To conclude the Christmas week, here is an interesting collection of essays generally about the work of the influential 20th century natural law philosopher, Jacques Maritain. The book is The Things That Matter: Essays Inspired by the Later Work of Jacques Maritain (CUA Press), edited by Heidi Giebel.
In the final year of his long life, eminent Thomist philosopher Jacques Maritain prepared a final book for publication: a collection of previously unpublished writings entitled Approches sans entraves, later translated into English as Untrammeled Approaches. That collection, both in its conversational yet reverent tone and in its weighty topics – faith, love, truth, beauty – gives the reader the sense that she is receiving from a great teacher and friend the most important nuggets of wisdom for the next generation. Throughout the book, Maritain shares with his readers, from his heart as well as his intellect, regarding the things that really matter; that book – and those things – are the primary inspiration for the present volume.
This volume, comprised of original essays by twenty English-speaking Thomists on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of Untrammeled Approaches’ first English appearance, explores several of Maritain’s still-untrammeled (or at least less-trammeled) themes. While following his unbeaten paths, the contributing authors find and refine hidden treasures at every turn. They develop some of his more speculative ideas regarding the spiritual world – including the last things, the fate of the fallen angels, and a possible angelic role in evolution. They reflect deeply on a few of Maritain’s recurring themes: for example, the nature of beauty and intuition. They analyze the implications – positive and negative – of Maritain’s philosophy of love, marriage, and sexuality. And they consider and apply his arguments regarding appropriate roles and interactions of Church and state. The volume concludes with big-picture reflections on Maritain, his thought, and his enduring relevance.