Appeared in Winter 1996, Vol. XXII, No. 4
The famous political philosopher, the late Willmoore Kendall, often asked me: “Why is there not a Catholic political philosophy? We are Catholics, and where is our politics?” He complained about this a little before his unexpected death at 57 years of age. He converted to the Catholic faith a few years before his death, and had lived in Bolivia and in Spain. I met him the first time in the old Mayorazgo hotel in Madrid in the summer of 1957. Was Kendall correct or not? Does there exist a Catholic political philosophy, and if it doesn’t, should it exist or not?
I believe that the best manner to approach the problem is first of all to study the notion of Christian philosophy in general terms. Given the fact that any philosophical episteme concerning political life must begin with a series of principles which are eminently metaphysical, since metaphysics is first or primary philosophy, the possibility of a Christian philosophy concerning the political is englobed within a broader question: Does Christian philosophy exist? The question does not arise within abstract speculation, but within history. In the second and third decades of this century, the problem arose almost with violence-not physical, clearly- but in a very heated debate between the followers of the philosophical school of the University of Louvain and the French historian-philosopher, Etienne Gilson.
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