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By Donald DeMarco, Crisis Magazine, February 3, 2020

Donald DeMarco is professor emeritus at St. Jerome’s University and adjunct professor at Holy Apostles College & Seminary. He’s a regular contributor to the St. Austin Review.

Donald DeMarcoEtienne Gilson was one of the clearest thinking philosophers of the 20th century. As a good philosopher, naturally, he fully understood the importance of reason, a power that is often downgraded or even dismissed in the modern world. In an address he gave at Harvard’s Tercentenary Celebration (1936), he made the following statement: “Realism always was and still remains the source of our personal liberty. Let us add that, for the same reason, it remains the only guarantee of our social liberty.”

Jacques Maritain concurred, citing St. Thomas Aquinas. Totius libertatis radix est in ratione constituta, says the Angelic Doctor: The entire root of liberty is in reason. Maritain went on to say that when reason is suppressed, what is left is not liberty, “but that amorphous impulse surging out of the night which is but a false image of liberty.”

Reason connects us with reality. Liberty is one of its offspring. We are not free if we cannot see where we are going. In fact, we are lost, and lost without a compass or a map. For G. K. Chesterton, “modern man has lost his address.” We are lost because we disregarded reason (i.e., what science says regarding the nature of the unborn human and what it observes concerning the adverse effects of abortion, especially for women) and expected liberty to bloom in a vacuum.  ….

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