Forget about difficult philosophical concepts here. Begin rather with what you see when you face another person. An object, either unwelcome interruption or welcome opportunity to sate needs and desires? A mass of complex tissue? A consumer? A member of a social class? Or, do you see something ineffable, singular, a mysterious reality of unfathomable depths, indeed as ''God after God,'' as Evagrios Ponticus put it? The latter description of the person--strikingly similar to attributes we apply to the Godhead--lies at the core of Personalism, the compelling current of reflection that energized much of the best of recent Catholic theology (notably including the intellectual and pastoral contribution of John Paul II) and which has always been implicit in the Orthodox ascetical and iconographic tradition. Much of that reflection can be laid at the door of Emmanuel Mounier (1905-1950) and Jacques Maritain (1882-1973). Amato's newly reprinted 1975 study explores the complex matrix of influences and the fundamental convictions that guided the thought of these two giants of the French Catholic intellectual renaissance of the last century, and describes their reciprocal influence. The two were unlike in some ways--the Thomist Maritain championing a systematic approach to faith, the Bergsonian Mounier leaning towards mystery--but together they gave voice to a view of the human person that exalted the dignity and complexity of the individual, and insisted upon the necessity of community while equally repudiating Marxist collectivism and capitalist atomism. An exceedingly rich book, reading more like a drama than philosophical history, while conveying the rich intellectual content of authentic Christian humanism.
An Eighth Day View:
A study of Emmanuel Mounier, founder of Personalism, and Jacques Maritian, significant contributor to revival of Catholic thought and Thomism, and two generations of French Catholic intellectuals, this book examines the gulf between nineteenth century Catholic tradition and the twentieth-century European events. Amato's brilliant 1975 study of Mounier and Maritain's attempts to find a Catholic understanding of a world marked by total war, genocide, totalitarianism, mass society and the loss of faith in democracy shows us how much we still need to comprehend that period if we are to undeerstand our new century as Catholics and Christians.