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?



-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.

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


Anonymous said...

I'm afraid you are completely wrong about the doctrine of Participation in St Thomas, it has nothing to do with modern Existencialism nor Kantianism.

It is based on Fr. John of St Thomas' interpretation of Thomist Methaphysics versus Caietanus' esentialist view. It holds (as partly did Gilson) that Aquinas not only based his Methaphysics on Aristotle but in Plato via St Augustine.

According to Fr. Cornelio Fabro (who had nothing to do with Modernism, but the contrary), St Thomas' uniqueness is based on his doctrine of Esse departing from Aristotle's causality and Plato's participation. In fact, whithout having a proper knowledge of the Thomist doctrine of Participation there is no possibility of fully understanding St Thomas' 4th way.

If you can read Italian, I recommed you take a look at [http://www.corneliofabro.org/], especially his book "The Methaphysical notion of participation according St. Thomas Aquinas" [http://www.corneliofabro.org/formulari/nmp.asp?titulo=%ABLa+nozione+metafisica+di+partecipazione+secondo+S%2E+Tommaso+d%92Aquino%BB&seccion=%ABLa+nozione+metafisica+di+partecipazione+secondo+S%2E+Tommaso+d%92Aquino%BB&ID=629].

Anonymous said...

I agree that St Thomas' philosophy is a synthesis of Aristotelian causality and Platonic participation--but I don't think the source of t
he latter was St Augustine. Thomas was born into a world of flourishing Platonism. NB: Proclus and the Liber de causis. The Platonic influences are most evident in the Summat Contra Gentiles.

I recommend Booth's Aristotelian Aporetic Ontology in Islamic and Christian Thinkers