Intellectual groups

Intellectual groups

Fr G.H. Duggan SM

Dr Tracey Rowland in her article "De Lubac's writings in English translation" (December/January AD2000) wrote that the historians of the Second Vatican Council tend to agree that there were three dominant intellectual groups represented at the Council: the Neo-Thomists, the Ressourcement types (most particularly de Lubac) and the Transcendental Thomists (most particularly Karl Rahner).

Most will agree, I think, that the historians' assessment of the situation is accurate.

"Neo-Thomist" was a label applied by their adversaries to that group of thinkers headed by Fr Garrigou-Lagrange OP and including Maritain, Journet, Gilson and others who were genuine disciples of Aquinas, faithfully expounding his teaching, basically Aristotelian, as found in his major works.

The Ressourcement group advocated a "leap over the Middle Ages" back to the Fathers of the Church like St Augustine and Origen, whose philosophy was basically Platonist and had weaknesses which led St Albert the Great and St Thomas to abandon the theory in the 13th century. On such matters as the relation be�tween soul and body in man, and the origin of our abstract ideas, they held that Aristotle was right and Plato mistaken.

"Transcendental Thomism" is not Thomistic at all. The system was developed by Fr Maréchal SJ and adopted by Rahner, Lonergan and others. Marechal maintained that one could begin by accepting Immanuel Kant's account of human knowledge and proceed by a closely reasoned and perfectly logical path to an affirmation of the metaphysical system of St Thomas. But, as T. J. Tekippe and others have pointed out, the system involves am unwarranted leap from being as it exists in the mind to being as it exists in concrete real�ity. It is one more failed attempt to bridge the unbridgeable gap which Descartes created between the mind and the visible world.

Silverstream, New Zealand

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