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Document Details :

Title: Blondel's Metaphysics of the Will
Author(s): BOEY, Koen
Journal: Bijdragen
Volume: 62    Issue: 3   Date: 2001   
Pages: 317-341
DOI: 10.2143/BIJ.62.3.780

Abstract :
In order to understand the reactions to the publication in 1893 of l’Action by Maurice Blondel, we should investigate the philosophical climate at the end of the 19th century both at French universities and in ecclesiastical circles. In the latter, Blondel was suspected of modernism because he criticised Thomist metaphysics as losing itself in abstractions because of its distance from life. Did this perhaps show contempt of the metaphysical abilities of the intellect? In his own philosophy, moreover, Blondel presented the supernatural as absolutely necessary and yet as absolutely impossible. Was this overrating the intellect? If human reason in explaining human nature deals with the metaphysical level, does not this reduce the metaphysical to the merely natural level? Blondel’s philosophy did indeed owe a debt to the method of immanence, which he thought capable of speaking about what medieval man knew as desiderium naturale Dei<.i>.
At French universities, on the other hand, the principle of immanence had been raised to a quasi-dogma. The neo-Cartesians agreed with the neo-Kantians that philosophy should limit itself to that part of worldly reality which reason can master.
The criticism from both sides were due to a misunderstanding of Blondel’s intentions. He intended to work out a metaphysics of the will. Within this framework, it was his conviction that all forms of thinking are threatened by abstraction as soon as they refuse to acknowledge that thinking is related to the dynamics of the will, albeit different trom the act of volition. Blondel’s metaphysics of the will is based on an extensive phenomenology of action, whose existential impact goes together with a rigorous dialectical line of reasoning. As the dialectics of Hegel’s Phänomenologie searches for the adequacy between consecutive certainties and ultimate truth, so Blondel’s dialectics goes in search of the adequacy between the consecutive aims of the will and the ultimate goal of the will’s dynamics. We discuss this analogy in the awareness that Blondel is not a Catholic Hegel. As to the theological discussion of the supernatural within a philosophical perspective, Bouillard’s interpretation is succinctly presented.