Cardinal Mercier's Philosophical Essays: A Study in Neo-Thomism

Peeters (2002)
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Abstract

Desire Joseph Mercier (1851-1926) was founder and first president of the Institute of Philosophy of the Catholic University of Leuven. After his studies in the classics, philosophy, and theology at the seminary of Mechelen, Mercier was ordained (1874), obtained a licentiate in theology at Leuven (1877), and became professor of philosophy at Mechelen the same year. In 1922 he was commissioned to inaugurate the chair of Thomistic philosophy created at the University of Leuven at the request of Pope Leo XIII. Mercier endeavored to realize the program formulated in the encyclical Aeterni Patris (1879): to restore the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas, harmonize it with the progress of modern science and thought, and extend its influence to the scientific and social disciplines. On the basis of his initial success, he asked for, and received, the support of the Pope for the creation of an Institute of Philosophy that would provide a complete education in the various philosophical areas. When named president of this institute (1899), Mercier gathered collaborators from among his first students and with their assistance formed an international group of enthusiastic and devoted disciples. The Revue Neo-scolastique made the writings of the institute available throughout the scholarly world. On Feb. 7, 1906, Mercier was named archbishop of Mechelen. He took a lively interest in problems of the universal Church and he was also preoccupied with Church Union. (Cf. A.L. Wylleman, 'Mercier, Desire Joseph' in New Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol IX. New York, St. Louis, San Francisco, Toronto, London, Sydney, McGraw Hill Book Company, 1967, p. 671-672.) See: Cardinal Mercier: A Memoir (David A. Boileau, Peeters, 1996, 417 pages. S 35). Jude P. Dougherty, Dean Emeritus of the School of Philosophy at the Catholic University of America and editor of the Review of Metaphysics, had this to say about Fr. Boileau's book: This book should be required reading for anyone who aspires to leadership in Catholic Intellectual Circles Today, Crisis, January 1998.

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