The volume is rather a collection of essays which the author has elaborated over fifteen years. However, they are systematically rearranged so that the reader has an impression that this volume is much more than a simple collection. In this work, Farrelly wishes to explore some fundamental issues of the interaction and tension between God's work in a changing world and our human search for meaning. As the author puts it: "This interaction depends upon the mystery of God's salvation offered us and the mystery of our humanity". These fundamental issues are studied from the following aspects: the relationship between God and man (part 1), the inner relationship between the person and the human good (part 2), and human transcendence (part 3).
In the first part, Ferrule shows that what the contemporary philosophers have often interpreted God as the opponent of man, as irrelevant to history... is not wholly justified. To Farrelly, God can be understood only if the human person is fulfilled in history. The second part deals with two problems of sexual morality and the relationship between the human good and moral choice. He makes use of studies psychologists offer us of the child's development toward mature moral judgment and action. Through a meticulous analysis in chapter 6 that a dichotomy between a deontological and a teleological moral norm that divides many moral philosophers and theologians can be overcome, if we recognize an intrinsic meaning to human acts and a constitutive human good as the horizon and norm for such acts. He argues: "The human good is internally differentiated by diversity in historical circumstances, by the age and sex of the subject and by other factors." In the third part, he particularly discusses human transcendence. Here he indicates the basic difficulties of modern philosophers in dealing with human person's religious relation to God. But he also points out the possibility of a dialogue with them. To him, an evaluation of man's transcendence in knowledge is possible. He relies on the studies of Jean Piaget and Eleanor Gibson on the cognitive development of the child to overcome mutually opposed contemporary interpretations of knowledge and to show the bases in modern experience which support our capacity for knowledge that transcends the scientific. The human transcendence in knowledge and value orientation occurs through process and history.
Farrelly's lucid and solid arguments have solidified his thesis, though one might question on his interpretation of Jean Piaget, and his synthesis between Piaget, Gibson and the traditional Thomism on values. I is a good book, and we recommend it to all those who are looking for the question and the meaning of human values. It is helpful to theologians who want a dialogue with the modern world and epistemologists.
John B. Tran Van Doan, Professor of National Taiwan University, Taiwan
Last Updated February 20,1997 by Steven Proulx