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The Church Confronts Modernity: Catholic Intellectuals and the Progressive Era

by Thomas E. Jr. Woods

At the beginning of the twentieth century, American intellectuals grew increasingly sympathetic to Pragmatism and empirical methods in the social sciences, which challenged the dogma and "absolute truth" of the church. Defenders of the faith opposed this new public philosophy, instead insisting on the uniqueness of the Catholic Church and a sound philosophy of humanity. Neither capitulating to the new creed nor retreating into self-righteous isolation, they formed an economic and political philosophy based on natural law, appropriated what good they could find in progressivism, and encouraged Americans to embrace Catholicism. Thomas E. Woods's provocative study shows how American Catholics attempted to retain their identity in an age of pluralism and laid the groundwork for a half-century of intellectual vitality.

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