Spirit in the World was Karl Rahner’s first major work, a philosophical tour de force that not only stands on its own right as the most powerful contemporary interpretation of Thomist metaphysics of knowledge, but also laid the foundations for Rahner’s massive theological corpus. In this book of over 400 pages, Rahner brings Christian Catholic theology into the twentieth century by bringing Thomas Aquinas, its mandated standard bearer, into dialogue with Kant, Hegel, and Heidegger. He does so under the inspiration of a reading of Aquinas inspired by the groundbreaking work of Pierre Rousselot and Joseph Maréchal. The result is a modern classic that all students of Rahner and of philosophy and theology today will want to study in depth.
“Spirit in the World has a double significance for Karl Rahner’s thought and his imposing aggiornamento of theology. First of all, this book represents Rahner’s attempt to confront the mediæval scholastic philosophy of Thomas Aquinas with the problems and questions of modern philosophy, especially as formulated by Immanuel Kant in his critical and transcendental philosophy. In the second place, Spirit in the World is also important because the philosophical position developed here in dialogue with modern philosophy provides the unifying principle and presupposition of Rahner’s whole theology. Rahner has not left the philosophical principles of this book in their formal and abstract outlines, but has developed and applied them in his many theological books and essays which can only be adequately understood when Spirit in the World is understood.” -– from the Introduction by Francis Schüssler Fiorenza