Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Doctrine of Participation in Aquinas


Share/Bookmark Francisco,

I am praying for you and your family. But in the mean time, I am also undertaking a parallel formation in philosophy. I am reading the books in our library about St. Thomas and Thomism. I just finished "The Silence of St. Thomas" by Pieper. I thought it was awesome. But I am on to other things now. I have become intersted in learning about St. Thomas' doctrine of participation because it seems to bear so heavily on the analogy of being and the analogy of names. I imagine it has something to do especially with the esse/essentia distinction, but I am having difficulty putting it all together for myself. Do have any insight to offer? Do you know of any sources I could check out for myself?

Prayers,

-Kevin.


-Sorry it took me a while to reply to this email, Kevin. As I always do, I recommend all my students to look for the the foundations of this topic (and any other in the Philosophy of Aquinas) in both:

1) H.D. Gardeil's Introduction to the Philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas (vol. 4 is on Metaphysics; and unfortunately it is also out of print), and

2) D.Q. McInerny's Natural Theology (new, from Fraternity Publications!).

There are also many recent scholarly works on this doctrine of participation, but on the whole they tend to be a hardheaded interpretation of St. Thomas from the point of view of existentialism and/or Platonic metaphysics. Examples of authors that read Aquinas this way are Cornelio Fabro, Joseph De Finance, and Norris Clarke. This is generally called the Existentialist Thomist School.

A few others tend to react to them by taking the total opposite view: a pure, unmodified, almost-pagan Aristotelianism. These are not any better.

So I would stay away from all of these modern interpreters and just follow the tradition. Even if the tradition is not 100% correct, at least they are the basis from which you will be able to understand the more modern interpretations.

By the way, if you are up to it, there is an awesome, 4-volume Latin work on Analogy by one of the greatest traditional Spanish Thomists: Santiago Ramirez, De Analogia. It is very difficult to find through American libraries--your best bet would be to order it directly from the Editorial San Esteban (Spain).

I hope this helps.
-Fco.

Francisco J. Romero
Professor of Philosophy, Theology and Languages
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Academy
3218 11th Street
Rockford, IL 61109
Email: Phil_050@yahoo.com
Alt. Email: Francisco.Romero@marquette.edu
cell: (262)366-9491
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