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Methodical Realism: A Handbook for Beginning Realists

4.34  ·  Rating details ·  77 ratings  ·  11 reviews
This short book is a work of one of the 20th century's greatest philosophers and historians of philosophy, Étienne Gilson. The book's title, taken from the first chapter, may sound esoteric but it reflects a common-sense outlook on the world, applied in a "methodical" way. That approach, known as realism, consists in emphasizing the fact that what is real precedes our ...more
Paperback, 150 pages
Published September 20th 2011 by Ignatius Press (first published February 1990)
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Paul Bard
Jun 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The single best book on reality available.

It demonstrates why idealism fails by asking questions to which there are there no answers, but also HOW idealism asks questions to which there is no reality.

This combined with Maritain's Introduction to Philosophy is a wonderful eye-opener to the world of Aquinas.

The essential aspect of this book is the chapter entitled "A Handbook for Beginning Realists", featuring 30 pithy aphorisms as to the nature of reality.

"...all idealist objections to the
Laurent Dv
Sep 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
Incroyable présentation et défense du réalisme, très brève. Gilson a vraiment un don, il explique très bien.
Il montre en particulier que le problème de l'idéalisme c'est que bien qu'il soit très cohérent, si on commence à partir de la pensée pour aller à l'être (le réalisme est le contraire : aller de l'être à la pensée), c'est impossible, on reste bloqué dans la pensée. Le "Je suis" de Descartes qu'il prouve avec le cogito peut être un truc qui existe, mais peut-être bien seulement dans la
May 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
In this book Étienne Gilson goes into detail about the difference of realism from idealism, the Thomistic argument of reality and the Cartesian. He jumps right in to the nitty gritty details making the small book very complex right from the beginning. It becomes a very slow read because the material needs full attention, and even if given one needs time to internalize it. For a while I kind of grasp what he writes about, but then at other times I lost it. More than a few times I had to read and ...more
Nathan Suire
May 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
How do you know that you exist? Gilson demonstrates that for idealists the answer is the cogito, "I think, therefore I am". Yet for realists, this question, which represents the "problem of knowledge", is a pseudo problem. In fact, any attempt to base one's philosophy on epistemology is doomed from the start. Thus Gilson encourages the realist not to fall prey to the idealist trap of starting with thought and then moving to being. Rather, as the realist position maintains, one must move from ...more
Michal Paszkiewicz
Dec 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
I am not sure why this book has been given the subtitle "a handbook for beginning realists". Almost half the book is criticism of a few other works that the reader won't know about if they are a beginner, so will lack understanding due to the lack of context. The second half of the book is a criticism of scholastics barking up the wrong tree in the middle ages and a criticism of modern positivists and idealists. This part was highly interesting, but there was not much guidance given for realists ...more
Mar 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy, thomism
Not entirely sure I agree with everything here. But he deff makes some very strong arguments for realism (and against idealism.) Plus, Gilson has such a way with words!
Jul 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Once again this book is truly a beginners book, yet even though it is considered a beginners book it is still an involving read. I think however, that the reader will appreciate the last chapter of the book the most as it gives point-by-point explanation of the Nature of the Realist as opposed to the Idealist. This book needs to be read first before any other book written by the same author, especially when her talks on the philosophical investigation into knowledge of reality.
Tom Gilson
Mar 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Solid, meaty, and of course real

E. Gilson clarifies and criticicizesphilosophical idealism and its practical and logical inconsistencies) following Descartes, which has led to confusion regarding knowledge, mind, thought, the good (misconstrued as "values"): and explains how realism is hardly as naive as it has naively been thought to be.
Steven  Hunter
Nov 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a decent little book on realism. I say only decent because I had a difficult time understanding certain points, but it was good enough. I'd recommend it for anyone who studies St. Thomas Aquinas, the scholastics, and philosophy. You'd appreciate it very much.
Dec 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Great book. So simple but so needed. Gilson is a master and this is truly a gem of a book. I probably would have given this five stars except the translation was clunky.
Oct 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
I really enjoyed this book, though I have to admit I failed to follow a lot of it. I intend to re-read it soon, and will hopefully follow with a more insightful review.
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Étienne Henri Gilson was born into a Roman Catholic family in Paris on 13 June 1884. He was educated at a number of Roman Catholic schools in Paris before attending lycée Henri IV in 1902, where he studied philosophy. Two years later he enrolled at the Sorbonne, graduating in 1907 after having studied under many fine scholars, including Lucien Lévy Bruhl, Henri Bergson and Emile Durkheim.
“But if one decides to start with Descartes and finish with Aristotle, and to employ an idealist method while shamelessly making use of a reality one has no right to, one brings confusion into the heart of philosophy and makes its cultivation impossible. To make it possible again is the reason why realists are realists and call themselves such. They too follow a method, but they do not lay down beforehand what that method is to be, as though it were a necessary pre-condition for their philosophy. Instead, they find their method in their philosophy. So they never have to ask themselves whether it is legitimate to transform their method into a metaphysics, because their method is that metaphysics, which is fully aware of its proceedings, of its initial positions, and of their implications.” 3 likes
“As long as one makes some kind of conscious state, whether a “passive sensation” or an “apprehended”, come before reality, one will remain more or less in debt to the idealist method. The realist method pursues an exactly opposite course. Every given reality implies the thought which apprehends it. Therefore being is the condition of knowing; knowing is not the condition of being. When this has been established, another step in the direction of metaphysics can be taken.” 3 likes
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