Whence Cometh Evil?

War, hunger, diseases, drought, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, accidents, just to mention but a few, have been and are still afflicting humanity. Such human afflictions have occupied and affected humanity and its activities for generations. But where does such evil come from? The endeavour to answer or solve this puzzle has led humanity to discovery and innovation especially in technology in order to adapt and survive in the face of affliction. Today, human life is more enhanced and more dignified due to technological advancement which was born in time of crisis, as the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. We have footwear today because someone’s foot somewhere was pierced by a sharp object. Some have found recourse in religion for those who found out that empirical and/or rational explanations were inadequate to address the mystery of human suffering. It is therefore undoubtedly right to assert that such afflictions have shaped human history. It is also important to consider the frame of reference in some cases of human suffering. For instance, for the case of Budalangi floods in Western Kenya, the people at Cherenganyi-source of river Nzoia-consider the rain a blessing for their maize, while the same water is a curse for the people in Budalangi where river Nzoia breaks banks. At the same time it’s an awesome time for fishing. Secondly, a pupil considers caning evil yet for the teacher it is beating the hell out of the pupil to shape her future. Should we consider the rain and the caning evil since it is coupled with human affliction? Two boys find ripe fruits on a mango tree. One hits his fruit with a stone and it drops down thanks to gravity. The other boy climbs but just before reaching his fruit he drops and breaks his arm, thanks to gravity! Is gravity good or evil? To some people, human suffering is their foundation for the refutation of the existence of God. That if there is a powerful, all knowing and loving Deity, why do humans suffer? Why doesn’t he use his omniscience and omnipotence to free humans-whom he loves- from suffering? Is God the cause of evil? Is evil a being? Absolutely not. Evil is a privation, the absence of goodness. God created being, not nonbeing. In fact creating a privation is self-defeating. He is therefore not responsible for evil. In Genesis 1:3 God created light and said it was good; he did not say that darkness was good, because it is a privation. In the same way sickness is a privation of health. Then we call God a healer; how could the limited human mind understand him as a healer is we don’t fall sick for him to heal us. How could we know Christ as a redeemer if we weren’t captives for him to free us? How could we grasp divine providence if we weren’t in need? Since God does not create privations, he only allows it, which then becomes instrumental in knowing him more. In fact when Jesus Christ is asked about the blind man he healed in John 9:1-17; that if the man had been blind since birth, who had sinned between him and his parents; Jesus responds that he had been born that way so that the glory of God may be manifested. Jesus’ response was not anticipated by his audience who expected him to say that the blindness was a punishment for some wrong done. This is not meant to imply negation of the fact that a number of human suffering is as a result of irresponsible human activities. God created us with the free will; that for whatever we do we must be accountable. For instance, whom should we blame for the climatic change when we are well aware that were have such a vehement appetite for forests and that we are generous when it comes to feeding the atmosphere with carbon emissions? And should we keep on lamenting about drought and new lifestyle diseases when we know that we can do something to avert the situation? Should a cancer patient complain as s/he continues to savour sugar and starch food when s/he is aware that cancer cells thrive on sugar and they starve in the absence of sugar? It does not that those who suffer are sinners as some people tend to think. Jesus himself denied this, ‘Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all other Galileans? By no means!…Of those eighteen people who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them-do you think they were more guilty than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!’(Luke 13:1-5). Take every tough situation as a stepping stone to a better goal. Was is not evil for Joseph to be sold to Egypt out of jealousy? But he later becomes the saviour of not only his family but the whole region. If gold that is perishable has to be purified in a furnace, what of the human soul that is imperishable? If death is that evil then how else could we have the hope of going to our heavenly home?

Happy All Souls Day! 


Tell Atheists Kenya is Godly

As a country, we are proud of the heroes who gave up all they had including even giving up their own lives to liberate our country from colonial government and preserve our culture as Africans. This was patriotism at its best, wasn’t it? Patriotism that we all still yearn for in an era where the learned fellows we expect to follow this course have turned out to be traitors of the African culture. Here, we have for instance the atheists driving the scraping of the name of God from the national anthem. Is there any African community that did not profess the existence of God even in its primitive stages? In the first place they refer to themselves as non-believers; do they even believe in the petition they have just drafted? Is life possible without faith? Even getting into a public service vehicle one has to have faith that the driver is qualified since I have never seen any passenger requesting for the drivers licence before getting into the vehicle. Neither have I seen a customer in any eatery carrying out a test on food whether it is safe for consumption or not before gobbling it. Faith is not only important but necessary. Life without faith is utter pessimism. The atheists are basing their argument on article 8 of the constitution, that there is no state religion. It is unfortunate that such a simple article has proved hard for some to understand. In a nutshell, the article states that Kenya is a religious state with a diversity of religions which are equally respected without giving preference to one over another by making it a state religion for instance. Did the draft include among its reasons of doing away with the name God from the national anthem for cultural significance? What is culture in the first place? Among the seven main elements of culture, we have religion. Without religion then we have no culture. The draft mentions shared ideals and values. Where can ideals and values be cultivated if not in a culture? In fact the term culture simply means cultivate (cultura in Greek). We should also be reminded that it’s in religion within a culture that we have a code of morals to guide a community. Is it not religion that forms the conscience of the people? And as non-believers, do they believe in the ideals and values and which ones are these? Let’s not forget that we are Africans. Which African culture cultivated atheism? Mbiti affirms categorically that Africans are notoriously religious. We should be cautious, maybe our culture has been put on auction by those who have already sold their souls to the devil. It may be awaiting the highest bidder especially in an era of widespread cases of Free Masonry, Illuminati and devil worship and negative secularism. It is a time that we should not not consider the possibility of having in our midst brokers of these sects. Today in our country we have the Inter-Religious Council which is tirelessly working towards unifying all Kenyans despite religious, tribal or social differences. These religions should not be viewed as foreign and should therefore be practised in the African context to be more meaningful and effective. Let us guard our culture and religion jealously just like the heroes we are celebrating guarded all that is African in our motherland. Tell atheists, Kenya is Godly.​


Blessed Feast of the Assumption-15th August

To my dedicated readers, this is not my first article on this great feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As a result I will not go into much ado of explaining its meaning; this can be found in earlier articles. This article focuses on scriptural pointers to this dogma.
The feast of the Assumption can be understood best in relation to the Immaculate Conception. First, there is a difference between the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Virginal Conception. Immaculate Conception denotes that Mary was conceived in the normal way but without original sin, that is, without stain. The essence of original sin consists in the deprivation of sanctifying grace. Mary’s existence was in the state of sanctifying grace and was therefore free from the corrupt nature brought about by original sin. The angel Gabriel proclaims Mary to be full of grace. ‘Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you’ (Lk 1:28). St. Augustine makes it even clear, that humanity seeks the ‘good’ through grace.
One of the consequences of sin is bodily corruption which Mary was not subjected to. Other humans have to wait for the resurrection of the body at the second coming of Christ. The question that emerges is why she had to die yet she had sanctifying grace? Mary died as a way of sharing in the lot of the passion of her son who too did not have original sin yet he died too (Rom. 8:17).
Secondly, Mary is the Ark of the Covenant of the New Testament. The Ark of the Covenant stays at the house of Obed Edom for three months (2 Samuel 6:11); in Luke 1:56, Mary stays at Elizabeth’s house for three months. King David rejoices before the Ark (2 Samuel 6:14); in Luke 1:41, John leaps with joy in his mother’s womb. While the Ark carried the ten words (Decalogue-Exodus 25:22), Mary carried the Word (Logos-John 1:1) in her womb. The Ark of the Covenant disappeared despite archaeological efforts to relocate it. It’s last mentioned in 2 Kings 23:21-23 and therefore not known whether it was destroyed during the Jerusalem siege or not. In Rev. 11:19, the Ark of the Covenant is seen in heaven. Mary’s bodily relics happens not to have been sort by anybody.
In Revelation we are presented with a lady in heaven who gives birth to a child destined to rule with God (Rev. 12). Who else could this lady be if not the Blessed Virgin Mary?
St Francis De Sales said that Jesus was the first to obey the fourth commandment; what son if he could, would not bring his mother back to life, and take her after death to paradise? So too Christians should love and care for their parents; not as is the care where some people lead flashy lives while their parents languish in poverty.
Blessed Assumption


Spiritual Ecology

Spiritual ecology is a recent term which refers to the intersection between the religion and spirituality and the environment. It is a term which has been coiled due the demands of our time; the problem of environmental degradation. Among the many solutions which have been devised towards comparting and correcting this situation we have spiritual ecology. This is because science and technology has failed to address this problem, instead, it has aggravated the situation by its inability to deal with its products and by products. It is on this note that the Holy Father Pope Francis says that there is need for a spiritual and moral response to the environmental crisis; this brings the question of spiritual ecology to the forefront. Thus, ecological problem is a spiritual problem.
The ailments that our mother earth is suffering from are evident. Climate change coupled with adverse weather patterns, depleted forests, encroached wetlands, polluted water ways and bodies, piles of disposed filth in towns, strange diseases, lifestyle diseases, toxic air, depleted soil minerals for agriculture, soil erosion, noise from industries, automobiles, just to mention but a few. These constitute the monstrous resounding cry of our mother nature. But the question is, who suffers most when the mother is at pain apart from her own children who depend wholly upon her for all their need? And who is responsible for all this harm upon nature? Who else but humanity?
At this point it should be noted that the environmental crisis is a replica of the turmoil within us; greed, ignorance, egoism, apathy, selfishness, disorder, disconnection, secularism. These have disconnected us from ourselves, from one another, from the mother earth and above all from God the Creator, and has dumped us into a diabolic scramble for life as if we were solely responsible for our being. Our not listening to the cry of the earth is a reflection of our insensitivity to the needs of others; we are in a world where nobody shows concern for the needs of the neighbour. We are blind to the suffering, we are deaf to the cry of the poor. What shall we do to amend the situation?
We need to work towards the creation of a new world of unity and peace. This has to begin from the inner revival of humanity. In the heart of the human person has to be reconnected with the sacred in order to once again have the sense of the sacred. After reconnection with God we recognize that He is the Creator of all that is. This reminds us of the Genesis creation account; after creating God said that all creation is good (Genesis 1:31). Another point to note from Genesis is God’s command to humanity as co-workers, “Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all living things that move on earth.” (Genesis 1:28). This divine command should not be misinterpreted to mean that man should be domineering and plunder the resources of the earth, it calls for humanity to practice a caring stewardship. As a result, Thomas Berry, a Passionist priest asserts that humanity is not at the centre of the universe but that it is integrated into a divine whole with its own evolutionary path.
It is only after re-establishing a link with the sacred that humanity can establish the interconnectedness of all creation. Pierre Teilhard De Chardin says that this transition to the recognition of the sacred calls for a collective awareness towards a consciousness of the divinity in every particle of life, even the densest mineral. Since we have already identified the environmental crisis as a spiritual problem, ecological conversion necessarily presupposes spiritual consciousness and an attitude of responsibility, one that recognises creation as sacred and one that commands behaviours that honour that sacredness. This renewal therefore demands from humanity a genuine morality just like any form of spirituality that calls for goodness.
Pope Francis echoes the Patriarch Bartholomew who invites us “to accept the world as a sacrament of communion, as a way of sharing with God and our neighbours on a global scale…that the divine and the human meet in the slightest detail in the seamless garment of God’s creation, in the last speck of our planet.”
For Pope Francis, every creature mirrors something of God and has a message to convey to us. For instance, the operations of creation reflect order and dynamism which God is solely responsible. And by following the order that God has written in creation, the power and light of grace is reflected in our relationship with our surroundings. Then, in an integral ecology taking time to recover a serene harmony with creation, reflecting on our lifestyle and our ideals, and contemplating the Creator who lives among us, whose presence is to be uncovered. Thus in every creature, states Pope Francis, can be found a mystical meaning; God can be discovered in all things. He alludes to St. Bonaventure’s teaching, ‘contemplation deepens the more we feel the working of God’s grace within our hearts, and the better we learn to encounter God in creatures outside ourselves.
Again on the interconnectedness of creation, humanity needs to re-evaluate its activities since they affect other inhabitants of earth to a great extent. Humanity must examine and reassess the underlying attitudes and beliefs about the earth and our spiritual responsibilities towards the planet. David Suzuki, an environmentalist, has this to say about our relationship with nature. That the way we see the world shapes the way we treat it, if a mountain is a deity, not a pile of ore; if a river is one of the veins of the land, not potential irrigation water; if a forest is a sacred grove, not timber; if other species are biological, not resources, or if the planet is our mother, not an opportunity, then we treat each other with respect. This is the challenge, to look at the world from a different perspective.
Suzuki then adds that in order for humanity to find its way back home, we need to learn to live in harmony with the earth. We need to listen to the cry of the earth, deepen our personal reflection and widen the conversation between us and our environment and with other people. That we ought to embrace earth as a sacred living being, our birth mother, the source of our nurture and a being that is beyond pricing.
In the economy of salvation, the sacramental promise of eternal life reminds us that when we receive communion we are eating bread, a fruit of the earth, and work of human hands, now most intimately bound to the body, blood, soul and divinity of the Son of God. Does this not give rise to a spiritual ecology? Is it not through the celebration of this great banquet that the whole earth shall be renewed and be brought to fulfilment? Therefore, we should repair our relationship with the earth through the celebration of the sacredness and oneness of life.
In the sacrament of the Eucharist, Francis I adds that created cosmos finds the greatest adornment. Grace is manifested tangibly by God becoming flesh and giving himself to creatures as food; through the mystery of incarnation. Through the celebration of the Eucharist, the whole cosmos is joined in giving thanks to God. Ultimately, the Eucharist joins heaven and earth. Thus, the Holy Father sums up that ‘the Eucharist is a source of light and motivation for our concerns for the environment, directing us to be stewards of all creation.
Therefore, we need to treat creation as a gift from God; one that should be cared for and not exploited, one that should be cherished and not be abused, one that should be nurtures and not plundered. And that the beauty of creation may be a reflection of the beauty in the heart of every human being.


The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 15 August; also called in old books Pausatio,Nativitas (for heaven), MorsDepositioDormitio S. Mariae. It was declared a dogma by Pope Pius XII in 1950.

This feast has a double object: the happy departure of Mary from this life; the assumption of her body into heaven. It is the principal feast of the Blessed Virgin.

To mark this great day, it’s worth quoting Adrian I, “Venerable to us, O Lord, is the festivity of this day on which the holy Mother of God suffered temporal death, but still could not be kept down by the bonds of death, who has begotten your Son our Lord incarnate from herself.” This feast was elevated from being just one of the Marian feasts to being part of the whole liturgical cycle because as the Mother of God , Mary was kept a virgin-incorrupt-so was she kept incorrupt even after her temporal earthly death.

The exact year that she is believed to have assumed into heave is not known but it is between three to fifteen years after the ascension of our Lord. Is a truth that has been revealed by God and consequently something that must be firmly and faithfully believed by all children of the Church.

Thus St. John Damascene, an outstanding herald of this traditional truth, spoke out with powerful eloquence when he compared the bodily Assumption of the loving Mother of God with her other prerogatives and privileges. “It was fitting that she, who had kept her virginity intact in childbirth, should keep her own body free from all corruption even after death. It was fitting that she, who had carried the Creator as a child at her breast, should dwell in the divine tabernacles. It was fitting that the spouse, whom the Father had taken to himself, should live in the divine mansions. It was fitting that she, who had seen her Son upon the cross and who had thereby received into her heart the sword of sorrow which she had escaped in the act of giving birth to him, should look upon him as he sits with the Father. It was fitting that God’s Mother should possess what belongs to her Son, and that she should be honored by every creature as the Mother and as the handmaid of God.”

Though the mother of the Lord, she also underwent challenges in her life as learned from the sacred books that the Virgin Mary, throughout the course of her earthly pilgrimage, led a life troubled by cares, hardships, and sorrows, and that, moreover, what the holy old man Simeon had foretold actually came to pass, that is, that a terribly sharp sword pierced her heart as she stood under the cross of her divine Son, our Redeemer.

Just as The Virgin Mother kept her virginity so are we to keep our bodies pure since they are the temples of the Holy Spirit so that after our life here on earth we may be rewarded with incorruptible spiritual ‘bodies’. The challenges of this life should not be an excuse to doing the call that we’ve from God.

The Psalmist: “Arise, O Lord, into your resting place: you and the ark, which you have sanctified”

The New Testament “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you, blessed are you among women,”


Mary Mother of God

Mary the Mother of God. Though looked down upon by many especially non-Catholics who equate her to a mere envelope that is discarded immediately the letter that it bears is removed. This reduction of the Blessed Virgin Mary is such a great misconception that has blinded many from perceiving the uniqueness the Theotocos from any other woman.
First, as the mother of God, she is the tabernacle that bears Christ. After the annunciation she goes to a town in the hill country of Judea to visit her cousin Elizabeth where she stays for three mouths. This is a reflection of the 2Sam 6: 9-11; when David together with the army were taking the Box of the Covenant from Abinadab’s house to Jerusalem, it stayed at Obed Edom’s house for three months before proceeding to Jerusalem. Therefore for us to receive Christ especially during this Christmas season, we need to heed to Christ’s instructions to the Blessed Mother and to John while on the cross, John 19: 2527 -the Blessed mother is given to the beloved apostle who in this case represents the church that will not die/perish John 21: 22, hence all who belong to the family of Christ –the church- receive him through the motherhood of Mary.
Of great importance again in Marys life is the Angel’s greetings at the annunciation: “hail Mary, FULL OF GRACE…” the Blessed Virgin Mary being full of grace sets her aside from not only from other women but from all human kind. While we are all born with the original sin and therefore have a sinful nature, the Mother of God is full of grace and as a result free of the original sin. Sin is due to the loss of grace through the original sin of our first parents. St. Augustine makes the importance of grace clearer in his treatment of sin and love. St. Augustine first admits that we are all sinful due to the disobedience of our first parents, consequently we sin because on our own we have a disordered love- our sinful nature inclines us to seek mundane things. To order our love we need to do just one thing, allow the grace of God into our lives so that the grace of God can guide us to seek things of the above. Even Mary’s acceptance to be the Mother of God was not by her on power but by the grace of God.
Human kind lost the grace of God after sinning through disobedience. And as a result of the sin, death was pronounced upon humankind. With this in view, the question that crops up is that concerning the death of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Could Mary, who was full of grace that frees us from sin have died and buried yet death is a consequence of sin which grace does away with?
Why do we pray through the Blessed Virgin Mary? Can’t we pray directly to God? During Jesus’ first miracle- changing water into wine at the wedding at Cana- the role of the Blessed Mother as intercessor is explicit. Her request to Christ when the wine was exhausted is heeded to by the Lord, John 2: 1-12. Again after the resurrection of the Lord, Mary is seen in the company of apostles praying, Acts 1:14, she is seen praying for the coming of the Spirit which came upon her during the annunciation. This also followed Christ’s instruction to his beloved disciple to take his mother home.
Our church being Apostolic, who are we to go against what the apostles did and were instructed to do?


Jacques Maritain

1.0 Introduction

Jacques Maritain worked in continuity with the thought of St. Thomas, and his writings frequently contain quotations and references to Thomas’ texts. His defense of catholic faith and Thomistic philosophy were affected by the events involving his adopted church, for instance in the ownership of church property and the place of religion in public affairs in the French state. At his time, French philosophy was seen as incompatible with catholic theology with such dominant views as spiritualism or intuitionism of Bergson. Hence this turmoil of the Catholic Church in France called for religious orthodoxy.

Maritain’s earlier writings therefore sought to address some of these concerns. Having been initially attracted to Spinoza’s idealism and Bergson’s vitalist intuitionism, Maritain was able to defend the Catholic Church with the knowledge of its critics that surpassed most of his contemporaries. He rejected modernity-the Cartesian and post Cartesian thought-for what he saw as it’s over emphasis of epistemology over metaphysics. He returned to the pre-modern views of Aquinas to address the problems of the contemporary world.

Though most of his ideas were Thomistic, his epistemology and aesthetics showed influence of Christian mysticism especially that of St. John of the Cross, and his social and political philosophy reflects many of the ideas of European liberalism.

2.0 Biographical notes

Maritain was born on November 18th, 1882 to Paul Maritain (lawyer) and Genevieve Favre (daughter of a French statesman). Maritain studied at e Lycee Henry IV and at the Sorbonne where he prepared a license in Philosophy (1900-1901) and in natural science (1901-1902). He was initially attracted to the philosophy of Spinoza then attended Bergson’s lectures at the College De France (1903-1904). In 1901 he met Raissa Oumansoff at the Sorbonne and got married in 1904 then both converted and baptized in the Roman Catholic Church in 1906. They returned to France in 1908 when Maritain abandoned Bergsonism for Thomism.

In 1912, he became professor of philosophy at the Lycee and lectured at the Institut Catholique De Paris where he was named assistant professor in 1914. He became full professor in 1921 and in 1928 appointed to the chair of logic and cosmology until 1939. Thereafter, he served in the 2nd World War briefly then returned to teaching and research where he continued with the defense of Catholism and Catholic thought.

In the 1920s, his attention shifted to social issues resulting to his brief membership to a catholic social action movement. As a result, he developed the principles of liberal Christian humanism and defense of natural rights. Generally, his other works were on Christian philosophy, philosophy of science, epistemology, arts and poetry and most importantly political philosophy.

From the 1930s he was a frequent visitor to North America lecturing at Toronto then in the US. at Princeton University (1941-1942) and Columbia (1941-1944). He remained in the US. during the 2nd World War while contributing to the Voice of America. Following the liberation of France in 1944, he was named the French ambassador to the Vatican until 1948. He was also involved in the drafting of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

In 1948, Maritain returned to Princeton as professor emeritus and also lectured at other American universities especially at the University of Notre Dame and the University of Chicago. In 1960, with his wife, he returned to France. After her death that same year, he moved to Toulouse living with the Little Brothers of Jesus. Here, he continued publishing books and died on 28th April 1973.

3.0 Major works

  1. Elements of Philosophy (2 volumes) 1920-1923
  2. The Modern Science and Reason 1910
  3. The Bergsonian Philosophy 1913
  4. Integral Humanism 1936
  5. On the Political Justice1940
  6. Christianity and Democracy 1943
  7. Art and Poetry 1943
  8. Man and the State Written in 1949, published in 1951
  9. Range of Reason 1953
  10. Creative Intuition in Art and Poetry 1953.
  11. Approaches to God 1953
  12. On the Philosophy of History 1957
  13. The Degrees of Knowledge 1959
  14. The Moral Philosophy 1960.

4.0 Principal Contributions

4.1 Epistemology

In his philosophy of knowledge, Maritain to a large extent follows St. Thomas Aquinas, though, he was also influenced by St, John of the Cross, St. Augustine and St Bonaventure. Against modern philosophy, he insisted on the priority of metaphysics over epistemology. He even held that ‘the critique of knowledge is part of metaphysics,’[1] and that the structure and method of the various sciences were determined by the nature of the object to be known.

Maritain called his view critical realism and argued against the dominant rationalist and empiricist accounts of knowledge. He maintained that despite the differences among them; Kantianism, idealism, pragmatism and positivism all reflect the influence of nominalism-that universal notions are all creations of the human mind and have no foundations in reality. Maritain’s critical realism holds that what the mind knows is identical to what exists. To know a thing is for its essence to exist materially in the mind. Not that the mind copies that which it knows but that in virtue of the properties apprehended it becomes the things it knows. For Maritain therefore, our knowledge of reality is through the concept which is immaterial, universal and known only by reflection. Hence to the knowledge of sensible objects, the mind has both a passive role (receiving sense impression) and an active role (constructing knowledge from these impressions).

Maritain’s epistemology sought to explain not just the nature of knowledge found in science and philosophy, but also religious faith and mysticism. He argued that there are different orders of knowledge each with different degrees determined by the nature of the object to be known and the degree of abstraction involved.

First, in the order of rational knowledge, we have knowledge of sensible nature, knowledge of mathematics and the knowledge of metaphysical nature. These degrees of knowledge are not, however, independent of one another, and in common they know something as “to know why it is-the mind is not satisfied when it merely attains a thing…but only when it grasps that upon which that datum is founded in being and intelligibility.”[2] On natural science, Maritain stated that for it to attain the status of a science, it must presuppose natural philosophy, that is, our capacity to know things apart from their particular individuating characteristic. Natural philosophy gets behind phenomena in order to discover essential connections and causes. Thus from that which is presented in sense perception, the mind constructs a concept. This process of thinking through to the nature of the thing is called dianoetical knowledge. While natural science and natural philosophy both focus on the physical, the natural philosopher unlike the scientist is concerned with the essence of the object and its definition.

At the second level of abstraction, we have mathematical objects (quantity, number and extension). Though they cannot exist without existence of material things, once known, they can be conceived even in the absence of material things.

Metaphysical/speculative knowledge deals with objects at the third level of abstraction (independent of matter), e.g., substance, quality and goodness. Such knowledge is indirectly through creatures. In the hierarchy of degrees of knowledge, highest in intelligibility, immateriality and potential are the objects of the highest degree of knowledge.[3]

Maritain added that natural philosophy penetrates to the nature of its object. Metaphysics-a kind of philosophical knowing-is concerned with purely intelligible being. Science however, is empiriological; it only leads us to the observable and measurable.

There are also degrees of suprarational knowledge, that is, beyond natural knowledge.this is the science of revealed mysteries or theological wisdom and mystical theology (influence of Sts. Augustine and John of the Cross). In theological wisdom, the divine is known by drawing not just on reason but on faith. Mystical knowledge is a level higher where there is no mediation by concept since it “consists in knowing…Deity as such according to a mode that is suprahuman and supranatural.”[4] This is knowledge by connaturality but can be pursued through the practice of mystical contemplation, which makes them more loving and more spiritual.

4.2 Philosophy of Nature

The object of Philosophy of Nature is what we can sense; it is not a thing in itself but intelligible being itself as mutable. Philosophy of nature as part of philosophy, is not isolated from other disciplines such as Metaphysics

It is related to metaphysics because philosophy of nature is inferior to metaphysics since it is at the first degree of ideative visualization. It is neither part of Metaphysics nor properly sub alternated to metaphysics because the prior object or subject is being as mutable as compared to that of metaphysics which is being as being.

Metaphysics presupposes philosophy of nature which metaphysics uses as its material basis, where the very nature of our mind is involved by having an immediate contact with the real through our senses. Knowledge at the highest degree of rational natural spirituality cannot reach the universe of material reality if it does not first get a hold on the universe of material reality. That’s why Maritain says, “our sense activity occurs on an immediate level of experience without conscious awareness of itself, but we acquire true knowledge of reality through intuition, and our intellect interprets that reality as nature.”[5]

Philosophy of nature preserves the contact between the philosophical thought and the universe of sciences. Therefore without it metaphysics has no contact with things and can only fall futilely back upon the knowing mind itself. In relation to sciences Maritain said that philosophy of nature and sciences are at the same generic degree of abstractive visualization and bear equally upon sensitive and mutable beings. There is a specific difference springing from their mode of definition because philosophy of nature makes use of ontological analysis of the sensible real while sciences make use of ontological analysis. “Philosophy of nature asks to be complemented by experimental sciences because by itself it does not give us a complete knowledge of the object of the sensible nature.”[6] Therefore, dealing with the relation between Philosophy of nature and scientific facts seems obvious; that the philosopher will have to use scientific facts only on the condition that he treats them philosophically, deliver them of the philosophical values with which they are pregnant, draw from them facts that have philosophical values.

Philosophy of nature is the philosophy of being and becoming and of the locomoting. When we look at the world we usually observe particular things in their continuous state of motion. In the invisible things like atoms moves faster than the visible stars. Therefore, motion is the universal mediator interaction.

4.3 Metaphysics

In his metaphysics, Maritain followed the tradition of St. Thomas Aquinas. He saw his task and that of Thomism in general as being “to renovate Aquinas’ thought, a task whose novelty may well be greater than Thomists themselves realize.”[7]

Following Aquinas, Maritain held that metaphysics deals with being as being (ens inquantum ens), for instance, “it investigates the first principles of things and their highest causes,”[8]he also held that there are certain fundamental metaphysical questions to which Aquinas’ responses are largely correct, though they may not be complete as they stand. Maritain adopted against John Duns Scotus, Aquinas’ general position on analogy, being and on the need of analogical terms and concepts. Again, in answer to the explanation of the problem of unity and plurality; for example, how can a thing be individual and distinct and yet a member of a class of things of the same kind, Maritain followed Aquinas: that we have to distinguish what a thing is (its nature or essence which it shares with things of the same kind) from the fact that it is (that it has its own act of existing). Another area of importance where Maritain followed Aquinas is the analysis of the nature and the unity of sensible beings including human beings. He employed Aquinas’ distinction between the form and the matter of a thing; nature or essence reflects the form, whereas the individuality is determined by the matter.

Maritain’s distinctive contribution was not, however, to the details of Thomistic metaphysics but to bringing it into relation with modern science and philosophy and to explaining its foundations.

For Maritain, all human inquiry has “being” as its object. Being in other words, is the formal object of the intellect.[9] But being can be grasped in different ways, and Maritain distinguished for example, between sensible being; which is the object first attained by the human intellect, and being as being; which is the object of metaphysics. It was to this difference in object that he distinguished among the activities of empirical scientists, mathematician, philosopher and mystic. He said that the inquiry into being as being (metaphysical inquiry), is a mystery because it is something that is rich/pregnant with intelligibility,[10] and Maritain held that unless one does metaphysics, one cannot be a philosopher.[11]

According to Maritain, philosophical reflection on being begins with the intuition of being and he insisted that one needs this eidetic intuition for any genuine metaphysical knowledge to be possible. The intuition of being that lies at the root of metaphysical inquiry is not “the vague being of common sense,”[12] or grasp of “the act of existing.” It is a perception direct and immediate…it is a very simple sight, superior to and discursive reasoning of a reality which it touches and which takes hold of it.[13] He held that it is an awareness of the reality of ones being, which is decisive and has a dominant character. This view of intuition is not, then, of a hunch or quick sight, but rather, it has an intellectual character. It is a grasp of something that is intelligible, and requires a certain level of intellectual spirituality.[14] Maritain claimed that this intuition of being is something that escaped Kant and other subsequent philosophers until, perhaps the arrival of the existentialists.

Also distinct in Maritain’s account of metaphysics is the emphasis on the “act of existing.” It is because of this that Maritain has been called an existentialist. An authentic existentialism, Maritain wrote, “…affirms the primacy of existence, but as implying and preserving essence or nature, as manifesting the supreme victory of the intellect and intelligibility.”[15] For him, essence does not pre-exist existence; essences might be better seen as capacities to exist.[16]

In regard to the traditional questions of metaphysics, and natural theology, Maritain held that there are four basic principles of metaphysics; the principle of identity, the principle of sufficient reason, the principle of efficient causality and the principle of finality. Though the applicability of these principles does not admit of direct proof, they are consistently affirmed by experience and, Maritain’s position was that they cannot be denied without contradiction.[17]

Metaphysics, then, properly includes an investigation into the cause of being, for example, God, in whom the act of existing is subsistent, since Maritain held that being is something that is grasped through intuition, one is not surprised to see that he will argue that one attains knowledge of the existence of God not only through the Thomistic five ways, but also through intuition.

4.4 Religion

Like St. Thomas, he held that there is no conflict between faith and reason, that religious belief is open to rational discussion and existence of God and certain fundamental beliefs could be philosophically demonstrated. According to him, the science or knowledge of God can be attained naturally by the unassisted power of reason, and which enables us to know God by means of creatures as the author of natural order is philosophic science, the supreme field of metaphysics is not as theodicy or natural theology.[18] For him philosophy is an “ancucia theologiae” and that philosophy under the rubric of metaphysical knowledge, allows for the demonstration of a number of religious beliefs. For Maritain, theology or supernatural theology is the knowledge or science of God which is unattainable naturally by the unassisted power of reason, and is possible only if God has informed men about himself by a revelation from which our reason, enlightened by faith, subsequently draws the implicit conclusions.[19] Then its object is something wholly inaccessible to the natural apprehension of any creature whatsoever, namely God known in Himself. The light of this object is no longer the natural light of reason but the light of reason illuminated by faith.

According to his book; Approaches to God, he quotes St. Paul’s writing he offers on elaboration to the natural knowledge of God. According to St. Paul, “That which is known of God is manifested in them. For God hath manifested it unto them. For the invisible things of Him, from creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made; this eternal power also, and divinity.”[20] This knowledge is rational not only in the sense that it belongs to the rational order rather than to the supernatural order of faith. It’s therefore evident that philosophy renders to theology services of the greatest value where it is employed by the latter. Philosophy which is employed by theology in the demonstration of truths becomes an instrument of theology.[21]

Like Aquinas, he accepted the ecclesial foundationalist position that these beliefs could be established by ration deduction from self-evident principles and constituted genuine knowledge. By use of natural reason one can come to certain truths about God and that the five ways of St. Thomas provided such knowledge of God’s existence.

He argued that there are ‘proofs’ of the existence of the divine and in ‘Approaches to God’ he developed the sixth way. Before entertaining the sphere of the completely formed and articulated knowledge, in particular the sphere of the metaphysical knowledge, the human mind is indeed capable of a pre-philosophical knowledge which is virtually metaphysical. Therein is found the first, the primordial approach through which men become aware of the existence of God. Here, everything depends on the natural intuition of being.[22] He writes on intuition that is awakened in persons when they are engaged in thought, that is, that it seems impossible that as thinking beings, should at sometimes not been. As a thinking being, one seems to be free from vicissitudes of time and space: there is no coming to be. I cannot think what it is not to be. Nevertheless we all know that we were born, we came into existence. The only solution to this is that one has always existed but not through oneself but within a being of transcendent personality and from whom the self which is thinking now proceeds into temporal existence. [23] This being must contain all things in itself in a convenient mode and to be itself- in a completely transcendent way.-being thought and personally. This implies the first existence is the infinite plenitude of being separate by essence from diversities of existents.[24]

His argument which resembles the Thomistic argument from contingency, being, that is, in ones intuition of being, one is aware, first, of a reality separate from oneself., second, of oneself finite and limited, and third, of necessity, that is, something “completely free from nothingness and death.”[25]  He admits that this knowledge of God is not demonstrated but is nevertheless rich in certitude and is both presupposed by, and is the underlying force for, philosophical demonstration of God’s existence.

4.5 Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

Maritain had a long-standing interest in art and the arts. His familiarity with the arts made his work relevant and accessible to those who engaged in them. This is because; he was a friend of many writers, poets and musicians. He defined art as “science that aims at particular good of human life,”[26] but not the absolute good of human life.

He was also of the view that both aesthetics and art are not philosophy because their aim or end is to fulfill the function of work or principle in reference to the last end of man.

He stated the object of art as “human making”[27] and added that, art is not a speculative or a theoretical activity, it aims not just at knowing but also at doing and this “making” is something that is demanded by the end of the activity itself, not the particular interest of the artist.

Maritain also held that art is essentially characterized by its complete extension of instructing us how to make something so that it is formed as it ought to be and thus to secure the perfect or goodness not of the maker but of the object itself which he makes.[28] According to him, since the object of art is human making, he affirms that everything that is made by the artists is only but continuing the labour of divine creation and that human art cannot create out of nothing; it must first nourish itself on things, which it transforms in order to make a form DIVINED in them shine on a bit of matter. Human art is doomed to sterility and failure if it cuts itself off from the existential world of nature and the universe of man.[29]

While commenting on aesthetics, he first of all distinguished fine arts from the works of artisans and held that fine arts are primarily concerned with beauty. He affirmed this in his book ‘Art and Schorlastism’ when he said, “Certain arts tend to make a work of beauty and thereby differ essentially from all the rest.”[30]Beside the fine arts, Maritain commented generally that to be an artist requires aiming at making beautiful things. Above all, he maintained that beauty and art have a conception to the spiritual and spiritual experience. Since art is a creative activity it is ultimately depended upon the creator and therefore it has a relation to the divine and to the transcendental of goodness, truth, and unity.

He also commended on the relationship between art and the world and between art and freedom. The former is seen in e response to the world as expressed in the poems, songs and the expression of the art is determined by the world and work itself.

On the relationship between art and freedom, he was of the view that artists must be free because their activity is part of the basic drive in humans to create and make but this freedom is neither absolute nor a license to do whatever one chooses. Instead freedom is ultimately subject to the truth and the artist should be subject to the spiritual conditions of honest work.

Maritain was also concerned with the knowledge of poetic knowledge and poetic intuition. On one hand he said that poetic knowledge is a typical instance of knowledge through connaturality and on the other hand he said that it is non conceptual and non rational knowledge born in the preconscious life of the intellect and it is essentially an obscure revelation both of the subjectivity of the poet and of some flash of reality coming together out of sleep in one single awakening. He also referred to poetic knowledge as ‘emotional knowledge which tends to artistic expression and creation.”[31]

In conclusion he said that poetic knowledge is not directed towards essence for essences are disengaged from concrete reality in a concept, a universal idea is an object for speculative knowledge while poetic intuition is directed towards concrete existence.

4.6 Political Philosophy and the Philosophy of Law

Maritain’s political philosophy and the philosophy of law are closely related to his moral philosophy. He describes the position he defended as ‘integral humanism’. This is because it considers the human person as an entity that has both material and spiritual dimensions, as a unified whole. It sees a human person as a participant in the society’s common good. His political philosophy was to outline the conditions for making an individual fully human in all dimensions.[32] He argued that the secular forms of humanism were anti-humanism because they denied the recognition of the whole person. His humanism seeks to bring the different dimensions of the human person together without diminishing or ignoring the value of each.[33]

Ones private good is subordinate to the common good of the community as a person with a supernatural end. But one’s ‘spiritual good’ is superior to the society and should be recognized by all political communities.[34] As stated earlier, Maritain’s humanism explores the prospect for a new Christendom by developing a theory of cooperation to show how people of different intellectual positions can cooperate to achieve communal political aims. Therefore, the best political order is one which recognizes the sovereignty of God. He rejects therefore, not only fascism and communism but all secular humanisms. He held that fascism and communism are not only secular but also dehumanizing and since he was also a defender of American democracy, however in combining his attachment to Christianity and capitalism. He argued that theocentric humanism has its philosophical recognition of human person as spiritual and material being, a being that relates with God. Therefore, social, moral and political institutions must recognize this.

Maritain envisages a political society under the rule of law and distinguishes four types of law: eternal, natural, common law of civilization and positive law. The natural law is universal and invariable and deals with the rights and duties which follow necessarily from the principle of the greatest good that ‘good is to be done and evil is to be avoided.’[35] He holds that it’s not rooted in human nature but in the divine reason and in the transcendental order and written in human nature by God. For him natural law acquires its obligatory character only because of its relation with eternal law.[36] Common law of civilization is an extension of the natural law to the circumstances of life in society and thus it is concerned with human beings as social beings. The positive law is the extension of rules and regulations involved in ensuring general order in a particular society. When positive law contradicts the natural law, it is not law in the strict sense.

For a state, Maritain supported one that is democratic and liberal and a political society that is personalist, pluralist and christianly inspired.[37] For the authority to rule, Maritain asserted that is derived from the people for people have a natural right to govern themselves. This was in line with Christianity because the ideas of democracy are inspire by a belief in God’s rule and the God as the source of all authority.[38] Furthermore, in a state, he called for liberty that is close to what is now called ‘positive freedom.’ In such a polity, politicians would be more than just spokespersons for the people, but they represent the hidden will of the people, their aim and the aim of the state as a whole.[39]

Although he does not discuss how his model Christian polity would be realized, he suggests that it is the only one that takes account of each person’s spiritual worth and recognizes the importance of providing the means to foster ones growth as a person, then in this way it is fundamentally pluralistic. Here, leadership role would be played by multiplicity of civil fraternities. Hence in such a polity, there is both the state and the church; the state focusing on the temporal needs of the person while the church on spiritual matters.[40]


  1. Maritain Jacques. Approaches to God. New York: Macmillan Company.
  2. Maritain Jacques. Art and Scholasticism. London: Sheed and Ward.
  3. Maritain Jacques. Existence and the Existent. New York: Image Books.
  4. Maritain Jacques. Introduction to Philosophy. New York: Sheed and Ward.
  5. Maritain Jacques Philosophy of Nature. Philosophical Library Inc.
  6. Maritain Jacques. Preface to Metaphysics. New York: Sheed and Ward.
  7. Maritain Jacques. Range of Reason. London: Lowe & Brydone Ltd.
  8. Maritain Jacques. The Social and Political Philosophy. Doubleday & Co. Inc.
  9. Maritain, Degrees of Knowledge. London: Geoffrey Bles Ltd.
  10. Maritain Jacques. Integral Humanism; Temporal and Spirirual Problems of a New Christiandom. University of Notre Dame Press.
  11. Maritain Jacques. Man and the State. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
  12. Walsh Martin. A History of Philosophy. London: Geofry Chapman.
  13. Edwards Paul. (ed.), “Philosophy of Art.” In The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, vol. 5.New York: Crowell Collier and Macmillan Inc.
  14. Sahakian William S. History of Philosophy. USA: Barres and Noble Inc.

[1]. Jacques Maritain, Range of Reason (London: Lowe & Brydone Ltd., 1953), 25.

[2]. Maritain, Degrees of Knowledge(London: Geoffrey Bles Ltd., 1959), 23.

[3]. Ibid., 37.

[4]. Ibid.,253.

[5] . William S. Sahakian, History of Philosophy, (USA., Barres and Noble Inc., 1968), 320.

[6] . Jacques Maritain, Philosophy of Nature, trans., by Imelda C. Byre (Philosophical Library Inc.,1951), 93.

[7].  Jacques Maritain, Preface to Metaphysics (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1958), 12-13.

[8] . Ibid., 27.

[9] . Ibid., 25.

[10] . Ibid. 4.

[11] . Jacques Maritain, Existence and the Existent (New York: Image Books, 1961), 29.

[12] . Op. Cit., Preface to Metaphysics, 78.

[13] . Ibid., 50-51.

[14] . Ibid., 49.

[15] . Op. Cit., Existence and the Existent, 13.

[16] . Ibid., 34.

[17] . Op. Cit., Preface to Metaphysics, 90.

[18] . Jacques Maritain, Introduction to Philosophy, trans., by E. I. Watkin (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1962), 124.

[19] . Ibid., 125.

[20] . Jacques Maritain, Approaches to God (New York: Macmillan Company, 1954), 17-18.

[21] . Ibid., 125.

[22] . Ibid., 18.

[23] . Ibid., 64.

[24] . Ibid., 66.

[25] . Ibid., 15.

[26] . Maritain, Introduction to Philosophy, trans. by E. I Watkin (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1962), 193.

[27] . Ibid., 193.

[28] . Ibid., 192.

[29] . Cf. Paul Edwards. (ed.), “Philosophy of Art,” In The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, vol. 5 (New York: Crowell Collier and Macmillan Inc., 1967),163.

[30]. Jacques Maritain, Art and Schorlasticism, trans. J. F. Scanlan  (London: Sheed and Ward, 1930), 33.

[31]. Martin Walsh, A History of Philosophy (London: Geofry Chapman, 1985), 566.

[32]. Maritain, Integral Humanism; Temporal and Spirirual Problems of a New Christiandom (University of Notre Dame Press, 1973), 178-180.

[33]. Maritain, Man and the State (University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1966) 86-89.

[34]. Man and the State, 97-99.

[35]. Ibid., 99.

[36]. Ibid., 96.

[37]. Jacques Maritain, The Social and Political Philosophy (Doubleday & Co. Inc., New York, 1965) 26-30.

[38]. Man and the State, 127.

[39]. Ibid., 102.

[40]. Op. Cit., The Social and Political Philosophy, 26-30.