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Joseph Maréchal (1 July 1878 in Charleroi, Belgium - 11 December 1944 in Leuven, Belgium) was a Belgian Jesuit priest, philosopher and psychologist at the Higher Institute of Philosophy of the University of Leuven who founded a school of thought called Transcendental Thomism, which attempted to merge the theological and philosophical thought of St. Thomas Aquinas with that of Immanuel Kant. Maréchal joined the Jesuits in 1895 and after a doctorate in Biology in Leuven (1905) he specialized first in Experimental Psychology, spending some time in Munich with Wilhelm Wundt (1911). Till the end of his life Maréchal would say that his real interest was rather in Psychology than Philosophy. Prompted by the call of Pope Leo XIII to revitalize Thomist theology, he started studying in depth the works of St Thomas Aquinas in order to understand the inner coherence of his system, along with the works of other scholastic thinkers, modern philosophers and scientists of the day. From this (and in particular from influences from Kant’s transcendental idealism) emerged a new and more dynamic Thomism, recapturing the union of ‘act and power’ of the original thinker. The development of his thought can be grasped in the five ‘cahiers’ (see bibliography) in which after exposing the weaknesses of traditional thomism he evaluated Kant’s Philosophy (3d cahier) with whose help he proposes a modernized Thomism in the 4th and 5th cahier. The work of Maréchal had a great influence on such contemporary theologians and philosophers as Gaston Isaye, Joseph de Finance, Karl Rahner, Bernard Lonergan and J.B. Lodz. He proceeded in the same way in his study of the pychology of the mystics. Till his death (11 December 1944) he taught Philosophy and Experimental Psychology at the Jesuit house of Studies in Leuven (St Albert of Leuven's Philosophical and Theological College)

Main Works

  • Le point de départ de la Métaphysique (5 Cahiers), Bruges-Louvain, 1922-47.
  • Studies in the Psychology of the Mystics, New-York, 1964.
  • Précis d'histoire de la philosophie moderne, Louvain, 1933.


  • CASULA, M., Maréchal et Kant, Rome, 1955.
  • LONERGAN, B.F, Metaphysics at the horizon, in Gregorianum, Vol.44 (1964), pp.307-318.
  • DONCEEL, J.F., Philosophical Psychology, New-York, 1961.
  • KRISTO, J., Maréchal's approach to Mysticism, Notre-Dame, 1979.
  • SAVIGNANO, A., Joseph Maréchal, filosofo della religione, Perugia, 1978.

External links



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