Blondel Archive by McNeill

John J. McNeill

proudly presents an archive of his studies
in the thought of the philosopher


Photo of Maurice Blondel

An Introduction to my Archives on the Thought of Maurice Blondel (1861-1949)

Blondelís philosophy remains one of the most brilliant contributions to the philosophy of religion in the past century. It contains insights that have never been duplicated in any other philosophy and consequently still deserves careful study now more than ever.
In 1964 I defended my doctorate thesis on the thought of Maurice Blondel after four years of study primarily at the Blondel archives in Aix-en-Provence, France. I was delighted to receive the highest honor that Louvain gave to a doctoral candidate, plus grande distinction. Shortly after the defense I boarded a Holland American line passenger ship to return to the United States and take up my post as professor of philosophy at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York. On boarding the ship I read on the bulletin board that Dr. Heiko Oberman of Harvard Divinity School would give a speech that evening recounting his experience as a Protestant observer at the second session of the Vatican Council II. I went to the lecture but Heiko gave the lecture in his native tongue, Dutch.

I approached Dr Oberman afterwards and told him I had just finished a doctorate on Blondel. He expressed great interest, telling me that Blondelís name was frequently mentioned on the council floor and he knew nothing about him. I gave him a copy of my manuscript and a few days later he came to me and asked if I would be willing to let him publish my doctorate as Volume I in a new series called Studies in the History of Christian Thought. I could not believe my good fortune and accepted the offer. The book was published by E.J.Brill of Leiden in Holland in 1966 under the title The Blondelian Synthesis: A Study of the Influence of German Philosophical Sources on the Formation of Blondelís Method and Thought.

My book received an enthusiastic reception in Europe. A whole issue of the Journal of Philosophy in Genoa was given over to critical articles. But the book did not receive even one review in the United States. I believe that Blondelís philosophy remains one of the most brilliant contributions to philosophy of religion in the past century. It contains insights that have never been reduplicated in any other philosophy and consequently still deserves careful study.
So it is with great pleasure that I am making my entire book, The Blondelian Synthesis, available here on line to all scholars and all who are interested. (Please click on the book title above or on the link in the list below, to access my book.)

Visit John J. McNeill's own website at

In addition, I have compiled and included here in this archive, a series of articles and papers I wrote on the various aspects of Blondelís philosophical thought.

Please note: I am acutely aware that these articles, when they were created,
were not written in gender neutral language. I hope with Godís grace to remedy
that defect in the future.

Here is a list of the articles in this archive:

Click on the title of the article you wish to read in the list of descriptions below.
After accessing an article, please use the "return" or "back" arrow of your
web browser to return to this archive page to access other articles.

NOTE: All of the publications listed here are in PDF format.
You need to have Adobe Reader installed on your computer.
It can be downloaded free from

  1. The first article, Maurice Blondel: The Philosopher of Freedom was added as an appendix in my book Freedom, Glorious Freedom.

  2. The second article, Necessary Structures Of Freedom, is a summary of my doctorate thesis I presented for a meeting of the Jesuit Philosophical Association.

  3. The third article, Responses, is a series of responses and critical reflections to my presentation of Necessary Structures of Freedom from other Jesuit philosophers. This includes my replies to their comments.

  4. The fourth article, Freedom and the Future, examines the question of what applications of human freedom are compatible with the fulfillment of the human potential.

  5. The fifth article, Freedom of Conscience in Theological Perspective, explores the application of Blondelís thought to the development of true freedom of conscience.
  6. Please Note: This article has a special relevance today
    with the current Vatican attack against Vatican Council II,
    especially with regard to the Council's teaching on freedom of conscience.

  7. The sixth article, Blondel on the Subjectivity of Moral Decision Making, explores the dialectic development of human moral life.

  8. The seventh article, On the Knowledge of God, explores Blondeís understanding of the dynamic process that leads to the spontaneous origin of the idea of God.

  9. The eighth article, The Relation Between Philosophy and Religion in Blondelís Philosophy of Action, explores the appropriate role and limits of philosophy in the study of religion.

  10. Finally, the ninth and final article is my address to the National Association of Pastoral Counselors entitled The Role of Psychotherapy in Spiritual Journeys: Finding the Ego in order to Let Go of It, where I use Blondelís understanding of spiritual life to explain the role of spiritual discernment in psychotherapy.

  1. Maurice Blondel:The Philosopher of Freedom
  2. Necessary Structures of Freedom
  3. Responses
  4. Freedom and the Future
  5. Freedom of Conscience in Theological Perspective
  6. Blondel on the Subjectivity of Moral Decision Making
  7. On The knowledge of God
  8. Philosophy and Religion
  9. The Role of Psychotherapy in Spiritual Journeys

  10. Last Revision: 12 February 2016
    Designed by: Charles Chiarelli (email: