The main problem for philosophical reason is to freely
to those truths to which we always
(as Aristotle first of all showed)
As T. S. Eliot wrote: "...human kind cannot bear very much reality"
Without this assent to reality religious sense would not be developed
But nowadays we cannot go back to Greek Philosophy, leaving aside that event
that is Christianity. Paradoxically it seems true that in the history of
Western culture and philosophy the assent to Christ as both God and man can
help men in facing reality (man and world) and in giving assent to it, fighting
against fear in the face of reality
Moreover this seems to be true particularly in the age of technology and
massmedia (television, computer, internet, wargames) in which our feeling of
reality becomes more and more feeble. Therefore inside Western culture,
Christianity with its idea of an Infinity in this world determines always a
and therefore also a
problem. From this point of view philosophy (reflection on our experience) and
particularly that philosophy which is Thomism (strictly connected with every
day experience) cannot be used primarily as a weapon against contemporary
thought in order to overcome fear, but as a useful way to clarify a meaningful
experience which already does not fear reality. Both the depth of the best
continental philosophy and the strong argumentation of analytical philosophy
are useful in this job of facing reality
In our time, as always, is very important that believers should help each
other in seeking understanding of their faith. Dialogue among friends is more
useful than dialectics against enemies as Plato stressed many centuries ago
Also the Encyclical Letter agrees with this point
To sum up: everybody, believer or non believer, deals with both faith and
reason. But the problem is: which faith is
more reasonable and human? Everybody is responsible in front of truth. Nowadays
the fear of intolerance and violence, widespread in our culture, cannot
overshadow our deep commitment to truth. If the search for truth is natural
among human beings (and it is so) to hinder it might sooner or later become a
cause of violence.
Angelo Campodonico, Department of
Cfr. A. Campodonico,
of Reality, Integrity and God, Proceedings of the Summer Thomistic Institute
"When our knowledge concerns accidental and individual things (and that
is the case of human actions and endeavours), hermeneutics is a substitute for
science. If we want to grasp the true meaning of something, we have to gather
many aspects of that subject, considering them as a whole and possibly from the
point of view of the whole. For instance: Aquinas suggests in his ethics that I
must look at the aim of my action, at its matter and its circumstances, if I
want to know what I must do now: "... malum contingit ex singularibus
defectibus, bonum vero ex tota et integra causa"(
I-II, 19, 6). What I am saying is that in this and similar cases we must ask:
Is something missing? Is this the only point of view on that subject? Can I
look at this problem from a wider point of view? This is actually the method of
hermeneutics, that in ethics needs also moral integrity of man (practical
To sum up, science and hermeneutics share a common criterion: they are
always based on a perfection or integrity pattern. From this point of view the
classical Aristotelian science pattern is the basis of empirical science
pattern and of hermeneutics' pattern too. But that pattern is not necessarily a
priori: it develops, as I hold, through experience of reality and its
Cfr A. Kenny,
is Faith?. Essays in the Philosophy of Religion
Oxford University Press, Oxford 1992, pp. 33-43.
Cfr. St. Augustine,
fide rerum quae non videntur.
On faith in a wide sense see ee Polanyi,
Knowledge. Towards a Post-critical Philosophy,
and Kegan Paul , London 1959 and H. Gadamer,
on the "principle of charity" see D. Davidson,
the Very Idea of a Conceptual Scheme
In "Proceedings of the American Philosophical Association", 47, p. 5-20; on the
"Principle of hope" see E. Bloch,
Suhrkamp, Frankfurt a M. 1959
Fides et ratio
A Philosophical Study
Clarendon Press, Oxford 1992.
See W. Alston,
God. The Epistemology of Religious Experience,
Cornell University Press, Ithaca and London 1991, p. 306.
Fides et ratio
83: "In this sense , metaphysics should not be seen as an alternative to
anthropology, since it is metaphysics which makes it possible to ground the
concept of personal dignity in virtue of their spiritual nature. In a special
way, the person constitutes a priviledged locus for the encounter with being,
and hence with metaphysical enquiry"
Cfr. Saint Augustine,
XIII, 7, 10;
Glück un Wohlwollen. Versuch über Ethik
Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1990.
Cfr. H. Arendt
The Burden of our Time
Secker and Warburg, London 1951, pp. 438-39.
Cfr. Encyclical Letter "Rerum Novarum" I, 14.
See F. von Kutschera,
Walter de Gruyter, Berlin-New York 1991, particularly p. 241-251.
Cfr. A. Campodonico,
"We can distinguish among some important branches of human experience: an
ontological experience (experience of being, of reality) that culminates in a
metaphysical experience of Absolute, a moral experience ( experience of the aim
of our life and of the search for that aim) that culminates in a religious
experience (experience of salvation, or of demand for salvation) and also an
aesthetic experience of beauty and art. As we can easily realize, these
different kinds of experience, along with speculative and practical reason, are
intertwined. In my opinion our experience is something organic with on top
religious experience (in its wide sense). In fact, in religious experience
there is a close tie between the top of the practical use
reason (demand for salvation) and the top of the speculative use of reason
(knowledge of the existence of Absolute, of God). If we do not develop
experience till the religious level (and this is an ethical problem), the other
kinds of experience will become contracted and our reflection on experience
will not work properly".
Cfr. H.E. Allison,
and the Enlightenment
p. 119: "But if the written tradition of the Christian religion neither
can, nor ought to give it inner truth; then it is not from it that the
Christian religion has its inner truth. But if it does not derive its truth
from this tradition, then it does not depend upon it. But if it does not depend
upon it; then it can persist without it. That is all I want". Cfr. also
Der philosophische Glaube angesichts der Offenbarung
Cfr. A. Campodonico,
of Reality ...
Initially there is a transcendental ground of ontological experience
Here we can find, in the first place, a dimension of actuality, of event that
does not depend on ourselves and that Thomistic philosophy calls "act of
existing": for something to exist or not
is not the same. As the "act of existing" actuates everything, it means also
integrity (perfection), because it is the very cause of every perfection we can
find in reality
On the transcendental ground of human experience the main dimension is the act
of existing which is the cause of the existence of everything. To perceive
being as being makes the whole of being accessible, and that means the Absolute
(whole as whole is absolute, because it does not depend on anything).
In the second place reality shows a certain order, a certain harmony that
we can call perfection or integrity too. This is the classical level of essence (
This order shows itself phenomenologically as an order of reality and not as an
order we ourselves create in reality.
Fides et ratio
"...in engaging great cultures for the first time, the Church cannot
abandon what she has gained for her inculturation in the world of Greco-latin
thought. To reject this heritage would be to deny the providential plan of God
who guides his Church down the paths of time and history. This criterion is
valid for the Church in every age, even for the Church of the future, who will
judge herself enriched by all that comes from today's engagement with
Eastern cultures and will find in this inheritance fresh cues for fruitful
dialogue with the cultures which will emerge as humanity moves into the
"...the first of these (criteria) is the universality of the human
spirit, whose basic needs are the same in the most disparate cultures ...care
will need to be taken lest, contrary to the very nature of the human spirit,
the legitimate defense of the uniqueness and originality of Indian thought be
confused with the idea that a particular cultural tradition should remain
closed in its difference and affirm itself by opposing other traditions".
Cfr. A. Roest Crollius,
and the Meaning of Culture
"Gregorianum" 61, 1980, pp. 253-74.
Cfr. Thomas Aquinas
disputatae de potentia Dei
91: "...the currents of thought which claim to be postmodern merit
appropriate attention. According to some of them, the time of certainties is
irrevocably past, and the human being must now learn to live in a horizon of
total absence of meaning, where everything is provisional and ephemeral".
Cfr. P. Pagani,
tema della "fondazione ultima" in alcuni aspetti del dibattito
Franco Angeli, Milano 1999.
Cfr. J. Haldane,
Return to Form in the Philosophy of Mind
"Ratio" XI, 1998, p. 269
"It is very important...to make clear that formal causation is not a kind
of efficient causation, or a rival to it...Efficient causation is the vehicle
for the communication of form; form is what structures the object, the thought
and the movement between them"."
Cfr. G.W. Hegel,
Introduction, § 10.
See C. Vigna,
pratica, desiderio, coerenza
e il suo altro
a c. di C. Vigna, Franco Angeli, Milano 1994.
"As a result of the crisis of rationalism, what has appeared finally is
nihilism. As a philosophy of nothingness, it has a certain attraction for
people of our time. Its adherents claim that the search is an end in itself,
without any hope or possibility of ever attainig the the goal of truth".
Cfr. C. Taylor,
Malaise of Modernity
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation 1991.
Cfr. F. Nietzsche,
fr. 110, 111, 115.
Cfr. L. Giussani
The Religious Sense
translated by J. Zucchi, Mc Gill, Queen's Universirty Press, Montreal
& Kingston, London, Buffalo 1997.
Fides et ratio
56: "...it is necessary not to abandon the passion for ultimate truth,
the eagerness to search for it or the audacity to forge new paths in the
search. It is a faith which stirs reason to move beyond all isolation and
willingly to run risks so that it may attain whatever is beautiful, good and
true. Faith thus become the convinced and convincing advocate of reason".
and the Future of Catholic Philosophy
in "New Blackfriars", vol. 80n. 968, April 1999;
, edited by J. Haldane "The Monist", vol. 80, N
s 4, 1997; R.
Wittgenstein , Saint Thomas
PUF, Paris 1997.
et ratio 33:
must not be forgotten that reason too needs to be sustained in all its
searching by trusting dialogue and sincere friendship. A climate of suspicion
and distrust, which can beset speculative research, ignores the teaching of the
ancient philosophers who proposed friendship as one of the most appropriate
contexts for sound philosophical enquiry".