New Faculty Book: Retrieving Freedom: The Christian Appropriation of Classical Tradition

Dr. D.C. Schindler, Professor of Metaphysics and Anthropology, published a new book titled Retrieving Freedom: The Christian Appropriation of Classical Tradition through Notre Dame Press.

Retrieving Freedom is a provocative, big-picture book, taking a long view of the “rise and fall” of the classical understanding of freedom.

In response to the evident shortcomings of the notion of freedom that dominates contemporary discourse, Retrieving Freedom seeks to return to the sources of the Western tradition to recover a more adequate understanding. This book begins by setting forth the ancient Greek conception—summarized from the conclusion of D. C. Schindler’s previous tour de force of political and moral reasoning, Freedom from Reality—and the ancient Hebrew conception, arguing that at the heart of the Christian vision of humanity is a novel synthesis of the apparently opposed views of the Greeks and Jews. This synthesis is then taken as a measure that guides an in-depth exploration of landmark figures framing the history of the Christian appropriation of the classical tradition. Schindler conducts his investigation through five different historical periods, focusing in each case on a polarity, a pair of figures who represent the spectrum of views from that time: Plotinus and Augustine from late antiquity, Dionysius the Areopagite and Maximus the Confessor from the patristic period, Anselm and Bernard from the early middle ages, Bonaventure and Aquinas from the high middle ages, and, finally, Godfrey of Fontaines and John Duns Scotus from the late middle ages. In the end, we rediscover dimensions of freedom that have gone missing in contemporary discourse, and thereby identify tasks that remain to be accomplished. Schindler’s masterful study will interest philosophers, political theorists, and students and scholars of intellectual history, especially those who seek an alternative to contemporary philosophical understandings of freedom.

Furthermore, Notre Dame Press published an interview with Dr. Schindler about the production of the book.

Retrieving Freedom by DC Schindler book cover

The book is available for purchase from Notre Dame Press.


Retrieving Freedom is an impressive volume that locates the nature of free will in the very depth of both history and metaphysics. This is a much-needed contribution that will situate the questions of free will in the only horizon that can make them intelligible: a horizon in which we can get into view the very meaning and purpose of our freedom.”

—Anselm Ramelow, OP, editor of God: Reason and Reality

“Lucid, capacious, and forceful as all of Schindler’s work, Retrieving Freedom reexamines the problem of human freedom within a philosophical and theological tradition spanning from Plotinus to Duns Scotus. The book’s provocative decision to retrace the question of freedom within Christianity’s inherently normative and metaphysical framework helpfully counteracts modernity’s habit of conceiving freedom through its ostensible contrary: determinism. Instead, Schindler’s brilliantly executed, contrastive approach allows us to see that the true source and origin of human freedom is found in Christianity’s Triune God as revealed in the twin orders of nature and history.”

—Thomas Pfau, author of Incomprehensible Certainty