The Very Rich Hours of Jacques Maritain
A Spiritual Life
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: University of Notre Dame Press
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Four Germans who were in Paris for a meeting devoted to phenomenology visited the Maritain home in Meudon on September 14, 1932. Jacques Mari - tain had opened the conference and, at the age of fifty, was already enjoying a global reputation as a...
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Jacques Maritain tells us so little of his antecedents and boyhood that one is tempted to agree with his biographer Barré that the philosopher made a concerted effort to cut himself loose from his roots, choosing to be an exile in his native land and elsewhere.1...
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When the Maritains were in exile in New York during World War II, Raïssa published two volumes of memoirs. The first, written in 1940, was an almost desperate effort to recall better days before the fall of France and to conjure from memory the presence of old...
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The lectures of Henri Bergson had lifted the cloud of despair from Jacques Maritain and Raïssa Oumansov—she wrote, “I was rediscovering the lightheartedness and joy of my childhood, of those days when, with beating heart, I went to the lycée.” They were...
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In 1905, Jacques Maritain passed his agrégation en philosophie, and was thus qualified to teach in a lycée. The following year was the decisive one of their conversion. Then, thanks to a fellowship he had received, still not having informed their parents of their...
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As the academic year 1908 drew to a close, Raïssa was in bed for a month with a sore throat—Jacques himself had diptheria—and when they left Germany they lived for several months with Raïssa’s parents. After that, there was a month on the Normandy..
THE VILLARD BEQUEST
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On April 18, 1917, Jacques Maritain received a letter from a soldier who had once taken his course on German philosophy at the Institut Catholique, one Pierre Villard. It seems possible that Maritain had little if any memory of the man who, in a lengthy...
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Jacques Maritain’s long involvement with Action Française, the movement run by Charles Maurras, gave him and his wife and many others great difficulty to explain. Indeed, the tendency, first present in Raïssa’s memoirs, is to portray his association...
LES CERCLES D’ÉTUDES THOMISTES
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Of the two things Maritain said the Villard bequest would enable him to do—continue his philosophical work and conduct a center of spiritu - ality—the second was begun at Meudon in a house the Maritains were able to buy with their new and unexpected...
VAE MIHI SI NON THOMISTIZAVERO
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The foregoing chapter should make clear that when Maritain amends the cry of Saint Paul, “Woe is me if I do not preach the gospel,” into the slogan that provides the title of this section, he is not putting Scripture to secular use. The study of Thomas, the...
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Jacques’s most active involvement in Action Française was from 1920 through 1926, thanks to his connection with La Revue Universelle. Jointly financed by Maurras and Maritain from money they had each received from the fallen Villard, it was meant to convey...
ART AND SCHOLASTICISM
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Although Maritain had been given leave to write two introductory manuals of philosophy5—a task that might have recalled his hack work of 1908— it was the little book in which he sought to expand the scholastic conception of art and apply it to fine art...
CONTESTING THE HEGEMONY OF GIDE
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It was in 1920 that Maritain became the cofinancier as well as collaborator in La Revue Universelle. While Action Française origins of the review are incontestable, equally incontestable is the fact that increasingly Maritain saw his social role as a Thomist...
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PRIMACY OF THE SPIRITUAL
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The 1930s represent a golden period of Jacques Maritain’s life as a Christian philosopher. During this decade he produced his masterpiece The Degrees of Knowledge and a host of other works of greater or lesser importance, but all testifying to the magisterial role he now played for so many. His guidance was not confined...
CONTROVERSY OVER CHRISTIAN PHILOSOPHY
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Questions as to the relationship between the mind’s quest for understanding, on the one hand, and religious faith, on the other, are as old as Christianity. Has faith overcome the need for philosophy? Is there a necessary enmity between faith and reason? In...
DEGREES OF KNOWLEDGE
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In 1928, Jacques switched from the chair in modern philosophy to that in logic and cosmology at the Institut Catholique. Toward the end of the following year, in October, he went on leave of absence to write the book that is his acknowledged...
GILSON AND MARITAIN
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Almost before Maritain and Etienne Gilson met, the two men were linked together as if they were two barrels of the shotgun that would scatter the confusions of the contemporary world with Thomistic pellets. One is reminded of the twinning of Hilaire...
SECOND THOUGHTS ON A FIRST BOOK
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“Read Bergson. I have criticized him a lot, but read Bergson!” Thus Jacques Maritain spoke to Yves Floucat in 1960. Misgivings about the severity of his criticisms of Henri Bergson in his first published book, The Bergsonian Philosophy, were already expressed...
RETURN TO THE LEFT
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By accepting immediately the condemnation of Action Française and undertaking to explain and defend the Church’s action, Maritain was effectively declaring independence of a...
DISPUTE WITH CLAUDEL
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Among the old friends and admirers who were put off by Maritain’s po - litical activities during the thirties was Paul Claudel, poet, diplomat, dramatist. In a moving account, Ma conversion,37 Claudel...
EXILE IN NEW YORK
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“I left France in January 1940 to give the courses which for several years I had been offering at the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies in To - ronto and for a series of lectures in the United States. I planned to return to Paris at the end of June, but the tragic events...
THE HEART OF THE MATTER
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The increased tempo of Maritain’s life as he settled into wartime exile in New York—the writing, lecturing, teaching, consultation with represen - tatives of General de Gaulle, radio broadcasts—did not distract Jacques and his little flock from the one thing needful. His reflections...
ADVENTURES IN GRACE
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And Raïssa? How could she possibly adjust to being transplanted to the New World, a stranger among strangers, after having established a modus vivendi at Meudon that enabled her to pursue in relative solitude the life of prayer? “Raïssa had lost the one place—Meudon, with...
AMBASSADOR TO THE VATICAN
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Jacques and his wife and sister-in-law spent some summer weeks of 1944 at East Hampton. Raïssa responded with uncharacteristic exuberance. “This landscape is delicious, the light extraordinary; trees, bushes, everything seems marvelous to me. It is the first time...
MAN AND THE STATE
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The next twelve years would be triumphant ones for Jacques Maritain, not quite proving the adage about prophets and their own country—in France a memorial volume of the Revue Thomiste would be dedicated to his work, and his achievement would be celebrated at a conference...
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From the beginning of the meetings at Meudon, the Cercles d’études thomistes had included artists and writers and poets as well as philosophers. But then, Maritain’s understanding of the role of Thomas by no means restricted it to the saint’s influence on philosophers...
THE INTUITION OF BEING
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The goal of the philosopher is wisdom, and wisdom consists in knowing, understanding things in terms of their ultimate causes. There are many explanations of events, proximate, middle distant, remote; but ultimately the cause that explains everything is God...
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Jacques Maritain had never been the kind of philosopher who settles into a single area and becomes expert at that, all but ignoring the other domains of philosophy. From the outset, his writings exhibit an incredible range and it becomes clear that he regards the full scope of philosophy as his responsibility. So he had written...
LITURGY AND CONTEMPLATION
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The couple who had written De la vie d’oraison thirty-five years before wrote a complementary little work a year or so before the death of Raïssa on the subject of the liturgy. Written for the American review Spiritual Life, it was composed in French and appeared...
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It was after his heart attack that Jacques formed the idea of writing his memoirs. This work was interrupted by the illnesses of the three, and Carnet de notes was not published until 1965. The opening chapters were written in 1954 and the rest later. In an...
PEASANT OF THE GARONNE
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When Pope John XXIII announced that he was convening an ecumenical council he surprised everyone. Historically, councils have disruptive effects, largely because they are called to settle some crisis in the Church and state their judgments in terms of anathema...
LITTLE BROTHER OF JESUS
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Returned to France, feeble, valetudinarian, yet still with years of life ahead of him, Maritain had the great good fortune of being offered a home with the Little Brothers of Jesus in Toulouse. He could share in the life of the community, teach, prepare for eternity...
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He was raised in a broken home, his mother a natural child who became one of France’s first divorcées and reassumed her maiden name. His father had been his grandfather’s secretary, was a wastrel, and ended a suicide. As a boy he was radicalized by a socialist...
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Page Count: 248
Publication Year: 2011