Ernest Fortin, 1923 - 2002

Theology and philosophy live as it were on separate planets. They differ from each other not just in species but in “kind” (genus), that is to say, in the most radical way possible. . . . That there should be an abiding tension between them is therefore not surprising. But neither is it something to be simply lamented; for, as has often been suggested, it may be in great part responsible for the extraordinary vitality that Western civilization has demonstrated over the centuries.

— Ernest L. Fortin, A.A.


Ernest Fortin was born in 1923 in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. In an early recollection of his youth (written in 1969), Fortin balances Woonsocket’s tough reputation with an appreciation of what he learned from seeing the Industrial Revolution face to face.
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More than other scholars oriented by the thought of Leo Strauss, Ernest Fortin sought to explore theological topics with insights borrowed from political philosophy, and to examine the practice of political philosophy by Christians. He frequently criticized the tendency of modern Catholic thinkers of every variety (Thomist and non-Thomist) to omit consideration of the lessons of political philosophy.
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