The Church Confronts Modernity: Catholic Intellectuals and by Thomas E. Woods

By Thomas E. Woods

Because the 20th century opened, American intellectuals grew more and more sympathetic to Pragmatism and empirical equipment within the social sciences. The innovative application as an entire -- within the kind of Pragmatism, schooling, smooth sociology, and nationalism -- in contract on something: every thing used to be in flux. The dogma and "absolute fact" of the Church have been archaisms, unsuited to trendy American citizenship and at odds with the hot public philosophy being cast by means of such intellectuals as John Dewey, William James, and the New Republic journal. Catholics observed this new public philosophy as at the very least in part an assault on them.Focusing at the Catholic highbrow critique of modernity through the interval instantly earlier than and after the flip of the 20th century, this provocative and unique e-book examines how the Catholic Church tried to maintain its id in an age of pluralism. It indicates a Church essentially united on significant concerns -- really not like the present-day Catholic Church, which has been the location of a low-intensity civil conflict because the shut of the second one Vatican Council in 1965. Defenders of the religion adverse James, Dewey, and different representatives of Pragmatism because it performed out in ethics, schooling, and nationalism. Their ambitions have been to discovered an fiscal and political philosophy in keeping with typical legislations, to acceptable what sturdy they can locate in Progressivism to the good thing about the Church, and to make the United States a Catholic kingdom. The Church Confronts Modernity explores how the decidedly nonpluralistic establishment of Christianity replied to an more and more pluralistic highbrow atmosphere. In a tradition whose leader worth was once pluralism, they insisted at the distinctiveness of the Church and the necessity for making worth judgments in accordance with what they thought of a valid philosophy of humanity. In neither capitulating to the recent creed nor taking flight right into a self-righteous isolation, American Catholic intellectuals therefore laid the basis for a half-century of highbrow energy.

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50 (He later told Gibbons: “I love these Americans. They are the blooming youth of Catholicism. ”51) More important than any of this is the simple fact that the divisions that arose among certain members of the hierarchy during the Americanist controversy do not seem to have been replicated to any significant degree in the Catholic intellectual world. This is quite a claim, but one that can nevertheless be supported. The “remarkable unanimity of purpose and direction” of which Charles Morris wrote in reference to Catholic leaders after World War I is still more evident among Catholic thinkers.

47 It becomes impossible for the Modernist to imagine religious reconciliation as consisting of anything but a shared spiritual journey in which the religious sentiment common to the human race comes to its full realization in some new dispensation that is the exclusive possession of no single group. Such an outlook naturally tended to undermine the foundations of the Catholic Church, which claimed to be not merely a repository of symbols and practices flowing spontaneously from an amorphous and ill-defined “religious instinct,” or merely one stage in an evolutionary convergence of all religions, but the divinely instituted guardian of a fixed doctrine entrusted to her by Jesus Christ.

The year following his election as pope in 1878, Leo XIII issued one of the most important encyclicals of his twenty-five-year pontificate: Aeterni Patris, or On the Restoration of Christian Philosophy. With this document the pope launched what became known as the neo-Scholastic movement, the systematic promotion of the thought of the medieval schoolmen and in particular that of their most illustrious representative, Saint Thomas Aquinas, the Common Doctor of the Church. The tradition of Scholasticism, having fallen largely into desuetude, was to be revived—not as a museum piece or as a reactionary throwback of a romantic medievalism, but as a living philosophy that would both lend an indispensable support to the Catholic faith and provide an alternative to those systems of modern philosophy that denied man’s ability to use his reason to attain metaphysical truth.

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