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2006 | 9 | 68-80

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Jacques Maritain. Inspiration for the Discovery of European Man


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At a time of discussions on the Constitution of the European Union, it is worth returning to philosophical reflections on European man and his Christian roots. An example of such reflections is the thinking of Jacques Maritain. The French Neo-Thomist yearns to go beyond fragmentary truths bestowed on us by the natural sciences supported by the activities of the Positivists. His search is directed toward the freedom, immortality and spirituality of the human 'I'. For Maritain, what are essential are three concepts of man, Greek, Judaeic and Christian. The achievement of the Greeks and Romans was the placing of man within the framework of the material world. The Christian concept, however, defines the coexistence of the material and spiritual dimensions of human existence. Corporeality leads man to the material world and brings it about that he might be described in part by means of the categories appropriate to that world. However, acting in the world demands the existence of the person. The non-material subject becomes the centre of spiritual activity, capable of existing in a non-material way. Compared with nature, a person is an autonomous, self-contained spiritual existence which is distinguished by rationality and freedom. An undeniable fundament of freedom is rationality. Free will is turned toward good and complete freedom is unattainable without love, Christian love of God and neighbour. In this way Maritain's humanism becomes the humanism of Theocentricism, for it intercedes for man in relation to God, in both the ontological and the axiological dimensions



  • R. Krol, Ciosaniec 122, 67-410 Slawa, Poland


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