Madiran’s Philosophy

Madiran's Philosophy posted in Eleison Comments on October 17, 2020

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Like Pope Pius X in his great anti-modernist Encyclical of 1907, Pascendi, Jean Madiran in his book “The Heresy of the 20th Century” starts out from philosophy, because both of them see that the problem which makes it so difficult for modern minds really to grasp Catholicism is rather philosophical than theological. Thus the first of six Parts of Madiran’s book has for its title “Philosophical Preamble.”

Surprisingly, Madiran himself tells readers that they can skip the Preamble if they like, but that can only have been to spare many a modern reader who is rightly allergic to the delinquent nonsense which proceeds from the so-called “universities” of today. In fact, the argument of Madiran’s book is as dependent on true philosophy as it is independent of today’s “philosophistry,” or pseudo-philosophy.

But how and why can supernatural Faith be so dependent on philosophy, which is the rational study of all natural reality, the raising of (true) common sense, from an amateur to a professional level, so to speak? Answer, a good wine-maker does not depend on clean and uncracked glass bottles to make good wine, but he cannot run his wine business without such bottles, because if all the bottles are dirty inside, nobody is going to buy his wine, however good it is. The wine-maker presupposes that he will get automatically clean bottles. Compared with the wine, the glass bottle is worth next to nothing when it is empty of wine, but it is absolutely necessary without cracks or dirt for the wine-maker to contain his wine.

Now human reason is like the bottle. It is only a natural faculty but by the time it reaches death it is meant on pain of eternal condemnation to contain the supernatural wine of the Faith (Mk. XVI, 16). The Faith is a supreme gift of God by which a man’s reason is supernaturally elevated to believe , but if that faculty of reason is fouled up by human errors and misbeliefs, then like the dirty bottle it risks fouling up God’s wine of belief, however divine that belief is in itself. Now just a little dirt in the bottle will spoil the wine it contains, but modernism in the mind is such a radical error that it will spoil, or undermine, any Faith poured into that mind. And as wine poured into a dirty bottle cannot help being spoiled, so Catholic Faith poured into a modern mind can hardly help being undermined. So teach Pius X, de Corte, Calderón and Madiran, along with all others who have grasped the full objective malice of a modernist mind.

So how does Madiran in particular prove that the French bishops in the 1960’s were out of their Catholic minds? He starts out from an official declaration of theirs in December of 1966 (p. 40) where they affirm that “for a philosophical mind,” the words “person” and “nature,” crucial for Christology (Catholic theology of Christ) have changed their meaning since the time of Boethius (who hammered out the definition of “person”) and of Aquinas (who did similarly for “nature”). In other words, for the French bishops modern philosophy has left behind the Church’s classic philosophy embedded in unchanging Church doctrine, so that for them, thomism is obsolete “for a philosophical mind,” and to be discarded.

But in a Church whose doctrine always corresponded to what never changes in extra-mental reality, this perspective of the French bishops is absolutely revolutionary. It can only mean, says Madiran (43), that they are accepting the Copernican revolution in philosophy of Immanuel Kant (1724–1804), who placed “reality”no longer outside but inside the mind. However (45, 46), there is no obligation, except in Kantian philosophy, to accept this internalising of reality. Only on its own premisses must one arrive at its unreal conclusions. By their moral choice of Kant over Aquinas, the French bishops were in fact demonstrating their implicit apostasy (50) and their anti-natural religion. They were declaring their independence from God’s Truth by their rejection of God’s reality, and of the Order which He implanted in Nature (60–63).

Madiran concludes his Part I by saying that whereas Thomism corresponds to the human experience of all times and all places (66), Kantism has cut the French bishops mentally adrift, like the modern age they so seek to please (67).

Kyrie eleison.