September 21, 2020

DOC # 2 ERRORS OF MODERNISM as a Religious Philosophy

City insert on Continental Philosophers – A quick reference to the art of philosophy popular during Pius X.

Continental philosophy is a set of 19th- and 20th-century philosophical traditions from mainland Europe.[1][2] This sense of the term originated among English-speaking philosophers in the second half of the 20th century, who used it to refer to a range of thinkers and traditions outside the analytic movement. Continental philosophy includes German idealism, phenomenology, existentialism (and its antecedents, such as the thought of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche), hermeneutics, structuralism, post-structuralism, deconstruction, French feminism, psychoanalytic theory, and the critical theory of the Frankfurt School and related branches of Western Marxism.[3]

Nonetheless, Michael E. Rosen ( a professor at Harvard) has ventured to identify common themes that typically characterize continental philosophy.[5]

  • First, continental philosophers generally reject the view that the natural sciences are the only or most accurate way of understanding natural phenomena. This contrasts with many analytic philosophers who consider their inquiries as continuous with, or subordinate to, those of the natural sciences. Continental philosophers often argue that science depends upon a “pretheoretical substrate of experience” (a version of Kantian conditions of possible experience or the phenomenological “life world“) and that scientific methods are inadequate to fully understand such conditions of intelligibility.[6]
  • Second, continental philosophy usually considers these conditions of possible experience as variable: determined at least partly by factors such as context, space and time, language, culture, or history. Thus continental philosophy tends toward historicism (or historicity). Where analytic philosophy tends to treat philosophy in terms of discrete problems, capable of being analyzed apart from their historical origins (much as scientists consider the history of science inessential to scientific inquiry), continental philosophy typically suggests that “philosophical argument cannot be divorced from the textual and contextual conditions of its historical emergence”.[7]
  • Third, continental philosophy typically holds that human agency can change these conditions of possible experience: “if human experience is a contingent creation, then it can be recreated in other ways”.[8] Thus continental philosophers tend to take a strong interest in the unity of theory and practice, and often see their philosophical inquiries as closely related to personal, moral, or political transformation. This tendency is very clear in the Marxist tradition (“philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point, however, is to change it”), but is also central in existentialism and post-structuralism.
  • A final characteristic trait of continental philosophy is an emphasis on metaphilosophy. In the wake of the development and success of the natural sciences, continental philosophers have often sought to redefine the method and nature of philosophy.[9] In some cases (such as German idealism or phenomenology), this manifests as a renovation of the traditional view that philosophy is the first, foundational, a priori science.


Q. To proceed in an orderly manner in the statement of the errors of Modernism, how many characters are to be considered as playing their parts in the Modernist ?

A. To proceed in an orderly manner in this some what abstruse subject, it must first of all be noted that the Modernist sustains and includes within himself a manifold personality : he is a philosopher, a believer, a theologian, an historian, a critic, an apologist, a reformer. These roles must be clearly distinguished one from another by all who would accurately understand their system, and thoroughly grasp the principles and the outcome of their doctrines.




Q. We begin, then, with the philosopher what doctrine do the Modernists lay down as the basis of their religious philosophy?

A. Modernists place the foundation of religious (p 7) philosophy in that doctrine which is commonly called Agnosticism.

Q. How may the teaching of Agnosticism be summed up?

A. According to this teaching, human reason is confined entirely within the field of phenomena, that is to say, to things that appear, and in the manner in which they appear : it has neither the right nor the power to overstep these limits. Hence it is incapable of lifting itself up to God, and of recognizing His existence, even by means of visible things.

Q. What conclusion do the Modernists deduce from this teaching ?

A. From this it is inferred that God can never be the direct object of science, and that, as regards history, He must not be considered as an historical subject.

Catholic Encyclopedia – Agnosticism [City Insert]

Modern Agnosticism differs from its ancient prototype. Its genesis is not due to a reactionary spirit of protest, and a collection of skeptical arguments, against “dogmatic systems” of philosophy in vogue, so much as to an adverse criticism of man’s knowing-powers in answer to the fundamental question: What can we know? Kant, who was the first to raise this question, in his memorable reply to Hume, answered it by a distinction between “knowable phenomena” and “unknowable things-in-themselves”. Hamilton soon followed with his doctrine that “we know only the relations of things”. Modern Agnosticism is thus closely associated with Kant’s distinction and Hamilton’s principle of relativity. It asserts our inability to know the reality corresponding to our ultimate scientific, philosophic, or religious ideas.

Left to right – Plato, Kant Nietzche
Buddha, Confucius, Averrroes

(5) Agnosticism, with special reference to theology, is a name for any theory which denies that it is possible for man to acquire knowledge of God. It may assume either a religious or an anti-religious form, according as it is confined to a criticism of rational knowledge or extended to a criticism of belief. De Bonald (1754-1840), in his theory that language is of divine origin, containing, preserving, and transmitting the primitive revelation of God to man; De Lammenais (1782-1854), in his theory that individual reason is powerless, and social reason alone competent; Bonetty (1798-1879), in his advocacy of faith in God, the Scriptures, and the Church, afford instances of Catholic theologians attempting to combine belief in moral and religious truths with the denial that valid knowledge of the same is attainable by reason apart from revelation and tradition. To these systems of Fideism and Traditionalism should be added the theory of Mansel (1820-71), which Spencer regarded as a confession of Agnosticism, that the very inability of reason to know the being and attributes of God proves that revelation is necessary to supplement the mind’s shortcomings. This attitude of criticizing knowledge, but not faith, was also a feature of Sir William Hamilton’s philosophy. (See FIDEISM and TRADITIONALISM.) [catholic encyclopedia –]

Q. Given these premises, what becomes of Natural Theology, of the motives of credibility, of external revelation ?

A. Every one will at once perceive. The Modernists simply sweep them entirely aside ; they include them in Intellectualism, which they denounce as a system which is ridiculous and long since defunct.

Q. Do not, at least, the, Church is condemnations make them pause ?

A. Nor does the fact that the Church has formally condemned these portentous errors exercise the slightest restraint upon them.

Q. What, in opposition to Modernism, is the doctrine of the Vatican Council upon this point ?

A. The Vatican Council has defined : “e; If anyone says that the one true God, our Creator and Lord, cannot be known with certainty by the natural light of human reason by means of the things that are made, let him be anathema “;* and also : ” If anyone says that it is not possible or not expedient that man be taught, through the medium of divine revelation, about God and the worship to be paid Him, let him be anathema “;f and finally : ” If anyone says that divine revelation cannot be made credible by external signs, and that therefore men should be drawn to the faith only by their personal internal experience or by private inspiration, let him be anathema.”e; J

There cannot be a God because if there were one, I could not believe that I was not He.
Friedrich Nietzsche
Nitchke What is it with his HAND?

Q. It may be asked : In what way do the Modernists contrive to make the transition from Agnosticism, which is a state of pure nescience, to scientific and historic Atheism, which is a doctrine of positive denial ; and, consequently, by what legitimate process of reasoning they proceed from the fact of ignorance as to whether God has in fact intervened in the history of the human race or not, to explain this history, leaving God out altogether, as if He really had not intervened ?

A. Let him answer who can. Yet it is a fixed and established principle among them that both science and history must be atheistic ; and within their boundaries there is room for nothing but phenomena ; God and all that is divine are utterly excluded.

Q. What, as a consequence of this most absurd teaching, must be held touching the most sacred Person of Christ, and the mysteries of His life and death, and of His Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven ? A. We shall soon see clearly. * De Revel., can. 1. f Ibid., can. 2. J De Fide, can. 3. (p9)


Q. According to what you have just said, this Agnosticism is only the negative part of the system of the Modernists what is, then, its positive side ?

A. The positive part consists in what they call vital immanence.

Q. How do the Modernists pass from Agnosticism to Immanentism ?

A. Thus they advance from one to the other. Religion, whether natural or supernatural, must, like every other fact, admit of some explanation. But when natural theology has been destroyed, a.rid the road to revelation closed by the rejection of the arguments of credibility, and all external revelation absolutely denied, it is clear that this explanation will be sought in vain outside of man himself. It must, there fore, be looked for in man ; and since religion is a form of life, the explanation must certainly be found in the life of man. In this way is formulated the principle of religious immanence*

Q. I understand that the Modernists, partisans as they are of Agnosticism, can seek for no explanation of religion except in man and in man s life itself. And now, to explain this vital immanence, what do they assign as the primal stimulus and primal manifestation of every vital phenomenon, and particularly of religion ?

A. The first actuation, so to speak, of every vital phenomenon and religion, as noted above, belongs to this category is due to a certain need or impulsion ; but speaking more particularly of life, it has its origin in a movement of the heart, which movement is called a sense. * p10 . * The Latin word in this and cognate passages is sensus, and, of course, we can be said to have a sense of the divine ; but sentiment would perhaps express better the meaning of the Modernists. J. F.

Catholic Encyclopedia – Immanentism? [City Insert]

Immanence is the quality of any action which begins and ends within the agent. Thus, vital action, as well in the physiological as in the intellectual and moral order, is called immanent, because it proceeds from that spontaneity which is essential to the living subject and has for its term the unfolding of the subject’s constituent energies. It is initiated and is consummated in the interior of the same being, which may be considered as a closed system. But is this system so shut in as to be self-sufficient and incapable of receiving anything from without?

The doctrine of immanence came into existence simultaneously with philosophical speculation. This was inevitable, since man first conceived all things after his own likeness. He regarded the universe, then, as a living thing, endowed with immanent activity, and working for the full unfolding of its being. Under the veil of poetic fictions, we find this view among the Hindus, and again among the sages of Greece. The latter hold a somewhat confused Hylozoism: as they see it, the cosmos results from the evolution of a single principle (water, air, fire, unity), which develops like an animal organism. But Socrates, coming back to the study “of things human”, refuses to look upon himself as merely part and parcel of the Great All. He asserts his independence and declares himself distinct from the universe; and thus he shifts the pivotal problem of philosophy. What he professes is, indeed, the immanence of the subject, but that immanence he does not conceive as absolute, for he recognizes the fact that man is subject to external influences. Thenceforward, these two conceptions of immanence are to alternate in ascendancy and decline. After Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, absolute immanence regains its sway through Zeno of Cittium, who gives it its clearest expression. In turn it falls back before the preaching of Christianity, which sets forth clearly the personality of man and the distinction between God and the world. The Alexandrians, in the wake of Philo, impart a new lustre to the doctrine of absolute immanence; but St. Augustine, borrowing from Plotinus the Stoic notion of “seminal principles”, contends for relative immanence which in the Middle Ages triumphs with St. Thomas. With the Renaissance comes a renewal of life for the theory of absolute immanence. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, on the contrary, Descartes and Kant maintain the transcendency of God, though recognizing the relative immanence of man. []

Mathematician becomes a Philosopher?


Q. It may perhaps be asked how it is that this need of the divine which man experiences within himself resolves itself into religion. How is it?

A. To this question the Modernist reply would be as follows : Science and history are confined within two boundaries, the one external, namely, the visible world, the other internal, which is consciousness. When one or other of these limits has been reached, there can be no further progress, for beyond is the unknowable. In the presence of this unknowable, whether it is outside man and beyond the visible world of nature, or lies hidden within the subconsciousness, the need of the divine in a soul which is prone to religion, excites according to the principles of Fideism, without any previous inadvertence of the mind a certain special sense, and this sense possesses, implied within itself both as its own object and as its intrinsic cause, the divine reality itself, and in a way unites man with God. It is this sense to which Modernists give the name of faith, and this is what they hold to be the beginning of religion.


Q. What a philosophy is this of the Modernists – but does it end there?

A. We have not yet reached the end of their philosophizing, or, to speak more accurately, of their folly.

Q. What more, then, can they find in their alleged sense of the divine ?

A. Modernists find in this sense, not only faith, but in and with faith, as they understand it, they affirm that there is also to be found revelation.

Q. Revelation ? But how ?

A. Indeed, what more is needed to constitute a revelation ? Is not that religious sense which is perceptible in the conscience revelation, or at least the beginning of revelation ? (p13) Nay, is it not God Himself manifesting Himself indistinctly, it is true in this same religious sense, to the soul ? And they add : Since God is both the object and the cause of faith, this revelation is at the same time of God and from God, that is to say, God is both the Revealer and the Revealed.

Q. What is the absurd doctrine that springs from this philosophy, or, rather, these divagations of the Modernists ?

A. From this springs that most absurd tenet of the Modernists, that every religion, according to the different aspect under which it is viewed, must be considered as both natural and supernatural.

Q. What further follows from this ?

A. It is thus that they make consciousness and revelation synonymous.

Q. From this, finally, what supreme and universal law do they seek to impose ?

A. From this they derive the law laid down as the universal standard, according to which religious consciousness is to be put on an equal footing with revelation, and that to it all must submit.

Q. All must submit ? even the supreme authority of the Church ?

A. Even the supreme authority of the Church, whether in the capacity of teacher, or in that of legislator in the province of sacred liturgy or discipline.


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