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History of Philosophy|
Catholic Philosophy in the Nineteenth Century
by Turner, William (S.T.D.)
|Philosophy is more closely allied to theology and to literature than is
any of the other sciences. If, therefore, the manifold relations of
philosophy to literature entitle us to speak of German, French, and
English philosophy, surely the intimate alliance of philosophy with the
doctrinal system of the Church justifies the appellation Catholic
Few of the names of those who represented Scholastic philosophy during
the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries have risen into prominence in
the history of philosophy. The following, however, rendered
considerable service to Scholastic philosophy by their interpretations
and expositions of the schoolmen: Cosmo Alemanni (1559-1634),
Sylvester Maurus (1619-1687), both of whom were Jesuits and
taught at the Roman College,  the Dominican Antoine Goudin
(1639-1695), the authors of the Cursus Philosophiae Complutensis
(Alcalá),  and the Franciscan Claudius Frassen
(1620-1711), whose Scotus Academicus is being republished by
the Franciscans of the College of Sant' Antonio (Rome, 1900 ff.). These
belong to the seventeenth century. To the seventeenth century belong
also Caramuel (1606-1682), Roselli (end of seventeenth
century), whose Summa Philosophica is said to have furnished the
basis for the Thomistic reconstruction of the nineteenth century, and
Guerinois (1640-1703), whose Clypeus Philosophiae
Thomisticae, etc., is an elaborate refutation of Cartesianism. To
the eighteenth century belong Father Boscovich, S.J. (1711-1787),
and Cardinal Gerdil (1718-1802). Father Boscovich was professor of
philosophy and mathematics at the Roman College. He attained very great
prominence by his theory of the ultimate composition of matter, which
may be described as a modification of Leibniz' monadism. Matter,
Boscovich taught, is composed of indivisible, unextended points, which
were originally placed at a fixed distance from each other and endowed
with the forces of attraction and repulsion.
 The works of these two Commentators were reedited, 1885-1891, by
Father Ehrle, S.J.
Cardinal Gerdil defended the philosophy of Descartes and Malebranche,
and advocated a modified ontologism.
 Collegium Complutense philosophicum, hoc est Artium
Cursus, sive Disputationes in Aristotelis Dialecticam, etc. The
authors were Carmelites of the convent of St. Cyril at Alcalá.
The Cursus Theologicus of the Carmelites of Salamanca (commonly
referred to as the Salmanticenses), which belongs also to the
seventeenth century, is a theological commentary on St. Thomas'
Summa. To the end of the sixteenth and beginning of the
seventeenth century belongs the great Jesuit commentary, Commentarii
Collegii Conimbricensis S.J. in Octo Libros Physicorum
During the nineteenth century Germany, France, Spain, and Italy
produced a large number of distinguished philosophers who admitted in
one form or another the supremacy of Christian revelation as contained
in the teachings of the Catholic Church, and are on this account to be
included in the history of Catholic philosophy.
Germany. In Germany Franz Baader (1765-1841), of whom
mention has already been made,  opposed the anti-Christian tendencies
in the philosophical systems of Kant, Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel. In
his account, however, of the origin of the universe he shows traces of
the influence of the transcendentalists, and in his theory of the soul
he betrays the influence of Origen and the Gnostics. Johann
Frohschammer  (born 1821) also occupied himself with the
refutation of anti-Christian theories, devoting special attention to
the criticism of materialism. But, like Baader, he was led by his study
of the transcendentalists to profess a form of philosophic belief
incompatible with Catholic dogma. In the work, Die Phantasie als
Grundprincip des Weltprocesses (1877), he proposes imagination in
place of the Hegelian spirit and Schopenhauer's will, as the immanent
and transcendent principle of the evolution of the world. He is
careful, however, to make a formal declaration of the superiority of
God with respect to this principle of evolution. There is apparent in
his writings a tendency to rationalize theology to the extent of
bringing the mysteries of faith within the scope of philosophical
speculation, -- a tendency which became a principle openly avowed in
the writings of Georg Hermes (1775-1831). Hermes makes reason
the ultimate criterion of all truth, supernatural as well as natural,
and attempts to establish by the aid of reason the dogmas of the
Catholic faith. His doctrines were condemned by the Church,  and his writings placed on the
Index (1835). Another movement towards the identification of
theology with philosophy is represented by Anton Günther 
(1783-1863), who maintained that if revelation is necessary it is
because of the "weakness of the understanding" which results from
original sin; that, of itself, human reason is capable of
proving all truth; but that in man's present condition, faith is the
foundation of all knowledge. These errors were condemned in 1857. 
 Cf. p. 560. Also Stöckl, Lehrbuch der Gesch. der
Phil. (1888), II, 333.
The most remarkable of the German Catholic philosophers of this period
was Joseph Görres (1776-1848), who, in Die Christliche
Mystik and other writings, developed a fantastic system of
spiritism. He maintained that, besides the visible material body, man
possesses a subtle body composed of imponderable fluid which remains
united to the soul after death and returns to earth with the soul
whenever the latter appears as a ghost. 
 Cf. Gonzalez, op. cit., IV, 337.
 Cf. Denzinger, Enchiridion (Ed. VII), p. 350.
 Cf. Stöckl, op. cit., II, 345.
 Cf. Denzinger, op. cit., pp. 361 ff.
 Görres' true significance as a writer appears in his
Athanasius, in which, by his eloquent and vigorous vindication
of the principles of religious authority and religious freedom, he
rallied the forces of Catholicity in Germany for the contest which has
been so successfully waged in our own day. The
Görres-Gesellschaft still adorns its literary productions
with the figure of St. Athanasius.
Mention must also be made of Franz Anton Staudenmaler
(1800-1856), who was associated with Gunther and Frohschammer in the
refutation of anti-Christian doctrines, while he differed from them in
his adherence to strict orthodoxy and his condemnation of rationalism
and semi-rationalism. It was, however, the Jesuit Father
Kleutgen (1811-1883), author of the Philosophie der
Vorzeit (1860 ff.), and Dr. Albert Stöckl (1823-1895),
author of the Geschichte der Philosophie des Mittelalters
(1864-1866), who rendered the greatest service to the cause of
Scholastic philosophy in Germany, and prepared the way for the
contemporary Neo-Scholastic movement in that country.
France. In France the traditionalists and ontologists were
succeeded by a group of distinguished conférenciers and
apologists, who in their discourses and writings expounded and defended
the traditional philosophy of the Schools in its application to
practical issues. Chief among these were Pčre Lacordaire,
O.P. (1802-1861), Pčre de Ravignan, S.J. (1795-1858),
Frédéric Ozanam (1813-1853), Mgr. D'Hulst
(1841-1896), and L'Abbé de Broglie (1834-1895).
Spain. In Spain  the succession of philosophical systems
during the nineteenth century was almost identical with that which
occurred in France. During the first years of the century,
philosophical speculation in Spain reflected the sensism and empiricism
of Condillac's school. Then came a reaction in favor of spiritualistic
philosophy in the form of a modified traditionalism and ontologism.
 Cf. González, op. cit., IV, 441 ff.
The most distinguished name in the history of philosophic thought in
modern Spain is that of Jaime Balmes (1810-1848), author of
Filosofía fundamental and of El Protestantismo
comparado con el Catolicismo. The basic principles of Balmes'
philosophy are Thomistic; to these, however, he adds elements derived
from Descartes, Leibniz, and the Scottish school. He restricts, for
example, the region of rational certitude to subjective
phenomena, maintaining that the certitude which we possess with
reference to objective phenomena is instinctive and more akin to the
certitude of faith than to scientific certitude. He departs also from
the teachings of St. Thomas in rejecting the active intellect
and the intelligible species. His discussion of the criteria
of truth, to which he devoted a special treatise (El
Criterio), is perhaps his most valuable contribution to philosophy.
Exceedingly able, too, is his refutation of scepticism in the work
entitled Cartas d un escéptico.
Juan Donoso Cortés (1809-1853), "the De Maistre of
Spain," although not a professed philosopher of any school,
contributed to the establishment of the spiritualistic philosophy by his profound
philosophical reflections on the religious, political, and social
topics of the day. His principal work is entitled Ensayo sobre el
Catolicismo, el liberalismo y el socialismo.
England. In England the Oxford movement, which is the most
striking illustration of the assertion of the principle of authority as
opposed to individualism in matters of religious thought, gave to
Catholic intellectual activity in that country a decidedly theological
trend. Cardinal Newman (1801-1890) may be said to have formulated in
his Grammar of Assent a theory of estimation of theological
evidence. The Metaphysics of the Schools, by Father Thomas
Harper, S.J., is an elaborate attempt at presenting Scholastic
philosophy in a form accessible to English readers.
Italy. In Italy Catholic philosophy during the nineteenth
century experienced a revival which, within the last twenty-five years,
has spread its influence throughout the entire Church. During the reign
of Pius IX, Fathers Liberatore (1810-1892), Cornoldi
(1822-1892), and others contributed to the Civiltŕ
Cattolica articles in which the principles of Rosmini's idealism
were criticised and the traditional philosophy of the schools expounded
and defended. To Father Cornoldi belongs the honor of having founded at
Bologna, in 1874, the Philosophical Academy of St. Thomas of Aquin,
which, until the year 1891, continued to publish La Scienza
Italiana. Canon Sanseverino (1811-1865), author of
Philosophia Christiana cum Antiqua et Nova Comparata, his pupil
Canon Signoriello (1821-1889), author of a Lexicon
Peripateticum Philosophico- Theologicum, and Mgr. Talamo,
author of l' Aristotelismo della Scolastica, etc., are to be
mentioned among those who prepared the way for the Neo-Scholastic
movement inaugurated at the beginning of the reign of Leo XIII.
Neo-Scholastic Movement. In the encyclical Inscrutabili Dei
Consilio published in 1878, in the encyclical AEterni Patris
(1879), in briefs relating to the foundation of the Roman Academy of
St. Thomas (1879) and of the Institut Supérieur
de Philosophie at the University of Louvain (1894), and in many other
documents, Leo XIII has encouraged and promoted the study of the great
masters of Scholasticism, and in particular the study of St. Thomas of
Aquin. In all these documents Pope Leo insists on: (1) the return to
the study of the texts of the Scholastic writers of the thirteenth
century: "Providete ut sapientia Thomae ex ipsis ejus fontibus
hauriatur"; (2) the exclusion of such problems as are more subtle than
profitable, and the rejection of such doctrines of the schoolmen as
have been proved to be false: "Si quid est a doctoribus Scholasticis
vel nimia subtilitate quaesitum, vel parum considerate traditum, si quid
cum exploratis posterioris aevi doctrinis minus cohaerens . . . id nullo
pacto in animo est aetati nostrae ad imitandum proponi"; and (3) the
extension and completion of the Scholastic system: "Vetera novis augere
et perficere." It is, therefore, in no spirit of undiscriminating
devotion to the past, but rather in the spirit of thorough and
scholarly appreciation of the past, that the representatives of
Neo-Scholasticism have discarded as useless those Compendia ad
Mentem Divi Thomae in which Scholastic philosophy was watered down
to the taste of the modern reader, and have gone back to the study of
the texts of the masters.
Prominent among those who have contributed to the success of the
Neo-Scholastic movement are Cardinals Pecci (1807-1890),
Zigilara (1833-1893), and Satolli, Mgr.
Lorenzelli,  the Jesuit Fathers De Maria and De
Mandato, and the Dominican Father Lepidi.  In
Germany the movement was taken up by Father Tilmann Pesch and
the other Jesuit authors of the Philosophia Lacensis, while in
France it has had many able representatives, among them the Sulpician,
M. l'Abbé Farges.  The most notable English
contribution to the Neo-Scholastic literature is the Stonyhurst
Series of Manuals of Catholic Philosophy. Mention must also be made
of the excellent publications of the Institut Supérieur de
Philosophie of the University of Louvain, namely, the Cours de
Philosophie by Mgr. Mercier, K. De Wulf, D. Nys, and others,
and also of the periodicals Divus Thomas, La Revue Thomiste, and
La Revue Néo-Scolastique.
 Cardinal Pecci, De Ente et Essentia (1882), etc.; Cardinal
Zigliara, Summa Philosophica (3 vols., 1876, eighth edition,
1891), Della luce intellettuale, etc.; Cardinal Satolli,
Enchiridion Philosophiae Pars Prima Complectens Logicam
Universam (1884), In Summam Theologicam Praelectiones: De Deo
Uno (1884), De Operationibus Divinis (1885), De Gratia
Christi (1886), De Trinitate (1887), De Incarnatione
(1888), De Habitibus (1897); Lorenzelli, Philosophiae
Theoreticae Institutiones (2 vols., 1896).
 De Maria, Philosophia Peripatetico-Scholastica (3 vols.,
1892); De Mandato, Institutiones Philosophicae (1894); Lepidi,
Elementa Philosophiae Chrirtianae (1875 ff.).
 La vie et l'évolution des espčces (1892),
Matičre et forme (1892), Le cerveau, l'âme, etc.
(1892), Theórie fondamentale de l'acte et de la puissance
(1893), L'idée du continu dans l'espace et le temps
(1894), L'idée de Dieu (1894), etc.