Thomistic Common Sense: The Philosophy of Being And The Development of Doctrine


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Despite living in an “information age,” we are confronted by the clash of ideologies and a crisis of universal knowledge. The Church is not unaffected by the world’s weariness and similarly faces what Fr. Mauro Gagliardi describes as “the lack of truth, or perhaps better, the disinterest in it.” Today’s philosophical and doctrinal decline are the results of the loss of first principles and a relativistic view of doctrinal development.

As Matthew Levering writes in the Foreword, this first-time English translation of Fr. Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange’s Le sens commun: La philosophie de l’être et les formules dogmatiques by the acclaimed translator Matthew Minerd “arrives at an auspicious time.” This book sees the great Dominican master address a variety of fundamental topics that we need to return to and relearn in our day: the relationship between common sense and both philosophy and faith; the proper defense for philosophical realism; the subordination and coordination of philosophical first principles; our natural capacity for knowing God’s existence; and, at length, the problem of dogmatic development.

Although originally written during the Catholic Modernist crisis at the turn of the twentieth century, Thomistic Common Sense is no mere relic of past controversies. Jacques Maritain, for example, while reflecting on his formation as a Thomist, cited it as particularly influential. In our own time, this book serves as a foundational textbook of Thomistic philosophy, communicating its wisdom with clarity, power, and perennial resonance.

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, PhD, 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.

“Students, teachers, and the intellectual community generally owe a debt of gratitude to Matthew Minerd for undertaking this translation of the Sens Commun of Fr. Réginald Garrigou-Langrange. This important philosophical work addresses topics as timely now as they were when it was published nearly a century ago: the foundations of human knowledge, the power of human reason to know God, the relationship between faith and reason, the dynamics of the development of doctrine. Readers of this book will understand why the works of this master teacher are lately enjoying a phenomenal revival. Having influenced countless Thomists in the twentieth century, the voice of Garrigou-Lagrange retains its vibrancy and relevance in the twenty-first.”

Archbishop J. Augustine Di Noia, O.P.
Vatican City

“Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange enjoys a comeback! This is fitting inasmuch as the Dominican author masterfully exposes the order of things. Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange never ceases to champion a key truth of both philosophy and theology: All contingent being depends upon God’s absolute actuality. The latter premoves and perfects the former. In this book, Garrigou-Lagrange shows how God’s being, truth, and goodness perfect even the contingencies of human knowing and loving. The author further illuminates how theology reaches beyond dialectical inquiry and historical genealogy. Instead of expounding what others say about God or how they do theology, the author shows us how theology can attain a true knowledge of God and the things that pertain to God. Garrigou-Lagrange restores dignity to the ‘Queen of the Sciences.’ This volume serves well to introduce students to sound Christian pedagogy. In fact, the recognition that Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange displays the best of la clarté française probably accounts for one of the reasons that contemporary young scholars find his work so engrossing and informative.”

Fr. Romanus Cessario, O.P.
Adam Cardinal Maida Chair of Theology
Ave Maria University

“It is impossible to understand the 20th century discussion of the nature of dogma and of dogmatic development as well as modern magisterial teaching thereon without Garrigou-Lagrange’s Le sens commun, and many will be grateful for Matthew Minerd’s translation.”

Fr. Guy Mansini, O.S.B.
Max Seckler Chair of Theology
Ave Maria University

“Despite being one of the most important Catholic philosophical works of the twentieth century, Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange’s Common Sense has remained unavailable in English for over a century. This remarkable book provided what many considered to be the definitive statement of common sense philosophy in the modern era. It influenced generations of theologians, was read and discussed by the nouveaux théologians during their formation in the 1920s, and was the principle behind all of Garrigou’s interventions in the nouvelle theologie affair in the 1940s, even eventually influencing St John Paul II’s philosophical thought. Published at the height of the Modernist crisis, it served as a preamble and roadmap to virtually all of Garrigou’s future philosophical work, which was essentially an extended excursus of common sense and it’s implications. Natural Theology, the philosophical foundations of Revelation, principles of non-contradiction and final causality, and the immutability of dogma all are treated here in this remarkable synthesis. As we’ve come to expect from Dr. Matthew Minerd, this volume is a translation of the highest quality, readable and faithful to the original text, always conscientiously providing—and completing, in many cases—the extensive original footnotes.”

John Kirwan
Assistant Professor of Theology and Director of Graduate Programs in Theology
University of St Thomas, Houston

“Why do we trust common sense? Is there an authentic “common-sense philosophy”? Can common sense grasp the meaning of Christian dogma? In his wide-ranging and luminous exploration of these questions, Garrigou-Lagrange reinvigorates our hope of fulfilling the innate human desire (eloquently stressed by John Paul II in Fides et Ratio) for truth that is universal and universally accessible, on both the natural and supernatural planes. We are all in Dr. Minerd’s debt for bringing this work to English-speaking readers in such a lucid and insightfully-annotated translation.”

Francis Feingold
Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Chair of Pre-Theology Program
St Patrick’s Seminary and University, Menlo Park

Thomistic Common Sense: The Philosophy of Being And The Development of Doctrine

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