Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Joseph A. Murphy

Second Advisor

A. Tallon

Third Advisor

William J. Kelly


This dissertation locates the presence of God within benevolent human action. It therefore has two sides. On the side of the divine, we can discern God's presence only by his action in human history. On the side of the human, we discern a yearning which can be satisfied only by union with the divine. Divine presence and the human person are thus inextricably bound. The spiritual terms of "person" and "presence" are transformed into the philosophical terms of "phenomenology" and "ontology" to allow technical study. The phenomenological study of the human allows rich humanistic notions to aid in understanding human action. The ontological study of the divine emphasizes that we seek a truly objective presence of God. The works of Maurice Blondel are used because they were judged to best facilitate the encounter of these two lines of thought. Chapter One presents Blondel's phenomenology of action which consists of nine movements. Each movement consists of a subjective operation on a finite object to achieve an end. Significantly, the object has the initial motion and totally occupies the subject at the critical moment of presence. Chapter Two outlines the critical link between the secular practice of phenomenology and the graced realm of theology. Thus Blondel the phenomenologist refers to authentic and inauthentic personhood; again, Blondel the theologian refers to a state of grace and to a state of sin. Chapter Three draws theological implications from graced authentic personal action. Specifically, a two-directional dynamism is outlined: the transcendence of beings toward God and the condescension of God to beings. In either case the initial motion is God's, the ultimate object is the love of God which fills our hearts and the point of mediation is the Logos incarnate. Chapters Four and Five survey literature remote from Blondel himself. Chapter Four seeks to highlight the work of Blondel by casting him against the background of his interlocutors. Chapter Five poses the question of the union of phenomenology and ontology to four modern Catholic thomists. At significant points the rapprochement with Blondel is noted.



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