In this text Woodbury deals with a number of very important distinctions regarding the very nature of philosophical enquiry, and how Philosophy differs in substance and in mode of operation from the experimental and theological sciences.
Before pursuing Philosophy’s real definition Woodbury begins by looking at the common-sense notion of Philosophy as viewed by history’s philosophers who considered philosophy to be the pursuit of wisdom. After arriving at Philosophy’s real definition—a knowledge, gained by the natural powers of the human mind, of all things through their deepest causes—Woodbury then distinguishes diverse kinds of human knowledge before outlining the differences between Science and Philosophy; providing the modern reader with invaluable distinctions for the contemporary debate between science and religion. After this Woodbury seeks a deeper penetration into Philosophy as the science which considers ultimate causes. He explains the perspective from which Philosophy considers its object before explaining the different foci of each of the philosophical sciences, their relationship among themselves and with the other sciences.
Finally, Woodbury concludes his text with an examination of the relationship between Philosophy and the other forms of wisdom, including theology and the infused gift of wisdom, as well as its relationship to Christian Revelation. The text closes with an extensive list of history’s notable philosophers.
Who was Father Austin Maloney Woodbury?
Father Austin Maloney Woodbury S.M. (1899-1979) was a Marist priest and an Australian Thomistic philosopher and theologian, who in the 1920s received doctorates in both Philosophy and Theology at the Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas in the City (the Angelicum) in Rome under the renowned Dominican theologian Father Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange O.P. (1877-1964). Woodbury founded Sydney’s Aquinas Academy in 1945, a school of Philosophy and Theology aimed at educating lay people in the rich intellectual tradition of Christianity. He headed the Academy until 1975, teaching a strictly scholastic Philosophy and Theology based on the teachings of Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274). In his own lifetime Woodbury was distinguished by some of his scholarly contemporaries as having penned “one of the greatest courses in philosophy ever written in the English language.”