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Subject: Percy-L: Literary, Religious, Scientific, and Philosophical Discussion on Walker Percy

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  • From: "Karey Perkins" <karey AT>
  • To: "Percy-L: Literary and Philosophical Discussion" <percy-l AT>
  • Subject: thomasism
  • Date: Sun, 28 Apr 2002 20:22:53 -0400

Re: other sources on Percy and Percy's diverse resources and many's a reference/review sent by a friend, from December 2000
_American Political Science Review_ . The review is by Thomas L. Pangle.
See below.


-----Original Message-----
From: ken denney [mailto:kdenney AT]
Sent: Saturday, April 27, 2002 10:16 PM
To: Karey Perkins
Subject: thomasism

Here, in prose weighty enough to sink a battleship, is an excerpt from a
review of a book called Postmodernism Rightly Understood: The Return to
Realism in American Thought by Peter Augustine Lawler. KD


The unsuccessful attempt to dispose of Bloom is meant to remove the
competition from what Lawler so compellingly elaborates and explores in the
subsequent, constructive chapters: the Christian writings of Walker Percy,
bolstered by the Augustinian sociological class analysis of Christopher
Lasch. Here, Lawler contends, we find the authentic, because Thomistic,
rationalism, which shows that reason finds its fulfillment, without
truncation, in Christian faith and which proves that only reason so
conceived can adequately comprehend humanity as constituted by
self-conscious erotic mortality. But in fact Lawler has to show that Percy
abandons Thomas's core Aristotelian teleology in the name of a farrago
comprising the "tradition of Anglo-Saxon empiricism" (p. 84), a tendentious
shot-gun marriage of creationism and Darwinism (pp. 88-9), and a
Heideggerian "experience" of the human as "alien" in "a cosmos that is
otherwise dyadic" or "stimulus-response" (p. 80).

What Percy calls his "Thomistic science is, Lawler admits, in truth "a
combination of Pierce's semiotic empiricism and Heidegger's [atheistici
existentialism" (p. 97). It is then not surprising that although lip service
is paid to "natural law," no attempt is made (in the manner of authentic
Thomists such as Vitoria, Suarez, or Pieper) to give the much needed
argumentative defense of that core Thomistic doctrine. Above all, Thomas's
moral grounding in Aristotle's Politics and Ethics, culminating in the peak
of aristocratic greatness of soul as the foreshadowing of the contemplative
life understood as the only intelligibly divine life, as the life whose
acknowledged supremacy ought to be the beacon of inspiration for every
rational human soul, shrinks almost out of sight. With all this subtracted,
what is left of Thomas's argument for Christianity as the completion of
Aristotelian (the only integral) rationalism?
Lawler's illuminating introduction to Percy as a truly weighty thinker for
our time would grow in strength through a franker acknowledgment of the
problematic gulf between Percy and genuine Thomism, then through a fairer
and less evasive dialogue with the challenging alternative conception of
divinity and of humanity found in classical, socratic Aristotelian

  • thomasism, Karey Perkins, 04/28/2002

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