'We are not our own' : The platonic Christianity of George P. Grant: from the cave to the cross and back with Simone Weil

Jersak, Bradley (2012) 'We are not our own' : The platonic Christianity of George P. Grant: from the cave to the cross and back with Simone Weil. PhD thesis, Prifysgol Bangor University.

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George Parkin Grant (1918-88) was one of Canada's greatest 20th century minds. He is best known for his contributions to Canadian nationalism, the Red Tory tradition, and his philosophical critique of liberal technocracy. In this thesis, I will argue that behind Grant's personae as philosopher, political scientist, and social activist-indeed, driving them all-stands a cohesive core of contemplative-prophetic theology, deriving and developing from Grant's conversion. Despite his stature among our foremost thinkers, Grant's animating spirituality and constitutive convictions have not been sufficiently established or adequately assembled. Louis Greenspan explains, There are those who seek in Grant's philosophical writings a systematic statement of philosophical first principles, a summa Grantium, but this enterprise is very hazardous. The interpreter must ... deal with the very unusual framework of Grant's problematic. ... [It] must be considered in the framework of Grant's commitments to philosophy and Christianity ... Much of his thought was engaged with Simone Weil, but he published very little on her work(1) The unique purpose of this thesis is to venture this precise challenge. That is, I will enucleate the life and thought of George Grant to its generative kernel-'the heart of the matter,' to use his parlance. Drawing from an analysis of Grant's conversion experience, I will unveil Grant's four seminal doctrinesencompassed in his phrase, "We are not our own,,(2)and reveal his central concern: the primacy of the Good vis-a-vis the primacy of the will. The bulk of the thesis traces this conviction through four abiding doctrines, which comprise Grant's calling as a contemplative theologian and social prophet. These doctrines include: 1. his deconstruction of liberal modernism, 11. his classical contemplative way of knowing and being, 111. his Platonic Christianity and (anti-)theodicy of the Cross, and his call to love-centered justice as Canada's prophet of lament. Thus it will become obvious that Grant's career as a political philosopher and lifelong educator were inextricably dependent on two prior vocations. First, he was a contemplative theologian of the Cross in the Platonic Christian tradition of Simone Weil. And second, he was a national social prophet, lamenting Canada's slide into the shadows of American liberal hegemony. I will argue that Grant's owlish vision, illumined by love, was expressed for him in Plato's Good, fulfilled in Christ's Passion, and exemplified in the life and thought of philosopher-mystic-activist Simone Weil. This is widely acknowledged. But this thesis will contribute two additional major elements to Grantean scholarship on these fronts. It will be the most thorough work to date in tracking Grant's resonance with and reliance on Simone Weil. I identify the extensive overlap in their thought, both before and after he discovered her works. The reader will see the spiritual and intellectual correspondence between Grant and Weil on each of his four pillar beliefs. It will be the first work to chart Weil's cosmology of consent and demonstrate Grant's integration of it into his theology of the Cross-asconsent and his "politics of justice and consent." (3) Finally, this Summa Grantium will be the first to outline and elucidate Grant's four principal doctrines using four stages of Plato's analogy of the cave (The Republic, Book 7, 514a-520a), which Grant and Weil consciously identified as their own spiritual experience. (1) Louis Greenspan, "George Grant Remembered," Two Theological Languages (1990),4. (2) Grant, GP, 62-3. (3) Grant, ESJ, 12.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: Degree Thesis
Departments: College of Arts and Humanities > School of Philosophy and Religion
Degree Thesis
Date Deposited: 14 May 2015 05:22
Last Modified: 07 Apr 2016 08:23
URI: http://e.bangor.ac.uk/id/eprint/4537
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