Sunday, December 12, 2010

Essential Jaki

What can I possibly mean - "essential Jaki"? The Relevance? (He himself suggests as containing much of his later work, at least in embryonic form. See A Mind's Matter 27.) Or one (or more) of his essay collections? Or his amazing meditations on prayers? Or that tiny little thing on Chesterton? Or perhaps - Science and Creation?

Well, No.

I have no time to fairly and justly give you a recommended selection of his works - so if you are hoping for for an "introduction" to him I must diappoint you, at least for today. But then... perhaps (like some other great writers) almost any of his works are a suitable start. In this he is like the holograms of laser physics, a great analogy to certain even more mystical ideas: any fractional part of a hologram contains a representation of the whole image.

But actually, I was thinking about how one could easily have a "Jaki Advent Retreat" with his incomparable meditations on the Savior, and though there are barely two weeks left before Christmas, I suggest the following texts. (You can always work on obtaining them now, for future use.)

1. Advent and Science - a booklet of four essays
2. The Virgin Birth and the Birth of Science - a booklet with pictures by Blake
3. Catholic Essays - this is a collection but I mean specifically these two: "3. The Creator's Coming" and "4. A Most Holy Night"

You may also add, if you like, his little books on the Litany of Loreto and of St. Joseph, as well as the Magnificat...

I must also suggest his cosmological or Christocentric studies, though it would be to open not a retreat, but the bibliography for a grad-school seminar, and add items like his studies of the Psalms and The Savior of Science - but especially deserving of exploration is the important chapter on Science and the Jews, the seventh in Science and Creation which is called "The Beacon of the Covenant":
In the biblical view God is primarily and ultimately a person, whose most unique characteristic is to reveal His unspeakable transcendence in His most immediate concern for the children of Abraham.
The God of the Bible is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; that is, the God of the Covenant, or a God who freely binds Himself to the welfare of mankind through the mediation of Abraham’s progeny.
[SLJ SC 139]
What a grand statement of What Advent Is All About...

"...a God who freely binds Himself to the welfare of mankind through the mediation of Abraham’s progeny..."


Codgitator (Cadgertator) said...

I have been led to wonder if this blog might not more aptly be titled The Jaki-Duhem Society. Do you have any plans to do similar studies of and meditations on Duhem's life and work? I'm an enormous "fan" of Fr Jaki, so I am asking without guile.

Dr. Thursday said...

Ah... but this is called "The Duhem Society" because that was the name proposed by Father Jaki in his A Mind's Matter 85.

You will naturally see more of Jaki quoted here than Duhem because I have all of Fr. Jaki's books (or all but the latest) and only two or three of Duhem's, the huge proportion of which are not yet turned into English. (Alas, I cannot read French.)

Also, even Fr. Jaki's proposal for the Duhem Society was larger than merely to study Duhem - it was to further his work, which is the work of a serious intellectual, Catholic, historian, scientist: the restoration of the medieval unity of vision of the unity of Truth. It is as Chesterton said, a small way in which I hope to aid in the "rebuilding of this bridge between sceience and human nature"... So the title is not inappropriate.

But you have a point, and I am aware how infrequent I quote Duhem. At least I have admitted the cause. Of course what is more annoying to me is that I have not been "studying" them - except for my vague beginnings of the exploration of SLJ's Relevance - but merely offering fragments of their thought.

It is not an easy task, and I have been busy. Perhaps in the new year I will manage it better.

PS About the Duhem books: Of course I could imagine trying to learn French but it is too much at this moment in my life... Oh dear. If I had money, I would be financing a major translation effort, since 2016 will mark the centennial of Duhem's death, and we must take due note of it. All I can hope for at present is to stimulate some interest somewhere by one who has a working knowledge of French and English....

Codgitator (Cadgertator) said...

Dr. T:

I had the same idea, namely, that Jaki's proposal for a Duhem Society would not be a "Duhem studies forum," so I was just curious what the plans are. Don't feel bad, you are already doing a great thing with this blog and I would like to help as much as I can too, when the time is right.