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NEO-SCHOLASTICISM


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NEO-SCHOLASTICISM


through the active intellect (inlclhctiif! agens) an ab- strai'l ri'pic'scntation of the scnsil.ilc (ilijcct is provided for the iiil<lli:ctus possihilis. Ilciicf the characteristic of the idea, its non-materiality, and on this is based the principal argument for the spirituality and immor- tality of the soul. Here, too, is the foundation of logic and of the theory of knowledge, the justification of our judgments and syllogisms.

Upon knowledge follows the appetitive process, sensory or intellectual according to the sort of knowl- edge. The will (appelitus intellednalis) in certain con- ditions is free, and thanks to this liberty man is the master of his destiny. Like all other beings, we have an end to attain and we are morally obliged, though not compelled, to attain it.

Natural happiness would result from the full de- velopment of our powers of knowing and loving. We shotild find and possess God in this world since the corporeal world is the jirojier object of our intelligence. But ulidve nature is the order of grace and our super- natural happiness will consist in the direct intuition of God, the beatific vision. Here philosophy ends and theology begins.

II. Adaptation to Modern Needs. — The neo- Scholastic i)rogramme includes, in the next place, the adaptation of medieval principles and doctrines to our present intellectual needs. Complete immobility is no less incompatible with progress than out-and-out relativism. Vita in molu. To make Scholasticism rigid and stationary would be fatal to it. The doc- trines revived by the new movement are like an in- herited fortune; to refuse it would be folly, but to manage it without regard to actual conditions would be worse. With Dr. Ehrhard one may say: "Aquinas should be our beacon, not our boundary" ("Der Ka- tholicismus und das zwanzigste Jahrh. im Lichte der Kirchlichen Entwicklung der Neuzcit", Stuttgart, 1902, 2.52). We have now to pass in review the vari- ous factors in the situation and to see in what respect the new Scholasticism differs from the old and how far it adapts itself to our age.

(1) Elimination of False or Useless Notions. — Neo- Scholasticism rejects the theories of physics, celestial and terrestrial, which the Middle Ages grafted on the principles, otherwise sound enough, of cosmology and metaphysics; e. g. the perfection and superiority of astral substance, the "incorruptibility" of the heav- enly bodies, their external connexion with "motor spirits", the influence of the stars on the generation of earthly beings, the four "simple" bodies, etc. It fur- ther rejects those philosophical theories which are disproved by the results of investigation; e. g. the ditTusion of sen.sible "species" throughout a medium and their introduction into the organs of sense. Even the Scholastic ideas that have been retained are not all of equal importance; criticism and personal con- viction may retrench or modify them considerably, without injury to fundamental principles.

(2) Sliiilij of the HiMory of Philosophy. — The medi- eval scholars cultivated the history of philosophy solely with a view to its utility, i. e. as a means of gathering the deposit of truth containcfl in the writings of the ancients and, especially, for the purpose of refuting error and thus emphasizing the value of their own doc- trine. Modern students, on the contrary, regard every human fact and achievement as in itself signifi- cant, and accordingly they treat the history of philos- ophy in a spirit that is more disinterested. With this new attitude, neo-Scholasticism is in full sympathy; it does its share in the work of historical reconstruction by employing critical methods; it does not attempt to condense the opinions of others into a syllogism and refute them with a phrase, nor does it commend the practice of putting whole systems into a paragraph or two in order to annihilate them with epithet or invec- tive. Neo-Scholasticism, however, does not confine its interest to ancient and medieval philosophy; its


chief concern is with present-day systems. It takes issue with them and offsets their theories of the world by a synthesis of its own. It is only by keeping in touch with actual living thought that it can claim a place in the twentieth century and command the at- tention of its opponents. And it has everything to gain from a discussion in which it encounters Posi- tivism, Kantism, and other forms or tendencies of modern .speculation.

(3) Cultivation of the Sciences. — The need of a phi- losophy based on science is recognized to-day by every school. Neo-Scholasticism simply follows the exam- ple of the Aristotelean and medieval philosophy in taking the data of research as the groundwork of its speculation. That there are profound (.litTi-rcnces be- tween the Middle Ages and modern times from the scientific point of view, is obvious. One has only to consider the multiplication of the sciences in special lines, the autonomy which science as a whole has acquired, and the clear demarcation established be- tween popular views of nature and their scientific interpretation. But it is equally plain that neo- Scholasticism must follow up each avenue of investi- gation, since it undertakes, as Aristotle and Aquinaa did, to provide a synthetic explanation of phenomena by referring them to their ultimate causes and deter- mining their place in the universal order of things; and this undertaking, if the sj-nthesis is to be deep and comprehensive, presupposes a knowledge of the details furnished by each science. It is not possible to explain the world of phenomena while neglecting the phenom- ena that make up the world. "All that exists, as con- templated by the human mind, forms one large system or complex fact. . . . Like a short-sighted reader, its eye pores closely, and travels slowly, over the awful volume which lies open for its inspection. . . . These various partial views or abstractions . . . are called sciences . . . they proceed on the principle of a divi- sion of labour. . . . And further the comprehension of the bearings of one science on another, and the use of each to each, and the location of them all, with one another, this belongs, I conceive, to a sort of science distinct from all of them, and in some sense, a science of sciences, which is my own conception of what is meant by philosophy ' (Newman, "Idea of a Univei^ sity", Discourse III, iii, iv, 44 sqq.).

There is, of course, the pedagogical problem; how shall philosophy maintain its control over the ever- widening field of the various sciences? In reply, we may cite the words of Cardinal Mercier, a prominent leader in the neo-Scholastic movement: "As a matter of fact", he declares, "the difficulty is a serious one, and one may say in general terms, that it is not going to be solved by any one man. As the domain of fact and observation grows larger and larger, individual effort becomes less competent to survey and master it all : hence the necessity of co-operative effort to supply what is lacking in the work of isolated investigators; hence too the need of union between the synthetic mind and the analytic, in order to secure, by daily contact and joint action, the liarmonious develop- ment of philo.sophy and science". ("La philosophie ndo-schoiastique" in " Revue n^o-scholastiquc", 1894, 17).

(4) Innovations in Doctrinal Matters. — Once it turned its attention to modern fashions of thought, neo-Scholasticism found itself face to face with prob- lems of which medieval philosophy had not the slight- est suspicion or at any rate did not furnish a .solution. It had to bear the brunt of conflict between its own principles and tho.se of the systems in vogue, especially of Positivism and Critici.sm. And it had to lake up, from its own point of view, the questions which are favourite Idpics of discussion in the schools of our time. IIiiw t:ir llirii, (iiic may ask, has neo-Scholasti- cism been alTcitcd by inodern thought? I'irst of all, as to metaphysics: in the Middle Ages its claim to va-