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In things which are above reason faith is not really supported by reason, because reason cannot grasp what

faith believes; but there is also a something here as a result of which reason is determined, or which determines reason to honour faith which it cannot perfectly understand. Victor St Hugo

The effect of reason is in fact to know the paradox negatively, - but not more. Soren Kierkegaard

Throughout the history of western thought, there has always been cross-fertilisation between philosophy and theology. From neo-platonic influences in St Augustine to Aristotelian renewal in Medieval theologians such as Aquinas, and in the works of Pascal, Kierkegaard and Kant (to name a few), one can find traces of their mergence, and attempts to clarify and reconcile these areas of human thought. More recently, an appeal to reunify reason and faith was made explicit in Pope John Paul IIs Encyclical, Fides et Ratio, in which he describes the relationship: like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth. (John Paul II, 1998,1). In a further highlight of this interplay between reason and faith, Haldane distinguishes between good faith as reason based, and bad faith as blind acceptance of divine authority. For the purposes of this paper, one could also argue there is good and bad reasoning; that is, the project of reason should heed the insights of theology lest it lapse into bad philosophy. In short, this paper will explore, from a Catholic perspective, the relationship between philosophy and theology, outlining some of the affinities and tensions, and demonstrate that both theology and philosophy have much to gain from each other in the pursuit of truth and the human good. To understand the nexus between philosophy and theology, it is worth outlining the contemporary view of Christian faith within the Catholic context. Essentially, there are two popular approaches to defining the reality of Christian faith in a Catholic context. There is the intellectual approach and the personalist model. How these two approaches differ is in the way they describe the content of faith and the act of faith. For the intellectual view, the content of faith is seen as the manifestation of divinely revealed truths in the scriptures, and the act of faith is the intellectual assent to those truths. As such, the aim of this approach is to gain a higher

form of knowledge (with the aid of reason), and partake in this knowledge of god. In the personalist model the content of faith is described as the personal manifestation of love in Jesus Christ, with the act of faith being a personal acceptance of Gods offer of love. In this way, faith leads to a personal transformation whereby the believer experiences the unconditional love of God. While there has been a shift in emphasis since Vatican Council I (1870) and Vatican Council II (1962-1965) from an intellectual to a more personalist model, Pope John Paul IIs encyclical would appear to be a revisiting of the intellectual tradition(Connolly, 1985). This is significant in that it highlights a Catholic desire to synthesis philosophical and theological thought. There are sound reasons for philosophy playing a greater role in Catholic faith. As emphasised in Fides et Ratio, theology requires rigorous thought in order to search for truth. The tools of philosophy - the ability to speculate and rationalise - are crucial for theologys task. Returning to the idea of the content (intellectus fidei) and act (auditus fidei) of faith in the Catholic tradition, it is clear how philosophy aids the task of faith. As for the intellectus fidei, philosophy aids the interpretation of the sacred scriptures and teachings, so that the meaning of the texts maintains a coherent and logical structure. As such, the propositions of the sacred texts are made clear for the individual and humanity. More importantly, the salvific message of the God in the person of Jesus Christ is communicated, which is crucial to the believers assent to faith and truth. (John Paul II, 1998). In relation to auditus fidei, philosophy also plays a role in delivering the message of God. In effect philosophy allows for a coherent understanding of Church tradition, the pronouncements of the Magisterium and the teaching of the great masters. According to John Paul, the religious teachings often adopt concepts drawn from the tradition of philosophy. As such: ..the theologian is summoned to not only explain the concepts and terms used by the Catholic church but also to know in depth the philosophical systems which may have influenced these concepts and forms, in order to formulate correct and consistent interpretation of them (John Paul II, 1998, 66). At the same time, some argue philosophy would be impoverished without theology. Philosophy without the rational thought of God may lead to a blind acceptance of certain philosophical positions such as materialism and utilitarianism. This is a point also raised in John

Paul IIs Encyclical; that current relativist thinking and the absence of clear moral positions has led to rampant consumerism and an unquestioning of associated problems. Further, philosophy without theological input becomes instrumentalised, assigned only utility value. (Ramsay, 2004, p.16). Evidence of this can be seen in the economic rationalist assent over the past 20 years and its current consequences. Moreover, theological insights broaden philosophys scope, encouraging it to reconsider topics and issues such as transcendence, spirituality, the notion of free will and evil, euthanasia and abortion, from a Catholic perspective. More poignantly, John Paul II describes it as reason being stirred to explore paths which of itself would not even have suspected it could take (John Paul II, 1998, 73). For a deeper analysis of the relationship between philosophy and theology, it is also paramount to explore the intimate workings of faith and reason. Faith without reason would be a logical impossibility; how could one come to a belief without first formulating, understanding and criticising propositions, and then provide reasons for our beliefs. Without the mechanisms of reason faith may devolve into an act of will, which then becomes a blind act of will. Or further, faith could be an emotional response, reducing it to a subjective feeling, having little connection to intelligence or will; as such, it will be unable to make truth claims. Furthermore, the act of faith often involves confronting realities which involve uncertainty and obscurity. As the epistle to the Hebrews states: Now faith is the substance of things to be hoped for, the evidence of things that are not seen (Heb 11.1). Gods personal manifestation reveals mysteries which are beyond the workings of human reason. Consequently, the believer experiences doubt and so desires a deeper understanding of the realities accepted in faith. Thus, an inquiring and critical mind is part and parcel of the act of faith. It was Thomas Aquinas in the 13 th century who described faith as thinking with assent, highlighting the compatibility of questioning (i.e. doubt and reason) and faith. (Connolly, 1985, p.104) Of course, faith over-dependent on reason also has its shortcomings. In general theological terms, if the act of faith is viewed exclusively as the action of the intellect then faith becomes merely an intellectual assent to the body of truths, devoid of the insights of revelation, and downplaying the personalist aspects of faith. In philosophical terms, other aspects arise. Firstly, it is important to note that the contemporary view is sceptical of empirical accounts of reality. It is believed that reason is tainted by human prejudice, politics and an assortment of subjective or external factors. On an esoteric level this means that, given such philosophical impasses such as

the problem of induction - the impossible task of finding an absolute or infallible premise - the premise of any decision is never full-proof. Yet decisions are made based on uncertain premises. Philosophy has grappled with the problem of first causes since early Greek thought, with countless attempts to fill the lacunae. Platos ideal forms, Aristotles unmoved mover, Kants a priori/a posterior postulates, the linguistic turn of the analytic tradition - all have been attempts to rationalise the inexplicable. At some juncture a decision was made via a leap of faith or the scientific method. More to the point, if the act of faith is to function it cannot rely solely on reasons capacity. For reason too has its aporias. Thus far, we have explored the interrelationship between philosophy and theology, and the intricacies of faith and reason from a Catholic perspective. Beyond the dichotomous aspects of this analysis, it would be instructive to explore the Catholic idea of beauty, as expressed in art and other leisure activities. The purpose of this is to show that the experience of beauty can be a locus for a deeper integration of faith and reason, to a point where they become one, revealing the totality of truth. In a personal account of experiencing a Bach recital, the present Pope Ratzinger, after hearing the final note of the performance was moved to express: Anyone who has heard this knows that the faith is true. He goes on to explain:The music had such an extraordinary force of reality that we realized, no longer by deduction, but by the impact on our hearts, that it could not have originated from nothingness) (Ratzinger, 2002, p.6). Such reactions in the face of beautiful art are common enough. What Ratzinger and so many others have alluded to is that aesthetic experience can be transformative in the profoundest of ways. By experiencing and contemplating the beautiful, a person undergoes a total response to the object of beauty. As such, a persons rational and emotional boundaries are blurred, allowing the subject to go beyond themselves as it were. In Platonic terms, the encounter with beauty is an emotional shock that makes man leave his shell and sparks his enthusiasm by attracting him to what is other than himself (Ratzinger, 2002, p.6). This response is not just superficial aestheticism or irrational fancy, but a form of knowledge based on experience, not derivative knowledge gained from instruction. To further clarify the point, icons achieve a similar effect with their limited formal structure, forcing the viewer to free their senses from realistic impressions. In so doing, the observers inner perception is activated, giving them a deeper capacity to see. It is this inner way which leads the believer to the Truth and the glory of God. The point to be gleaned here is

that beauty is a potent vehicle for Catholics (and others alike), dissolving the distinction between faith and reason, and providing a more holistic access to the divine truth. We have so far explored the Catholic view of incorporating rational thinking for the purpose of attaining divine truth, coupled with the need to safeguard against the shackles of reason. This tension between transcendence and reason has been a troubling theme in Catholic thinking; on the one hand theology should be more practically minded and work for the common good; on the other it should also uphold its duty to contemplate the divinity for its own sake. However, according to one view, the pursuit of transcendence in the form of contemplative thought need not be a departure from more real human considerations. Uncomfortable with any limited form of transcendence (Nussbaum), Hayden Ramsay argues that transcendent thinking is natural and can be beneficial in unexpected ways. He argues that many instances where humans appear to go beyond human nature often turn out to be breakthroughs in science, medicine and art. Hence there is no clear demarcation between natural and supernatural. The same could be said of the desire for immortality, freedom from hunger and illness. In fact, this human tendency to go beyond our means may be quite rational. In effect, Ramsay appeals for space for the contemplative spirit, for that sense of wonder, in relation to thinking and faith. It is chiefly through this that God becomes intelligible to us. (Ramsay, 1998, p.60). It is a valid calling for Catholics, other Christians and secular society. In other works Ramsay (2005) extends this idea of the freedom to contemplate, into the spheres of leisure, sport and art. Not the mindless indulgence of consumer culture, but a more nuanced approach to life which heeds the deeper parts of our spirit. Culture needs to reclaim this all too human nature in order to become whole and closer to God; a nature echoed in both philosophy and theology. In conclusion, this aspiration should serve as an appropriate model for the integration of philosophy and theology, and their respective wings of faith and reason.


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