Certainty. Philosophical and Theolo. glee!. By Dom Illtyd Trethowan. (Deere Press, 15s.).
The Master of Campion Hall " THERE are signs that another great age of theology may be beginning," says Dom Illtyd, " but the hope is illusory unless we maintain the proper standards of value in our everyday attitude to the supreme science." That is well said, and he is hirnselfsnot only playing an important part in the theological renaissance now taking place, but he is doing an immense amount to see that the proper standards are maintained.
We must begin by warning readers that this is no book for the dilettante. It demands not only close attention from the reader, but also no small acquaintance with modern philosophical trends. For Dom Illtyd, in his reassertion of the basis of certainty, is concerned to expose the hollowness of the fashionable flight from metaphysics. " Theology needs reasonand it needs metaphysics." Painstakingly and thoroughly he searches the pages of Mind in itself a task calling for something akin to heroic virtueand shows how the latest forms of scepticism are self-contradictory and indefensible. But he is not therefore content to accept conventional Statements of the scholastic epistemology. He is as searching in his criticism of loose thinking and loose statement on the part of Catholic thinkers as he is dealing with the enemies of metaphysics. In a sense, no doubt, he would regard the former as being, in their own way, unmetaphysical. too. Even the demonstration of God's existence needs re-thinking. Having thus established the foundations of reason. Dom Illtyd goes on to analyse the place of reason in supernatural faith. Here. if anything, he is even more penetrating in his criticism of many a highly respected theory; but he is more than destructive. Whilst he is not as precise himself as we should like him to be, what he has to say is suggestive and stimulating. As be says, the problem of faith is the reconciliation of the statements that " an act of faith in God's revelation is supernatural but at the same time reasonable, it is a claim to certainty but the certainty is free." It is free. because although the evidence is always in itself coercive, it is only convincing in so far as we see it. And it rests with us-always, of course with the grace of God-to choose to see it. At the same time. Dom Illtyd is insistent that, all too often. the role of the will in the act of faith is stressed in a way that makes it almost non-rational. " If we describe the effects of grace primarily in terms of the will, we shall find ourselves conceiving of the will as a sort of internal combustion engine which carries 115 towards God and of grace as a sort of extra
ordinary fuel But 'there can be no increase in the attraction of the will which is not at the same time an increased presentation to the intellect."
It is here, of course, that the heart of the matter lies. It is here, too. one feels that Dom Illtyd's own analysis needs developing and expanding. It is, of course. an immensely difficult problem and no discussion of it, however clear and full it may be. is likely to give complete satisfaction. For all that. there can he little doubt that the lines of a solution as indicated by Dom Illtyd are sound and fruitful. Those who are prepared to give this hook a serious chance will find it enjoyable as well as inspiring. Is it too much to hope that Dom Illtyd will find the time to give us a fuller treatment of his own view. a task for which he has in this valuable book prepared much of the ground?