"This book is highly personal and I shall begin by saying who I am. I was born in Australia in 1927 and I entered the Society of Jesus in 1945. In 1947-49 I was taught Thomistic philosophy and was good at it. I then studied physics at Melbourne University and obtained a science degree. In the late nineteen-fifties I studied theology in Innsbruck and in the sixties I studied post-graduate philosophy in Louvain and Innsbruck, where I wrote a thesis on love. During this time, besides Karl Rahner’s theology I discovered Martin Buber and Personalism. At first I added the new to the old, and in my thesis and in a book, Love and the Person (published in 1967), I proposed a synthesis of Thomism and Personalism.
This helped a number of scholastically-trained people to accept personalist ideas, precisely because it did not ask them to reject Scholasticism, only to add Personalism to it. When in the sixties and seventies I taught philosophy, I found myself using Scholasticism less and less and I came to see defects in it. These have become more and more clear to me and this book is the result of long reflection on them. I expect it to be said that I have caricatured Scholasticism, or that what I say is true only of the most primitive “school Scholasticism”; in reply to this I ask readers to study the quotations which I give, which come from Thomas Aquinas, and leading twentieth-century Scholastic thinkers, and to judge them for themselves." — From the author’s Foreword
John Cowburn, S.J., is professor of philosophy and member of the United Faculty of Theology, one of four Associated Teaching Institutions of the Melbourne College of Divinity in Victoria, Australia.