Volume 34, Issue 1/2, 2022
Ivonne del Valle
Loyola’s God and Descartes’s Method
The Role of the Spiritual Exercises in Modernity and Secularization
This article contrasts Saint Augustine’s role in the creation of the Church’s theological dogma to Loyola’s modern gesture of independence vis-à-vis the Church. It then traces Loyola’s method to the core that grounds Descartes’ philosophical works. This core, I claim, is derived from Descartes’ understanding and imitation of the Spiritual Exercises. The Exercises obviate the Church by making it redundant, unnecessary. From this disavowal and distancing, Loyola gives the exercitant the psychological tools to emerge from the Exercises with a strong, new sense of self that with time will transform the institution from within. In Descartes’ case, the moral subject capable of responding to the question of what God wants (the product of the Exercises) is displaced by the epistemological certainty necessary to create a new “Method” to study and understand the world.