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BOOK REVIEWS ,571 Straussian discussion forces the reader to question Hegel and Heidegger's presentations . Still, reading the book one feels that a settled scheme of the available options is limiting interpretation and thought. Must history be either transcended or given a rational ground--are these the only alternatives? Gillespie never really investigates this question, even though the thinkers he is studying keep asking it. These challenges should be confronted, not ruled out of court because we are already sure what is needed for true human community. DAVID A. KOLB Bates College Laurence Shook. Etienne Gilson. The Etienne Gilson Series 6. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1984. Pp. x + 412. $25.oo. Those who work in the history of philosophy are in debt to Gilson 0884-1978). An expert on Descartes, Gilson worked back from Descartes to his medieval sources and in the course of his career he became identified in the popular mind with the history of medieval philosophy, especially the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas. The reality is much more complicated that that, for Gilson's work ranged over Western thought from ancient to contemporary, from epistemology to aesthetics. In Fr. Shook's biography the full story is told in a way that is captivating in its details and a delight to read. Besides the breadth of Gilson's scholarship there is also the extraordinary length. He began teaching before World War I and in the early 197os he was still in the classroom at Toronto and Berkeley. His philosophic associations range from his mentor , Lucien I~vy-Bruhl, and Henri Bergson, who had a great influence upon him, to Ralph Barton Perry and A. N. Whitehead at Harvard in the 192os to such figures as Marcel and Heidegger, as well as Catholic colleagues such as Maritain, Pegis, Maurer, and Henri Gouhier. Gilson was a great writer of letters, and happily these were saved by family and friends. Shook has included them in the text, rather than in footnotes, in a way that contributes to the flow of the narrative and to its interest. Shook, a student and friend of Gilson and a scholar of medieval literature (he was the 1985 President of the Medieval Academy of America) undertook the biography when he retired as the President of Toronto's Institute. Gilson cooperated fully, sharing his papers and clarifying issues in his career. It is a laudatory biography but not unbalanced; Gilson's impatience, annoyance, and errors in judgment are all detailed along with his great love for his wife, two daughters and son. If Gilson's scholarly production was enormous , it was pardy due to his concern to take care of his family. After Shook's description of Gilson's early education and graduate work at the Sorbonne as he prepared for his teaching career in the French college system, his account of Giison's military service reveals aspects of Gilson little known in the academic world. Married, his dissertation completed and passed with great distinction in 1913, and a professor at Lille, Gilson was called up at the outbreak of World War I. He served in the front lines in the batde of Verdun where he was wounded and captured. He was a prisoner of war from 1916 to 19~8 and actually published his 572 JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY 24:4 OCTOBER 1986 first philosophy article, an essay on aesthetics, while in a prison camp. In 1919 he received an appointment to the University of Strasbourg, newly returned to France as part of the peace treaty. The French Ministry of Education was intent on making a special show of talent, and it was here that Gilson began the writing of the history of medieval philosophy that was to earn him his international reputation. In 1991 he was invited to go to Paris and join the faculty at the Sorbonne. Once established at the Sorbonne lecture invitations followed. He came to North America in the mid-twenties, first to the University of Virginia at the invitation of Professor Albert Balz, then he began to teach regularly at Harvard in the Fall Semester . Invited to Toronto in 1999, he began to work with the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 571-573
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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