Monday, November 2, 2009

Ralph McInerny on the Philosophy of Being
in Fides et ratio

Entry 0094: Ralph McInerny on the Philosophy of Being 
in Fides et ratio 

Ralph McInerny writes,

In Fides et ratio n. 4, John Paul II speaks of what he calls "Implicit Philosophy," the truths anyone can be expected to know. His reason for enumerating these truths is that he sees them as the means of overcoming the scandal of philosophy, the dozens of radically different philosophical systems competing for our allegiance. Anyone will detect the Thomistic echoes in the list of tenets of Implicit Philosophy. The Pope's procedure makes clear why he too points us to Thomas and why Thomism is not just another system. We are not being urged to be Thomists as opposed to Hegelians or phenomenologists or whatever. We are being urged to do philosophy well.

The great presupposition of doing philosophy well is that one begin well. The beginnings of philosophy are not acquired in Philosophy 101. They are had before one begins the study of philosophy. The principles or starting points of philosophy are the truths that any human person can be expected already to know. Philosophy moves off from them, not to replace or abandon them, but to develop their implications. Any philosophical position that is at variance with these starting points has gone off the rails.

Ralph McInerny, “Thomistic Natural Law and Aristotelian Philosophy,” in St. Thomas Aquinas and the natural law tradition: contemporary perspectives, ed. John Goyette, Mark S. Latkovic, and Richard S. Myers (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2004), 37-38.