The Order of Things: The Realism of The Principle of Finality


The Order of Things: The Realism of the Principle of Finality is an exploration of the metaphysical principle, “Every agent acts for an end.”

In the first part, Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange sets forth the basics of the Aristotelian metaphysics of teleology, defending its place as a central point of metaphysics. After defending its per se nota character, he summarizes a number of main corollaries to the principle, primarily within the perspective established by traditional Thomistic accounts of metaphysics, doing so in a way that is pedagogically sensitive yet speculatively profound.

In the second half of The Order of Things, Garrigou-Lagrange gathers together a number of articles which he had written, each having some connection with themes concerning teleology. Thematically, the texts consider the finality and teleology of the human intellect and will, along with the way that the principle of finality sheds light on certain problems associated with the distinction between faith and reason. Finally, the text ends with an important essay on the principle of the mutual interdependence of causes, causae ad invicem sunt causae, sed in diverso genere.

Réginald Marie Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. (1877–1964), was a French Catholic theologian and leading Thomist of the twentieth century who taught at the Dominican Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas, the Angelicum, in Rome from 1909 to 1960.

Matthew K. Minerd, Ph.D. is a Ruthenian Catholic, husband, and father, serving as a professor of philosophy and moral theology at the Byzantine Catholic Seminary of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Pittsburgh, PA. He has been published in Nova et Vetera, The American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly, The Review of Metaphysics, Études Maritainiennes, Downside Review, and Homiletic and Pastoral Review. He has also served as a translator or editor for volumes published by Emmaus Academic, Cluny Media, and The Catholic University of America Press.

“Being and finality—these principles account for all of reality. Nothing is without them. Nothing makes sense without them. And this is why The Order of Things is so important: it introduces readers to the dynamics of real being. In this book, Father Garrigou-Lagrange teaches his readers how to think. Dr. Minerd’s editorial notes reveal that he is not only a faithful translator of Garrigou’s words but also an insightful expositor of Garrigou’s thought. Thus, we rejoice in the fact that this ‘handbook of wisdom’ is once again available to a world that continues to search—rather desperately—for the order of things.”

—Cajetan Cuddy, O.P.
Dominican House of Studies

“Maritain described the conditions in which Garrigou-Lagrange wrote this work to Yves Simon as laboring ‘without a secretary, crushed by courses to teach, in the Collegio Angelico in isolation from everyone, facing exhausting work all alone,’ saying further, ‘If we have understood something regarding Thomism, it is thanks to him. . .’ In The Order of Things, Garrigou-Lagrange brought forth an uneven but illuminative and profound work, powerfully communicating the insights of the philosophia perennis. Matthew Minerd performs a very great service in rendering this work available to English readers. Those who see that scientia is not merely a source but a habitus will feel renewed gratitude to the old Dominican Master and to his insightful translator.”

—Steven A. Long
Ave Maria University

“An English translation of this neglected work of Garrigou-Lagrange’s is long overdue. We are in Matthew Minerd’s debt for bringing it off at laSt The availability of Le réalisme du principe de finalité to English-speaking audiences is sure to further the current revival of interest in Scholastic thought and Aristotelian philosophy.”

—Edward Feser
Pasadena City College

“This book should shed light on Thomas’s understanding of the final cause even for those who are skeptical about Garrigou-Lagrange’s approach to metaphysics. Furthermore, I know of no better instance of how a Thomist might argue for the existence of God on the basis of the natural desire for happiness.”

—Thomas M. Osborne Jr.
University of St Thomas

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