Those new to Gilson can get a sense of the theme that dominated most of his life’s work in the central essay on the historical significance of Thomism. Those familiar with him will perhaps be surprised by the sympathy with which he treats the more traditional theologians who resisted Aquinas and the Latin Averroists alike. Gilson prolongs his seminal demonstration of Scholastic influence on Descartes’s philosophy by showing that there is also some unfortunate Scholastic influence in what we would call Descartes’s natural science, specifically his meteorology. Both new and old Gilsonians will be intrigued by the account of how Descartes was convinced by Harvey that human blood makes a complete circulation, but against Harvey offered his own clear, distinct, and wrongheaded account of why it does.
Étienne Gilson (1884–1978) was a French philosopher and historian of philosophy and one of the premier Catholic intellectuals of the twentieth century. Over the course of his illustrious career, he founded the Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto, was elected to the Académie française, and wrote over one hundred and seventy books.
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