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Mere Catholicism

Mere Catholicism

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Published by TheLivingChurchdocs
What does it mean to be a Catholic university? Alasdair MacIntyre, perhaps the most influential living philosopher, believes the answer to this question involves a significant place for the Catholic philosophical tradition.
What does it mean to be a Catholic university? Alasdair MacIntyre, perhaps the most influential living philosopher, believes the answer to this question involves a significant place for the Catholic philosophical tradition.

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Published by: TheLivingChurchdocs on Apr 13, 2012
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22
THE LIVING CHURCH • April 22, 2012
BOOKS
 The American Study ProgramOxford, England 8 August - 14 August 2012
“Christianity in the 21st Century”
 Is there an order for the universe and meaning to our existence?
Located at historic St. Edmund Hall, this unique conference offers lectures as well asample time to enjoy the university city and surrounding areas.
Cost: $1,800
 Includes room, all meals, morning coffee, afternoon tea, and extras.
Conference Speakers:
 The Rt Rev’d. Michael Nazir-Ali, a native Pakistani retired Bishop of Rochester, and currently Director of the Oxford Centre for Training, Research and Dialogue. Topic:“Spring or Winter for Christian Muslim Relations?” The Rev’d. Dr. Vincent Strudwich: Honorary Canon of Christ Church, Oxford. Fellow of Kellogg College, Oxford, Tutor in Theology and Visiting Professor of Graduate TheologicalFoundation. The Venerable Christopher Hewetson: Former Vicar of Headington Quarry (the C. S. Lewis parish) and now serves as Archdeacon Emeritus Diocese of Chester.Mr. Ian Boxall: Mr. Boxall is Senior New Testament lecturer at St. Stephen’s House and a  member of the theology faculty at Oxford University.
 Registration Deposit: $300 (non refundable)
Contact: Ladson Mills3114 Mayfair Lane, John’s Island, SC 29455Phone: (843) 817-1503 E-mail: PMills73@aol.com www.americanstudyoxford.com
Review by Philip Reed
W
hat does it mean to be aCatholic university?This well-worn question emerges even morethan usual these days in the face of budget cuts and increasing competi-tion in higher education, as theseuni- versities have to identify what uniquefeature they offer prospective stu-dents that justifies their higher tuitioncosts. Alasdair MacIntyre, perhapsthe most influential living philoso- pher, believes the answer to this ques-tion involves a significant place forthe Catholic philosophical tradition.MacIntyre begins his excellentbook by raising a paradox for theCatholic Christian: her faith requiresher to give unqualified trustto God but she simultane-ously poses systematic questionsabout the God she claims to trust.These questions take the form of tra-ditional philosophical problems fortheists, such as the problem of evil,the relationship of body and soul, andhow to speak meaningfully of a tran-scendent being.Thus MacIntyre iden-tifiesan apparent tension betweenfaith and reason, a tension that theCatholic philosophical traditionwishes to dissolve.The reader is then guided througha brief history of the great minds of this tradition, from Augustine to JohnPaul II. MacIntyre shows how each philosopher addressesintellectual problems characteristic of believers,but does so by responding to the con-cerns unique to the time and placefrom which each one comes.The hero of the book, unsurpris-ingly, is Thomas Aquinas.MacIntyresees Aquinas as able to integrate suc-cessfully a set of Augustinian theo-logical commitments with the Aris-totelian philosophy that confrontedLatin philosophers in the 12th and13th centuries.In this way, it is Aquinas who can successfully dis-solve the apparent tension betweenfaith and reason.MacIntyre fully real-izes that the privilege he extends to Aquinas is anachronistic, for “tradi-tions are defined retrospectively” (p.165). In Leo XIII’s 1879 encyclical
 Aeterni Patris
, the Roman CatholicChurch pronounced that Thomist phi-losophy is central to Catholic philos-ophy because Aquinas deploys thenecessary resources to resolve theintellectual problems raised by mod-ern science and philosophy.Nevertheless, the prominence Mac-Intyre gives to Aquinas should not beoveremphasized, for part of the tradi-tion as MacIntyre conceives itincludes a working out of rival per-spectives and continuing disagree-ments.For MacIntyre, Aquinas hasarticulated the deepest answer so farto fundamental human questions, butit is the task of Catholic philosophynow to engage contemporary prob-lems and further the tradition as it isable,using the available tools of bothanalytic and continental philosophy.In this work as with his previousones, MacIntyre is a master of narrat-ing a rich cultural history. He deftlyconnectscertain philosophical prob-lems to, for example, the nuances of education in Ireland in the 18th cen-tury.However, it is sometimes hard tosee in this book how MacIntyre’s philo-
Mere Catholicism
God, Philosophy,Universities
 A Selective Historyof the CatholicPhilosophical Tradition
By
 Alasdair MacIntyre
.Rowman & Littlefield.Pp. 200. $29.95.

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