1. “Productivism”…there is world of fertile soil to plow in that phrase. As there is in “habitus”. The summary quote: “Man created more beautiful things in those days, and he adored himself less”. This continues to be a great series of essays and the interesting thing for me to ponder is that the Framers grew out of the Renaissance but they were still possessed of a healthy dose of medieval thinking. As they conjured this system which put distance between us and the medieval period, we find the passage of time calling us back to the trough of medieval thinking in order to more fully assess where we might have gone wrong as well as right. Just as I’d put away St Augustine and picked up a little Swift and Burke as counter-balance, you now oblige me to pick up St. Thomas Aquinas and so you have the pagans rebelling a bit and telling me that I have to oblige a little Zuni before I can resume these Christian studies my electronic confreres have me pondering….dammit. Mutability marches on.

    I hope your holidays were well enjoyed Wilson.

  2. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this entire series and eagerly anticipate the conclusion. Standard web fare this has not been. But seing one commenter mentioned Gilson, I wonder if you have thoughts on his critique of Maritain on – if memory serves – the exact point you mention here (art as knowledge). Do you see their visions as opposed or complementary?

  3. Yes, thanks to both of you for mentioning Gilson. I’m working on a larger project regarding neo-Thomist aesthetics, and have not given Gilson’s major books on art the consideration I would want to before making any extended observations. But, the final installment of this series will offer some criticisms of Maritain’s theory of poetic knowledge; in regard to Gilson, we might say I agree with Gilson that art is not understood through a special mode of knowing, but I disagree with Gilson’s making art less intellectual (i.e. separating it from knowledge). Rather, I will offer a more thoroughly intellectualist account of art even than Maritain’s — at least, that’s how I interpret my argument

    Weatherby’s “The Keen Delight,” incidentally is a wonderful study of this very point. His final chapter is, as it were, a Thomist critique of Maritain and Gilson alike — and struck me, years ago, as very just.

  4. James,

    Over the Thanksgiving weekend, I introduced my girlfriend to Erasmus Books. (Did you ever frequent the place?) I picked up a softcover comprising both Art and Scholasticism and The Frontiers of Poetry. Having read this essay, I find myself sufficiently intrigued to let Maritain ascend the reading-list ladder more quickly than he otherwise would have.


  5. Maritain, JPII, and Gilson all assume that the purpose (or, perhaps, main purpose) of the artist is the creation of beauty.
    But the artists themselves often tell us that they are not interested in making beautiful things. Their works demonstrate a contempt for the makers of sweet pictures. Consider the output of Max Beckmann, Goya’s war images, the Nazi-hating pictures by George Grosz, Picasso’s “Demoiselles” or the “Guernica,” and many others whose products serve to stun or even horrify us rather than soothe us with lovely images.

    ~Tom Casaletto

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