French philosopher, theologian, and apologist; b. Nantes, Dec. 29, 1878; d. in battle at Éparges, April 25, 1915. Rousselot entered the Jesuits in October 1895 and made his novitiate at Canterbury, England. In 1899 he returned to Nantes and completed the requirements for military service (1899–1900); he returned to Jersey for his scholasticate (1900–05) and was ordained in 1908. He received the doctorate from the Sorbonne, and from 1909 to 1914 he taught dogmatic theology at the Institut Catholique de Paris with an interruption of one year (1912–13), when he taught at Canterbury. On Aug. 2, 1914, he was recalled to military service.
Despite the brevity of his life, Rousselot exercised a profound influence on the revival of thomism and on the interpretation of the doctrine of St. thomas aquinas. His two doctoral theses gained for him an international reputation as an original commentator and expositor of Thomism. In his first and most important work, L'Intellectualisme de saint Thomas (Paris 1908), he established the objective validity of discursive knowledge on the intuitive apprehension of being, to which the human intellect is directed by its own nature. In his second thesis, Pour l'Histoire du problème de l'amour au moyen âge [Beiträge zur Geschichte der Philosophie und Theologie des Mittelalters 6.6 (1908)], he concerned himself with the relationship between love of self and love of God. He explored the natural love of man for God and the effects it may have suffered from original sin. He preferred the physical or the Greco-Thomistic conception of love, which reconciles the love of God and the love of self, to the ecstatic conception of love, which neglects man's natural inclinations and precludes the reciprocal causality of nature and grace. His position was predicated upon the Thomistic theory of participation, and it affirmed the hierarchical continuity between the perfections of God and those of creatures. As an apologist, Rousselot, in numerous scattered articles, scrutinized the traditional teaching of the act of faith and the judgments of credibility.
See Also: scholasticism.
Bibliography: É. marty, Le Témoignage de P. Rousselot (Paris 1941). j. lebreton, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique 14: 134–138. m. colpo, Enciclopedia filosofica 4: 236. Encyclopedia universal ilustrada Europeo-Americana 52:540. g. van riet, L'Épistémologie thomiste (Louvain 1946) 301–313. j. de wolf, La Justification de la foi chez St. Thomas d'Aquinas et P. Rousselot (Paris 1946).
[f. j. roensch]