Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

StFX philosophy professor named Président d'honneur of scholarly association

July 28th, 2017
Dr. Will Sweet is pictured on the left.

StFX philosophy professor Dr. William Sweet, and member of the Catholic Studies program, was recently named Président d'honneur (Honorary President) of the Canadian Jacques Maritain Association. Professor Sweet had served as the president of the association from 1999 to 2006, as editor of its journal, Maritain Studies/Etudes maritainiennes, from 1995-2006, and, later, as president of the Istituto Internazionale Jacques Maritain, based in Rome, from 2010 to 2014.

The Canadian association was established in 1979, in honour of Jacques Maritain, one of the leading French philosophers of the 20th century. Professor Sweet explains that Maritain, the author of more than 60 books and translated into some 20 languages, wrote on a range of topics from art and aesthetic experience, to political philosophy and the philosophy of education. Maritain is best known today, however, for his defense of human rights in the years leading up to, and during the Second World War, and for his influence on figures such as Martin Luther King, Eduardo Frei, Ivan Illich and, closer to home, Pierre Trudeau and Paul Martin. Maritain was also a key figure behind the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the establishment of UNESCO, and a leading influence in post-war Christian Democratic parties in Europe and Latin America.

Professor Sweet has carried out research on Maritain’s philosophy for more than 20 years. He is known internationally for his studies of Maritain’s political philosophy, and he has just completed a translation of one of Maritain’s key works on ethics and philosophy of law, to be published by the University of Notre Dame Press. Dr. Sweet explained that the Canadian Maritain Association brings together scholars from around the world who focus on themes in Maritain’s writings that are of particular relevance today, such as the promotion of human rights (particularly, rights to food, water, and a basic income), intercultural dialogue, cultural integrity, and art and society. Maritain’s insights on the human person, for example, led to Dr. Sweet’s collaboration with a cogntive scientist and robotics expert in the UK on the topic of whether robots can be persons.

Dr. Sweet returns to teaching in the fall after a year’s sabbatical. In addition to his honour from the Maritain Association, he has been appointed Director of Collection Philosophica, a scholarly book series published by the University of Ottawa Press, as well as a member of the editorial board of Studies in Religion/Sciences religieuses, the journal of the Canadian Corporation for Studies in Religion.

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