Jacques Maritain

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Jacques Maritain (18 November 188228 April 1973) was a French Catholic philosopher, and was one of the drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


  • There is nothing man desires more than a heroic life: there is nothing less common to men than heroism.
    • True Humanism (1938), p. xi
  • In loving things and the being in them man should rather draw things up to the human level than reduce humanity to their measure.
    • True Humanism (1938), p. xv
  • Thus society is born, as something required by nature, and (because this nature is human nature) as something accomplished through a work of reason and will, and freely consented to. Man is a political animal, which means that the human person craves political life, communal life, not only with regard to the family community, but with regard to the civil community.
    • The Rights of Man (1945). London: Geoffrey Bles, pp. 7–8
  • The truth of practical intellect is understood not as conformity to an extramental being but as conformity to a right desire; the end is no longer to know what is, but to bring into existence that which is not yet.
    • “Action: the Perfection of Human Life,” Sewanee Review, LVI (Winter, 1948), pp. 3-4
  • Absolute atheism starts in an act of faith in reverse gear and is a full-blown religious commitment.
    • The Range of Reason (1952). New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, p. 106
  • The hope of the coming of a new Christian era in our civilization is to my mind a hope for a distant future, a very distant future.
    • The Range of Reason (1952), p. 217
  • The equality of rights of all citizens is the basic tenet of modern democratic societies.
    • Man and the State (1951), p. 179
  • What we need is not truths that serve us but a truth we may serve.
    • Degrees of Knowledge(1932, Notre Dame Translation), p. 4.
  • It is enough that things exist for God to be unavoidable. Let us but grant to a bit of moss or the smallest ant its due nature as an ontological reality, and we can no longer escape the terrifying hand that made us.
    • Degrees of Knowledge(1932, Notre Dame Translation), p. 116.
  • Things are opaque to us, and we are opaque to ourselves.
    • Degrees of Knowledge(1932, Notre Dame Translation), p. 117.
  • To philosophize man must put his whole soul into play, in much the same manner that to run he must use his heart and lungs.
    • An Essay on Christian Philosophy (1955), p. 17.
  • In point of fact, Western philosophy has never set itself free of Christianity: wherever Christianity did not have a hand in the construction of modern philosophy it served instead as a stumbling block.
    • An Essay on Christian Philosophy (1955), p. 51.
  • It is not possible to escape from the results of the irruption of faith into the structures of our knowledge.
    • Science and Wisdom(1954), p. 109.
  • The act of philosophizing involves the character of the philosopher.
    • Science and Wisdom(1954), p. 207.
  • For to love is to give what one is, his very being, in the most absolute, the most brazenly metaphysical, the least phenomenalizable sense of this word.
    • The Peasant of the Garonne,(1968) p 9.
  • It is impossible for a Christian to be a relativist.
    • The Peasant of the Garonne,(1968) p. 89.
  • It has never been recommended to confuse "loving" with "seeking to please"... ...Salome pleased Herod's guests; I can hardly believe she was burning with love for them. As for poor John the Baptist... ...she certainly did not envelop him in her love.
    • The Peasant of the Garonne,(1968) p. 91.
  • The day when efficacy would prevail over truth will never come for the Church, for then the gates of hell would have prevailed against her.
    • The Peasant of the Garonne,(1968) p. 94.
  • When one's function is to teach the loftiest wisdom, it is difficult to resist the temptation to believe that until you have spoken, nothing has been said.
    • The Peasant of the Garonne, (1968)pp. 147-148.
  • A community of free men cannot exist if its spiritual base is not solely law.
    • Christianity and Democracy, (1943), p. 43.
  • Not only does the democratic state of mind stem from the inspiration of the Gospel, but it cannot exist without it.
    • Christianity and Democracy, (1943), p. 49.
  • To be free is of the essence of every intellectual being.
    • Freedom in the Modern World, (1933, Notre Dame Edition), p. 6.
  • Western humanism has religious and transcendent sources without which it is incomprehensible to itself.
    • Integral Humanism, (1936, Notre Dame Edition), p. 154.
  • Nothing is more vain than to seek to unite men by a philosophic minimum.
    • Integral Humanism, (1936, Notre Dame Edition), p. 262
  • Absolute atheism starts in an act of faith in reverse gear and is a full-blown religious commitment. Here we have the first internal inconsistency of contemporary atheism: it proclaims that all religion must necessarily vanish away, and it is itself a religious phenomena.
    • The Range of Reason, (1942), p. 106.
  • To redeem creation the saint wages war on the entire fabric of creation, with the bare weapons of truth and love.
    • The Range of Reason, (1942), p. 109.
  • With all his sincerity and devotion, the authentic, absolute atheist is after all only an abortive saint, and at the same time, a mistaken revolutionist.
    • The Range of Reason, (1942), p. 113.
  • The first step to be taken by everyone who wishes to act morally is to decide not to act according to the general customs and doings of his fellow-men."
    • The Range of Reason, (1942), p. 137.
  • There is room neither for the poet nor for the contemplator in an egalitarian world.
    • Ransoming the Time, (1941), p. 14.
  • The supernatural light of the spirit is the only night from which the spirit can emerge alive.
    • Ransoming the Time, (1941), p. 288.
  • A great philosopher in the wrong is like a beacon on the reefs which says to seamen: steer clear of me.
    • On the Use of Philosophy (1961), p. 5.
  • In each of us there dwells a mystery, and that mystery is the human personality.
    • The Rights of Man and Natural Law, (1943), p. 2.

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