From the time Grisez began studying philosophy in 1948, he was most interested in the praeambula fidei—that is, in philosophical reasoning to establish or defend truths that facilitate the reception of divine revelation by nonbelievers who are appropriately evangelized and the retention of faith by believers troubled by arguments challenging it. That interest strongly motivated him to seek a philosophical synthesis that did not beg questions and proceeded without appealing to authorities, such as the scholastic tradition or Thomas. Grisez therefore welcomed Lonergan’s great work and studied it eagerly.
This review is a report on that eager study. What Lonergan had accomplished was impressive, and many of his arguments seemed sound. His use of what Grisez calls reflexivity rang true, for as a graduate student at Chicago he had himself used it against the reductionism of Rudolf Carnap’s logical positivism. Still, the sophisticated attempt of Lonergan to begin from intellectual knowing itself to work out a philosophy of reality as a whole raised many questions, which Grisez lists toward the end of his review, that Lonergan had failed to ask and, Grisez suggests, would be unable to answer.
The review is copyright © 1958 Dominican Fathers Province of St. Joseph; all rights reserved.
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Gilson’s Spirit of Medieval Philosophy was the first study of the history of philosphy that Grisez read. It was difficult reading in the summer of 1949, but he realized the difficulty was due to his lack of preparation and that what he was gaining made hard work worthwhile. His admiration for Gilson, the historian, was firmly established and never faded; indeed, Grisez remained convinced that Gilson was more worth studying than any other contemporary Thomist. Thus, Grisez was receptive to Elements of Christian Philosophy when it was published in 1960. Also, teaching metaphysics to undergraduates, Grisez hoped this new work would serve as a more adequate textbook than what he was using.
Less than an hour reading the book eliminated all hope that it would serve as a textbook; plainly, it was too difficult even for the brighter of Georgetown’s undergraduates. Again, since first reading Gilson eleven years earlier, Grisez had completed his own formal education in philosophy, during which he had constantly reflected on the relationship between his philosophizing and his Catholic believing, and in doing so had developed a conception of Christian philosophy very different from the one Gilson proposed in this book. It seemed to Grisez that, though Gilson remained a great historian, he also wanted to be a Christian philosopher but, unlike Lonergan, radically misunderstood that role.
The review article is copyright © 1960 Dominican Fathers Province of St. Joseph; all rights reserved.
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For the 1963 convention of the American Catholic Philosophical Association, the President that year, Professor Donald Gallagher, chose the topic Philosophy in a Pluralistic Society, and invited Grisez, then only in his sixth year of teaching at Georgetown, to present one of the plenary session papers. For the occasion, he prepared his first—and as it has turned out, his only—published treatment of the philosophical topic of widespread and seemingly intractable philosophical disagreement, and the possibility of overcoming it. The address was published in the Association’s Proceedings and is copyright © American Catholic Philosophical Association 1963, all rights reserved.
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The work Grisez did in 1957 on his doctoral dissertation and that he began to do around 1960 on ethical theory convinced him that any philosophy of reality as a whole—that is, any metaphysics— needed to deal not only with God and the philosopher himself but with four irreducible orders of entities that could not be identified either with God or with the philosopher himself. On one large sheet of paper, Grisez began making and revising diagrams representing the whole of reality, and eventually began drafting brief accounts of what he had in mind.
This article resulted from presentations, between 1959 and 1962, to various informal circles of philosophers in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area and to philosophy clubs at George Washington University in Washington and at the Unversity of Virginia in Charlottesville. The article, published in New Scholasticism, is copyright © American Catholic Philosophical Association 1964, all rights reserved.
Unlike the essay on metaphilosophy, this sketch was later developed at book length in Beyond the New Theism: A Philosophy of Religion. That book went out of print but was reprinted by St. Augustine’s Press in 2004 with a new preface and a new title: God? A Philosophical Preface to Faith. That volume remains in print.
There were no significant later developments in the metaphysics laid out in the book, and it was presupposed in Grisez’s later philosophical and theological work.
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In December 1970, not long after Joseph Boyle had completed his excellent doctoral dissertation on self-referential argumentation, he, Olaf Tollefsen, and Grisez discussed how this powerful tool might be put to work, not only to exemplify its sound use but to establish some important philosophical truth. Having considered various possibilities, they decided to work out a self-referential argument to prove that human beings can make free choices. Others, they knew, had tried to show that the alternative, determinism, is self-refuting or self-defeating. But since no one before Boyle had clearly explained how self-referential arguments work, earlier attempts to use them lacked precision. So, the three decided to criticize the earlier attempts and set out a sound argument, with its self-referential logic completely explicit.
The three philosophers worked entirely together in preparing and writing this article, and when they published it, all three thought every statement in it was correct. After it was published, however, they received many reactions that made clear both defects, in substance as well as in presentation, and ways in which it could be improved. They therefore wrote and published the book, Free Choice: A Self-Referential Argument, and not this article but only that book should be regarded as expressing their views on matters treated in both.
The article is copyright © 1972 by The Review of Metaphysics; all rights reserved.
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Grisez found this two-page outline in a folder in his files without anything to indicate when or why it was written. Its twenty-one briefly stated points constitute what he confidently believed to be an outline for a discussion he had planned to lead. He was also confident that he did not have the insights expressed by some of those points before 1973 and that he did not have any group of students capable of discussing those points after 1972. He therefore concluded that the document was an outline for a discussion with fellow professional philosophers, very likely after the completion of the two books, Free Choice: A Self-Referential Argument and Beyond the New Theism: A Philosophy of Religion, in 1975 and before preparation began in the spring of 1978 to write Christian Moral Principles.
Grisez publishes this outline here for the first time copyright © 2012, and reserves the right to make and distribute copies for sale. However, he hereby grants everyone the right to print out and distribute without charge copies of this outline provided the source is identified and this copyright information included.
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In 1977, as he began work on volume four of The Way of the Lord Jesus, Grisez decided to write a first chapter dealing with theological issues that seemed to him to be impeding either the understanding, the living out, or both the understanding and the living out of clerical and/or consecrated life and/or service. One such problem is the relationship between divine causality and free choice. Solving it, Grisez was convinced, is impossible unless the incomprehensability of God is well understood and borne in mind.
Invited in the spring of 2000 to lecture at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Grisez decided to test his treatment of the problem. Nothing in the discussion that followed the lecture led him to make substantive changes. He publishes the lecture copyright © 2000 and reserves the right to make and distribute copies for sale. However, he hereby grants everyone the right to print out and distribute without charge copies of this outline provided the source is identified and this copyright information included.
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On several occasions between 1980 and 2005, Grisez offered a course on suffering and evil as an elective for both seminarians and collegians at Mount St. Mary's University. The main text used in this course was a 1984 apostolic letter written by John Paul II, Salvifici doloris [The Christian Meaning of Human Suffering]. On early occasions, Grisez gave an opening lecture on the philosophical problem of evil; eventually, he put that introduction into writing, assigned it as a reading, and discussed it in class for two and one-half hours.
Published here is the final revision of that introduction. Readers of both “Free Choice and Divine Causality,” above, and this introduction will note a good deal of duplication. However, this introduction deals with some important matters not touched on in the lecture. Grisez publishes the introduction copyright © 2004 and reserves the right to make and distribute copies for sale. However, he hereby grants everyone the right to print out and distribute without charge copies of this introduction provided the source is identified and this copyright information included.
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Among the many important truths affirmed by John Paul II in Salvifici doloris are that evil and suffering are not the same, and that suffering as such is in fact good (although many instances of suffering, not being all that suffering should be, are bad). But the points are made very briefly and not explained, and Grisez regarded clear understanding of them and wholehearted assent to them as essential for correct understandings of evil and suffering, and sound attitudes toward them. So, for the course described in the preceding item, Grisez eventually developed a one-page outline for a class discussion of three and one-half hours.
Here Grisez publishes the final version of that outline copyright © 2004 and reserves the right to make and distribute copies for sale. However, he hereby grants everyone the right to print out and distribute without charge copies of this outline provided the source is identified and this copyright information included.
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