Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Dante and Philosophy

Dante and Philosophy by Etienne Gilson, 327 pages

From one of the most distinguished scholastic philosophers of the twentieth century comes an analysis of Dante's work and his concept of philosophy.  Gilson is not primarily interested in identifying the features of Dante's philosophy, rather, he is determined to establish that Dante conceived of philosophy as sovereign in its own sphere, complementary but separate from theology and politics.  In the process, he presents a Dante influenced by, but not a slave to, the outstanding philosophers of his time, bringing him out from under the shadow of Aquinas.

Gilson spends much of the book refuting Mandonnet's curious interpretation of Dante - this is mostly wasted for readers to whom Mandonnet and his elaborate symbolism are unknown.  Even so, Gilson's insight, intellect, and wit make the book worth reading for any admirer of Dante.

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