As a result, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs selected him to join his friend Jacques Maritain as part of the French delegation the San Francisco meeting to plan the United Nations charter, which was signed on 26 June of that year.
After returning to Toronto for a few months in anticipation of teaching his fall courses there, the French Foreign Ministry informed him that the Ministry had named him to participate in the October and November London conference designed to create the constitution for what would later become UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.
During his stay in London, Gilson wrote five articles about the conference that were published in Le monde. Several others appeared over the next several years. He then conducted abbreviated lectures in Canada from early March to early May. While in Canada, he became involved in a debate about whether Canadian literature was, properly speaking, French or Canadian. Gilson returned to France in May and, tired and wanting to stay with his family for some time, remained there until the following fall.
In April, Gilson went to Rome to participate in meetings of the Pontifical Academy of Thomas Aquinas and an international meeting to establish Pax Romana as an international movement of intellectuals engaged in the service of God. In the talk, among other things, Gilson argued for the need for the modern state to condemn oppression of individual freedom and extend and guarantee personal freedom, including economic and social freedom, and personal property ownership, to everyone.
While in Toronto for the fall, , Gilson busied himself with new courses on Duns Scotus and public lectures.
Subsequently, he became involved in a debate related to public or private rights to inherit literary property. From 13 August to 18 September , Gilson published articles in Le monde expressing his disappointment with professional politics. While Gilson spent much of involved with political issues, during this time he also did some of his best metaphysical work.
An English version of this work appeared in under the title Being and Some Philosophers. Thomas More and the Law. He maintained that no necessary connection exists between dogmatism and intolerance or skepticism and tolerance. He claimed that skeptics qua skeptics cannot be tolerant and dogmatists qua dogmatists need not be intolerant. Skeptics qua skeptics can only be permissive, not tolerant. Strictly speaking, only the person who admits the existence of truth can be tolerant. Gilson argued further that tolerance is a moral, not an intellectual, virtue rooted in the political virtues of justice and friendship; and that tolerance and intolerance exist essentially in the political, not the intellectual, order.
Gilson expanded the lecture, presented it at Rutgers University, and later published it under the title Dogmatism and Tolerance.
He returned to Paris where his wife died on 12 November At this time Gilson regularly wrote political articles for Le monde. Gilson gave four lectures at Vancouver. He had wanted to divide his time almost equally between France and North America and to devote the next three years to teaching at the Toronto Institute to which he had given birth and had started to see grow. On 22 April he gave a centennial lecture at St.
Francis University in Antigonish, Canada. In May, he returned to Paris.
On 20 June, Gilson received an honorary doctorate from the University of Glasgow, which was celebrating its five hundred year anniversary. After until , when Canadian income tax laws became too prohibitive for Gilson to work there, Gilson would spend seven months in Canada and five in France. After that, until he left Canada entirely, he would spend three months in Canada and the rest in France. He gave his first talk on 02 February, Candlemas Day, to St.
He spoke there about the first French book published in Canada, in Msgr. In this paper, among other things, Gilson criticized the tendency of modern democratic governments to present education as if it were a commodity. This paper was published by the Foundation in and in as part of Anton C. Gilson spent much of the winter of with this work. Also in , Gilson spent a lot of time preparing the fourth series of the Mellon Lectures to be given in at the National Gallery in Washington, DC.
In January Gilson had to give a sample lecture to at the Gallery. On 24 February, , Gilson gave an informal talk on philosophy and art at a Jesuit seminary in Toronto. On 29 April, he presented a paper at Mount St. Vincent College in Halifax, Nova Scotia. These lectures were published in the Bollingen Series in under the title Painting and Reality. With time on his hands for several weeks in Washington, Gilson spoke to seminar philosophy students at the Catholic University of America.
Up to this time, due perhaps to his Sorbonne training and commitment to the French university system, some Catholic University administrators and Dean of the School of Philosophy, Fr. Ignatius Smith, considered Gilson a persona non grata.
While also doing other things, during the summer, , Gilson wrote an introduction for a Doubleday textbook edition of St. He followed this with an October lecture on education in Cleveland. During the summer of , Gilson gave a course of six lectures in Poitiers. He also started to prepare a paper for the Roman Academy of St. Starting in Gilson began to turn down most invitations to give outside lectures.
During this same year, he accepted an invitation 1 from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences to become a member of a board of twelve scholars for an new quarterly journal: Daedalus; and 2 from the Faculty of Theology at the University of Freiburg-im-Breisgau to accept an honorary degree. In the spring, , Gilson was named general editor for a four-volume textbook on the History of Philosophy.
He also had to fill in as a contributing editor.
He left for Canada early in January, , and did not return to North America until the winter of Gilson underwent surgery in January This left him convalescing until spring. Chenu and M. Jean Lacroix.
He came very near to saying that, for the believer, philosophy in the generally accepted sense of the word is an impossibility. He also offered one of the best explanations of why he now insisted so adamantly that St.
Gilson, grown in this faith and its mysteries, hoped that he had become, like Thomas, a theologian. It eventually saw publication in under the title The Philosopher and Theology. For the next three years he also tried to resolve problems related to completing his four-volume History of Philosophy. If one starts to reason from judgments accepted on religious faith, then one is thinking as a theologian. Questions V and VI of In Boethii de Trinitate develop Aquinas's methodology of the philosophical sciences: philosophy of nature, mathematics, and metaphysics.
He distinguished speculative or theoretical reasoning from the practical: The purpose of speculation is simply to know; the end of practical reasoning is to know how to act. He described two kinds of theology: The philosophical "theology," metaphysics, which treats divine matters as principles for the explanation of all things, and the theology taught in Scripture, which "studies divine things for their own sakes" In Boethii de Trinitate V, 4 c. Thus philosophy, for Aquinas, was a natural type of knowledge open to all men who wish to understand the meaning of their ordinary experiences.
The "philosophers" whom he habitually cited were the classic Greek, Latin, Islamic, and Jewish sages. Christian teachers mentioned by Aquinas were the "saints" Augustine, John of Damascus, Gregory, Ambrose, Dionysius, Isidore, and Benedict ; they were never called Christian philosophers. The word theology was rarely used by Aquinas. In the first question of his Summa Theologiae he formally calls his subject sacred doctrine sacra doctrina and says that its principles, unlike those of philosophy, are various items of religious faith.
Thus, Thomas Aquinas was by profession a theologian, or better, a teacher of sacred doctrine who also studied and wrote about philosophy. He obviously used a good deal of pagan and non-Christian philosophy in all his writings. His own understanding of these philosophies was influenced by his personal faith — as almost any man's judgment is influenced by his stand for or against the claim of religious faith — in this sense Thomism is a "Christian philosophy.
One of the clearest efforts to maintain the autonomy of philosophy is found in Aquinas's De Aeternitate Mundi about , in which he insists that, as far as philosophical considerations go, the universe might be eternal. As a Christian, he believed that it is not eternal.
Among interpreters of Aquinas there has been much debate whether his commentaries on Aristotle deal with his personal thinking. It is generally agreed even by non-Thomists W. Ross, A. Taylor that these expositions are helpful to the reader who wishes to understand Aristotle. It is not so clear whether the mind of Aquinas is easily discernible in them.
Pegis stresses the more obviously personal writings such as the two Summa 's as bases for the interpretation of his thought; another school of interpretation J. Oesterle uses the Aristotelian commentaries as the main sources for Aquinas's philosophic thought. The Thomistic theory of knowledge is realistic.