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  • The Very Rich Hours of Jacques Maritain: A Spiritual Life, and: Jacques Maritain: An Intellectual Profile
  • John Hittinger
The Very Rich Hours of Jacques Maritain: A Spiritual Life. By Ralph M. McInerny. (Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press. 2003. Pp. viii, 235. $32.00.)
Jacques Maritain: An Intellectual Profile. By Jude P.Dougherty. (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press. 2003. Pp. 128. $21.95 paperback.)

These two books show the reason for the long-term influence and inspiration of the French Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain (1881-1973). Convert, Thomist, man of letters, statesman, teacher, churchman, little brother of Jesus, Maritain couldbe the single best representative of the twentieth-century Thomist revival spawned by Aeterni Patris. Dougherty's Profile presents a series of seven themes in Maritain's broad corpus concerning philosophy of science, metaphysics, aesthetics, political philosophy, church and state, and ecclesiology. Each chapter is sharply focused and provides an incisive account of Maritain's treatment of the given problem. Dougherty shows how Maritain drew upon the Thomistic sources, developed their inner possibilities, and arrived at timely and creative approaches to problems of the day. Dougherty does an especially fine job at providing points of comparison in twentieth-century philosophical developments around similar themes. Dewey, Royce, Eddington, Harré, Ortega y Gasset, and Rawls are effectively used as counterpoints to Maritain. In each case, Maritain is shown to be a philosopher with a keen grasp of major problems of the twentieth century who holds his own in the market place of ideas. With the issue of state sovereignty and international [End Page 568] co-operation Maritain developed a prophetic stance, anticipating some of the best of Anglo-American political philosophy. Behind Maritain's philosophical sketches, one finds an abiding love of Christ and the Church. Maritain's intellectual prowess was always at the service of Catholic truth. Dougherty handles well the issue of Maritain's apologetic stance. He did not sacrifice intellectual rigor or integrity, but he always found the splendor of truth pointing to the mysteries of faith. For good reason does John Paul II recommend Maritain as an exemplar of the integrated life of faith and reason. Any reader who wishes to see the sweep of his philosophy and to get a feel for the exciting advances made by Maritain in the fields mentioned above can do no better than to read Dougherty's book.

McInerny's book follows the golden thread of spirituality that weaves itself throughout the life and works of Jacques Maritain. Prayer and liturgy were the bedrock of his entire life and work, pioneering the way for an appreciation of the layman's call to holiness. He is a congenial figure because the voice heard "is not that of a careerist, an academic, or a man jealous of his reputation." McInerny's book is surely the first to capture the full and true stature of Maritain, the man and philosopher. He provides us a detailed look at the spiritual dimension of Maritain's work; the book is structured around the medieval book of hours, displaying his life as a whole at each stage from Matins to Compline. At each stage we find a man of rich interior life, prayer, and meditation. One can appreciate his growth as a Catholic and an intellectual. McInerny treats with great finesse the notion of Christian philosophy, again like Dougherty, showing why Pope John Paul II selects him as a model of "faith and reason." In this context, McInerny provides a systematic account of his major works. From metaphysics and epistemology, to aesthetics, political philosophy, and ethics, the sweep of Maritain's philosophy is well displayed and the reader is invited to return to and read Maritain's books. A handsomely produced volume, The Very Rich Hours of Jacques Maritain reveals the admirable spiritual and intellectual character of Jacques Maritain. These two books by Dougherty and McInerny are a fitting tribute by two leading American Catholic philosophers to a great mentor whose life and work will continue to inspire generations to come.

John Hittinger
Sacred Heart Major Seminary
Detroit, Michigan


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