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Another Genealogy: Art philosophy, politics and personalism. The case of Edgar De Bruyne

Rajesh Heynickx

Résumé

To understand the complex nature of 20th century Belgian personalism, historians and political scientist have mainly focused on the political context in which it developed. They defined personalism as a decisive step in the challenging political process Catholics were part and parcel of. In their eyes, interwar personalism incarnated a harsch criticism of the ‘liberal democracy’ and, at the same time, it formed the preperation of a political formula gaining currency after World war Two: modern Christian democracy. In this paper, I will develop another understanding of the formation and dissemation of Belgian interwar personalism. I will do this by focussing on one of the founding fathers of the postwar Christian democracy: the art philosopher and politican Edgard De Bruyne. During the twenties and thirties he was a pioneering thinker who tried to combine a neo-thomistic thinking and new phenomenological theories within the field of art philosophy. I will argue that a better understanding of this innovative aesthetical theory can help to uncover a forgotten dimension of interwar personalism: art philosophical thinking which did function as a science pilote because it helped to define the role of creative individuals and creativity in a rapidly changing world.

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Texte intégral

  • 1 Beke (Wouter), « Oorsprong van het personalisme in de CVP », Nieuw Tijdschrift voor Politiek, 1, 19 (...)

1In order to understand the complex nature of twentieth century Belgian personalism, historians have focused mainly on the political context in which this eclectic school of thought developed. More specifically, they have regarded personalism as a crucial component of the challenging political process in which Catholics were enmeshed during the interwar period. As it incarnated a system of thought tending to regard the person as the ultimate explanatory and even axiological principle of reality, personalism could harbour a critical appraisal of democracy, especially during the 1930s. By railing against communism and fascism, two other sources of a then widespread criticism of « liberal democracy », personalism helped to define a « third way ». Personal responsibility, not individualism nor collectivism, was defended as the inescapable model of politics. This approach became foundational to a political formula that was to have the greatest influence in the aftermath of World War II: modern Christian democracy1.

  • 2 Gerard (Emmanuel), « Christen-democratie in België tussen 1891 en 1945. De ‘archeologie’ van de Chr (...)
  • 3 Witte (Els), « Vlaanderen in de fifties. Een maatschappelijk-politiek overzicht », Absilis (Kevin) (...)
  • 4 Conway (Martin), « Building the Christian City: Catholics and Politics in Interwar Francophone Belg (...)

2Those who have dissected the genesis and impact of personalism in Belgium’s political history have complained about the hazy composition of interwar personalism. It has been called « a panacea »2, or defined as a « rather vague » current3. Simultaneously, Belgian personalism was often perceived as an « imported product », originating from personalist theories developed in other countries. And indeed, there are elements supporting such a statement. Mounier’s Personalist Manifesto (1938) and certainly his Parisian periodical Esprit were canonical touchstones of Belgian personalism4.

  • 5 About those negotiations: Eyskens (Gaston), Gaston Eyskens: de mémoires, edited by J. Smits, Tielt, (...)
  • 6 Parlementaire Handelingen Senaat, September 20 1944 and November 7 1944, pp. 25-27.
  • 7 Bernard (C.), « Billet à M. Edgard De Bruyne. Professeur de Philosophie et Ministre des Colonies » (...)

3Yet, in this article, I will develop another understanding of Belgian interwar personalism by unearthing a building process that was not exclusively fuelled by political context, nor by foreign icons of personalism. I will focus on the personalist theory developed by one of the founding fathers of modern Christian democracy in Belgium: Edgar De Bruyne (1898-1959). De Bruyne is generally known in two distinct capacities. First, he is known as a philosopher, specializing in medieval aesthetics. Second, De Bruyne was a politician. While he was proof reading the three volumes of his famous Etudes d’esthétiques médiévales (1946), he wrote political speeches. Directly after the Liberation in 1945, he was involved in the formation of government, as a representative of the newly founded Christian Democratic Party (CVP)5. In the senate, which he had entered in 1939, he participated in debates on education6. Yet, when he became Minister of the Colonies in 1946, some judged him not qualified for the job. One journalist was notably sarcastic: « We do not believe that black people should complain about you because you are definitely the first of our Ministers of the Colonies to understand and fully appreciate their art »7 .

  • 8 De Bruyne was befriended with the Christian Democratic and politican August De Schryver. Many centr (...)
  • 9 Two examples : De Bruyne (Edgar), Verslag over de waardigheid van den arbeider als persoon. Gent, 1 (...)

4De Bruyne is worth studying - not only as a pivotal link between Catholic political thought in the interwar and postwar period8, but also as an intellectual whose personalism presents different philosophical layers in the two decades preceding 1946. From the moment, in the early 1930s, in which he started to react to such perceived depersonalising forces as materialism and technological development9, his thinking comprises two strata. Next to the objectivity of revelation (the disclosing of a supernatural entity), De Bruyne tried to unlock another dimension when he presented the person as the primary locus of investigation for political and ethical questions: the understanding of how the human person perceives the world. In the former stratum, the framework of an objective philosophy, characteristic of De Bruyne’s initial neothomistic philosophical training, surfaces. In the latter, his attention to the person’s experience, without importing extraneous presuppositions or inferences, so typical for the phenomenological approach he started to embrace in the late 1920’s, is illuminated. Therefore, an understanding of De Bruyne’s personalism demands a stratigraphy, a studying of two layers, neothomism and phenomenology. It is precisely by analyzing these two strata, including the sites of their interpenetration, that our conception of personalism, which is often encapsulated by strict categories and definitions, can be revised. In the first place, it helps to understand how Belgian personalism was not solely driven by external maîtres à penser but possessed its own dynamic. Secondly, this article will also make clear that Belgian interwar personalism did not just originate from a polarised political landscape. A specific philosophical branch, aesthetics, could also represent a birthplace for Belgian personalism. De Bruyne was a philosopher of art driven into politics. The question, then: how could this happen? And, equally important: did De Bruyne’s different layers of thought smoothly intersect? Or, were they perceived – by others, and not least by De Bruyne himself – as tectonic plates with a high potential for forceful collision?

I

  • 10 About the institute: Steel (Carlos), « Aquinas and the renewal of philosophy: some observations on (...)
  • 11 Van Breda (H.L.), « Kroniek. Verslag van de studiedagen van het ‘Wijsgeerig gezelschap te Leuven’ o (...)

5In order to get a grip on the motifs in which the myriad uses of the term « personalism » take root in the 20th century, one strategy is to isolate still scenes from the complex cinematic composition of De Bruyne’s evolving personalist doctrine. One such telling scene, revealing an important set of constituent elements, can be identified in a meeting of the Philosophical Society of Leuven on April 28 and 29, 1943. At the Higher Institute for Philosophy in Leuven, known as a « generating station » of neothomistic or neoscholastic thinking10, five speakers and an audience of 200 people sought to address « The question of the person ». On the first day attention was paid to the existentialist point of view. Taking up the ideas of Karl Jaspers and Gabriel Marcel, the young professor Alphonse De Waelhens stressed that any understanding of « a person » had to account for the person’s inner experiences. It was only by taking into account a person’s actual existence, his da-sein, his being engaged in the world, that one could initiate a true understanding of « a person » – because, from the moment the term ‘person’ became a strict concept with a fixed content, one would reduce the person to a dry collection of substances, alienated from real life11.

6As the keynote speaker on the second day, Edgar De Bruyne opened by saying that he concurred with the necessity of developing such view. Just like De Waelhens, he underlined that phenomenology, the study of conscious experience, was the indispensable impetus for any conception of personality. The person, who had fleeting experiences and existed throughout these experiences, had to stand central. Therefore, the phenomena that appeared in a person’s acts of consciousness had to be scrutinized in order to discern and expose the subtle differences between experiences essential natures. Yet, in his talk De Bruyne focused on something else. He started to reflect on the different ways in which the term « person » could denote a kind of reality. In this light, De Bruyne saw two powerful, conflicting traditions come into focus. On the one hand, there was Boethius’ early 6th century definition of « person» as an individual substance of a rational nature (persona est rationalis naturae individual substantia). Besides this quite direct humanist definition, there was also Thomas Aquinas’ twelfth century take on the person, specifying « a person » as a being made in the image of the Creator (persona est distinctum subsistens in aliqua natura in natura intellectuali) – a theological definition. In short: a person could be seen as an independent rational being (Boethius) or as a part of a rationally comprehensible, but divinely-created nature (Aquinas). How, then, to cope with this metaphysical dilemma ?

  • 12 Idem, p. 413.
  • 13 E. De Bruyne, La théorie de la personnalité d’après Saint Thomas d’Aquin (thesis), Leuven, 1922.
  • 14 Janssens (E.P.), « Kunstphilosophie. Een en ander over den wijsgeerigen grondslag der kunstphilosop (...)

7At the end of his speech, De Bruyne delivered a classic thomistic synthesis by pointing out the compatibility of Boethius and Aquinas. Persons were self-conscious agents, but a transcendent Creator did form the ultimate source of all finite being. This ‘solution’ was, as one reporter remarked, very much liked by the corps professoral and students of the Institute12. Moreover, by touching upon the « person’s » underlying ontology, De Bruyne’s talk became an act of homecoming. His doctoral thesis of 1922, defended at the very same institute, had been on Thomas Aquinas’ theory of the person13. In fact, it seems as though De Bruyne wanted explicitly to stress these roots: he wanted to make clear that he had never been a heretic. For this had indeed been the image some Catholics had sketched around him from 1927 onwards when reviewing his studies on aesthetics, which had been marked by a phenomenological approach and were written at Ghent University, a non-Catholic state institution. In De Bruyne’s Kunstphilosophie (Art Philosophy) of 1929, phenomenology found a rather tentative beginning. But the second, revised edition of this work gained a clear subtitle: « A phenomenology of the artwork ». In 1941, with the publication of Het Aesthetisch Beleven (The Aesthetic Experience), phenomenology was omnipresent. De Bruyne’s critics branded those studies as unstructured collections of subjectivist bits and pieces, totally at odds with De Bruyne’s earlier work on Thomas Aquinas14. By turning the ideal of an objective ontology into the focal point of the 1943 talk delivered at his alma mater, De Bruyne tried pre-emptively to deflect such criticism.

  • 15 De Bruyne (Edgard), « Over de grondbegrippen van de philosophie van de kunst. Naar aanleiding eener (...)
  • 16 . De Bruyne (Edgar), « Thomisten van onze tijd (I) », Hooger Leven, IV/29, 20 juli 1930, pp. 923-92 (...)
  • 17 Brulez (Raymond), « De Philosophie in Vlaanderen. Een interview met Prof. E. De Bruyne », De Boeken (...)
  • 18 De Bruyne (Edgar), Philosophie van het leven en algemeene wijsbegeerte, Antwerp/Brussels/Ghent/Leuv (...)

8After all, it had never been De Bruyne’s intent to break with a traditional theistic ontology. As he replied to those commenting on his phenomenological philosophy of art: he did indeed continue to consider the work of Thomas Aquinas as the firm ground of his inspiration15. Even in the early 1930s, incensed that neothomism too often stood as a rigid system of thought, he would always stress that it was one specific – and in his eyes outdated and inflexible – type of neothomism which drew his ire16. De Bruyne tried to promulgate an open thomism, one that gave a rightful place to the many diverse experiences a person had to face in a rapidly changing modern society17. And only phenomenology seemed to open a path to do so. In a remarkable 1930 pamphlet, he argued that a scholastic rigorousness had to be replaced by a spontaneous grasping of the innumerable ways in which reality did unfold in the life-world: “An ideal of knowing does not lie in the ‘understanding’ of a tight system of abstract concepts and universal relations, but in a critical grounded intuition of reality18”.

II

9So, De Bruyne’s belief in the deep relevance of a person’s intuitive and thus immediate experiential knowledge became embedded in a firm ontological foundation. A Latin phrase, in a 1929 reflection on a person’s aesthetic feelings, designates that for De Bruyne a person’s experiences did always fall ‘under the aspect of eternity’:

  • 19 De Bruyne (Edgar), Kunstphilosophie, Antwerpen, Standaard-Boekhandel, 1929, p. 314-315. My own tran (...)

Art, more than nature, helps to forget the practical problems of daily life, our petty joys and distresses, our unstable judgments and actions, even our sins and vices, to put it in one word: our multifariousness, to let us feel, suddenly, the core of our being ‘sub quaedam specie aeternitatis’ (…) Because art creates peace while we are very busy and liberates us from ourselves, it helps to discover ourselves and harmonises us19.

  • 20 Société thomiste, La phénoménologie. Journée d’études de la Société Thomiste à Juvisy, Juvisy, Les (...)

10Otherwise stated, in more technical terms: De Bruyne used the methods of phenomenology to substantiate thomistic principles. The unique aspect of this lies in his development of an inductive-oriented philosophy. Starting from temporal segments of reality (as they were revealed in aesthetic feelings), he moved up to what was universally and eternally true. This is quite a contrast with the classic deductive approach of scholasticism, where a priori statements supplied a rather dogmatic initial basis for reflection. During the 1932 meeting of neothomistic philosophers in Juvisy, a suburb of Paris, De Bruyne would debate Jacques Maritain on this very topic. They did not agree at all. Whereas Maritain distrusted phenomenology and considered it to be an inconsistent patchwork, De Bruyne argued that « Thomism can and has to enrich itself not only with the positive results of phenomenology, but also with its problem-posing20 ».

  • 21 Suenens (Leo), « Notae ac Miscellanea. De critische en metaphysische Moraal van Prof. E. De Bruyne (...)
  • 22 Gerard (Emmanuel), « Bruyne, Edgar de », De Schryver (Reginald), e.a., Nieuwe Encyclopedie van De V (...)
  • 23 For detailed information about that topic: Heynickx (Rajesh), Meetzucht en Mateloosheid. Kunst, Rel (...)

11It is important to see that the approach De Bruyne set out in his studies on aesthetics directly inspired him subsequently to write a monumental trilogy on ethics (1934-1936). In these books, in which a broad panorama of experiences (e.g.: of remorse or anger) were dissected, phenomenology was manifestly present. In a 1937 review, Leo Suenens, a then-young priest who would later become Archbishop and a leading voice at the Second Vatican Council advocating aggiornamento, was more than enthusiastic. He called the third part of the trilogy, entitled ‘The deeper meaning of ethics’, “a climb to God”. The phenomenological perspective De Bruyne had worked out, he argued, was superlative, as it started from real life experiences, moved up to God, and did so without claiming either a dogmatic or a relativist position21. One year before that enthusiastic praise, in 1936, Frans van Cauwelaert, a leading Catholic politician who was trained as a philosopher, also had noticed that De Bruyne’s analyses were not only incisive, but led up to great metaphysical truths and that his reasoning departed from premises rooted in very concrete aspects of reality. The latter figure recruited De Bruyne for the Catholic Party, which at that moment was going through a difficult reorganisation22. In the same year, Cardinal van Roey asked De Bruyne to lead the section on art and culture at the Catholic Congress of Mechelen, a mass meeting organised by the Church in an attempt to take a position in the modern world distinct from fascist and communist doctrines23.

  • 24 I did develop an elaborated view on the 1936 congress in: Heynickx (Rajesh), « Le chantier de la tr (...)

12During the conference, De Bruyne emphasized, time and time again, that only in the self-awareness of persons lies the basis of knowledge, standing as the proximate source of continuity through change. This implies that all that was modern and new had not to be refuted, but to be brought into contact with universal values24. From this point onwards, all the speeches De Bruyne produced the same type of cultural criticism. Freedom, as it was presented in De Bruyne’s lectures for university professors, Catholic housewives or fellow senators, could only be considered in relation to the transcendent. More specifically, a mass society, shaken up by technological revolutions and political polarisation, called for a spiritual engagement, for the will to preserve fundamental values. And there was one hero who could do so: the person who through his experiences in a community of other persons, developed the will to reaffirm his freedom and acted to save society from a blind individualism. Just as had been the case in the philosophy of art De Bruyne had developed in the mid 1920’s onwards, taking a position in society proceeded from individual experiences which had to be projected and understood, always, against the backdrop of eternal truths. Nova et Vetera.

Coda

  • 25 For a view on the different ways in which personalism can be conceptualised: Bengtsson (Jan Olof), (...)

13The detection of affiliations with and affinities to particular philosophical systems in subsequent decades prompted the coinage of new terms: « idealist personalists » (those who believe that reality is constituted by consciousness) and « realist personalists »  (those who argue that the natural order is created by God, independently of human consciousness). Depending on whether one did or did not insert theological presuppositions, « theistic’ and « atheistic » personalism emerged as distinct types in the same period. Other theoreticians started to think in terms of a « strict » or « broad » personalism. The former stood for a philosophical system grounded in the intuition of the person, the latter for a doctrine integrating an anthropological and ethical vision into a global philosophical perspective25. Applying all these demarcations to De Bruyne, his work could be placed under the category of a « realist and theistic personalism ». Whether his personalism should be labeled as « strict » or « broad » remains an open question. The appropriate answer is entirely determined by how far one goes in defining him as a thomist who deployed a phenomenological technique to define his awareness of the world or as a phenomenologist who could not dispense with theistic metaphysics. Is the glass half full or half empty ?

14It is important that one remembers that the term « person » comes from the Latin word persona, meaning mask and/or actor, standing for the one speaking through the mask, as for the mask itself. Applied to De Bruyne, one could say that the combination of thomism and phenomenology, developed in his studies on aesthetics, shaped the mask through which he spoke. Eager as he was to take up a role on the stage of modern society, De Bruyne sharpened his ideas in his studies in the philosophy of art. Moreover, aesthetics funtioned as a science pilote for his political engagement: it installed an inductive cultural criticism, rooted in actuality.

  • 26 A problem which stands central in: Reschke (Renate), « Klio, Chronos und Asthetik. Zur historischen (...)
  • 27 Hacking (Ian), « Five Parables », Historical Ontology, Harvard, Harvard University Press, 2002, p. (...)

15The aestheticisation of politics and politicisation of aesthetics one can detect in De Bruyne’s life and work illustrates very well the difficult task with which the historian is confronted. He or she must analyse new modes of aesthetic thinking without overlooking the reception of these conceptual moves through the changing socio-cultural context in which they became operationalised26. In De Bruyne’s world, where categories of perceiving and knowing were fundamentally altered by the development of new technologies or by political and social upheavals, aesthetics was not only about comprehending art, but also about understanding and explaining the cohesive links between art, society, culture and philosophy. As the central point in that complicated and shifting constellation could be formed by « the person », De Bruyne’s personalism cannot be deciphered by deploying a « ‘pen-pal’ approach to the history of philosophy ». In that still too often celebrated historical approach, as Ian Hacking has argued, philosophical texts from the past are read and interpreted as the letters of “brilliant but underpriviliged children in a refugee camp, deeply instructive but in need of firm correction »27. This article, at least, seeks to do quite the opposite. It examines the motifs within De Bruyne’s personalism, namely neothomism and phenomenology, in order to revise, fundamentally, an all too superficial genealogy of Belgian personalism that stems from a far too easy way of looking at the formation of ideas in the past.

Barendse (A.), « Bulletin de Philosophie. Esthétique », Revue des sciences philosophiques et théologiques, ixx, 1930, pp. 132-136. 

Beke (Wouter), « Oorsprong van het personalisme in de CVP », Nieuw Tijdschrift voor Politiek, 1, 1998, pp. 5-35.

Bengtsson (Jan Olof), The Worldview of Personalism: Origins and Early Development. Oxford, 2006.

Bernard (C.), « Billet à M. Edgard De Bruyne. Professeur de Philosophie et Ministre des Colonies », La Nation Belge, 19 februari 1945.

Brulez (Raymond), « De Philosophie in Vlaanderen. Een interview met Prof. E. De Bruyne », De Boekenkast, I/3, 1 juni 1933, pp. 39-41.

Buford, (Thomas) and Oliver (Harry H.) (eds.), Personalism Revisited: Its Proponents and Critics, Amsterdam and New York, 2002.

Conway (Martin), « Building the Christian City: Catholics and Politics in Interwar Francophone Belgium », Past and Present, 128, august 1996, pp. 117-151.

De Bruyne (Edgar), Kunstphilosophie, Antwerpen, 1929.

De Bruyne (Edgar), La théorie de la personnalité d’après Saint Thomas d’Aquin, Leuven, 1922.

De Bruyne (Edgar), Philosophie van het leven en algemeene wijsbegeerte, Antwerp/Brussels/Ghent/Leuven, 1930.

De Bruyne (Edgar), « Oriënteringspolitiek », De Gids op Maatschappelijk Gebied, 9 (september 1946), pp. 657-668.

De Bruyne (Edgar), « Marxistische, liberale en christelijke democratie », A. Brijs and G.C. Rutten (eds.), xxviiie Vlaamsche sociale week. 2-3-4 september 1946, Kortrijk, pp. 3-24.

De Bruyne (Edgar), « Over de bekoorlijkheid van het anti-relativisme», Hooger Leven, V/16, 19 april 1931, pp. 451-452.

De Bruyne (Edgar), « Over de grondbegrippen van de philosophie van de kunst. Naar aanleiding eener bespreking van E.P. Janssens », Thomistisch Tijdschrift voor Katholiek Kultuurleven, I, 1930, pp. 557-558.

De Bruyne (Edgar), « Thomisten van onze tijd (I) », Hooger Leven, IV/29, 20 juli 1930, pp. 923-925.

De Petter (Dominicus), « Prof. De Bruyne en de wijsbegeerte », Hooger Leven, V/11, 15 maart 1931, pp. 411-412.

Delannaye (G.S.I.), « L’ontologie de la morale d’après M. De Bruyne », Nouvelle revue théologique, LXIV, 1937, p. 661-664.

Eco (Umberto), « L’esthétique médiévale d’Edgar De Bruyne », Recherches de théologie et philosophie médiévales, lxxi/2, 2004, pp. 219-232.

Eco (Humberto), « Como se paga una deuda a plazos », El Espectado, 23 november 2003.

Eyskens (Gaston ), Gaston Eyskens: de mémoires, edited by J. Smits, Tielt, 1993.

Gerard (Emmanuel), « Bruyne, Edgar de », R. De Schryver, e.a., Nieuwe Encyclopedie van De Vlaamse Beweging, Tielt, 1998, p. 660.

Gerard (Emmanuel), « Christen-democratie in België tussen 1891 en 1945. De ‘archeologie’ van de Christelijke Volkspartij », Trajecta, ii/2 , 1993, pp. 154-175.

Hacking (Ian), « Five Prabels », ID. Historical Ontology. Cambridge (Mss.), Harvard University Press, 2002.

Häring (Bernhard), Personalismus in Philosophie und Theologie, Munich, Erich Wewel Verlag, 1968.

Heynickx (Rajesh), « Le chantier de la tradition. Les réflexions d’Edgar De Bruyne sur la culture moderne pendant l’entre-deux-guerres », Revue d’histoire ecclésiastique, 100, 2005, 1, pp. 519-543.

Heynickx, Rajesh, « Bridging the Abyss. Victor Basch’s political and aesthetic mindset », Modern Intellectual History, forthcoming, 2012.

Heynickx (Rajesh), Meetzucht en Mateloosheid. Kunst, Religie en Identiteit in Vlaanderen tijdens het interbellum. Nijmegen, Vantilt, 2008.

Jadoulle (Jean-Louis), « The Milieu of Left Wing Catholics in Belgium (1940’s-1950’s) », Gerd-Rainer Horn (ed.), Left Catholicism, 1943-1955. Catholics and Society in Western Europe. Leuven, 2001, pp. 102-117.

Janssens (E.P.), « Kunstphilosophie. Een en ander over den wijsgeerigen grondslag der kunstphilosophie. Naar aanleiding van de Kunstphilosophie van Prof. Dr. De Bruyne », Thomistisch Tijdschrift voor Katholiek Kultuurleven, I, 1930, pp. 141-150.

Kwanten (Godfried), August-Edmond De Schryver (1898-1991): politieke biografie van een gentleman-staatsman, Leuven, 2001.

La phénoménologie. Journée d’études de la Société Thomiste à Juvisy, Juvisy, 1932.

M.C., « Kunst en Kultuur », Gazet van Antwerpen, march 5 1945.

Parlementaire Handelingen Senaat, september 20 1944 and november 7 1944.

Reschke (R.) « Klio, Chronos und Asthetik. Zur historischen Dimension ästhetischen Denkens », K. Hirdina and R. Reschke, eds., Ästhetik. Aufgabe(n) einer Wissenschaftsdisziplin, Freiburg im Breisgau, 2004, pp. 13-30.

Rondas (Jean-Pierre), « Steeled in the School of Old Aquinas: Umberto Eco on the schoulders of Edgar De Bruyne », F. Musarra; B. Van Den Bossche, K. Du Pont (eds.), Eco in fabula. Umberto Eco in the Humanities. Umberto Eco dans les sciences humaines. Umberto Eco nelle scienze umane. Leuven, 2002, pp. 303-324.

Steel (Carlos), « Aquinas and the renewal of philosophy: some observations on the thomism of Désiré Mercier », D.A. Boileau, J.A. Dick, Tradition and Renewal. Philosophical Essays Commemorating the Centennial of Louvain’s Institute of Philosophy, Leuven, 1992, pp. 181-215.

Suenens (Leo), « Aperçus sur la morale phénoménologique de M. E. De Bruyne », Collectanea Mechliniensia, xxiv, 1935, pp. 525-526.

Suenens (Leo), « Notae ac Miscellanea. De critische en metaphysische Moraal van Prof. E. De Bruyne », Collectanea Mechliniensia, xxvi, 1937, pp. 353-354.

Van Breda (H.L.), « Kroniek. Verslag van de studiedagen van het ‘Wijsgeerig gezelschap te Leuven’ over ‘Het vraagstuk van den persoon’ (28 en 29 april 1943) », Tijdschrift voor Philosophie, v, 1943, pp. 410-420.

Van den Wyngaert (Marc), « De lange weg naar het kerstprogramma (1936-1951) », W. Dewachter (ed.)., Tussen Staat en Maatschappij. 1945/1995. Christendemocratie in België, Tielt, 1995, pp. 28-42.

Vanderpelen-Diagre (Cécile), « Codifying Literature? Maritain and the Catholic Writers of Francophone Belgium », R. Heynickx and J. De Maeyer (eds.) The Maritain Factor. Taking Religion into Interwar Modernism, Leuven, 2010, pp. 100-111.

Witte (Els), « Vlaanderen in de fifties. Een maatschappelijk-politiek overzicht », K. Absilis & K. Jacobs (eds.) Van Hugo Claus tot hoelahoep. Vlaanderen in beweging, 1950-1960, Antwerpen/Apeldoorn, 2007, pp. 31-42.

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Notes

1 Beke (Wouter), « Oorsprong van het personalisme in de CVP », Nieuw Tijdschrift voor Politiek, 1, 1998, pp. 5-35.

2 Gerard (Emmanuel), « Christen-democratie in België tussen 1891 en 1945. De ‘archeologie’ van de Christelijke Volkspartij », Trajecta, II/2, 1993, p. 170.

3 Witte (Els), « Vlaanderen in de fifties. Een maatschappelijk-politiek overzicht », Absilis (Kevin) et Jacobs (Katrien) (eds.) Van Hugo Claus tot hoelahoep. Vlaanderen in beweging, 1950-1960, Antwerp/Apeldoorn, Garant, 2007, p. 38.

4 Conway (Martin), « Building the Christian City: Catholics and Politics in Interwar Francophone Belgium », Past and Present, 128, August 1996, p. 117-151. For an overview of studies on Mounier’s influence in the Belgian Catholic World before and after the second World War Jadoulle (Jean-Louis), « The Milieu of Left Wing Catholics in Belgium (1940’s-1950’s) », Horn (Gerd-Rainer) (ed.), Left Catholicism, 1943-1955. Catholics and Society in Western Europe, Leuven, Leuven University Press, 2001, p. 106. For a broad bibliographic survey: see footnote 21. The same can be said about Jacques Maritain who also has been perceived as the instigator of personalist thinking in francophone Belgium. See: Vanderpelen-Diagre (Cécile), « Codifying Literature ? Maritain and the Catholic Writers of Francophone Belgium », Heynickx (Rajesh) and De Maeyer (Jan) (eds.), The Maritain Factor. Taking Religion into Interwar Modernism, Leuven, Leuven University Press, 2010, p. 100-111.

5 About those negotiations: Eyskens (Gaston), Gaston Eyskens: de mémoires, edited by J. Smits, Tielt, Lannoo, 1993, p. 141, p. 163 and p. 170. For a broader view: M. Van den Wyngaert, « De lange weg naar het kerstprogramma (1936-1951) », W. Dewachter (ed.)., Tussen Staat en Maatschappij. 1945/1995. Christendemocratie in België. Tielt, Lannoo, 1995, p. 28-42.

6 Parlementaire Handelingen Senaat, September 20 1944 and November 7 1944, pp. 25-27.

7 Bernard (C.), « Billet à M. Edgard De Bruyne. Professeur de Philosophie et Ministre des Colonies » La Nation Belge, 19 februari 1945. For a comparable reaction : M.C., « Kunst en Kultuur », Gazet van Antwerpen, March 5 1945.

8 De Bruyne was befriended with the Christian Democratic and politican August De Schryver. Many central ideas of the Christian Democratic Party were developed during dinner parties and meetings, also in the home of De Bruyne. Kwanten (Godfried), August-Edmond De Schryver (1898-1991): politieke biografie van een gentleman-staatsman, Leuven, Leuven University Press, 2001, pp. 297-300 and p. 307-312. Around 1946 De Bruyne wrote several important, political texts, often cited bpy Christian Democrats. De Bruyne (Edgar), « Oriënteringspolitiek », De Gids op Maatschappelijk Gebied, 9, september 1946, pp. 657-668 ; De Bruyne (Edgarr), « Marxistische, liberale en christelijke democratie », Brijs (A) and Rutten (G.C. ) (eds.), xxviiie Vlaamsche sociale week. 2-3-4 september 1946. Kortrijk, Vooruitgang, pp. 3-24.

9 Two examples : De Bruyne (Edgar), Verslag over de waardigheid van den arbeider als persoon. Gent, 1938. and De Bruyne (Edgar), « Ideologische grondslag van de moderne staatsopvattingen », Streven, IV, 1937, pp. 129-144.

10 About the institute: Steel (Carlos), « Aquinas and the renewal of philosophy: some observations on the thomism of Désiré Mercier », Boileau (David A.), Dick (John A.), Tradition and Renewal. Philosophical Essays Commemorating the Centennial of Louvain’s Institute of Philosophy, Leuven, Leuven University Press, 1992, pp. 181-215.

11 Van Breda (H.L.), « Kroniek. Verslag van de studiedagen van het ‘Wijsgeerig gezelschap te Leuven’ over ‘Het vraagstuk van den persoon’ (28 en 29 april 1943) », Tijdschrift voor Philosophie, V, 1943, p. 410.

12 Idem, p. 413.

13 E. De Bruyne, La théorie de la personnalité d’après Saint Thomas d’Aquin (thesis), Leuven, 1922.

14 Janssens (E.P.), « Kunstphilosophie. Een en ander over den wijsgeerigen grondslag der kunstphilosophie. Naar aanleiding van de Kunstphilosophie van Prof. Dr. De Bruyne », Thomistisch Tijdschrift voor Katholiek Kultuurleven, I, 1930, p. 141-150. ; Barendse (A.), « Bulletin de Philosophie. Esthétique », Revue des Sciences Philosophiques et Théologiques, IXX (1930), pp. 132-136. ; De Petter (D.), « Prof. De Bruyne en de wijsbegeerte », Hooger Leven, V/11, 15 maart 1931, pp. 411-412; De Petter (D.), « Prof. De Bruyne en de wijsbegeerte », Hooger Leven, V/12, 22 maart 1931, pp. 451-452.

15 De Bruyne (Edgard), « Over de grondbegrippen van de philosophie van de kunst. Naar aanleiding eener bespreking van E.P. JANSSENS », Thomistisch Tijdschrift voor Katholiek Kultuurleven, I, 1930, p. 557.

16 . De Bruyne (Edgar), « Thomisten van onze tijd (I) », Hooger Leven, IV/29, 20 juli 1930, pp. 923-925 ; De Bruyne (Edgar), « Over de bekoorlijkheid van het anti-relativisme », Hooger Leven, V/16, 19 april 1931, pp. 452.

17 Brulez (Raymond), « De Philosophie in Vlaanderen. Een interview met Prof. E. De Bruyne », De Boekenkast, I/3, 1 juni 1933, pp. 39-41.

18 De Bruyne (Edgar), Philosophie van het leven en algemeene wijsbegeerte, Antwerp/Brussels/Ghent/Leuven, Standaard-Boekhandel, 1930, p. 25-27 and p. 43.

19 De Bruyne (Edgar), Kunstphilosophie, Antwerpen, Standaard-Boekhandel, 1929, p. 314-315. My own translation.

20 Société thomiste, La phénoménologie. Journée d’études de la Société Thomiste à Juvisy, Juvisy, Les Éditions du Cerf, 1932, p. 45 and 84.

21 Suenens (Leo), « Notae ac Miscellanea. De critische en metaphysische Moraal van Prof. E. De Bruyne », Collectanea Mechliniensia, XXVI (1937), p. 353. And from an earlier date: Suenens (Leo), « Aperçus sur la morale phénoménologique de M. E. De Bruyne », Collectanea Mechliniensia, xxiv, 1935, p. 525. For a comparable appreciation: Delannaye (G.S.I.), « L’ontologie de la morale d’après M. De Bruyne », Nouvelle Revue Théologique, LXIV, 1937, pp. 661-664.

22 Gerard (Emmanuel), « Bruyne, Edgar de », De Schryver (Reginald), e.a., Nieuwe Encyclopedie van De Vlaamse Beweging, Tielt, Lannoo, 1998, p. 660.

23 For detailed information about that topic: Heynickx (Rajesh), Meetzucht en Mateloosheid. Kunst, Religie en Identiteit in Vlaanderen tijdens het interbellum, Nijmegen,Vantilt, 2008, pp. 258-266.

24 I did develop an elaborated view on the 1936 congress in: Heynickx (Rajesh), « Le chantier de la tradition. Les réflexions d’Edgar De Bruyne sur la culture moderne pendant l’entre-deux-guerres », Revue d’histoire ecclésiastique, 100, 2005, 1, pp. 519-543.

25 For a view on the different ways in which personalism can be conceptualised: Bengtsson (Jan Olof), The Worldview of Personalism: Origins and Early Development, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2006 ; Buford (Thomas O.) and Oliver (Harry H.) (eds.), Personalism Revisited: Its Proponents and Critics, Amsterdam and New York, Editions Rodopi B.V., 2002. ; Häring (Bernhard), Personalismus in Philosophie und Theologie, Munich, E. Wewel, 1968.

26 A problem which stands central in: Reschke (Renate), « Klio, Chronos und Asthetik. Zur historischen Dimension ästhetischen Denkens », Hirdina (Karin) and Reschke (Renate), eds., Ästhetik. Aufgabe(n) einer Wissenschaftsdisziplin, Freiburg im Breisgau, Rombach, 2004, p. 13-30. For a revealing case study on that : Heynickx (Rajesh), « Bridging the Abyss. Victor Basch’s political and aesthetic mindset », Modern Intellectual History, forthcoming (2012).

27 Hacking (Ian), « Five Parables », Historical Ontology, Harvard, Harvard University Press, 2002, p. 27.

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Rajesh Heynickx, « Another Genealogy: Art philosophy, politics and personalism. The case of Edgar De Bruyne », COnTEXTES [En ligne], 12 | 2012, mis en ligne le 15 septembre 2012, consulté le 01 novembre 2014. URL : http://contextes.revues.org/5490 ; DOI : 10.4000/contextes.5490

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Rajesh Heynickx

University of Leuven (Sint-Lucas School of Architecture) - University of Antwerp (Department of History)

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