Miklos Vetö is a Hungarian-born (Budapest, 1936), French philosopher. An active participant of the anti-communist Hungarian Revolution of 1956, he had to interrupt his law studies (University of Szeged) and flee his home country in 57. After three months spent in refugee camps in Yougoslavia, he was admitted to France. He studied philosophy first at the Sorbonne, later at the University of Oxford where he received his D.Phil (supervisor: I. Murdoch). Later on he has been awarded a D. D. (Catholic Theology) in Strasbourg (J. Ménard) and a D.Litt in philosophy in Paris (P. Ricoeur). Professor Vetö began his teaching and lecturing career at Marquette University, Milwaukee in 1963. From 1965 onwards, he and his wife, Odile were on the faculty of Yale University. They left the United States in 1975 for the Ivory Coast where he had been Head of the Philosophy Department at the French language University of Abidjan. He, his wife and their three children moved definitely to France in 1979. In that year, Mr. Vetö was appointed Professor of Philosophy at the University of Rennes. In 1992, he moved to the University of Poitiers where he retired in 2005. Professor Vetö taught extensively in different countries, among others Brazil, Chile, India, Canada and Hungary. In 1992, he was elected a Fellow of the Center of Theological Inquiry in Princeton. And in 2006 he occupied the chair of Distinguished Professor of Christian Philosophy at Villanova University, Villanova (Pa.). More recently he was elected an External member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, a member of the Catholic Academy of France and corresponding member of the Accademia paleoritana dei Pericolanti of Messina. In 2010 he was awarded a Doctorate Honoris Causa by the Pazmany Péter Catholic University of Budapest-Piliscsaba. In 2012 he was elected Honorary Professor at Australian Catholic University, Melbourne. In 2014 Professor Vetö was made an officer of the National Order of the Republic of the Ivory Coast. He lives and works in Paris.
Professor Vetö’s philosophical work is centered around three major axes. A. History of Philosophy B. Philosophy of spirituality and of theology C. Construction of an original metaphysical system.
A. Miklos Vetö is one of the major living specialists of German Idealism. He first authored an important monographic study of Schelling (1977) where the principal themes of the youngest of the great idealists are reconstructed over against the background of their kantian and fichtean roots, the integration of Böhmian elements into them and the great conceptual polemics against Hegel. A quarter of a century later, Professor Vetö published his two-volume study From Kant to Schelling, a polemical pendant of Richard Kroner’s celebrated From Kant until Hegel which led to his being designated as the French Kroner. This immense work, a choice example of the highest level of philosophical historiography, sees in German Idealism one of the six great “schools” of Western philosophy and it describes all its major moments and elements. This one-thousand-page study proceeds to analyse, to expound and to comment the unfolding of the thoughts of Kant, Fichte, Hegel and Schelling, based upon an extensive knowledge of all extant writings left by the four great idealists and an extraordinary familiarity with secondary studies done in last two centuries in all the major Western languages.
B. Professor Vetö is intensely interested in a philosophical reconstruction of religious problematics. His first book is devoted to a metaphysical reconstruction of the major themes of Simone Weil’s mystical and moral doctrines. His last book – so far – carries out the same programme for the writings of Fénelon, one of the major representatives of the spiritual tradition of Western Christianity. Situated between these works is the great study of Jonathan Edwards, America’s first original philosopher and probably the greatest Protestant theologian of the XVIII. Century. Besides a thorough analysis of philosophical themes and another attempt at working out a metaphysical understanding of Christian spirituality, this study, of which the English translation should appear within a few months, undertakes also a philosophical reformulation of the major tenets of Calvinist Dogmatics.
C. Professor Vetö operated almost half a century as a historian of Philosophy and Religious thought but in the last few years he moved resolutely towards the working out of his own system. Of course, as for most original philosophers, his scholarly writings served as a constant preparation for his own ideas and he also published during his entire career a great many essays on religious and moral thought, more especially a long series of texts on Evil. This longstanding preoccupation with Evil made him to turn towards the study of the Will, culminating in a subtle historical-conceptual treatise on “The birth of the will“. Ten years after this work, a transition between the history of philosophy and systematic philosophy, a breakthrough took place. Professor Veto published a major treatise on the Expansion of Metaphysics. There is expansion in the sense of conceptualising a number of notions which remained marginal for the teachings of classical Western Philosophy. At the same time – as the late L. Tengelyi remarked – this treatise operates, like the works of E. Lévinas, on a purely transcendental level, in the kantian sense, practically bracketing out ontology. Veto confesses his indebtedness to some major Judeo-Christian themes, yet these theological eidê are integrated into kantian conceptuality. God’s withdrawal from the world in the creation, the Zimzum of the Kabbala and the Verb’s emptying itself, the kenosis of Christ, will be subsumed under the great kantian doctrine of the apriori synthesis. The apriori synthesis is the key to a philosophy centered around the intelligibility of novelty, underlying the developments of the first part of Expansion, a Prima Philosophia. First a doctrine of superabundance, i.e. of freedom and love. Second the construction of the singularity, i.e. the Work of Art and the Child as its paradigms. The second part of the treatise, called Eidetics, is a phenomenological analysis of space and time, understood as the conditions and the structural forms of human existence. This second part finds its conclusion in an eidetical study of the will culminating in a metaphysics of good ad evil.
D. M. Vetö wrote several small texts in the aftermath of his treatise and following upon its insights. He in no ways considers the expansion of metaphysics to be carried out at the expense of its traditional topics. He is currently writing a book on the metaphysics of Love, going beyond the confinement of this theme within the world of anthropos. And he is preparing a major non-ontological treatise on a transcendant and personal God.
LA MÉTAPHYSIQUE RELIGIEUSE DE SIMONE WEIL, Paris, 1971 ; 3. ed. Paris, 2014. English translation : THE RELIGIOUS METAPHYSICS OF SIMONE WEIL, Albany, 1994. Also translations in Italian, Japanese and Hungarian.
F.W.J. SCHELLING : STUTTGARTER PRIVATVORLESUNGEN. Critical edition, Turin, 1973, 2. edition Paris, 2009.
LE FONDEMENT SELON SCHELLING, Paris, 1977, 2. ed. Paris, 2002
LA PENSÉE DE JONATHAN EDWARDS, Paris, 1987, 2. ed. Paris, 2007. English translation : THE THOUGHT OG JONATHAN EDWARDS, Eugene (Oregon) (in print)
PIERRE DE BÉRULLE. OPUSCULES DE PIÉTÉ 1644. Preceded by LA CHRISTO-LOGIQUE DE BÉRULLE, Grenoble, 1997, 2. ed. Paris (in print).
ÉTUDES SUR L’IDÉALISME ALLEMAND, Paris, 1998
DE KANT À SCHELLING. LES DEUX VOIES DE L’IDÉALISME ALLEMAND I-II. Krisis, Grenoble, 1998-2000 (German translation in preparation).
LE MAL. ESSAIS ET ÉTUDES, Paris, 2000.
FICHTE. DE L’ACTION À L’IMAGE, Paris, 2001.
LA NAISSANCE DE LA VOLONTÉ, Paris, 2002, also a Brazilian translation
PHILOSOPHIE ET RELIGION. Paris, 2006
NOUVELLES ÉTUDES SUR L’IDÉALISME ALLEMAND. Paris, 2009.
L’ÉLARGISSEMENT DE LA MÉTAPHISIQUE, 2012, English translation: THE EXPANSION OF METAPHYSICS. Eugene (Oregon), (in preparation)
EXPLORATIONS MÉTAPHYSIQUES, Paris, 2012.
GABRIEL MARCEL, Paris, 2014.
DE WHITEHEAD Á MARION. ÉCLATS DE PHILOSOPHIE CONTEMPORAINE, Paris, 2015.
LES VERITES DE LA VOLONTE : LE SYSTÉME DE FENELON, Paris (in print).
Also about 400 other publications : books, chapters in books, articles, book-reviews and varia.