Nisha Rathode (Editor)

Etienne Gilson

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Region  Western philosophy
Role  Philosopher
Name  Etienne Gilson
Etienne Gilson wwwadleraquinasinstituteorgwpcontentuploads
Born  13 June 1884 (1884-06-13) Paris, France
Era  20th-century philosophy
Main interests  Theology, metaphysics, politics, literature, history of philosophy
Notable ideas  The Thomistic distinction between being and essence
Died  September 19, 1978, Auxerre, France
Influenced  John F. X. Knasas, Paul Weiss, Henry Corbin, Jacques Maritain, Norman Geisler, Richard McKeon
Schools of thought  Thomism, Neo-Scholasticism
Education  University of Paris, Lycee Henri-IV
Influenced by  Aristotle, Augustine of Hippo, Bonaventure, Thomas Aquinas, Dante Alighieri, Duns Scotus, Auguste Comte
Books  God and Philosophy, Being and Some Philosophers, The Unity of Philosop, The Christian Philosop, Thomist Realism and the C

Medieval philosophy etienne gilson series

Etienne Gilson ([ʒilsõ]; 13 June 1884 – 19 September 1978) was a French philosopher and historian of philosophy. A scholar of medieval philosophy, he originally specialised in the thought of Descartes, yet also philosophized in the tradition of Thomas Aquinas, although he did not consider himself either a neo-Scholastic or neo-Thomist philosopher. In 1946 he attained the distinction of being elected an "Immortal" (member) of the Academie francaise.


Estante do fabio o esp rito da filosofia medieval de etienne gilson


Born in Paris into a Roman Catholic family originally from Burgundy, Gilson attended the minor seminary at Notre-Dame-des-Champs, then finished his secondary education at the Lycee Henri IV. After finishing his military service, during which he began to read Rene Descartes, he studied for his licence (bachelor's degree), focusing on the influence of scholasticism on Cartesian thought. After studying at the Sorbonne under Victor Delbos (1862–1916) and Lucien Levy-Bruhl and at the College de France under Henri Bergson, he finished his degree in Philosophy in 1906. In 1908 he married Therese Ravise of Melun, and he taught in the high schools of Bourg-en-Bresse, Rochefort, Tours, Saint-Quentin and Angers.

In 1913, while employed in teaching at the University of Lille, he defended his doctoral dissertation at the University of Paris on "Liberty in Descartes and Theology". His career was interrupted by the outbreak of World War I, as he was drafted into the army as a sergeant. He served on the front and took part in the battle of Verdun as second lieutenant. He was captured in February 1916 and spent two years in captivity. During this time he devoted himself to new areas of study, including the Russian language and St. Bonaventure. He was later awarded the Croix de Guerre for bravery in action.

In 1919, he became professor of the history of Philosophy at the University of Strasbourg. From 1921 to 1932, he taught the history of medieval philosophy at the University of Paris. Internationally renowned, he also taught for three years at Harvard. At the invitation of the Congregation of St. Basil, he set up the Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies in Toronto in conjunction with St. Michael's College at the University of Toronto. He was elected to the Academie francaise in 1946.

With the death of his wife, Therese Ravise, on 12 November 1949 Gilson endured a considerable emotional shock.

In 1951, he relinquished his chair to Martial Gueroult at the College de France to devote himself completely to the Medieval Institute until 1968. He knew the Jesuit theologian and cardinal Henri de Lubac. Their correspondence has been published. Although Gilson was primarily a historian of philosophy, he was also at the forefront of the 20th century revival of Thomism, along with Jacques Maritain. His work has received critical praise from Richard McKeon.


Gilson undertook to analyze Thomism from a historical perspective. To Gilson, Thomism is certainly not identical with Scholasticism in the pejorative sense, but indeed rather a revolt against it. Gilson considered the philosophy of his own era to be deteriorating into a science which would signal humanity's abdication of the right to judge and rule nature, humanity made a mere part of nature, which in turn would give the green light for the most reckless of social adventures to play havoc with human lives and institutions. Against "systems" of philosophy, Gilson was convinced that it was the revival of the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas that opens the way out of that danger zone.

In his time Gilson was the leading scholar of the history of medieval philosophy as well as a highly regarded philosopher in his own right. His works continue to be reprinted and studied today - perhaps alone among "Thomist" philosophers, his work and reputation have not suffered from the general decline of interest in and regard for medieval philosophy since the 1960s.


  • La Liberte chez Descartes et la Theologie, Alcan, 1913 (reprint: Vrin, 1982).
  • Index scolastico-cartesien, Alcan, 1913 (second revised edition: Vrin, 1979).
  • Le thomisme, introduction au systeme de saint Thomas, Vrin, 1919. Chapter from English translation on Faith & Reason.
  • Etudes de philosophie medievale, Universite de Strasbourg, 1921.
  • La philosophie au moyen-age, vol.I : De Scot Erigene a saint Bonaventure, Payot, 1922.
  • La philosophie au moyen-age, vol.II : De saint Thomas d’Aquin a Guillaume d’Occam, Payot, 1922.
  • La philosophie de saint Bonaventure, Vrin, 1924.
  • Rene Descartes. Discours de la methode, texte et commentaire, Vrin, 1925.
  • Saint Thomas d’Aquin, Gabalda, 1925.
  • Introduction a l’etude de Saint Augustin, Vrin, 1929.
  • Etudes sur le role de la pensee medievale dans la formation du systeme cartesien, Vrin, 1930.
  • L’esprit de la philosophie medievale, Vrin, 1932.
  • Les Idees et les Lettres, Vrin, 1932.
  • Pour un ordre catholique, Desclee de Brouwer, 1934.
  • La theologie mystique de saint Bernard, Vrin, 1934.
  • Le realisme methodique, Tequi, 1935.
  • Christianisme et philosophie, Vrin, 1936.
  • The Unity of Philosophical Experience, Scribner's, 1937.
  • Heloise et Abelard, Vrin, 1938.
  • Dante et philosophie, Vrin, 1939.
  • Realisme thomiste et critique de la connaissance, Vrin, 1939.
  • Theologie et histoire de la spiritualite, Vrin, 1943.
  • Notre democratie, S.E.R.P., 1947.
  • L’etre et l’essence, Vrin, 1948.
  • Saint Bernard, textes choisis et presentes, Plon, 1949.
  • Being and Some Philosophers (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, 1949)
  • L’Ecole des Muses, Vrin, 1951.
  • Jean Duns Scot, introduction a ses positions fondamentales, Vrin, 1952.
  • Les metamorphoses de la cite de Dieu, Vrin, 1952.
  • Being and Some Philosophers, 2nd ed. (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, 1952)
  • Peinture et realite, Vrin, 1958.
  • Le Philosophe et la Theologie, Fayard, 1960.
  • Introduction a la philosophie chretienne, Vrin, 1960.
  • La paix de la sagesse, Aquinas, 1960.
  • Trois lecons sur le probleme de l’existence de Dieu, Divinitas, 1961.
  • L’etre et Dieu, Revue thomiste, 1962.
  • Introduction aux arts du Beau, Vrin, 1963.
  • Matieres et formes, Vrin, 1965.
  • Les tribulations de Sophie, Vrin, 1967.
  • La societe de masse et sa culture, Vrin, 1967.
  • Hommage a Bergson, Vrin, 1967.
  • Linguistique et philosophie, Vrin, 1969.
  • D’Aristote a Darwin et retour, Vrin, 1971.
  • Dante et Beatrice, etudes dantesques, Vrin, 1974.
  • Saint Thomas moraliste, Vrin, 1974.
  • L'atheisme difficile, Vrin, 1979
  • In translation

  • The Philosophy of St Thomas Aquinas, edited by G. A. Elrington, translated by Edward Bullough (Cambridge: W. Heffer, 1924)
  • The Spirit of Mediaeval Philosophy, translated by A. H. C. Downes (London: Sheed and Ward, 1936)
  • Reason and Revelation in the Middle Ages (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1939)
  • The Mystical Theology of Saint Bernard, translated by A. H. C. Downes (London: Sheed and Ward, 1940)
  • The Philosophy of St Bonaventure, translated by Illtyd Trethowan and F. J. Sheed (London: Sheed and Ward, 1940)
  • History of Philosophy and Philosophical Education, Marquette University Press, 1948.
  • Dante the Philosopher, translated by David Moore (London: Sheed and Ward, 1952)
  • Choir of Muses, translated by Maisie Ward (London: Sheed and Ward, 1953)
  • History of Christian Philosophy in the Middle Ages (London: Sheed and Ward, 1955)
  • The Christian Philosophy of St Thomas Aquinas, translated by L. K. Shook (London: Gollancz, 1957)
  • The Christian Philosophy of Saint Augustine translated by L. E. M. Lynch (New York: Random House, 1960)
  • Heloise and Abelard (Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan Press, 1960)
  • The Arts of the Beautiful (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1965)
  • The Terrors of the Year Two Thousand, University of St. Michael's College, 1984.
  • Christian Philosophy: An Introduction, translated by Armand Maurer (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, 1993)
  • References

    Etienne Gilson Wikipedia

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