Every once in a while you encounter a book that reorients your perspective and forever changes you. Dr. McInerny’s Praeambula Fidei: Thomism and the God of the Philosophers is one of those books — any further reading of Henri DeLubac and particularly Etienne Gilson (one of my erstwhile favorite 20th century Thomists) will be through the critical lens of McInerny’s ‘Praeambula Fidei’. There is no going back.
A summary from the publisher:
In this book, renowned philosopher Ralph McInerny sets out to review what Thomas meant by the phrase and to defend a robust understanding of Thomas’s teaching on the subject. After setting forth different attitudes toward proofs of God’s existence and outlining the difference between belief and knowledge, McInerny examines the texts in which Thomas uses and explains the phrase “preambles of faith.” He then turns his attention to the work of eminent twentieth-century Thomists [De Lubac, Gilson, Chenu] and chronicles their abandonment of the preambles. He draws a contrast between this form of Thomism and that of the classical Dominican commentators, notably Cajetan, arguing that part of the abandonment of the notion of the preambles as philosophical involves a misreading and misrepresentation of Cajetan. McInerny concludes with a positive rereading of Aristotle’s Metaphysics and Aquinas’s use thereof. In the end, the book argues for a return to the notion of Aristotelico-Thomism–Thomistic philosophy as the organic development of the thought of Aristotle.
As somebody who has read a considerable amount of Gilson’s work (and with an interest in neo-Thomism in general) McInerny’s exquisite and thorough dismantling of Gilson’s reading of Aguinas, and Cajetan-on-Aquinas, made for some painful reading at times.
- Review: Praeambula Fidei: Thomism and the God of the Philosophers, by Anthony J. Lisska, Denison University. Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 8/19/07.
- Neo-Neo-Thomism. Review by Romanus Cessario. First Things May 2007.
- From Ralph McInerny himself interview with Harm Goris, Thomas Instituut te Utrecht. (July 15, 1998):
In acknowledging that Thomas in primarily a theologian, we are also acknowledging that he is a philosopher. Any effort to remove Aristotle, or philosophy, from Thomism puts me in mind of the joke about two men painting a wall. One says to the other, “Hang on to your brush, I’m taking away the ladder.”
- Ralph McInerny (1929-2010)