The Primacy of the Spiritual
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By Jacques Maritain
The Primacy of the Spiritual sets forth the relation between politics and doctrine, elaborating the objective preeminence of the spiritual and demonstrating the essential principles of civilization, the providential identity and mission of the Church, and the responsibility of the Christian within secular society. Originally published in English as The Things That Are Not Caesar’s, amid the aftermath of the Action Française scandal, The Primacy of the Spiritual has proven eminently superior to time and circumstance in its explication of the relationship between the spiritual and temporal orders, a relationship which dwells restlessly at the heart of culture.
“To distinguish between the temporal and the spiritual is simultaneously to affirm the subordination of the former to the latter. Do not the divine words which are the root of the distinction indicate also the subordination? Render, therefore, to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s…” (Jacques Maritain)
Jacques Maritain (1882–1973) was perhaps the greatest Catholic philosopher of the twentieth century. A convert, along with his wife Raïssa, from agnosticism to Catholicism, Maritain wrote extensively on metaphysics, aesthetics, epistemology, ethics, social and political philosophy, and the philosophy of history—all with the guiding inspiration of the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas.