Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Garrigou-Lagrange on the Glories of Cajetan's Commentary on the Summa


On the 477th Anniversary of Thomas de Vio Cajetan's Death 
The following exerpts are taken from Garrigou-Lagrange's Reality: A Synthesis of Thomistic Thought (available from ITOPL).

"With the introduction of the Summa as textbook, explicit commentaries on the Summa theologiae began to appear. First in the field was Cajetan (Thomas de Vio). His commentary [93] is looked upon as the classic interpretation of St. Thomas...

Cajetan comments on the Summa theologiae article by article, shows their interconnection, sets in relief the force of each proof, disengages the probative medium. Then he examines at length the objections of his adversaries, particularly those of Durandus and Scotus. His virtuosity as a logician is in the service of intuition. Cajetan's sense of mystery is great. Instances will occur later on when he speaks of the pre-eminence of the Deity. Cajetan is likewise the great defender of the distinction between essence and existence. [112] His commentary on the Summa theologiae was reprinted in the Leonine edition. [113]....

Here appears the profundity of Cajetan's [553] remark: the divine reality, as it is in itself, is not something purely absolute (signified by the word "nature") nor something purely relative (signified by the name "person"): but something transcending both, something which contains formally and eminently [554] that which corresponds to the concepts of absolute and relative, of absolute nature and relative person. Further, the distinction between nature and the persons is not a real distinction, but a mental distinction (virtual and minor): whereas the distinction between the persons is real, by reason of opposition." On this last point theologians generally agree with Thomists....

An historian of medieval philosophy has recently said that Cajetan, instead of limiting himself to an excellent commentary of the Summa, was rather bound to follow the intellectual movement of his time. The truth is that Cajetan did not feel himself thus called by Him who guides the intellectual life of the Church on a higher level than that of petty combinations, presumptions, and other deviations of our limited intelligences. Cajetan's glory lies in his recognition of the true grandeur of St. Thomas, of whom he willed to be the faithful commentator. This recognition was lacking in Suarez, who deserted the master lines of Thomistic metaphysics to follow his own personal thought."



93. Written 1507-22.

112. De ente et essentia; De analogia nominum. Noteworthy too are his opuscula on the sacrifice of the Mass.

113. Rome, 1888-1906.

553. In Iam, q. 39, a. 1, no. 7.

554. Formaliter eminenter.

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