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Philosophy Today

Volume 16, Issue 1, Spring 1972

Louis Lavelle
Pages 66-80

Metaphysics or the Science of Spiritual Inwardness

Whatever the current philosophic fashion, you always know that Descartes is still alive and well and living in France. The perennial presence of French reflective philosophy since the early decades of this cntury is witness to this. Louis Lavelle belongs to this tradition known as French spiritualism. The following article is an excellent summary of his thought and of some of the basic characteristics of the whole tradition. Edouard Morot-Sir in a recent book has characterized the present form of this tradition as "a critical consciousness in search of an anthropodicy" (La Pensee francaise d'aujourd'hui, p. 57. Presses Universitaires de France 1971). Jean Nabert could just as well have been speaking for Louis Lavelle as for himself when he wrote, "the more clear the perception of finiteness becomes, the sharper becomes the need for a justification which includes a demand for the unconditional. This reciprocal relationship is the very stuff of self-consciousness" (Desir de Dieu p. 40). Louis Lavelle's importance for today is that with his philosophy of "consent to being," "freedom," "primary affirmation" and "total presence" he shows us how to avoid the contemporary trap of being caught in the antinomy of transcendence and immanence. An overall presentation of his thought by Wesley Piersol, together with some selections and a bibliography, can be found in the Fall 1965 issue of Philosophy Today. Gilbert Hardy has more recently contributed two studies of Lavelle's philosophy: "Louis Lavelle on Freedom and Participation" (Philosophy Today, Spring 1969) and "Louis Lavelle on the Mystery of Freedom" (Philosophy Today, Winter 1969). (R. Lechner, editor)

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