Volume 42, 2021
Christianity and Philosophy in Dante
A Critical Response to Paul Stern, Dante’s Philosophical Life
Paul Stern’s recent volume on Dante as advocate of a postmetaphysical politics stands at the forefront of a contemporary academic trend to de-theologize Dante, which is to say, to depict his teachings along the lines of radical historical immanentism, as if Dante were a precursor of modernity’s severing of human nature from divine transcendence. While critiquing Stern’s readings of both Catholic theology and Dante’s poetry, the present article exemplifies a novel approach to the Florentine’s work, reexamining how it helps us deepen our appreciation of the relation between Christianity and philosophy. Stern’s challenge to theological readings of Dante leaves the door open to a reconciliation of the Florentine with medieval Church doctrine on irreducibly dialectical grounds. Rather than pointing to philosophical poetry’s instrumentalizing of theology, as Stern teaches, the irreducibility of Dante’s poetics to revealed theology invites awareness of philosophy’s original presence at theology’s sacred heart.