“Catholic philosophy” has a threefold meaning. First, it refers descriptively to the understanding of philosophy throughout the history of Catholic Christianity. After the decline of Hellenism, philosophy in the Greek sense did not survive anywhere else than in Catholicism; the works of the Latin Fathers, the theologians of the Middle Ages, and the Catholic philosophers of the Renaissance and modern periods thereafter not only saved philosophy from historical disappearance but contributed to its revival and new developments. “Catholic philosophy”, in the second sense, is the historical matrix in which philosophy of our time has emerged. That is to say, the modern and contemporary meanings of philosophy are marked by their difference from theology properly so called. Thirdly, Catholicism has always considered philosophy as centrally important to the Catholic doctrine. No other Christian denomination has ever shown such an intense, complex, and systematic interest in maintaining and developing philosophy. Thus, “Catholic philosophy” has the third meaning of a historic achievement in which philosophy could grow into its modern forms. In this essay, I investigate the historical development and the contemporary possibilities of Catholic Philosophy.
In Der Anfang der Philosophie Hans-Georg Gadamer attributed a constitutive trait of Plato’s philosophy to the literary qualities of the dialogues, and
claimed that in the transition of Greek philosophy from mythological appreciation to conceptualization (from myths to logos) fictionalization ranked high as a genuine structural element of philosophical speculation. Meanwhile Gadamer’s reconstruction
of pre-Socratic philosophy in view of its Platonic reception seems to be subordinate to his conviction that Heidegger’s revolution
was unprecedented in the history of philosophy.
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