Drawing on the writings of Jacques Maritain - and by extension those of Thomas Aquinas - the essays in this volume examine the effects of theories of knowledge on individuals, culture and entire schools of philosophical thought. The contributors challenge contemporary epistemologies, which are largely based on writings of Descartes, Locke and Kant. They critique these theories internally and demonstrate their incompatibiltiy with other goods, such as liberty, human dignity and access to the transcendent. In stark contrast to modernity's dubious and fragmented opinions and belief systems, Maritain - in works like "The Degrees of Knowledge" and "Creative Intuition in Art and Poetry" - proposed a theory of knowledge that permits real, if limited, knowledge of substances, wholes. Some contributors use these works as a springboard from which to examine aspects or applications of knowledge that Maritain left unexplored. Others challenge or question aspects of Maritain's analysis, seeking to improve upon his work. Still others compare Maritain with other neo-Thomistic philosophers, most notably Etienne Gilson, Alasdair MacIntyre and Pope John Paul II.
Maritain's works on human knowledge and the implicit critique of modernity contained within provide an alternative for those seeking to engage the various deficiencies of the "culture of death". These essays aim to demonstrate the continuing relevance - and timeliness - of Maritain's thought.
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