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Marcel de Corte, a Belgian philosopher of the 20th century, diagnosed contemporary man’s sickness as a mechanical angelism, arising out of rationalism.

The essential illness of today’s world is godlessness. Purely natural philosophy without a supernatural dimension is by no means sufficient as medicine, but it can well analyze how human nature has been ravaged over the last 500 years by mankind’s turning away from the true God of supernatural Revelation.

Such a philosopher was the Belgian Marcel de Corte. Born in 1905, his writing career as a philosopher began in the 1930’s with serious studies of the tried and true philosophy of Aristotle, but from World War II onwards he turned his attention more and more closely to the world crumbling around him. He died in 1994.

In his last three full-scale books, “End of a Civilization” (1949), “Man against Man” (1962), and “The Mind in Danger of Death” (1968), he shows a close familiarity with modern poets and thinkers such as Kant, Marx and Nietzsche, but he had not abandoned Aristotle, on the contrary. In the light of that age-old philosophy, illuminated from above by his Catholic Faith, he makes a profound natural diagnosis of the modern illness.

The central point of that diagnosis is that out of the Renaissance dividing Faith from life, and out of the Reformation dividing spirit from flesh, there arose RATIONALISM, in which abstract thinking first spurns, and then returns to crush, concrete human living. That is a deep-down explanation of why we now find ourselves in a world of computers, electronics, technology and science which has less and less understanding of, or sympathy for, flesh-and-blood human beings. However, the man who pretends to be an angel turns into a beast, says the old saying, which is why we observe today the electronics being filled with more and more bestial material.

De Corte’s remedy? To restore the wholeness of man by the humble living of ordinary concrete daily lives, which today, he says, can only be done with the grace of God. And he comes back to “the greatest Saint of modern times” (said Pius XI), St. Therese of Lisieux and her “Little Way.”

God was there first, of course! He gave the solution which the philosopher afterwards understood. May God have mercy upon us.

Kyrie eleison.

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