An undergraduate book on perennial philosophy

John W. Carlson (Creighton University) has published a book for undergraduates on perennial philosophy (PDF). Here is CUA's blurb:

The Catholic University of America Press is pleased to announce publication of Understanding Our Being: Introduction to Speculative Philosophy in the Perennial Tradition by John W. Carlson.

In the encyclical Fides et ratio, Pope John Paul II called upon teachers of philosophy "to recover, in the flow of an enduringly valid philosophical tradition, the range of authentic wisdom and truth." Understanding Our Being responds to this call with a much-needed introduction to speculative philosophy.

Written as an undergraduate textbook, Understanding Our Being treats central topics about our knowledge of being, the being of the natural world, and, via the latter, being as such. It then treats the special character and implications of our human, personal being—in particular, our intellect, free choice, and reason-conditioned sociality. Finally, it considers God as Source and End of being and it discusses the "problem of evil" and the nature of religious faith.

In addition to presenting essential elements of the "perennial" philosophy, as developed in the tradition of Thomas Aquinas (especially as interpreted by Jacques Maritain and others), this book discusses contemporary challenges to the critical realist approach. These include scientism, historicism, and nihilism, as well as religious fideism. The author also encourages students to think for themselves, and he offers them resources to do so, via questions for reflection at the end of each part, a comprehensive bibliography, and a glossary of key philosophical terms.

More about the book can be found on the CUA website (link), or on Carlson's website.


Mark Johnson

Mark Johnson is an associate professor of Theology at Marquette University, and founded on Squarespace in November of 2004. He studied with James Weisheipl, Leonard Boyle, Walter Principe, and Lawrence Dewan, at the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies (Toronto, Canada).