Wisdom in the Face of Modernity: Second Edition

Sapientia Press has released the second edition of Wisdom in the Face of Modernity, A Study in Thomistic Natural Theology.

In this remarkable presentation of Aquinas’ natural theology, Fr. Thomas Joseph White attempts to not only clearly present the Angelic Doctor’s teaching, but to also respond to challenges brought forward by modern authors.

 In response to the criticisms of ontotheology by Kant and Heidegger and their claims that the philosophical arguments presented by scholastics such as Aquinas are no longer tenable, White argues that they gravely misunderstood the philosophical presuppositions of classical natural theology. St. Thomas, White insists, would not have appealed to an aprioristic kind of intuition of God as Kant and Heidegger seem to presuppose he would have.

One of the major goals of the book is to explain the order of metaphysical discovery in terms of what Aquinas refers to as a via intentionis (according to which man begins with his experiential knowledge of that which exists and then goes on to analyze the metaphysical structure of concrete beings by means of a posteriori arguments). In this context, he examines the claims of Gilson, Maritain and Rahner regarding the order of discovery and maintains that a renewed appreciation of St. Thomas’ Aristotelianism could help us correct some of the defects in their otherwise meritorious contributions.

Finally, the book also investigates the ways that the study of natural theology can affect the study of theology. Interestingly, White considers the apophatic and cataphatic aspects of Aquinas from a philosophical point of view while pointing out that even if we can know something about what God is by means of analogy, the human mind naturally has some conception of its inadequacy and thus even on the natural level has some kind of velleity for a more perfect knowledge of God.

This edition has three new appendices :

-       Philosophical Wisdom and the Final End of Man: Thomas Aquinas and the Paradigm of Nature-Grace Orthodoxy

-       Divine Names

-       On the Nature of Christian Philosophy: A Response to Critics

 - Reviewed by Ryan J. Brady