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The Lord of History, by Msgr. Eugene Kevane. ©2003 The Miriam Press. All Rights Reserved

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References – V. The Emergence of Post-Modern Thinking

78. Nicholas Berdyaev, The End of Our Time (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1933), pp. 11-13, his emphasis. The Russian original, published in 1919, was substantially written in the depths of the Great War: cf. his later work, The Fate of Man in the Modern World (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1935), p. 7.

79. Will Herberg, Four Existentialist Theologians (New York: Doubleday, 1958), “Introduction,” p. 27. One is reminded of Peter Wust’s classic work in post-World War I Germany, Die Auferstehung der Metaphysik, on the resurrection of metaphysics. From a different point of view, but bearing witness to the same insight, cf. William Ernest Hocking, The Coming World Civilization (New York: Harper, 1956), chapter II, “Passage Beyond Modernity,” pp. 21-42. Likewise Romano Guardini, The End of the Modern World (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1956), esp. chap. III, “The Dissolution of the Modern World and the World which is to Come,” pp. 68-133. Pondering “the ominous spectacle of a human nature withering beneath the destructive hand of modernity,” Guardini writes: “Our concern of the moment is neither to repudiate nor to glorify; it is to understand the modern world, to comprehend why it is coming to an end” p. 69.

80. Cf. the English translation Logical Investigations (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1970), Vol. I-II; and his “Philosophy and the Crisis of European Man,” in Phenomenology and the Crisis of Philosophy (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1965), pp. 149-192. The fact that he had Edith Stein and Dietrich von Hildebrand as his students and disciples underlines the post-modern character of Husserl’s fundamental thinking.

81. For a pioneering study on this point, cf. Alfons Dopsch, The Economic and Social Foundations of European Civilization (London: Kegan Paul, 1937).

82. A. A. Castellan, Filosofia de la Historia e Historiografia (Buenos Aires: Dedalo, 1961), p. 16.

83. The eminent German scholar Fritz Kern notes the change in perspective: “Two human lifetimes ago Leopold von Ranke began his World History with the Pyramids. Since his time Archeology, Ethnology, Racial History and Genetic Biology have extended our knowledge far earlier. In 1931 Menghin was able to publish his World History of the Stone Age, after Schmidt and Koppers in 1924 ventured the first ethnological synthesis of Prehistory”; in his Der Beginn der Weltgeschiechte (Bern: Francke Verlag, 1953), p. 9. For a general overview of the development of the new discipline, cf. Glyn E. Daniel, A Hundred Years of Archaeology (London: Duckworth, 1950); and the now classic work of William F. Albright, From the Stone Age to Christianity: Monotheism and the Historical Process (New York: Doubleday Anchor Books, 1940, 1957), already cited; cf. Chap. II, “Toward an Organismic Philosophy of History,” pp. 82-126, post-modern in its rejection of the Comtean idea that the pattern of succession (Augustine would say the ordo) is “given” as the facts are given to historical science.

84. Arnold J. Toynbee, A Study of History (London: Oxford University Press, 1934-1954), Vols. I-X.

85. Toynbee, ibid., Vol. I, pp. 56-57.

86. Cf. Toynbee, op. cit., Vol. VI, pp. 175-278, and Annex II, “Christus Patiens,” pp. 376-539. It is well known that the insight reached on p. 278 did not continue in its logic, and did not come to its maturity in the later volumes of Toynbee’s Study. The post-modern situation is anything but clean-cut and unambiguous; cf. below, note 99, on Maritain’s experience of the 20th Century, and the topic below on the on-going problem of Religious Modernism.

87. This amounts to a re-discovery of Christendom, seen now in a positive evaluation that contradicts the older construct in the “Ancient-Medieval-Modern” pattern. Cf. the strictly post-modern work of the Swiss scholar Gonzague de Reynold, La formation de l’Europe (Paris: Plon, 1944-1957), Vols, I-VII, esp. Vol. VII, Le Toit Chrétien.

88. Oscar Halecki, “The Place of Christendom in the History of Mankind,” Journal of World History (April, 1954), p. 938. Interestingly enough, this is the UNESCO periodicial, and Halecki’s article was commissioned by Ralph E. Turner, chairman of the Editorial Committee.

89. Halecki, ibid., p. 937.

90. Ibid., p. 947.

91. Ibid., p. 949.

92. An immense and fruitful field for future research, both empirical and philosophical, opens up in this way for younger scholars to pursue. The seminal minds in this area, all of them basically post-modern, include Frederick Ozanam, John Henry Newman, Kenelm Henry Digby, Godfrey Kurth, Gustav Schnürer and Christopher Dawson. Perhaps the best general introduction is Dawson’s Progress and Religion: An Historical Enquiry (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1938), together with his Religion and the Rise of Western Culture (London: Sheed and Ward, 1950).

93. The works of Etienne Gilson, professor at the Sorbonne across the 20th century, bring the historic reality of Christian Philosophy, especially in this its fundamental characteristic, clearly into view; cf. especially God and Philosophy (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1959); Christianity and Philosophy (London: Sheed and Ward, 1939); and The Spirit of Medieval Philosophy (New York: Scribner’s, 1940), the Gifford Lectures for 1931-1932.

94. Again a fertile field for fresh thought and liberating research opens for younger scholars. The suspicion is growing among them already that the meaning of science is not atheism, but rather the contrary. The research already is pursuing relentlessly the dated and purely philosophical character of the atheistic mentality, and beginning to separate it rigorously from the sciences. Cf. James Collins, God in Modern Philosophy (Chicago: Regnery, 1959); M. F. Sciacca (Ed.) Con Dio e contro Dio: Raccolta Sistematica degli Argomenti pro e contro l’Esistenza di Dio, (Milano: Marzorati, 1972), Vol. I-II; and especially the works of Philip Dessauer and Adolf Portmann in German.

95. The 20th Century has witnessed the gradual accumulation of works which explain the new science ever more intelligibly to the non-mathematician. Beginning with those of James Jeans, The Universe Around Us (Cambridge: at the University Press, 1929) and The Mysterious Universe (ibid., 1931), and of A. S. Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World (ibid., 1929), one comes by way of mid-century studies such as Sir Edmund Whittaker’s, Space and Spirit (Chicago: Regnery, 1948), to the more contemporary syntheses which bear witness to the re-discovery of the doctrine of creation by the empirical sciences. Cf. for example Henri Bon, La creation: vérité scientifique du XXe siécle (Paris: Nouvelles Éditions Latines, 1954); Pierre Loyer, Du cosmos à Dieu (Paris: Nouvelles Éditions Latines, 1971); Claude Tresmontant, Sciences de l’univers et problémes métaphysiques (Paris: Seuil, 1976). There are many university professors in the United States who teach “Creation Science.” Cf. for example the “Institute for Creation Research,” San Diego, Cal., and its literature. For a recent example of this unique literature of the Twentieth Century, cf. Robert Jastrow, God and the Astronomers (New York: W. W. Norton, 1978), a book occasioned by the awarding of the 1978 Nobel Prize to two American physicists for their discovery “by accident” (p. 20) of empirical evidence for the first moment of the existence of this entire visible cosmos. “The astronomical evidence proves that the Universe was created twenty billion years ago in a fiery explosion” (p. 12). Jastrow calls these discoveries “strange developments” which indicate “that the Universe had, in some sense, a beginning — that it began at a certain moment in time” (p. 11). Jastrow’s conclusion: “The scientist’s pursuit of the past ends in the moment of creation. This is an exceedingly strange development, unexpected by all but theologians. They have always accepted the word of the Bible: In the beginning God created heaven and earth” (p. 115). At the very least, for any student of Modernity as such with its characteristic philosophical resistance to the First Article of the Creed, these developments (expected or unexpected) must be termed post-modern. Aeterni patris, representing metaphysical openness to the doctrine of Creation, can celebrate its centenary with a certain sense of calm intellectual peace.

96. The new physics calls for the omnipresence of the Supreme Spiritual Power throughout the entire space-time continuum, exercising upon it an on-going creatio continuata without which its laws of being and operation would vanish into nothingness, and with them the continuum itself. The modes ofbeing of course contain factors of temporal development, “evolution” if one wishes to use a word still laden with the inadequate understandings that hold over into the 20th Century from the philosophizing of atheistic Modernity as such. Cf. Loyer, op. cit., p. 40; Tresmontant, op. cit., pp. 14-15; 20-26, where it is recognized that the materialism and atheism of Modernity has simply been “condemned to death” by the discoveries of post-modern science. For a thoroughly post-modern presentation of Christian doctrine, able to see biological evolution, defined with accurate scientific limitation, as a law of the Creator giving a certain portion of His living creation its kinds and its modes and sustaining them in the very being of their seeds and kinds, there is the work of the English priest and priestly philosopher Edward Holloway, Catholicism: A New Synthesis (London: Keyway, 1970). The creatio continuata, which the inner eye of Christian Philosophy has been able to see since its birth in Patristic thought, is receiving a powerful new empirical support in the post-modern situation of mankind. Holloway recognizes lucidly the uniqueness of the human mode of existing, which calls for the special creation of each human being in and with the seminal mode, Cf. pp. 82-93. Ingeneral, this priestly work in philosophical thought, coming late in the first century of Aeterni Patris, merits careful study by those who carry the renewal of Christian Philosophy forward into its second century. Étienne Gilson laments in his urbane work The Philosopher and Theology that the renewal never yet has come properly to grips with Bergson’s effort to break away from the atheistic materialism of Modern Philosophy. Father Teilhard de Chardin failed abjectly. Father Holloway intends explicitly to replace the Teilhardian confusion with a work truly sound in metaphysics, truly open to the transcendent God of the Judaeo-Christian Revelation, and truly at home with all the findings of the contemporary empirical sciences. Father Holloway himself recognizes that his work is a beginning, not a finished intellectual product. But here one is constrained to mention an apparent defect in the realm of history and the philosophy of history. On the one hand, this work is distinguished by an adequate concept of the all-present active Supreme Being, by a perceptive rejection of the Modernist “New Theology,” and by a sustained criticism of the errors of Marxism. On the other hand, especially in the final chapter, “The Scientific Society,” pp. 448-491, it leaves the impression of a pro-Marxist bias in that it praises the coming “one world,” “one common civilization of Science,” without discerning the concrete reality during Modern times of the Great Apostasy from the divine plan for the Kingship of Christ in world society. Thus Father Holloway does not come to grips with the necessity of conversion on the part of the Wall Street managers of the great world-wide corporations and on the part of the Kremlin managers of the Communist Parties throughout the world. This is to leave matters in a realm of philosophical astraction open to the unfortunate impression just mentioned. Our Lady, in her maternal visits to this troubled planet beginning in 1830, is always concrete: she gives specific instructions on what each one must do concretely in order that healing events like the conversion of Russia may take place in the temporal order. In other words, Father Holloway’s work, so admirable and so priestly in its intention and its substance, so superior to the work of Father Teilhard de Chardin, needs further study by younger Catholic scholars in the second century of Aeterni Patris to effect that better coordination of philosophy and theology for which Vatican II calls. He himself is commendably open to this on p. 503 in his final word. This demands a greater attention to the meaning and direction of the concrete realities of actual history, including the factual nature of the apostasy of the once-Christian West. One must ponder the historical character of Revealed Religion, as Newman did in all his life and work. Dom Gregory Dix stated this character well in his Jew and Greek: A Study in the Primitive Church (New York: Harper, 1953), p. 5: “Christianity is the revelation of Divine Truth from beyond all history and all time, but it is so only because it is the only fully historical religion. It is the only religion which actually depends entirely upon history. (His emphasis.) It is faith in the Incarnate God, it is Divine redemption given from within history, not by the promulgation of doctrines (even true doctrines) but by the wrenching of one Man’s flesh and the spilling of His blood upon one particular square yard of ground, outside one particular city gate during three particular unrepeatable hours, which could have been measured on a clock. You cannot (and you never could) enter into the truth of Christianity apart from its history. And that historical condition of Christian truth is not something which begins at Bethlehem and ends at Olivet. It applies equally to the Church, the Body of Christ, which He launched into history no less unreservedly than the Body of His flesh.” The St. Augustine of The First Catechetical Instruction, with its “From Genesis to the present times of the Church,” would accept this historical concreteness. It is the basis for the Christian philosophy of history. The divine plan for the unification of mankind is concretely offered to mankind. If accepted, the Kingship of Christ, with all its benefits for human persons and human rights, will function on this planet. But if it is not accepted, then any coming “one world” will necessarily be an anti-Christian Empire. Christians may see it coming and Christians may liv under it, indeed as Christians. But they should not applaud it s coming, much less abet its triumph, or even seem to do so. In an age of cunning intellectual deceptions, the apostolate of intellectual clarity will be an increasing need. Younger scholars will be called upon to hammer out the intellectual postions on these matters with all the careful distinctions which minister to clear understanding. The philosophy of history will assist them greatly in their work of coordinating philosophy and theology according to the Optatam totius of Vatican II. Indeed, the time may well come when Father Holloway’s plea (p. 477) for “unilateral disarmament” will take on a new light if there is to be a world-wide political and social triumph of the atheistic ideology. It would then appear to be the fundamental thinking which underlies a patient and non-violent suffering of the situation in the spirit of the Early Church. At the same time, it remains true that Vatican II does not espouse “unilateral disarmament” in its call for an ending of the arms race, Cf. Gaudium et spes, no. 82; Flannery, op. cit., p. 991.

97. In his Introduction to Metaphysics (New York: Doubleday, 1959), p. 1, Martin Heidegger asks, “Why are there essents rather than nothing…, why is there anything at all, rather than nothing?” This is to ask the correct question. But Heidegger remains embedded in the philosophizing of the Modern Age as such, never able to break through to the post-modern liberation. It is deeply significant as Tresmontant points out (op. cit., p. 14-17, 39-42) that Heidegger and Sartre studiously ignore the evidence of 20th century empirico-mathematical science for the beginning and the contingency of the existence of the cosmos. “The work of Heidegger, and that of Sartre, could have been written…in the 4th Century, in the time of Proclus…” (p. 15). These Existentialists symbolize the way in which Modern philosophizing tends to hold over into the post-modern situation, in a manner that has religious significance and a bearing upon theology which will be discussed below. For Heidegger, it is always The Question of Being (New Haven: College and University Press, 1958), never the Answer; the refusal to recognize Ipsum Esse Subsistens as Das Sein; always Das Sein as a Vorstellen in man’s own mind, and not Yahweh, the Creator of heaven and earth. A mancentrism that is atheism by implication and by silence?

98. For the Aeterni Patris (August 4, 1879) cf. Étienne Gilson (Ed.), The Church Speaks to the Modern World (New York: Doubleday Image Book, 1954), pp. 31-54. For the important official title of this Encyclical, frequently missed in translations, cf. not 2-b, above. The Documents of the Holy See which repeatedly confirm this renewal are too numerous to list here. Let one serve as an example of them all, the Address of Pope Paul VI to the Sixth International Thomistic Congress (Rome, Sept. 10, 1965), in The New Scholasticism (Jan. 1966), pp. 80-83; it is noteworthy that Paul VI calls this philosophical position “the natural metaphysics of the human intelligence…. This permanent value of Thomistic metaphysics explains the attitude of the Magisterium of the Church in its regard” (p. 82). This theme recurs constantly in the philosophical Addresses of Pope Paul VI and it formed the foundation for his ongoing catechetical instructions in his regular meetings with the public as the implicit natural substrate for his fidelity to the Christian Message, without the re-interpretation proposed by Modernity as such. Cf., for example, “Faith and History,” L’Oss. Rom.-English (Oct. 7, 1976), pp. 1 and 12. The Holy See is abidingly post-modern ever since Vatican I and Aeterni Patris. Pope Paul VI reaffirmed luminously the place of St. Thomas Aquinas in this renewal on the occasion of the seventh Centenary of the death of St. Thomas Aquinas. Cf. his Lumen Ecclesiae (Nov. 20, 1974); English translation in L’Osservatore Romano — English Edition (January 30, 1975), pp. 6-11. In a strong and lucid move, Pope John Paul II likewise reaffirmed the entire program of Aeterni Patris with his Apostolic Constitution Sapientia Christiana, dated Easter Sunday, April 15, 1979 and published in AAS (May 15, 1979), pp. 469-499. In Articles 71 and 80, on the norms of sound teaching method in theology and philosophy, the Pope refers to Optatam totius of Vatican II and to this document Lumen Ecclesiae (1974) of his predecessor Pope Paul VI. The bearing of all this upon the second century of the renewal, about to open, is clear to see.

99. This fact can be seen and studied perhaps best in the life and work of Jacques Maritain. Cf. Charles Journet, “D’une philosophie chrétienne d’histoire,” Revue Thomiste (1948), 33-61, in the special issue, “Jacques Maritain, son oeuvre philosophique.” Maritain’s philosophical life was a post-modern intellectual struggle with holdover Moderns, anxious to set him aside as a mere laudator temporis acti, who were blind to the principles of a Christendom as distinct from particular temporal realizations, including that relatively large and compact one prior to Petrarch. Cf. Brooke Williams Smith, Jacques Maritain, Antimodern or Ultramodern? — An Historial Analysis of His Critics, His Thought and His Life (New York: Elsevier, 1976).