Volume 9, Issue 2, Spring 2019
V. Bradley Lewis
Thomism, Personalism, and Politics
The Case of Jacques Maritain
The Thomistic revival initiated by Leo XIII was late in having an effect on political philosophy. Many have charged Thomism with being inapt to contribute to political philosophy, either because it is at odds with modern political institutions and practices or because it is inflexibly moralistic. I address the former issue by way of an examination of Jacques Maritain’s Thomistic personalism, which provides distinctive and valuable resources for understanding modern politics. This requires examining the development of Maritain’s political thought in reaction to controversies over integralism in the 1920s and the rise of totalitarianism in the 1930s and ’40s. Throughout this period, Maritain was clear about the theological aspects of his personalism, and so I conclude by discussing contemporary pluralism as a challenge to Maritain’s project.