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Title: Three voices of the interwar French Catholic revival : Jacques Maritain, Charles du Bos and Gabriel Marcel and the tensions of reconciliation with the world
Author: Davies, Katherine Jane
ISNI:       0000 0001 3412 3074
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2008
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France experienced a flowering of Catholic thought and culture in the interwar years. The dominant scholarly narratives on this renouveau catholique have focused on the construction of a modern Catholic self-identity and the successes of reconciliation between Catholicism and modernity. This thesis explores instead the tensions and aporias that were experienced in that reconciliation, with a specific focus on the difficult relationship between the 'lived' Catholic life and the world of intellectual discourse. It does so through an exploration of three particular 'voices' of the revival, the philosophers Jacques Maritain and Gabriel Marcel, and the literary critic Charles Ou Bos. The thesis is informed by a particular interpretative framework. The ways in which tensions were identified and managed by Maritain, Ou Bos and Marcel, intellectually and spiritually, and the philosophical, political and cultural issues and debates from which they arose, were characterized by the complex interplay of a conceptual and what is called an aesthetic approach to life. It is organized thematically to highlight the particularities of each voice. First, the problematic role of intelligence in dealing with the tensions between contemplation and commitment, or thought and action is examined, specifically the Thomist attempt at synthesis, and the failures of intelligence in living the Catholic life. Second, the Catholic accommodation of the 'tragic' to manage the contradictions involved in political engagement and the conceptual and aesthetic uses of the tragic in ontological commitments and Catholic sanctity are considered. Third, there is an examination of the specifically Catholic tension in the humanis't debates of the time between the individuality of a person and the soul, especially in terms of a pull between an aesthetic-ethical self and a Catholic self. Fourth, there is consideration of the tension between human temporality and the eternal in relation to the operation of temporality in knowledge, and how the configuration of time and the eternal was inextricably bound up with the possibility of grasping 'being'. In addressing the tensions experienced by Maritain, Marcel and Ou Bos, the thesis explores a new dimension of the interwar Catholic revival. In particular, by tapping into their conceptual and aesthetic management of these tensions, an alternative perspective is provided to those that privilege attempts, or the success of attempts, to combine tradition and modernity.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available