In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

BOOK REVIEWS 529 II pensiero filosofico e scientifico di Antoine ArnauM. Volume I. By Leonardo Verga. Publicazioni della UniversitA Cattolica del Sacro Cuore. (Milano: Vita e Pensiero, 1972. Pp. vi + 430. L. 20,000 for volumes I and II) This book is the first of a two-volume work on Amauld's thought. It begins with a long first chapter (167 pages) attempting to place his thought in the framework of his theology and the latter, in turn, in the framework of the religious problems of the time. The remaining four chapters deal respectively with the content and details of Amauld's logic, geometry , theory of language, and philosophical psychology. The promised second volume will contain, we are told (p. 167), two chapters dealing with his epistemology and theodicy, and a discussion of his moral philosophy interpreted as evangelical ethics. The first chapter is the most readable and interesting one. Entitled "Theology and Philosophy in Arnauld," it begins with a discussion of the crisis which faced religious thinkers in seventeenth-century France. This crisis had three elements: relativism regarding the merits of Christian faith and morals vis-A-vis those of other cultures, which relativism stemmed from the geographical-anthropological discoveries; skepticism toward some articles of faith, stemming from astronomical-cosmological developments; and doubts concerning the applicability of Christian morality to the real world of practical action, especially politics. Verga discusses three responses to this crisis: Libertinism, Devout Humanism (originating from Francois de Sales), and Jansenism. In the latter he distinguishes an extremist and a moderate form and regards Arnauld as the leader of the latter. Some of Verga's main theses about the general character of Arnauld's thought are the following: Arnauld accepted Cartesianism not only because he could thereby justify certain doctrines fundamental to Christian apologetics, but primarily because he could thereby save both the transcendence of faith and the rights of reason in scientific and philosophical inquiries (p. 112); at the same time, the rigorous separation of faith and reason was for Arnauld the only means of avoiding certain dangers that Cartesianism represented for religion and of exploiting it fully in favor of the latter, and for these two goals the doctrine of divine voluntarism was crucial (p. 125); Arnauld's acceptance of the thesis that extension is the essence of bodies is used by Verga as an illustration of how Arnauld's methodological interest in Cartesianism coincides with his substantive interest in it (pp. 176 ft.). The best description of chapters 2, 3, and 4 is perhaps the one Benedetto Croce used in his book on Hegel to refer to the character of almost all accounts of Hegel found in histories of philosophies or in monographs on him, namely "an abbreviated repetition of his books"; in our case the books are La Logique, ou L'Art de penser; Nouveaux ~l~ments de g~ometrie; and Grammaire gdn~rale et raisonnde. Chapter 5, the last, entitled "Philosophical Anthropology," contains discussions of the following topics: the clear idea of the soul; the distinction of the soul and the body; the union of the soul and the body; and the faculties of the soul. The book has the disturbing characteristic of containing many long quotations. I estimate that they make up at least one-half of the text. Their main purpose seems to be explanatory rather than justificatory. My feeling is that almost all of them could have been omitted. Many of the quotations are in Latin and many in French. The book has no index. MALIRICEA. FINOCCHIARO University o/Nevada, Las Vegas ...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
p. 529
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.