M. Maritain's Lecture
Moral Sciences And The Practical Order
On Tuesday M. Jacques Maritain lectured at the Warburg Institute on Science et Sagesse," under the chairmanship of Mr. T. S. Eliot. Mr. Eliot gave a brilliant summary of M. Maritain's importance in the thought of to-day, stressing its creative impulse in Catholicism and its development of scholastic philosophy.
M. Maritain's contributions to contemporary art and literature from a philosophic point of view, and the value of his work in connection with social questions Was stressed. To the question of the place of the Christian in modern society, he had brought the profoundest thought and vital intensity of feeling. His influence in England and in Canada has been great and immediate, reaching the right people in many places. At a time when other ways of being a good European appeared no longer open to us, M. Maritam has shown the oldest and most permanent— that of being a good Catholic.
The Western Tradition
After thanking his chairman as "one of the finest critics of the things of the mind " and rejoicing that he spoke under the aegis of poetry, M. Maritain discussed the questions raised by the terms scientia and sapienlia.
He treated of their interpretation and history in the ancient, medireval and modern world. In western tradition (St. Thomas Aquinas) the word scientia has two meanings: stable knowledge, armed for certainty, with no end in the finite, and knowledge in a lower and more limited sense as opposed to wisdom. Both are in themselves desirable, though for Thomists knowledge is inferior to wisdom. It was the glory of the ancient world to know that wisdom is knowledge, but never to have thought that particular sciences could prevail over wisdom.
Pre-Christian Hindu philosophy was discussed in its aspirations and vast metaphysic which never became a scientific world. It was the human attempt to enter the divine liberty by asceticism and contemplation, but ended in the negation of Nirvana.
The Greeks and Hebrews Greek thought, on the other hand, dealt with tangible realities. Its stress was on man, and divine action upon him. and its error, philosophic optimism. In the end it had to call in the East against pagan melancholy.
The Old Testament has a wisdom of
holiness and salvation. The divine gift must be freely given, it cannot be attained by man. Some Russian theologians to-day make of the sop/tin an intermediary between the created and the uncreatcd. In the scriptures all is a dialogue. Philo tried to reconcile Judaism with Greek thought.
The middle ages made a synthesis and hierarchy of the sciences. The Incarnation was the descent of the divine fullness, and the action of the creative reciprocal by grace. St. Thomas makes three divisions in wisdom—infused, theological and metaphysical The knowledge of God leads to love and desire. In the lower sense, Albert the Great and others opened the doors to modern science, but were protected against its dangers by being " poor in spirit."
The Modern World In the modern world. the Cartesian system, centering in physics rather than metaphysics, was a subversive force. Philosophy was divorced from practical things and lost its vital force. Kant reaped the fruits in denying the possibility of metaphysics being a science, and identified himself with Newton. The age of Comte and of Rcnan demanded wisdom of science. Their systems were soon overthrown. Wisdom is not only speculative but practical.
The problem to-day is to reconcile wisdom and knowledge in a vital and spiritual relation. Wisdom and the practical sciences must come together.
The perfect objectivity of the nzoral sciences is not to be found in dehumanisation but in the practical order and in human action. Its living prototype is Fl) be found in Holy Writ. It is to such reconciliation that we must pin our hopes.
A second lecture was given at the Warburg Institute by M. Maritain on " Le Signe " on the following day. On Monday he had lectured to the Aquinas Society on the "Organisation du Savoir Moral."
The foundation-stones of four cottages which will become homes for aged miners were laid at South Shields recently. Me cottages are being built as a royal jubilee memorial by the I larton