Jacques Maritain (1882-1973)

Jacques Maritain was one of the most prolific and versatile French Catholic intellectuals of the 20th century. Early in his philosophical career he was influenced in turn by the philosophy of Spinoza, and by Henry Bergson's intuitionism, yet subsequent to his acceptance of Roman Catholicism (1906) he began an assiduous study of Thomas Aquinas. In his early philosophical contributions (1910-1925) Maritain established himself as an preeminent defender of Catholicism and Catholic thought (e.g., La philosophie bersonienne [1913], Antimoderne [1922], and Trois reformateurs -- Luther, Descartes, Rousseau [1925]). By the late 1920s Maritain also became involved with social issues, and his philosophical work after 1930 was very diverse including works on Aquinas, Christian philosophy, epistemology and philosophy of science, and significantly, political philosophy. By the 1930s Maritain also became a frequent visitor and lecturer at various North American Institutes and universities. Between 1940-1944 he moved to United States where he lectured at Princeton and Columbia on a variety of topics from political philosophy to aesthetics and and metaphysics, while also being very active in the war effort. In 1948 Maritain became professor emeritus at Princeton, but he also frequently lectured at University of Notre Dame and University of Chicago. In 1960 he returned to France where he joined a small religious order. Throughout all of his work Maritain was deeply inspired by the thought of Thomas Aquinas and developed Thomistic responses to many of problems of the contemporary world.


"We don't love qualities, we love persons; sometimes by reason of their defects as well as of their qualities."
    -- Reflections on America

"Every work of art reaches man in his inner powers. It reaches him more profoundly and insidiously than any rational proposition, either cogent demonstration or sophistry. For it strikes him with two terrible weapons, Intuition and Beauty, and at the single root in him of all his energies... Art and Poetry awaken the dreams of man, and his longings, and reveal to him some of the abysses he has in himself."
    -- The Responsibility of the Artist

"I don't see America as a mainland, but as a sea, a big ocean. Sometimes a storm arises, a formidable current develops, and it seems it will engulf everything. Wait a moment, another current will appear and bring the first one to naught."
    -- Reflections on America

"Christianity taught men that love is worth more than intelligence."
    -- Art and Scholasticism

"We are not the same persons this year as last; nor are those we love. It is a happy chance if we, changing, continue to love a changed person."
    -- Art and Scholasticism

Web Resources

Jacques Maritain Center at the University of Notre Dame

American Maritain Society