Those new to Gilson can get a sense of the theme that dominated most of his life’s work in the central essay on the historical significance of Thomism. Those familiar with him will perhaps be surprised by the sympathy with which he treats the more traditional theologians who resisted Aquinas and the Latin Averroists alike. Gilson prolongs his seminal demonstration of Scholastic influence on Descartes’s philosophy by showing that there is also some unfortunate Scholastic influence in what we would call Descartes’s natural science, specifically his meteorology. Both new and old Gilsonians will be intrigued by the account of how Descartes was convinced by Harvey that human blood makes a complete circulation, but against Harvey offered his own clear, distinct, and wrongheaded account of why it does.
James Colbert is Professor Emeritus of philosophy at Fitchburg State University. He has translated from French Italian, and Spanish. His favorite author is the great twentieth-century medievalist Etienne Gilson. Cascade Books published his translation of Gilson’s Medieval Essays (2011) and Jean Danielou’s Philo of Alexandria (2014).