Scholars and intellectuals, like artists, often if not always stand on the shoulders of others, those women and men, ancient and modern, who have gone before. At times, in conversation, the lineage surfaces and our debt to them is vivid, our gratitude palpable. So, it is for Jason West. As President, vice-Chancellor and Professor at Newman Theological College, Edmonton, he and his colleagues have enlivened Catholic Studies and the Humanities. In a casual conversation last fall he talked about his current thinking about art, poetry, painting and music, and how the work of the eminent Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain (1882-1973) had given him an entry point to consider the relationship of aesthetics to his first love, logic and the place of reason as a portal to glimpsing what is True.
Professor West’s intellectual journey took him from atheism through the study of medieval logic and the work of Aristotle to Thomas Aquinas. A solitary month reading and rereading Saint Augustine’s The Confessions and a friend’s casual invitation to attend the Roman Catholic liturgy, not unlike Maritain, led him into the Church.
Our conversation begins with Maritain, art, logic and reason and concludes thinking about the good, the true, and the beautiful.
Welcome to our conversation.