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The Degrees of Knowledge is a book by the philosopher Jacques Maritain, his major contribution to epistemology. It was first published in English. Jacques Maritain (–), French philosopher and political .. These ‘ degrees of knowledge’ are not, however, independent of one. Jacques Maritain. London: G. Blackwell. Naturalized Epistemology and Degrees of Knowledge. Jacques Maritain – – University of Notre Dame Press.

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This is a thoughtful and provocative work, He has tried to think his way not just into the theory of a better social order, but of its practicalities. There is much in what he says that demands and deserves very careful thought. It should be required reading in any college course on modern political philosophy. Would you like to tell us about a lower price? If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?

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Jacques Maritain

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Page 1 of 1 Start over Defrees 1 of 1. The Person and the Common Good. Existence and the Existent. Man and the State. I’d like to read this book on Kindle Don’t have a Kindle? Share your thoughts with other customers. Write a customer review. Read reviews that mention degrees of knowledge john of the cross maritain wrote philosophy philosophical epistemology object questions faith reality truth century epistemological nature philosopher scientific metaphysical philosophers synthesis human.

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The Degrees Of Knowledge by Maritain, Jacques

Please try again later. The Degrees of Knowledge has the honor perhaps of being among the most knowledgr texts upon my shelf of contemporary Thomistic texts. It will be impossible to sing the praises of Maritain’s text in a helpful review, but a few observations might help to convince the appropriate readers that the cracked spine of my text reflects more than my penchant for the poetry of this giant of the Thomistic renewal of the first half of the 20th century.

From the beginning, I will admit that if one is looking either for a fully systematic, textbook treatment of epistemology, this is likely not the place to find the exact genre thus desired. Like much of Maritain’s work – by his own admission elsewhere – his approach has a certain “ad hoc” character that prevented him from writing text books of such a sort.

Arguably his gift was not for writing such texts, anyway, but that is another matter for reviewers of his Introduction to Philosophy and Introduction to Logic. That being granted, the Degrees of Knowledge is far from being a hodgepodge of essays but instead reflects the seemingly innocuous title of a collection of his essays entitled “The Range of Reason.

Instead of outlining the whole project, a few observations will hopefully suffice for this review. Regarding potential readers, there kacques some ambiguity as to the appropriate nature of the audience for this text.

Above all, let us admit that there is a true conceptual barrier to entering Maritain’s text, though not one that would be insuperable even to the lay reader.

When I think that my epistemology professor suggested this text to me during my years as a Catholic seminarian, I am amazed that he thought I could either chew or swallow the dish placed before me. This is particularly the case given that most of my formation was lamentably thin in Thomism, thus leaving knowledhe without much of the vocabulary that plays a significant structural role in Maritain’s Thomism based as it is in the traditional Dominican commentators – a fact never to be forgotten if he is to be understood properly.


In any case, the personal anecdote merely allows me to say that I first read the Degrees in a state of being “in over my head. To this end, I would suggest that one turn elsewhere for the appropriate overview of philosophical problems and its general history a task left to other reviewers of other knowledgf.

That granted, if one were to pass that hurdle, the text does present some additional problems for contemporary philosophers just as much for analytic thinkers as for those who live in the pluralistic realm that comprises much else in philosophy – even in Catholic circles. To such persons, I can only speak “as an outsider,” for while I was no Thomist when I entered Maritain’s thought, I was so predisposed as a Catholic to find miself exiting as a rather bellicose, sadly Thomist. However, I do not think that my mere predisposition made the text open to my eyes.

Having a background in computer science and a decent interest in biology, I was not at first taken up by the religious portions of the text but instead by the lucidity of Maritain’s presentation of the problems of mathematical ontology, modern physics, and the questions of realism raised by modern epistemology.

It was not in the details of the argument that I was first “sold” but instead in the very life of the text. The problems were real and vexing for Maritain, and if the office of the wise man is to order things, I will give the laurels of wisdom to this orderer of epistemology. Likewise, while it only is tangential, the latter begins to open into questions of practical – i.

As a cautionary note – lest the reader later feel himself or herself to be misled – the text is dated and to a degree marked by the French intellectual climate in which Maritain wrote and thought about questions of scientific epistemology. Likewise, his treatment of St. John of the Cross and the general questions of mystical theology and natural contemplation are jacquees by limitations given his formation under the spiritual tutelage of Garrigou-Lagrange.

Likewise, his direct discussion within Thomism is marked by a natural though undefended commitment to the Dominical commentary tradition. Finally, there are clear marks that a number of the questions being raised “in house” concerning Thomism are limited to the controversies of Maritain’s day.

I myself am a partial devotee to Garrigou-Lagrange and to the Dominican commentators. Therefore, my remarks are meant as an observation regarding the context of Maritain’s writing and not as a knoowledge critique.

Let it be noted that none of these limitations are insuperable problems, for they do not appear to lead Maritain astray. They merely contextualize some of his engagement with topics of currency in a different era. Nevertheless, at the core and extending far beyond the nucleus of said core of each topic, he is dealing with a number of epistemological concerns that retain currency insofar as they reflect perennial distinctions in a manner that is not merely appealing to the authorities of his time, though most definitely speaking with them.

In short, no text can engage either with the whole of history or with the future, though it can ask questions of reality in a true and cogent manner thus being more than an historical blip. Thus, in fine, to any with good will, Martain recommend this text highly. Bear in mind that you are reading neither a comprehensive textbook nor an historical positioning of the project of epistemology, though both factors enter into the chapters.


Instead, you are reading a work of philosophy – a philosopher speaking in his own voice, though from a tradition and in a certain time – that really is seeking not merely to consider jacqjes set of problems in epistemology but instead to ponder the unified breadth of reason’s range – from the most experimental details of the sciences to the experiential heights of contemplation that are only considered as a theological question though in a manner handled with a most subtle philosophical instrument.

The experience is worth it – even if you must return to matitain text over and again and perhaps hunt down an old Thomist to understand the arcana in a footnote. The Degrees of Knowledge takes you into the heights and the depths knowledgee Philosophy. Maritain, man of the 20th century, found Reality knoaledge Truth in the writings of a man of the 13th century. I doubt this is a book for the “hoi poloi”.

You will need a philosophical Mind. Perhaps not an easy read in the beginning, but once you have found the “wave-length” you will find yourself returning again and again to this book. To have found Truth is like nothing on earth. It takes control and governs. As the Ancients used to say: The Book is cheap, thanks to Amazon. For the Philosophical Mind, a rare gem- there is no other marigain. Christopher Malloy, University of Dallas. Our knowledge is indeed A superb and subtle analysis.

Our knowledge is indeed of the real. Yet, the mode of our ideas is not the mode of the real. How does this all work? How do the recent developments in mathematical science relate to all this? Worth a close read. Maritain, jacuqes major neo-Thomist of the 20th century, has written a masterful tome on most epistemological accounts that is not only versed in “knowing that,” and “knowing how,” but also the knowledge derived from religious experience, mystical experience, and various other “degrees” of knowledge which, like a spider, are webbed together in a wonderful lattice of gemlike reflections.

The Degrees of Knowledge – Wikipedia

One will find all sorts of epistemological issues handled with care and illumination — even ones modern analytic philosophy finds too “metaphysical,” — that most people encounter in the course of a lifetime. A delightful read and a great treasure for future reflection and meditation.

I wish everyone involved in the philosophy of embodiment would read this so the fundamental errors namely the omission of the notion of spirituality could be corrected. If embodiment is truly about personal discovery and ultimate self-accountability then the epistemological exploration in this book will serve as a fantastic argument for incorporating spirituality into any philosophy of self.

There is so much in this book it will captivate the reader many times over. The best book on epistemology and philosophy of science written in 20th century. Maritain wrote 63 books, but this is the main one. One person found this helpful. A “must” for anyone wanting to do solid epistemology.

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