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Interpretations: Reading the Present in Light of the Past
by Jude P. Dougherty
Catholic University of America Press, 2018
Paper: 978-0-8132-2989-8 | eISBN: 978-0-8132-2990-4
Library of Congress Classification BL51.D68 2018
Dewey Decimal Classification 230.2

Interpretations is a collection of essays produced by the distinguished philosopher Jude Dougherty over the past decade, written to inform or to provide commentary on contemporary issues. In probing the past to interpret the present they draw upon a perspective that one may call classical, the perspective of Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, and their followers across the ages, notably Thomas Aquinas, and his modern disciples, such as Etienne Gilson and Jacques Maritain.

The first part of Interpretations is an attempt to understand modernity’s break with the past, the repudiation of Scholasticism and the classical tradition. Dougherty does this by referencing the dominant preoccupations of the Middle Ages, of the Renaissance, of the Reformation, of eighteenth-century British empiricism, and of nineteenth-century German philosophy, drawing upon the readings of Remi Brague, Pierre Manent, and others. What unifies these reflections is the role of religion (both in Christianity and Islam) in society and its impact on the culture, as well as looking at what is called “modernity” where this role becomes reduced or absent.

The second part of the volume examines selected addresses by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI from a philosophical point of view. Benedict, like others through the course of history, has recognized the role of religion in producing cultural unity. These essays are an appreciation primarily of the subtlety of the former pontiff’s thought.

The third part of Interpretations collects essays and addresses on the practice and nature of philosophy that Dean Dougherty has given throughout his career at The Catholic University of America, and reflects the trajectory of his career and the development of his thought.

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