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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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Terminating our reflection on the problem of intellectual intuition in the metaphysics of J. Maritain we must conclude that intellectual intuition is of the uttermost importance in it. This is because it appears as a mode of cognition in the basic operations of constructing this most general theory of reality. It plays a part in the emergence of the concept of being as being or the determination of the object of metaphysical cognition, as well as in the emergence of the first principles of being which, as we know, are the fundamental cognitive tools of metaphysical knowledge. It also occurs as a type of cognition accompanying the validation of the first metaphysical principles. The present publication presents the problem of the role of intellectual intuition in the cited works of classical metaphysics in a wide philosophical and historical context. This has also been a factor making it possible to present the originality of Maritain as an exponent of a new version of metaphysics, namely its existential version, of which he is largely the discoverer. It has also provided opportunity to show that Maritain understands the term “intellectual intuition” very broadly. In Maritain’s conception of philosophy intellectual intuition refers to every type of direct cognition. Immediacy – to Maritain – generally speaking, denotes the syllogistic lack of a middle term in discursive cognitive acts. Rejecting the conception of absolute immediacy, Maritain does not exclude the presence (in intuitive cognition) of simpler cognitive operations such as comparing, abstracting, generalizing, dividing, analyzing, etc. Intuition thus...

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