Aquinas after Frege
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Aquinas after Frege

Giovanni Ventimiglia

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eBook - ePub

Aquinas after Frege

Giovanni Ventimiglia

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Información del libro

This book provides a fresh reading of Aquinas' metaphysics in the light of insights from the works of Frege. In particular, Ventimiglia argues that Aquinas' doctrine of being can be better understood through Frege's distinction between the 'there is' sense and the 'present actuality' sense of being, as interpreted by Peter Geach and Anthony Kenny. Aquinas' notion of essence becomes clearer in the light of Frege's distinction between objects and concepts and his account of concepts as functions. Aquinas' doctrine of trancendentals is clarified with the help of Frege's accounts of assertion and negation.

Aquinas after Frege provides us with a new Aquinas, which pays attention to his texts and their historical context. Ventimiglia's development of 'British Thomism' furnishes us with a lucid and exciting re-reading of Aquinas' metaphysics.

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Información

Año
2020
ISBN
9783030483289
Categoría
Philosophy
© The Author(s) 2020
G. VentimigliaAquinas after Fregehttps://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-48328-9_1
Begin Abstract

1. State of the Art

Giovanni Ventimiglia1
(1)
Theology Faculty, University of Lucerne, Luzern, Switzerland
Giovanni Ventimiglia
Keywords
Thomas AquinasThomismNeo-scholasticismAnalytic ThomismAristotelianismPlatonismNeo-PlatonismAquinas (reception of)Metaphysics (history of)
End Abstract
In this chapter I propose to explain the state of the art among studies of Thomas Aquinas, dwelling particularly on two aspects: the still present division between “historical” and “theoretical” studies of Thomas , and the division between studies that treat Thomas as fundamentally neo-Platonic and those that consider him fundamentally Aristotelian. The analyses of both these questions, besides orientating the reader within the vast profusion of studies of Thomas, will also introduce him to the perspective within which this book is written.

1.1 The Divide Between Historical and Theoretical Thomism

Studies of Aquinas’s metaphysics, and of his philosophy in general, published in recent decades, still clearly fall into two separate groups: those by “historians” and those by “philosophers”.
“Historians”1 read Aquinas only from the point of view of the history of philosophy and often ignore contemporary philosophical discussions of Aquinas and of those aspects of his thought that are still of great significance to the international philosophical community.
“Philosophers”2 read Aquinas mainly from the point of view of the most recent discussions, often ignoring the best results of research by historians.

Origin

The divide in question is not new. It began with neo-scholasticism and it has grown wider and wider into its present state.
It has become traditional to date the beginning of neo-scholasticism in 1879—the date of the Encyclical Aeterni Patris in which Leo XIII placed an obligation on all ecclesiastical educational institutions to teach the doctrine of St Thomas.
From that time on Aquinas’s doctrines have been imposed by decrees, motu proprios and by the publication of official Thomistic theses.3 Thus, there came into being a “compulsory” Thomism which, in addition to the title “Doctor of the Church” conferred on the “Angelic Doctor” as long ago as 1567, led in the end to the identification of the thought of Thomas with that of the Roman Catholic Church. The consequence was the rejection of Thomistic thought by philosophers who were not believers. As we shall see the situation did not change until after the second Vatican Council.
To return to neo-scholasticism and Aeterni Patris. What was their purpose? The aims, in fact, were twofold.
  1. 1.
    First, to distinguish Aquinas from Duns Scotus, Francisco Suarez and to return to the genuine thought of St Thomas, in contrast to the philosophical eclecticism typical of the earlier Suarezian scholastic manuals
  2. 2.
    Second, to distinguish this genuine Aquinas from modern philosophy, in contrast to the philosophical eclecticism typical of some Catholic thinkers like Antonio Rosmini but also later to engage Aquinas in constructive dialogue with contemporary philosophy and science.
The first aim gave rise to “historical Thomism” while the second gave rise to “theoretical Thomism”.

Historical Thomism

Historical Thomism relates Thomas to authors contemporary with him or precedent to him (the sources), theoretical Thomism relates him to authors subsequent to him , usually contemporary with the writer.
A year after the publication of the encyclical Aeterni Patris there was founded the Commissio Leonina (called after the Pope who set it up) to produce a critical edition of the works of Thomas. The work on a critical edition made clear the importance of a historical study focussed on the identification of the sources. The rebirth of Thomism and the need to come back to the genuine thought of St Thomas required the help of archivists, paleographers, and historians of philosophy.
Thus, began a series of studies of medieval philosophy which, non-coincidentally, were of an Aquinocentric brand. We should mention here, among the principal figures, the pioneers of the Commissio Leonina: the Dominican Heinrich Denifle (1844–1905), the Jesuit Franz Ehrle (1845–1934), and then especially: Clemens Baeumker (1853–1924) and Martin Grabmann (1875–1949) in Germany; Pierre Mandonnet (1858–1936), Étienne Gilson (1884–1978), and Marie-Dominique Chenu (1895–1990) in France; Maurice de Wulf (1867–1947) and Fernand van Steenberghen (1904–1995) in Belgium; Amato Masnovo (1880–1955) and Sofia Vanni Rovighi (1909–1990) in Italy.
Mention should also be made, in addition to the afore-mentioned Chenu, of Antonin-Dalmace Sertillanges (1863–1948), a distinguished scholar who belonged to the Dominican theology faculty of Le Saulchoir, which became a great centre of studies.4
In the period between Aeterni Patris and the present day immense progress has been made in the study of the sources of Thomas’s thought. At the beginning, as we shall see better in the next section, Aristotle appeared to be the privileged and almost the only source of his work, but it is nowadays well known that many neo-Platonic sources had an equally fundamental role. Particular attention has focussed on the influence of pseudo-dionysian neo-Platonism (especially De Divinis Nominibus 5) and on the Liber de Causis (a work believed to be by Aristotle, but of which the attribution was rejected by Thomas himself)6 and in general also on the indirect influence of neo-Platonism.7
In traditional iconography the Arabic philosophers are represented as vanquished by the Christian St Thomas, but there has been a steady re-evaluation of the influence they exercised on Aquinas’s thought. Avicenna in particular emerges more and more as a constant point of reference of Thomas’s philosophy, and not only at the time of the juvenile De Ente et Essentia.8 The place of the Jewish philosopher and theologian Moses Maimonides has also been re-evaluated, in particular with regard to his influence on the negative theology of Thomas .9 It seems that it was owing to him that Thomas’s thought evolved on the topic of the proper name of God, as we will see in the second chapter.10
The commentators on Aristotle too have been studied and re-evaluated as indispensable sources: Themistius’s paraphrase of Aristotle’s De Anima was important for Thomas’s commentary on the same work and for the opusculum De unitate intellectus. Themistius’s paraphrase on the Posterior Analytics had a similar importance for Thomas , who made use of it in his own commentary on the work.
Further, it was through Themistius that Thomas came to know the teaching of Theophrastus, and through Averroes that he came to know that of Alexander of Aphrodisias. Also Simplicius’s commentary on Aristotle’s Categories and on Aristotle’s De Caelo et Mundo were frequently used by Thomas.
Some works and themes of logic have been shown to be unsuspected but decisive sources. Peter of Spain is an example, but also some authors nowadays considered minor but in that period fundamental: Peter of Ireland (Thomas’s teacher at Naples) and Johannes Pagus (master in the Paris faculty of arts). It has been shown, for example, that the background of Thomas’s famous doctrine of the transcendentals would be incomprehensible without the manuals of the Logica Modernorum and contemporary commentaries on Aristotle’s De Interpretatione, where the doctrine ...

Índice

  1. Cover
  2. Front Matter
  3. 1. State of the Art
  4. 2. Being
  5. 3. Essence
  6. 4. Transcendentals
  7. 5. The Senses of Being in Context
  8. 6. Conclusions
  9. Back Matter