Poetry, Beauty, and Contemplation
The Complete Aesthetics of Jacques Maritain
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: The Catholic University of America Press
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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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List of Figures
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...In the fall of 1965, a young trumpet player walked excitedly into his philosophy of art course at Boston College. This was not his first philosophy class. However, since Boston College did not then offer a major in music, he saw his time there as little more than a son’s obedient fulfillment of his father’s demand that he obtain a liberal arts baccalaureate degree. Afterward, he would be free to do as he wished, and he thought at the time that his...
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...is arguably the most significant disciple of St. Thomas Aquinas in the twentieth century. Although he made many important contributions to several different areas of philosophy, his philosophy of art is especially noteworthy. Unfortunately, this aspect of the French Catholic philosopher’s thought is often overlooked or underappreciated by those who miss the richness and depth of insight that his philosophy of art possesses because they do not have a sufficient background in the philosophy of St. Thomas....
1. Historical Background: Maritain’s Personal Development
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...deeply rooted in the Thomist tradition, Jacques Maritain was also an original thinker; he applied in a fresh and innovative way many of the basic insights found in the thought of his great mentor St. Thomas Aquinas. The philosophy of St. Thomas “is a living philosophy,” he maintained, “to read Thomas well, the help of genius is needed.” Maritain understood philosophy as “a progress by deepening insight,” and he applied his genius to the investigation of reality, whose “deep things”...
2. Theoretical Background: Maritain’s Philosophical Development
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...situates the term “art” as an intellectual virtue distinguished not only from the other intellectual virtues, but from the moral virtues as well. When we recall the biographical notes from the preceding chapter, this distinguishing characteristic comes as little surprise. The philosophical skepticism and scientific materialism that weighed upon Maritain as a young student were lifted initially by the Bergsonian notion of intuition that transported one into the very heart of the Real or the “Absolute”...
3. The Foundation of Maritain’s Epistemological Uniqueness
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...that Maritain would continue “to write papers on art and beauty until his last day”—was not fulfilled, his writings on epistemology, many of which contain specific references to the knowledge of the artist, do extend beyond the more than half century that makes up his philosophical life. While there is surely a good deal of change and growth in his ideas over the years, developments that include both the manner of expression and the terms used...
4. The Fundamentals of Maritain’s Aesthetics
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...the discipline of aesthetics covers a multitude of experiences and problems, there are within it many issues that are specifically metaphysical and/or epistemological in nature. For this reason, any theory of aesthetics must include a critical examination of the theory’s metaphysical and epistemological principles; a theory that omits this runs the risk of being foundationally deficient. Moreover, just as in the philosophy of science, where...
5. Maritain’s Notions of Poetry and Poetic Knowledge
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...From this definition, three things stand out: the concepts of Things, Self, and divination. We have already discussed each of these: “Things” and “Self” in chapter 4, and divination, as another word for intuition nonphilosophically considered, in the latter part of chapter 3. For Maritain, Poetry is a “spiritual energy,” a mode of nonconceptual, nonphilosophical, intuitive knowledge. The notion of “inner being”...
6. Two Pathways Discerned: The Priority of Poetry, 1920–1927
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...epistemology in general and his aesthetics in particular. In addition to the all-important notions of Poetry and Poetic Knowledge, the list of other important terms included intuition, the intellect, connaturality, the Self and Things, as well as a discussion of aesthetic experience. On the evidence of certain decisively clear texts of Maritain, chapter 5 resolved that Maritain uses the term Poetic Knowledge as the exclusive privilege of creative...
7. Two Pathways Clarified: Maritain’s Turn to Poetic Knowledge, 1927–1938
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previous chapter traced the early developments in Maritain’s aesthetics from 1920 to 1927. Specifically, we noted that the notion of “Poetry,” central to Maritain’s philosophy of art, did not appear in his first book on art. While the notion does appear in 1927, its close relative, “Poetic Knowledge,” does not. With Maritain’s epistemological interests shifting to a greater focus
8. The Perception of Beauty: The Key to Resolution
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...from chapters 6 and 7 indicated clearly that, although Maritain used the term Poetic Knowledge to refer exclusively to creative knowledge, Poetry’s history reveals a duality. Poetry serves as the foundation for that creative knowledge which reaches its term only in a work (i.e., Poetic Knowledge), yet it also serves as the foundation for an alternative form of knowledge, one which, although sharing in the cognitive dimension of Poetic Knowledge, nonetheless bears no necessary orientation toward creativity...
9. Maritain on Contemplation and Beauty
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...Poetry and the way that it operates both in creativity and in the perception of beauty, we should note that this type of human knowing represents an overlooked, yet much needed addition to the canon of systematic epistemology, particularly within the Thomist tradition. Of the following classic Thomist epistemology texts,1 none makes any mention of a knowledge, like Poetry, that is intuitive, connatural, nonconceptual, and pierced by significant or spiritualized emotion
10. The Integration of Poetry, Beauty, and Contemplation
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...In our chapter on the perception of beauty, we observed the essentials of Maritain’s ideas concerning beauty: following Aquinas, beauty is id quod visum placet. The perception of it involves an intuitive knowing and delight that satisfies a natural desire of the intellect for integrity, proportion, and radiance. The intellect perceives aesthetic beauty through the instrumentality of the senses (intelligentiated sense). We should note here, however, that the part played by the senses in the perception of the beautiful...
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Page Count: 176
Publication Year: 2012