Gilson

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“The human mind feels shy before a reality of which it can form no proper concept.” Etienne Gilson, God and Philosophy.

Too many Christians, of course, know no such shyness. Bible and this morning’s newspaper in hand, they have all the facts and knowledge they need to grasp all reality.

Gilson, though, wasn’t making a psychological statement, nor one about the virtue of humility-infused skepticism, nor even an apologetic one. Rather, he was writing about the concept of “existence.” Mere existence–being and its inverse, nothingness–occupies much of Gilson’s thought, probably because it occupied much of medieval philosophy’s thought. It’s probably edifying to sit back and think about what it means to “just exist,” without regard to any thought about essence (“to exist as X or Y”). Of course, such thought is hardly a productive pursuit, so, like other useless pursuits (e.g., poetry), it has fall out favor, so much so that it’s not even heard of these days.