By Brother Francis, M.I.C.M.
The present volume is an introduction to Philosophia Perennis, which is both the name of the series of books it introduces, and the name of the philosophy contained in those books. Philosophia Perennis is also known as Greek philosophy in its earlier period and as scholastic philosophy in its medieval development. Philosophia is Latin for Philosophy and Perennis is Latin for “through the ages.” It is the natural wisdom of the ages that came down to us from the pagan Greeks and was refined by the supernatural wisdom of Revelation. A more complete history will be detailed in a later volume.
The individual chapters each serve as an introduction to the respective philosophical disciplines they treat. Each of these disciplines is to be studied at length in a separate volume to be published later. In all, there will be nine books: the present Introduction to the whole course, Logic, Cosmology, Psychology, Ethics, History of Greek Philosophy, History of Modern Philosophy (subtitled “Polemics”), Epistemology, and Ontology.
The values in education that Catholics held for centuries — those which were attacked by the Protestant Revolt, the “Enlightenment,” the French Revolution, the Marxist uprising, and the skepticism of the present age — are sorely needed if the Faith and those who profess it are to claim their rightful place in education. These values are needed to improve man as man in the natural order, as well as to understand man as a child of God in the supernatural order.
What the author makes every effort to present in these books is the “Catholic Patrimony” which Pope Pius XII spoke of in the Encyclical Humani Generis, an encyclical that condemned modern errors, including those in philosophy. It is this patrimony — inherited from St. Justin, St. Albertus Magnus, St Thomas Aquinas, St. Robert Bellarmine, St. Bonaventure, and all the Fathers and Doctors — which will crush the folly of false philosophical systems. Just as the Apostles labored to bring the Faith to the ends of the earth, and just as the martyrs died for it, so the Fathers and Doctors studied and wrote of it, that those who believe might better understand its mysteries. Their work should not have been in vain. The ideas that made Catholic civilization great — those which made Europe the leader in all of the intellectual disciplines from the plastic and performing arts to the technical sciences to politics — must be held up as the height of human achievement if we are ever to overcome the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of the present godless age.
This book and those which follow are offered as a complete course to form the student in the Catholic tradition of philosophy and to prepare him to study Catholic theology if he so desires. It is written in the simplest way possible to make complex ideas easily understood by those who have never studied them, and to refine the knowledge of those who already have. Where possible, the complicated vocabulary and syntax, which too often make many philosophy texts unreadable, are avoided in favor of a lighter, easier style. This should make the text readable to anyone with a high school education who sincerely wants to learn.
These volumes all have their origin in lectures given by Brother Francis at Saint Benedict Center. They were transcribed and edited by some of his students under his supervision. They are intended (if such is God’s will) to serve as a philosophical text for a Catholic Renaissance in learning, but at the very least they will educate some in the art and science of right reason. If only a few read it, then the publishers hope that those few become edified by it.