God, philosophy, universities: A Selective History of the Catholic Philosophical Tradition

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'What does it mean to be a human being?' Given this perennial question, Alasdair MacIntyre, one of America's preeminent philosophers, presents a compelling argument on the necessity and importance of philosophy. Because of a need to better understand Catholic philosophical thought, especially in the context of its historical development and realizing that philosophers interact within particular social and cultural situations, MacIntyre offers this brief history of Catholic philosophy. Tracing the idea of God through different philosophers' engagement of God and how this engagement has played out in universities, MacIntyre provides a valuable, lively, and insightful study of the disintegration of academic disciplines with knowledge. MacIntyre then demonstrates the dangerous implications of this happening and how universities can and ought to renew a shared understanding of knowledge in their mission. This engaging work will be a benefit and a delight to all readers.

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Editorial Reviews

Arthur Madigan
A fascinating narrative of the development of Christian and especially of Catholic philosophy, conveying a powerful argument for the necessity of Catholic philosophy and a forceful statement of the challenges facing Catholic philosophers—and the universities that they inhabit—today.
Research Book News
MacIntyre thinks that lay Catholics, especially those engaged in current controversies that make philosophical claims, should know something about the history and tradition of Catholic philosophy. His account pivots on St. Thomas Aquinas, of course. Before him are Augustine, Boethius, Anselm, Islamic and Jewish influences, and other topics.
There is a prophetic quality to much of the work of Alasdair MacIntyre, a quality present in his new book, God, Philosophy, Universities. . . . MacIntyre has offered a framework for moral discourse that tries to reconcile the claims of historicism with the need for objectivity. . . . MacIntyre brought us along on an extraordinary intellectual journey.
Financial Times
Alasdair MacIntyre, one of the world’s leading moral philosophers and author of the classic volume After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory, would give academic theology a central role. In his most recent book, God, Philosophy, Universities, he appeals to John Henry Newman’s The Idea of a University (1854) to argue that philosophy, and its close ally, theology, make a university what it should be – a 'universe' of knowledge. Universities today, MacIntyre complains, keep their disciplines separate. Hence students are being trained up for specialised job opportunities rather than for life, while research programmes fail to make connections across the broad span of neighbouring subjects. He advocates that theology should listen to, and be in constant conversation with, every other academic discipline if universities are to fulfil their function as places where students and teachers explore what it means to be human.
The Chronicle Review
MacIntyre indicts the university for its lack of integration, the disconnections among the disciplines, and the intellectual disregard of one discipline for another.
One could not wish for a better statement of either the nature and promise of Catholic philosophy or its perilous position in the contemporary university.
Modern Age
MacIntyre is the master craftsman of the guild of the Catholic philosophical tradition; we are his apprentices, and studying his masterful narration of this tradition's history...is our first task.
Comment Magazine: Cardus
Without ostentation he displays his great learning, pointing out, almost in passing, that what many an undergraduate thinks is the height of modern philosophy was actually knocked out by Augustine more than a millennium beforehand.
Logos: Journal Of Eastern Christian Studies
This compact book will be very useful to undergraduates, graduate students, and scholars of the philosophy of religions, and for clergy. Highly recommended.
Harry J. Gensler
Beautifully and crisply written, and historically based, this book makes an insightful case for a certain slant on Catholic philosophy. Worth the price of admission, even by itself, is the first-chapter paragraph that ends '... the deepest desire of every such being, whether they acknowledge it or not, is to be at one with God.'
John Haldane
This is MacIntyre at his best: relating intellectual and cultural history while engaging philosophically with core ideas and arguments. Here the focus is on the interweaving of religious ideas and philosophical enquiry through the development of Catholic Christianity, leading to a challenge to Catholic thinkers to enter more fully into philosophy, and to universities to reacquaint themselves with their ancient vocation. MacIntyre has set a new foundation for discussion and further study.
Patrick Lee
This book clearly explains the fundamental problems and the historical background for the philosophical inquiry about God and how human beings are related to God. This book is essential reading both for seasoned philosophers (teachers) and for relative beginners in the field of philosophy (students). It enables the reader to step back from his or her specialized work, and see how the study of philosophy is first and foremost what its etymology says, a pursuit of wisdom.
Ralph McInerny
God, philosophy, universities is both a tour de monde and a tour de force. Alasdair MacIntyre provides a swift, personal but not at all tendentious history of where philosophy has come from, where it has been, and what it has become, with special reference to its role in the university.
Thomas Hibbs
In his accessible new book, the influential philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre shows how a distinctively Catholic understanding of the university might restore even to the secular university, a sense of purpose, of the nature of academic inquiry as ordered to a unified conception of truth, a conception that gives due credit both to the diversity of the parts of the curriculum and to the ways in which those parts complement one another.
The Living Church
In this work as with his previous ones, MacIntyre is a master of narrating a rich cultural history.
First Things
While not a work of academic philosophy—MacIntyre intends it for undergraduate seniors and first-year graduate students—this book can profitably be read by any reader of First Things. In fact, it should be so read, as either an introduction or a refresher to the great tradition, and then passed on to a friend.
American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly
MacIntyre has offered a book that serves its intended non-specialist audience well…. He explains the Catholic philosophical tradition in a way that will be accessible to intelligent readers and shows how the tradition truly is philosophical…. MacIntyre's contributions are welcome and go some distance to showing how theism is ultimately more satisfying from a strictly philosophical standpoint…. A useful starting point for those many students and lay people who have been denied the very sort of education that MacIntyre here espouses, including and especially within our Catholic universities.
Logos: Journal Of Eastern Christian Studies
This compact book will be very useful to undergraduates, graduate students, and scholars of the philosophy of religions, and for clergy. Highly recommended.
Comment Magazine: Cardus
Without ostentation he displays his great learning, pointing out, almost in passing, that what many an undergraduate thinks is the height of modern philosophy was actually knocked out by Augustine more than a millennium beforehand.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742544291
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/28/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 200
  • Sales rank: 532,519
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Alasdair MacIntyre is professor emeritus of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. He has written 16 books, including After Virtue, Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry, A Short History of Ethics, and, more recently, Edith Stein: A Philosophical Prologue, 1913-1922.

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Table of Contents

God, philosophy, Universities
Chapter 1 God
Chapter 2 Philosophy
Chapter 3 God and philosophy
Chapter 4 God, philosophy, universities
Prologues to the Catholic philosophical tradition
Chapter 5 Augustine
Chapter 6 Boethius, PseudoDionysius, Anselm
Chapter 7 The Islamic and Jewish prologue to Catholic philosophy
Chapter 8 The genesis of the Catholic philosophical tradition
Aquinas and after
Chapter 9 Aquinas: philosophy and our knowledge of God
Chapter 10 Aquinas: philosophy and the life of practice
Chapter 11 Aquinas: God, philosophy, universities
Chapter 12 After Aquinas: Scotus and Ockham
The threshold of modern philosophy
Chapter 13 From scholasticism to scepticism
Chapter 14 Descartes, Pascal, and Arnauld
Chapter 15 The Catholic absence from philosophy and the Catholic return to philosophy 1700-1850
Chapter 16 Newman: God, philosophy, universities
Chapter 17 From Aeterni Patris to Fides et Ratio
Chapter 18 Fides et Ratio: the Catholic philosophical tradition redefined
Chapter 19 Now: Universities, philosophy, God
About the Author

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