Faith and Philosophy: The Historical Impact


"This work clarifies and extends the remarkable achievements of Leahy's earlier works, Novitas Mundi and Foundation.  His profound grasp both of the history of metaphysics and of Christian thought, feeling and practice places him in a unique position to read the deepest currents of Western culture, from its origins to the present time.  To my mind, Leahy is the pre-eminent thinker working today at the boundaries of faith and philosophy.  Faith and Philosophy is simply astonishing in its brilliance and breadth, a true feast for both the mind and soul.

"While all of his thought is original, in the sense of uncovering origins, a particularly novel aspect of his work is the way in which he weaves the American contribution to thought and religious life into the larger Western dialogue on being, faith and essence.  This has been long overdue.  In the global context, American thought has either been praised in isolation or dismissed in isolation, rarely intimately connected to the larger narrative of faith and reason."

                       Nathan L. Tierney, California Lutheran University

"The author has a story to tell, and that story is a particular history of Western philosophy from Aristotle to the pragmatism of Peirce, and then onwards to what he calls the ‘new thinking’ which is emerging in this new millennium, a ‘new thinking’ focused on the notion of ‘beginning’ rather than on either being or non-being.  The book thus gives historical depth to Leahy’s philosophical explorations in Foundation: Matter the Body Itself and in Novitas Mundi

"The story’s main characters are Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, Descartes, Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Levinas, Jefferson, Emerson and Peirce (with John Paul II providing occasional commentary). . . .  The links between the different episodes and those between the characters’ parts are particularly well made."

"For those willing to persevere with long quotations and dense reasoning, this book will be thought-provoking.  Readers will be left with a deeper sense of the ‘abyss’ which Kierkegaard and Nietzsche have laid bare, and of the difficulty of climbing out of it; they will be left pondering the possibility that the notion of ‘beginning’ might form a new episode in the story." 

"A philosophy of ‘beginning’ could be politically revolutionary, whereas American pragmatism is essentially conservative.  An exploration of the political consequences of a ‘beginning’ philosophy would be interesting to see." 

                                                   Malcolm Torry in Theology January/February 2004

"My wife and I were once driven to Murree in Pakistan, from where you can see many of the higher peaks in the Himalayas.  This is so different from the experience of standing on one of those peaks, yet we were 'close'.  I feel somewhat similar about the 'new thinking' that Leahy both embodies and celebrates.  I can see that the idea of a Real Beginning in Time, which Leahy relates to the apocalyptic horizon of biblical thinking, can function as a genuinely new category for ontological thought, mediating between Being and Becoming.  Leahy also attempts to overcome Kierkegaard’s objection to Hegel’s logic (i.e., that it cannot include real life) through using categories developed by the American pragmatists.  He presents a trinary logic as the foundation of 'the new way of thinking' which does seem to overcome limitations in Hegel’s logic and even the logic developed by Peirce.  The common aim of these different logical systems seems to be the articulation of ontologically fundamental relationships between Mind (or Spirit), Logic (or Science) and Nature.  Whether these systems can successfully articulate our human experience of these deep matters is, as Leahy says, a question about our faith in reason and reason as an expression of faith.  Whether, in addition, this effort is seriously presenting us with an adequate, indeed, inescapable account of the nature of God, seems to me to be quite a different question.  Leahy’s book makes more sense to me as a new and better answer to the former question than to the latter.  My main reservation about the book is that the author—in my view—seems to confuse these two questions in a regrettably systematic fashion. 

"Despite the denseness of the presentation and the seemingly grandiose conclusion, the thesis of this book is sufficiently well-established and challenging to repay careful study.  It aims to provide a benchmark for the ontological thinking of the future.  Its success in this aim will depend upon its fruitfulness for the further thinking of readers, particularly those readers who come to a more clear recognition of their ownmost thinking in its abstract formulations than I was able to achieve.  I commend Faith and Philosophy to anyone interested in the nature and logic of western ontological reason and of fundamental ontology in relation to theology."

                                               Sandy Yule in Pacifica, Volume 17, Number 2, June 2004

This book examines how Christian faith has historically impacted the notion of Nous or divine mind in Western thought up to and including the present moment.   Christian faith is seen to have inaugurated an essential transformation over time of the ancient notion of divine mind and of thought in general.  Beginning with an examination of Aristotle's notion of essence, Plato's creation myth in the Timaeus, and Plotinus' One, it is shown how faith in the hands of Augustine and Aquinas fundamentally reshaped western thought and made possible in the modern period the radical subjectivity of Descartes brought to perfection by Kant and Hegel.  Then the strenuous counter-thinking of Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Levinas is closely compared to its disarming alternative, the thinking of Jefferson, Emerson, and C.S. Peirce, the father of American pragmatism.  In the end, what is demonstrated is how faith in the Incarnation has had the radically surprising effect of perfectly incarnating thought itself, so that thought at the beginning of the third millennium--beyond both Hegel and Peirce--has become for the first time the very form of the essentially new world in which we live. 



Chapter 1     Creation Ex Nihilo and the Aristotelian Essence

Chapter 2     Descartes and The Image of God

Chapter 3     Kant, Hegel, and The Proof of God

Chapter 4     Kierkegaard and The Absurdity of Faith

Chapter 5     Jefferson, Emerson, and The Incarnate Word

Chapter 6     Nietzsche, Levinas, and The Death of God

Chapter 7     The Logic of Faith, or, Beyond Modernity

Appendix      Thinking in the Third Millennium: Looking Without
                      the Looking Glass


D.G. Leahy is the author of Beyond Sovereignty: A New Global Ethics and Morality; The Cube Unlike All Others; Foundation: Matter the Body Itself; and Novitas Mundi: Perception of the History of Being.  He is formerly Research Consultant to the Skin Sciences Institute, Children's Hospital Research Foundation, University of Cincinnati. He was tenured in Classics and has taught Religious Studies at New York University and is former Distinguished Visiting Professor of Philosophy at Loyola University Maryland.

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