. However odd and unusual what he says becomes, the philosopher yearns to show how even the most abstruse claims can be put into relation with what the reader already knows. That, in its essence, is what teaching is. In this book, the reader will find a wise and certain guide into philosophizing as such. And, in the end, he will find that what he reads is really only a refinement and development of what he and everybody else already knew.
T. S. Eliot once called Jacques Maritain "the most conspicuous figure and probably the most powerful force in contemporary philosophy." His wife and devoted intellectual companion, Raissa Maritain, was of Jewish descent but joined the Catholic church with him in 1906. Maritain studied under Henri Bergson but was dissatisfied with his teacher's philosophy, eventually finding certainty in the system of St. Thomas Aquinas. He lectured widely in Europe and in North and South America, and lived and taught in New York during World War II. Appointed French ambassador to the Vatican in 1945, he resigned in 1948 to teach philosophy at Princeton University, where he remained until his retirement in 1953. He was prominent in the Catholic intellectual resurgence, with a keen perception of modern French literature. Although Maritain regarded metaphysics as central to civilization and metaphysically his position was Thomism, he took full measure of the intellectual currents of his time and articulated a resilient and vital Thomism, applying the principles of scholasticism to contemporary issues. In 1963, Maritain was honored by the French literary world with the national Grand Prize for letters. He learned of the award at his retreat in a small monastery near Toulouse where he had been living in ascetic retirement for some years. In 1967, the publication of "The Peasant of the Garonne" disturbed the French Roman Catholic world. In it, Maritain attacked the "neo-modernism" that he had seen developing in the church in recent decades, especially since the Second Vatican Council. According to Jaroslav Pelikan, writing in the Saturday Review of Literature, "He laments that in avant-garde Roman Catholic theology today he can 'read nothing about the redeeming sacrifice or the merits of the Passion.' In his interpretation, the whole of the Christian tradition has identified redemption with the sacrifice of the cross. But now, all of that is being discarded, along with the idea of hell, the doctrine of creation out of nothing, the infancy narratives of the Gospels, and belief in the immortality of the human soul." Maritain's wife, Raissa, also distinguished herself as a philosophical author and poet. The project of publishing Oeuvres Completes of Jacques and Raissa Maritain has been in progress since 1982, with seven volumes now in print.