BEYSENS Joseph—neo-Thomist, b. February 13, 1864 in Rotterdam, d. November 18, 1945 in the Hague.
After completing philosophical and theological studies, Beysens became a priest in the diocese of Harlem. He was a professor and lecturer of philosophical disciplines in the Spiritual Seminary in Warmond (1895) and Hageveld (1891), and from 1909 to 1929 he was a lecturer of Thomistic philosophy at the University of Utrecht. In 1908 he received a doctorate honoris causa from the Catholic University of Louvain.
Beysens’ most important works are as follows: Logica of Denkleer (Lei 1902, 19233); Criteriologie of de leer over waarheid en zekerheid (Lei 1903, 19112); Ontologie of algemeene metaphysica (A 1904, Lei 19172); Theodicee of natuurlijke zedenleer (Lei 1913); Hoofdstukken uit de Bijzondere Ethiek (I–V, Bussum 1917–1919); Wijsbegeerte van het Strafrecht (Bussum 1919).
The message of Leo XIII’s encyclical Aeterni Patris published in 1879 and the scholarly and organizational work of Cardinal D. Mercier were important in shaping Beysens’ views. He wanted to resolve the so-called critical problem (in a direct polemic with Emers, an student of Tongiorgi), i.e., to overcome the Kantian type of epistemological subjectivism. Beysens followed the position represented by Mercier. He tried to purify the structure of cognitive judgments of all subjective contents by relying on the proof for the objectivity of concepts developed by Mercier. The sensible cognitive impressions accessible to the knowing subject as an effect of his reference to real reality are not a subjective construct but they possess a fully objective justification. Beysens’s proof did not break Kant’s radically subjective approach, but his drawing attention to the fact of the objectivity of truth (the intellect as critical by itself is by its nature inclined to “read” the truth) and to the possibility of formulating the truth.
Beysens’ greatest merit was that he made a basic contribution to the dynamic development of classical philosophy in the spirit of the thought of St. Thomas of Aquinas in Holland. Dutch neo-Thomist terminology (especially the terminology with a Catholic provenance) comes in large measure from his writings. In his writings he was concerned with fidelity to epistemological realism, and his chief interests oscillated around problems in ethics and and theodicy. In theodicy he developed a theory of so-called realism of a finalistic type. The philosophy he presented (especially in ethics) had as its task—in the perspective of Thomistic realism—to connect current problems in various domains of human life with the foundation which is the philosophical (maximalistic) explanation of reality.
F. Sassen, Wijsgerig leven in Nederland in de twintigste eeuw, A 1941, 19603, 122–127; I. J. M. van den Berg, In memorian mgr prof. dr Joseph Theodor B., Tijdschrift voor philosophie 8 (1946), 379–384; H. Robbers, EF I 669 (bibliogr.); Krąpiec Dz [Works] VIII 68–70.