Esta revista mantiene un embargo de 3 años respecto a la edición en papel.

José Luis Illanes e-mail(Inicie sesión)

Contenido principal del artículo


José Luis Illanes e-mail(Inicie sesión)


The encyclical Aeterni Patris is primarily destined to the promotion of christian thought. The question which immediately strikes the reader's attention is whether the encyclical has a formally philosophical and only indirectly theological interest. If, in turn, theology is not considered only in terms of its influence upon philosophy, the interest of the encyclical lies in its straightforward dealings with theological issues. The answer to this question necessitates a value judgement regarding certain sectors of neo-scholastic thought and depends upon how one understands the relations between philosophy and theology.

First of all, we must analyze those sentences in Aeterni Patris where the word theology is used expitcitly or where one of its derivatives may be found. Such a study of the text leads us to three conclusions. First of all, Leo XIII describes theology as a science. Secondly, throughout its procedure, this science is aided by data received from historical research. In spite of this aid theology maintains its speculative status because it offers a more complete understanding of the object studied; that is to say, God and the mystery of our salvation. Lastly, theology attains a scientilic status, viz., fulfills its end, through the use of philosophy.

These conclusions appear to support the point of view which interprets the central interest of the encyclical as philosophical. Nevertheless, further analysis is required so as to reveal exactly what Leo XIII understood as philosophy with the hope of avoiding any equivocal notion of this understanding. A detailed study of Aeterni-Patris leads us to the conclusion that Leo XIII 'uses the term "Philosophy" in a very broad sense which does not coincide with the strictly academic meaning. In this encyclical "Philosophy" designates all use that man makes of his reason to understand reality. Furthermore, this term is applied to all truth apprehended by man's intelligence however profane or religious in character or however natural or supernatural in approach.

Leo XIll continues the anti-rationalist and anti-fideist contention which was so prevalent in the nineteenth century. He manifested less concern for epistemological precision than for what he considered to be a more important question. That is to say, he reminded all believers that faith and reason are not two separate worlds, that the faith can and must enrich the whole of intellectual life. With this in mind, to be faithful to the spirit of Aeterni Patris one must go beyond the letter and clearly denote the unifying character of the intellect. The restoration of christian thought that the encyclical asserts cannot be identified with a philosophical revival which would give way to a new theology. Rather, the encyclical is theological from the very beginning inasmuch as theology is not only the summit of christian thought but also its soul, its first manifestation from which all others are derived.

Palabras clave

Teología, Razón humana, Encíclica Aeterni Patris


Search GoogleScholar


Detalles del artículo

II. Estudios especulativos