Friday, June 26, 2009

Thomistic Pilgrimage site

Just one of the delights of our trip to Toronto was touring the University of Toronto campus. The Pontifical Institute was where my hero, Etienne Gilson worked for the latter part of his life. The Unity of Philosophical Experience is probably his most widely known work Here is an excerpt:

The only way to ascertain what the free will can do is to define what it is. Knowing its nature, you will find in that knowledge a safe rule to define the power of the will as well as its limitations. If, on the contrary, you start on the assumption that it is safer to keep a little below the line, where are you going to stop? Why, indeed, should you stop at all? Since it is pious to lessen the efficacy of free will, it is more pious to lessen it a little more, and to make it utterly powerless should be the highest mark of piety. In fact, there will be mediaeval theologians who come very close to that conclusion, and even reach it a long time before the age of Luther and Calvin. Nothing, of course, would have been more repellent to St. Bonaventura than such a doctrine; the only question here is: was St. Bonaventura protected against it? If we allow pious feelings to decree what nature should be, we are bound to wrong nature, for how could we find in piety a principle of self-restriction? In theology, as in any other science, the main question is not to be pious, but to be right. For there is nothing pious in being wrong about God!

If piety is not theology, still less is it philosophy. Yet it cannot be denied that, as a philosopher, St. Bonaventura sometimes allowed himself to be carried away by his religious feelings....

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