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Catholic Fideism and its Origins in Modern Philosophy

Modern Skepticism at the Origins of Fideism by Antonio Livi   As I have already often argued, modern Western philosophy is deeply dependent from Christian revelation. Such a dependence has been demonstrated by contemporary historians on the basis of two undeniable facts: i) the fact that all modern...

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Catholic Fideism and its Origins in Modern Philosophy

Posted by admin | Posted in Philosophy and Theology | Posted on 28-06-2009

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Modern Skepticism at the Origins of Fideism

by Antonio Livi

 

As I have already often argued, modern Western philosophy is deeply dependent from Christian revelation. Such a dependence has been demonstrated by contemporary historians on the basis of two undeniable facts: i) the fact that all modern philosophers, but especially René Descartes, assumed from the theological systems of medieval Christian thinkers some of their metaphysical concepts, mainly the concept of God as the infinite Being and the creator of limited beings[1]; and ii) the fact that  many modern Western philosophers were believers in the Christian revelation, and reflected on their faith in order to find a philosophical justification for believing in a non-visible doctrine granted by a visible authority. If this dependence is really a historical fact, – and I think that it is, then all history of modern philosophy should be understood as the history of Christian philosophy in the modern age[2]. So, several modern philosophical categories should be interpreted as produced by some kind of  Christian theological investigation, or at least as deeply connected with Christian theology. I have presented just in the light of this connection the modern philosophical category of “faith”, which is so important after Hume’s Treatises on human understanding, arguing that it is the origin of modern skepticism[3]. Now I want to suggest ideas for interpreting in the same way the historical category of “fideism”, which is evidently connected with the philosophical category of faith.

On Charles Journet’s Theological Method

Posted by admin | Posted in Philosophy and Theology | Posted on 28-06-2009

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Marian Co-redemption

in the Ecclesiology of Charles Journet

by

Antonio Livi

 

The theological work of Card. Charles Journet (1891-1975) has still not been sufficiently taken into consideration by those who, in contemporary Catholic culture, imagine that they are able to weigh up the merits and demerits of the theology of the 20th Century and, on this basis, orientate the theological research of the 21st Century. A few years ago now, in a note accompanying the publication of the acts of the Theological Week in Fribourg dedicated to the figure of Journet,[1] one was given to understand that there’s no need to pay too much attention to a theologian who proved to be (or simply seemed to be) too far removed from the then dominant progressivism (theological modernism, subsequently rehashed as “conciliar theology”) and too much in favour of the theological tradition of Thomism.[2] In reality, these claims of a wanting of “ecclesiality” constitute precisely the weightiest theological credentials of this author, who should be considered the greatest ecclesiologist (a theologian of the mystery of the Church of Christ) of the 20th Century. Theology, in fact, is the more scientific the more it is more animated in its depths by faith, and less by ideologies, which are essentially nothing more than prevalent philosophical currents in the ambit of culture and media. Ideologies, whose philosophical substance is incompatible with recta ratio, and hence also with an orthodox interpretation of the Faith,[3] represent the real methodological barrier to theological research, which is entirely dependent upon the correct relationship between the rational premises of the Faith and rational reflection on the data of the Faith (dogmas) in view of the elaboration of interpretative hypotheses.[4] The hypotheses of interpretation are not all alike: they can be orthodox (compatible with the data of the Faith) or heterodox (incompatible with the data of the Faith, understood as the Church has always and everywhere understood them, eodem sensu eademque sententia). Now, ideologies that pretend to interpret dogma with the categories of immanentistic and historicist thought are necessarily opposed to orthodoxy—either because they follow the criteria of extreme rationalism (such as the theology inspired by Hegel, as in Hans Küng, but also that inspired by Schelling, as in Piero Coda, or by critical rationalism, as in Giuseppe Colombo) or because they allow themselves to be taken in by the dialectic of irrationalism, translating it into theological fideism (consider, for example, the German thinkers who follow Heidegger, or the Italians such as Bruno Forte, in exclusive dialogue with Gianni Vattimo and Vincenzo Vitiello). Such being the way things are, that for which Journet is reproved as having limited his theological work—namely, having kept aloof of cultural fashions and progressivistic cliques, while maintaining instead a long intellectual association with the Thomist philosopher Jacques Maritain—is in fact his title to methodological correctness and spiritual sincerity. If, then, some accuse him of apologetic fanaticism for having always had at heart the defence of Christianity against anti-Christian ideologies,[5] and, paradoxically, still others accuse him of having given in to reactionary ideologies on account of having assumed in his last years an attitude of prudent reserve with regard to the rhetoric of ecumenism whenever such hides an intention to bring about the relegation of Christological dogma and of the ecclesiological orthodoxy that is its fruit,[6] I retain that all this, far from being a reason to re-appraise his historical importance, or put aside his teaching as “out-dated” or “superseded,” is instead a good reason (because theological) to see in Journet a teacher of theology worthy of trust—one of those teachers, that is, of whom we are in need in order that theology might be truly, to use his own expression, a “journey of faith” setting out from dogma.[7] Lastly, the end result of his studies and research—namely, his monumental work on the Church in five volumes[8]—provides us with a confirmation of this by way of the evident, intimate connection between the entirely orthodox edifice of his ecclesiology and his abundant production of works of spirituality, in which one discovers the truly theological function of the contemplative life and of pastoral zeal.[9]

A Brief Review of Livi’s Book “Reasons for Believing”

Posted by admin | Posted in Philosophy and Theology | Posted on 19-06-2009

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REASONS FOR BELIEVING, BY PROF. ANTONIO LIVI

The Davies Group Publishers, Aurora, Col. 2005

 

A review by  Raffaella Petrini

 

 

Before the challenges posed to us by modern skepticism, the words of our Holy Father, Benedict XVI, in his recent speech at the University of Regensburg, in Germany, sounds as a powerful and re-awakening invitation for all Christians, and Catholics in particular, to rediscover and claim the fundamental logic consistency of our religious belief: “It is still necessary and reasonable to raise the question of God through the use of reason, and to do so in the context of the tradition of the Christian faith”[1].

 

Reasons for Believing constitutes, in this light, an attempt to cut a “walkable” path across the continuum between rationalism and fideism, that is, the dangerous temptation to totally confine our Catholic religious belief either by the narrow constraint of its rational elements, or by the limitedness of its non-rational parts.