Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Ressourcement and Personalism

A question was asked in the comments of an earlier post on the relationship between Ressourcement and Personalism. This is a complicated subject, but I will attempt to answer the question the best way I can. I appreciate any input someone can give on this topic as well.

Ressourcement was more of a movement in theology with an influence especially from the arts (literature, poetry, etc.). Peguy, Claudel, Bloy & Bernanos are some of artists that had a great impact on Ressourcement thought, in addition, to de Lubac, Danielou, Balthasar, etc.

Personalism is more of a specific field (Phenomenology) within philosophy (Catholic in particular), but it also touches upon sociology, psychology, economics, politics, etc. Kant, Husserl, Heidegger, Mounier, E. Stein, D. von Hildebrand, Scheler, Maritain, Woytla, Taylor, Marion, Crosby, & N. Clarke are some personalist thinkers that come to mind.

Many of these thinkers in both camps knew each other or were at least familiar with each others thought. For example, any theologian who has been influenced by the thought of Woytla (Pope JPII) is a personalist to some extent or the other. This doesn't mean though that he cannot also be simultaneously a student of de Lubac, Balthasar, etc.

Dr. David L. Schindler has done some great work on this overall topic. I refer you to Chapter 10 ("Thomism" and the Human Person) of his book, Heart of the World, Center of the Church. I also refer you to the three below articles in Communio, Fall 2004 (Volume 31, no. 3).

W. Norris Clarke
The Integration of Being in Twentieth-Century Thomism

Kenneth L. Schmitz
To Father Norris Clarke, in Appreciation

Adrian J. Walker
Personal Singularity and the Communio Personarum: A Creative Development of Thomas Aquinas' Doctrine of Esse Commune


Michael Maedoc said...

Okay, I learned about the Resourcement movement in theology during my studies at Steubenvilee. I took it as a methodology for philosophical and theological dialogue. As a Christian philosopher I dialogue with contemporary thinkers and moderns but also with the Fathers and doctors of the church.

Personalism, on the other hand, impacts method as a starting point for reflection on phil., theol, sociology... personhood, not mankind or ab isolated divinity is the most important value and source of meaning in the universe. Personhood is the "measure" by which we value things.

So, resourcement ideas and peronalist ideas become integral parts, but only parts, of my overall methodology.

Fr. Norris Clark is a perfect example. He is an existential Thomist first and foremost that employs a personalist perspective and dialogues with the sciences and tradition. his personalism highlights the depth of Thomistic thought, pulls it from the influence of deontology toward a more truly Catholic perspective.

Whats your thoughts folks? Do you think that these two movements have become part of Catholic tradition as methodology or are still alive as a distinct movements in theology? To some degree they are still alive, but to what extent?

Fred said...

Ressourcement not only looks back to the tradition, but is also engaged with current philosophical and cultural concerns. Ideally, ressourcement should be deeply engaged with the questions of the day.

One field of current questions is evolutionary thought, which includes not only Teilhard, but also Bergson and Soloviev among others.

Another field is personalism: not just Mounier and Maritain, but also Levinas, Buber, and others.

Existentialism is another. Atheism is yet another. In the Drama of Atheist Humanism, de Lubac brilliantly takes up the missionary challenge of examining atheism, attempting to retrieve elements of truth from the seminal proponants of atheism.

As de Lubac says, "there are many others [elements of atheism] that he [the Christian] would have the right to claim as his own, after rescuing them from the synthesis that has warped them" (Drama, Ignatius, p12).

This theological mission is fraught with temptations, danger, and risk. Not everyone made it back from this adventure. It is no wonder that some were terrified by this approach. That is why correction and obedience are so important. In other words, the engagement of theology with the world is the intellectual/ cultural equivalent of missionary work -- and its risks are those of a missionary.

Fred said...

"Those who sincerely love truth, which is the daughter of the Holy Spirit, are not those who are willing to contemplate it only in those instances where it happens to shine out most brightly but those to whom it is so dear that they seek out the least shreds of it wherever it can be found, even in those places where the ignorance and perversity of men have made it harderto recognize. Those who lack the courage to love truth even where it is disfigured are incapable of loving it with a pure love in those places where it stands revealed in all its glory."
~Yves de Montcheuil qtd in Three Jesuits Speak, de Lubac, Ignatius Press.

Anonymous said...


If you're asking me what I think about Ressourcement et Personalisme, all I can say, without having done much reading in these areas for the last 25 years, is:

I have always understood "ressourcement" to be a rallying call: return! to the sources; that is to say: to Scripture and the Fathers. I think that, if you read some of the histories of Vatican II, you will find these two areas to be the principal targets for re-sourcing. Sure, there might be attention to literature, as you noted on your blog, but only because of the capacities of certain investigators (von Balthasar; de Lubac [whom vB once referred to as "possibly the most cultured man alive today"]). But, just look at Dei Verbum on the two sources of revelation: Scripture and Sacred Tradition. It isn't just any sources being observed; it is those which bear--directly and immediately--the knowledge of God. These are what the periti had in mind.

As for personalism, well, yea, it's a movement. Though I think you threw your net a little too broadly when you encompassed "Kant, Husserl, Heidegger, Mounier, E. Stein, D. von Hildebrand, Scheler, Maritain, Woytla, Taylor, Marion, Crosby, & N. Clarke." The first three might be sources/instigators of the Movement; but, just because one lived after Hume doesn't make one a member of some seamless group of kindred thinkers.

Fred said...

neither personalism nor ressourcement were seamless movements. Both have been broad, ill-defined, and diverse movements encompassing contradictions and intense disagreements.