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Maritain, Religion, and Education

A Theocentric Humanism Approach


Luz M. Ibarra

Maritain, Religion, and Education: A Theocentric Humanism Approach offers a comprehensive study of Jacques Maritain’s philosophy of education as applied to the specific field of religious education. This book demonstrates that his philosophy is still relevant and that the philosophical-religious idea of the human person is an indispensable point of departure for any educational theory, particularly in the field of religious education. Maritain’s theocentric humanism stresses not only the relation of God and humanity but that of humanity and the world. His thinking fosters unity – by considering the human person as unity – with religious education becoming a liberating process that conforms to the goal of religious education: to deliver persons from all obstacles to union with God by fostering the spiritual life of religious educators and society alike.


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Introduction 1


INTRODUCTION Philosophy of education has had difficulty finding its proper role or voice in recent years1. Jacques Maritain, a French philosopher who influenced educa- tion in the United States during the years 1940–45 and 1948–60, fostered a revival of Thomism. His Education at the Crossroads2 is a work devoted to education viewed from the perspective of Neo-Thomistic philosophy. In this book, he argued for including religion in education, and, thanks to him, by mid-twentieth century Neo-Thomism seemed temporarily to regain a place. But today it is commonly thought that Neo-Thomism has quietly faded away, save perhaps in a few seminaries3. The history of the modern Neo- Thomist movement, whose magna carta was Æterni Patris, seemed to have reached its end with the Second Vatican Council’s Decree on Priestly For- mation. On these grounds, this work proposes that the disappearance of the Cath- olic philosophy of education, and the neglect of metaphysical analysis in educational issues, has adversely affected the formulation of philosophical reflection on education. It is in this context that this study seeks to make the case that the work of Jacques Maritain is immensely promising in the field of religious education. In fact, Maritain’s philosophy of education is based on Thomism, which recognizes the integral role of the spiritual and metaphysical dimensions of the human person. This is the basis for his contribution to an understanding of education and religious responsibility that refuses to be circumscribed by the limits of an early specialization, or diminished by...

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