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October 29, 2010
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v2.1 Reference

The Renewal of Civilization

Essays in Honor of Jacques Maritain

One of the twentieth century's leading Catholic philosophers, Jacques Maritain uniquely wove together religious belief with the various cultural, intellectual, and political concerns of his time. Toward the end of his life, the Vatican II document Gaudium et Spes (Joy and Hope): The Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (1965) appeared and provided a blueprint for a new engagement between the Church and modernity. The challenge issued by this document was breathtaking in its scope and purpose. The Church, while "scrutinizing the signs of the times" and interpreting them in the light of the Gospel, must "respond to the perennial questions which men ask about the present life and the life to come, and about the relationship of the one to the other."

Surveying this situation, Maritain understood with clarity that Gaudium et Spes invited an internal renewal within the Church that would also be the catalyst for a renewal of civilization. A true dialogue with modernity could not simply review traditional sources without striving for new insight in engagement with the new situation. Eternal truth could be applied to achieve true aggiornamento in light of modernity's deep and accelerating difficulties.

In this collection of essays published by the American Maritain Association, leading philosophers address the project of civilizational renewal including its ethical, political, aesthetic, and religious dimensions. The authors provide a variety of perspectives, both critical and hopeful, concerning such questions as the common good, moral truth, the virtues, culture, art and the beautiful, Christian morality and metaphysics, and the vocation of a Christian intellectual. In addition to referencing the work of Jacques Maritain, the essays draw on traditional and contemporary philosophical and theological sources.

The contributors are Joseph J. Califano, St. John's University, New York; Carlos Casanova, Pontifical Catholic University of Chile; J. L. A. Garcia, Boston College; Marie I. George, St. John's University; James G. Hanink, Loyola Marymount University; James M. Jacobs, Notre Dame Seminary, New Orleans; Patrick Lee, Franciscan University of Steubenville; Alice M. Ramos, St. John's University; James V. Schall, S.J., Georgetown University; Denis A. Scrandis, St. John's University; Peter Simpson, CUNY ; Robert Sokolowski, Catholic University of America; Joseph M. de Torre, University of Asia and the Pacific; Michael D. Torre, University of San Francisco ; John G. Trapani Jr., Walsh University; and Cornelia A. Tsakiridou, LaSalle University.

Gavin T. Colvert is associate professor of philosophy and director of the Ecumenical Institute at Assumption College.

American Maritain Association

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