Seat of Wisdom
An Introduction to Philosophy in the Catholic Tradition
Imprint: Catholic University of America Press
The Catholic Church has always recognized that philosophy is necessary both to understand the faith as well as to defend it. The need for a philosophically informed faith has become more acute with the rise of secularism. Seat of Wisdom demonstrates that the philosophical principles developed in the Catholic tradition, especially as articulated in Thomism, provide the intellectual foundation for belief in God and are also the only reliable basis for a fully coherent vision of man’s place in the world.
Seat of Wisdom begins with an exploration of the relationship between faith and reason. Philosophy’s essential role is to discover the rational principles underlying the intelligible order of reality. These principles act as a bridge connecting science and religious faith, enabling the believer to integrate all facets of human experience.
Each of those first principles, as expressed in the transcendental properties, are then analyzed as the basis of the major philosophical disciplines. Starting with metaphysics’ study of being, the argument proceeds to consider the true, the good, and the beautiful in terms of epistemology, anthropology, ethics, aesthetics, and political philosophy. Lastly, these principles are shown to point to God as creator.
The strength of the Catholic philosophical tradition is evident when contrasted with reductive theories which fail to account for the breadth of human experience. Consequently, each chapter will introduce influential philosophers whose inadequate theories inform contemporary assumptions. Against this, the Thomistic argument is elucidated as being inclusive of the insights of the reductive position. It will be seen that this "both/and" approach is the only way to do justice to the glory of God and the gift of creation.
Religion is prey to skepticism when it is isolated from the rest of knowledge. This integrative argument, uniting discussions of nature, politics, and theology according to common principles, enables the reader to grasp the unity of wisdom. Moreover, by engaging alternative positions, it provides the reader with tools to defend the Catholic worldview against those reductive philosophies which only deprive life of its full meaning.
"James Jacobs's new book offers a rich and delightfully readable entry into the tradition of what John of Saint Thomas called philosophizing in faith. With the skill and passion of a master, Jacobs leads his reader by the hand through nearly all the main philosophical disciplines. In the process, he shows how much believers can benefit from the serious study of philosophy, and how much that study itself can benefit, as it has for more than two millennia, from the light of revelation. Highly recommended for undergraduates."~Stephen L. Brock, The University of Chicago
"James Jacobs's Seat of Wisdom provides, in clear and accessible prose, an excellent overview of philosophy - organized masterfully by the transcendentals of being, truth, goodness, and beauty. Jacobs repeatedly shows the reader the relevance and importance of philosophy. The reader will be skillfully introduced to some of the principal theses of the Thomistic traditon, while also encountering the most important questions and figures in the history of philosophy. The book stands in the long tradition that sees philosophy as the indispensable discipline for understanding the doctrines of divine revelation and the Christian tradition. It revives some of the best elements of Thomism's manualist tradition, especially in its clarity and rigor."~Christopher Cullen, SJ, Fordham University
"One of the best introductions to philosophy I have read. Jacobs has given us a lucid, balanced, and eminently accessible guide to philosophy from an unapologetically Catholic point of view, reminding us that philosophy must be the handmaid of theology or fail in its task of being an authentic love of wisdom. An excellent introductory textbook for seminarians, beginners, and all those interested in embarking on their own journey into the truth and beauty of the philosophia perennis."~Justin Charles Gable, OP, Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology
"This excellent introductory text is clearly written and targeted to appeal to a younger audience new to philosophy. He does an admirable job of covering a host of philosophical topics in clear and easy-to-follow prose. For general readers who are coming to the analytic Thomist tradition without a background in philosophy I can’t think of a better place to start."~VoegelinView