Volume 90, Issue 1, Winter 2016
John G. Brungardt
Charles De Koninck and the Sapiential Character of Natural Philosophy
In his early career, Charles De Koninck defended two theses: first, that natural philosophy (understood along Aristotelian-Thomistic lines) and the modern sciences are formally distinct; and second, that natural philosophy is a qualified form of wisdom with respect to those particular sciences. Later in his career, De Koninck changed his mind about the first thesis. Does this change of mind threaten the coherence of his second thesis? First, I explain De Koninck’s original position on the real distinction between natural philosophy and the sciences and his reasoning for why natural philosophy possesses a qualified sapiential office. Second, I consider De Koninck’s change of mind and defend the conclusion that, even if the modern sciences are a dialectical extension of natural philosophy, the latter is still wisdom in relation to the former. Finally, I discuss both examples of this sapiential function and its limitations.