John Deely Awarded for World-Wide Scholarly Achievement

The PR people at the University of St Thomas in Houston just sent me this announcement:

Dr. John Deely, who holds the Rudman Chair of Philosophy in the Center for Thomistic Studies at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, won two prestigious medals for his world-wide scholarly achievement. He received the Aquinas Medal for Excellence in Christian Philosophy at the international Gilson Society meeting in Baltimore, Oct. 1-3, and the Maritain Medal for scholarly achievement, awarded at the annual meeting in Houston, Oct. 22-24 by UST Associate Professor Fr. Ted Baenziger, CSB, on behalf of the American Maritain Association.

Etienne Gilson and Jacques Maritain were the two foremost Thomists of the 20th century, and they had close teaching connections with the Basilians at the Pontifical Institute for Medieval Studies in Toronto. Maritain is also an honorary member of the UST Center for Thomistic Studies.

Deely’s prolific single-authored books and voluminous editorial enterprises include two opuses and a classic, Basics of Semiotics, which is in its sixth edition and has been translated into more than 10 languages, including Japanese and Chinese. One of his five books published in 2009, Augustine & Poinsot, has been on window display at the University of Paris Sorbonne. His work, as Professor Anne Hénault of the Sorbonne puts it, “opens horizons of thought absolutely essential for the 21st century.”

“Dr. Deely is a pioneer in demonstrating the implications of Thomistic thought for problems today,” said Padre Roberto Busa, SJ, Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and creator of the Index Thomisticus database. “He maintains the thought of St. Thomas as a living force in the intellectual culture, rather than simply as a kind of museum piece among the exhibits of history, making that thought come to the attention of thinkers who would not in the normal course of events have any particular interest in Thomism at all.”

Reflecting on Deely’s legacy in opening frontiers within and beyond the Catholic world, famous novelist and Latin philosopher Umberto Eco concludes, “John Deely has not only paid attention to the Second Scholasticism, and (while dealing with questions that are at the center stage of contemporary culture, and working across all the disciplines, both the humanities and the sciences) he has contributed to expand the knowledge of the Thomistic tradition beyond the confines of the Catholic world.”

The more than 400-page Deely Reader, Realism for the 21st Century (University of Scranton Press, Pa.), edited by Paul Cobley, London, was published in late October 2009.

In the words of Benedict Ashley, OP, professor emeritus, Aquinas Institute of Theology at St. Louis University, “No current thinker has carried out a more penetrating advance into a genuine post-modernism … than John Deely, and this collection gives us the heart of his work.”

Scheduled for publication later this year is Deely’s Semiotic Animal (St. Augustine’s Press, South Bend, Ind.).

Go to the site’s search page, punch in “Deely,” and you’ll see that he has been a big supporter of by way of providing information and PDF files of interest.

The “Introduction” to the new Cursus philosophicus thomisticus edition

John Deely, of the University of St Thomas (Houston, TX), worked long and hard to get a reprint of John of St. Thomas’s (Jean Poinsot’s) Cursus philosophicus thomisticus. Thanks to the Georg Olms Verlag, and the editorship of Martin Walter, the thing has been reprinted in a glorious, three-volume set. And Deely, who knows a thing or sixty about John of St. Thomas (link), has kindly shared a PDF of his “Introductory Remarks on the Value of Poinsot’s Work to Philosophy Today.” A selection:

The standard histories of philosophy over the whole of the 20th century have tacitly agreed to give the impression that nothing of value or interest happened in the Latin tradition after the death of William of Ockham. I was first led to see the falsity of this standard view by a reading of Jacques Maritain’s writings on sign, published together in his book Quatre Essais sur l’Esprit dans sa Condition Charnelle (nouvelle edition revue et augmenté; Paris: Alsatia, 1956). In those writings, Maritain directed me to the Tractatus de Signis of John Poinsot, then thoroughly embedded within the hefty volumes of Poinsot’s Cursus Philosophicus.

Mainly interested at the time in the newly developing idea of semiotics as a study of the action of signs, I spent the next fifteen years in preparing Poinsot’s semiotics for presentation as an independent edition, which was published in bilingual format by the University of California Press in 1985. Over the course of that work I came to appreciate the value of Poinsot’s work not only on the sign, but as a whole. For what the Cursus Philosophicus presents us with is nothing less than a careful and complete summation of what philosophy was able to achieve independently and in its own right prior to the advent of science in the modern sense as a complementary intellectual development.

It is true that the period of early modern philosophy approached from its Latin side, rather than from the side of its emergence out of Latin into the national language traditions of classical modern thought, is a dismaying maze of the greatest difficulty to navigate. This is precisely the value of Poinsot’s work as a whole.

Download the PDF here.