Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Aquinas on Causality: Any recommendations?

Share/Bookmark Can you recommend some modern Thomists who discuss causation or modern translations of older Thomists into English? I've got a book on causation by Wallace but there may be something better out there. Help.

-Since I don't know whether you're looking for a solid general introduction or a highly-specialized, scholarly discussion, I would recommend this for starters:

1) Gardeil, Henri Dominique. "Introduction to the Philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas: Volume II: Cosmology." St. Louis: Herder, 1958; Chapter 5. This is vol. two of a series of four which is absolutely my favorite introduction to Aquinas' philosophy in English (although only vols. 2-4 have been translated from the original French). It observes Aquinas' understanding of the proper division and method of the sciences (as well as Aristotle's works) very closely. It does not attempt to export artificially a philosophy out of the theological context of the Summa (à la Gilson), but rather goes to Aquinas' philosophical opuscula and commentaries on Aristotle as the proper loci or sources for Aquinas' philosophy. So it doesn't only get the content right (as do most books out there), but also the proper methodology and order of the discipline (as do VERY few of the books I've seen). But it's out of print. Another good book--one that is in print--is:

2) McInerny, D. Q. The Philosophy of Nature. Denton, NE: Fraternity Publications, 1998. (This is not, by the way, the "famous" Ralph McInerny, but his brother Daniel.) This is one of Dr. Daniel McInerny's seven or so volumes which serve as a thorough introduction to Aquinas' philosophy---and they're all in print, just in case you can't find Gardeil's four volumes. I haven't read "The Philosophy of Nature" yet, but I have used his Ethics, and it is VERY good. If interested in these volumes, contact Fraternity Publications.

And, I know you asked for modern Thomists, but just in case you haven't read Aquinas himself on causation (and I don't mean the passages interspersed throughout his theological works, but the actual treatises on causation in his properly philosophical works), this is DEFINITELY where you should start:

3) Aquinas, On the Principles of Nature, especially chs. 3-6: . That's quite enough for starters, but if you want more detail, see also the following:

4) Aquinas, Commentary on Aristotle's Physics, Book II, Ch. 3.

5) Aquinas, Commentary on Aristotle's Metaphysics, Book V, Ch. 2.

6) Aquinas, Commentary on the Book of Causes, passim.

This will get your hands full for a while, if you haven't gone through it already. But if you are still looking for more specialized secondary literature on Aquinas' notion of causality, let me know. To my knowledge there is no single book that treats ALL of Aquinas' notion of causality, but individual works dealing with each of the four causes (and there are plenty) or with individual issues related to causality (such as Wallace)--but I can look a little deeper for you if you want.


Anonymous said...

It appears that you are not TRULY a professor of Languages or philosophy, nor that of theology...your gifts appear to be in the area of library science.

Don Paco said...

I'm not sure I understand what you mean by that.