Personalism and Scholasticism. By John Cowburn, S.J., The Worldview of Personalism: Origins and Early Development. By Jan Olof Bengtsson and Subversive Orthodoxy: Outlaws, Revolutionaries, and Other Christians in Disguise. By Robert Inchausti
Article first published online: 8 JUN 2009
© The author 2009. Journal compilation © Trustees for Roman Catholic Purposes Registered 2009
The Heythrop Journal
Volume 50, Issue 4, pages 735–736, July 2009
How to Cite
McGuckian, M. (2009), Personalism and Scholasticism. By John Cowburn, S.J., The Worldview of Personalism: Origins and Early Development. By Jan Olof Bengtsson and Subversive Orthodoxy: Outlaws, Revolutionaries, and Other Christians in Disguise. By Robert Inchausti. The Heythrop Journal, 50: 735–736. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2265.2009.00501_36.x
- Issue published online: 8 JUN 2009
- Article first published online: 8 JUN 2009
Pp. 213 , Milwaukee , Marquette University Press , 2005 , $25.00 .
Pp. vi, 310 , Oxford University Press , 2006 , $125.00 .
Pp. 219 , Grand Rapids, MI : Brazos Press , 2005 , npg .
Personalism and Scholasticism presents a short history of the two types of philosophy indicated and deals with some particular issues in philosophy and theology from the two perspectives. Cowburn presents the book as an account of his personal journey from a scholastic background to a greater regard for personalism. In the text, however, there is not much evidence of the struggle and the book lacks a real personal engagement. It seems to fall between two stools. It is too technical for the general reader and not technical enough for the professional. It might be useful for a teacher of an introductory course on these topics as a handy textbook, or for students seeking a quick introduction.
The Worldview of Personalism is a much more serious work. It is a revised and expanded version of a doctoral thesis and has all the advantages without the usual defects of that genre. It is, as the sub-heading indicates, a history of the beginnings of personalist philosophy, but it provides a marvellous and broad introduction to the whole movement. All the familiar names are here, together with new ones only familiar to specialists. He takes the three fundamental issues of any philosophy, God, the self, and the community, and has useful things to say on each from the perspective of a long list of thinkers from Jacobi on. Although the precise focus is historical, the substance of the issues comes through quite clearly. This book is written in a most readable and illuminating style, and would provide an excellent resource on this type of philosophy for anyone, from the interested general reader to the specialist.
Subversive Orthodoxy is a different kind of book from the other two. It presents a kaleidoscopic collection of twenty Christian writers of all types, poets, novelists, philosophers, theologians, spiritual writers, social activists, politicians, psychologists and critics. They cannot all be considered to be ‘personalists’, but they do fall within this general stream of thought. The thesis of the book is to demonstrate that, contrary to a widespread misconception, Christianity is not ‘inherently reactionary, unconsciously wedded to class, race, and gender prejudices, bound by foundational metaphysics, and littered with outworn superstitions.’ (p. 10) One might want to quibble with the penultimate of these categories, but the overall thesis is successfully established. However, despite the attractiveness of every one of the thinkers summarised, the book suffers from the lack of a more precise focus, and so the sample of each name is too short to offer any real satisfaction. That said, if the book whetted one's appetite and sent one off to the originals, it would have succeeded in its purpose.