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Intellectual Intuition in the General Metaphysics of Jacques Maritain

A Study in the History of the Methodology of Classical Metaphysics


Edmund Morawiec

The publication presents Maritain’s concept of intellectual intuition in a wide philosophical and historical context and examines its role in the construction of metaphysics. The question to be answered is largely that of whether – and in what measure – intellectual intuition, in Maritain’s view, plays a role in the discovery of an understanding of the object of metaphysics, namely the concept of being, as well as the transcendent properties of being, and in the admission of the first principles of being. In the book one can find also analyses of various kinds of intuition as well as the role played by intuition in different phases of human cognition. The book addresses metaphysics in the aspect of its development and methodology, its value is thus not only historical but also philosophical.


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1. Jacques Maritain's understanding of intellectual intuition


In this chapter I will present Maritain's conception of intuitive cognition, or – more precisely – try to give an exposition of his views regarding the role of intellectual intuition not only in specific types of cognition, but also in different phases thereof. I shall examine common and philosophical cognition, with an emphasis on the distinctive character of intuition in the latter. The expression “phases of cognition” is here referred to forming concepts and judgements2 as well as to the process of reasoning3. It is evident that one may describe these operations in several respects: the methodological (in respect of their relevance to the construction of a science, in our case philosophy), the epistemological (in respect of their relevance to properties ensuring the potential indubitability of cognitive results) or the ontological (the aspect of the ontic basis of cognition). Whenever, so far as this chapter is concerned, these have been treated jointly, it is only because the primary focus has been on distinguishing common sense and philosophical intuition as well as apprehending the key constitutive moments in Maritain's thought regarding the role of intuition in various cognitive intellectual processes as well as their cognitive results. These tasks shall be accomplished in two complementary parts: a presentation of Maritain's conception of philosophical intuition as opposed to common intuition, and a discussion of the role of philosophical intuition in forming concepts, formulating judgements and reasoning. In light of the method used to present Maritain's conception of intellectual intuition, the abovementioned respects shall in part...

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