Background: Before I dive into the review of The Religious Sense, it makes some sense to set the stage. As I mentioned in my first post, Fr. Giussani is tracing out a long path. This first book of his Trilogy focuses on the human experience. Fr. Giussani is convinced, much in the same way that St. Augustine suggests in his famous line, "Lord, our hearts are restless until they rest in you," that our very humanity points the way to Christ. So in this work, Fr. Giussani focuses on what it is to be human and a recovery of a full sense of what is meant by reason (far broader than modern reductions to that which can be shown with the methods of science). In that way, until we reach the point of the Incarnation (something which will come when we look at At The Origin of the Christian Claim), the question of God will be approached in a very natural way. It may feel weird for a time, to speak of "Mystery", "Another", "the Infinite", but its purpose, again, is to recognize what is revealed by human experience -- and at this stage, prior to Revelation, particularly the event of the Incarnation and the encounter with Christ. So with that, let's look at Chapter 1.
The Need For Realism: In the first chapter of The Religious Sense, Fr. Giussani's emphasis is on the need for realism. Starting with a quote from the Nobel winner Alexis Carrel -- who said, in reference to science, that "few observations and much discussion are conducive to error: much observation and little discussion to the truth" -- Fr. Giussani argues that any serious inquiry into something requires realism:
"By realism I refer to the urgent necessity not to give a more important role to a scheme already in our minds, but rather to cultivate an entire, passionate, insistent ability to observe the real event, the fact."
This emphasis of the inquiry on observing the fact is further highlighted in a distinction that Fr. Giussani makes between knowing and thinking, inspired by a quotation of St. Augustine. For he says: