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The concern in this essay is for our age as one suffering an intellectual severance between our response to existential reality in which the beauty of a created particular thing is divorced from the Cause of that thing's existence. The separation speaks of a deracination of homo viator - the person on his way. It is a consequence of what may be called the Modernist Ideology of the Self, by which the ideological reduction of reality usurps the mystery of soul into the concept of self.
This severance of beauty from Beauty, implying the general dislocation of homo viator, is seen as the separation of grace from nature. Montgomery considers Tolstoy as representative of the Modernist man, confused by an intellectual climate that isolates the person from the self. Tolstoy, in is romancing of reality, becomes so burdened by his sense of guilt in being seduced into the scandal of beauty that he is almost overwhelmed by despair.
This compared with Friedrich Schiller, whose romanticism encompasses not only the romanticism of the West but also the East, adopts Kant's philosophy to justify feeling, not as Tolstoy would (elevating it at the expense of reason), but by intensifying a severe reason as a gnostic ploy to gain power over feeling.
Against these two, Montgomery casts St. Thomas as the one who would restore the givenness of reality and provide an authentic vision of the good, the true, and the beautiful, to recover an ordinate and vital intent governing homo viator in his quest for the Good, the True, and the Beautiful.
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