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Monday, July 28, 2008

0029: Actus Essendi and the Second Operation of the Mind (I)

Entry 0029:

According to Fabro, the judgmental knowledge of ‘existence’ so emphasized by Gilson is preceded by the intellect’s direct and immediate apprehension of the actus essendi. Fabro was familiar with Gilson’s position and strongly argued against it. In Fabro’s view it is not through the ‘act of judgement’ that the mind has access to the notion of actus essendi.

Fabro addresses the issue in his “The Transcendentality of Ens-Esse and the Grounds of Metaphysics” (International Philosophical Quarterly, 6, pp 389-427, 1966) in unequivocal terms.
[The following clarification] concerns the locus intentionalis of esse or the actus essendi, that is, the phase or function of the mind that grasps reality insofar as it is in act. Such an absolutely primary function, when it is a question of ens, stands poles apart from abstraction and cannot be an object of abstracting reflection properly so-called, but only of direct and immediate apprehension. One interpretation, quite widespread among Neo-Thomists, tries to resolve the question with a good deal of elegance: just as in simple apprehension ‘essence’ is grasped, so too in the judgment esse is grasped. (See Actualite et originalite de l’esse thomiste, Revue Thomiste, 56, 1956, p. 485 and Participazione e Causalita, Italian Ed., p. 41.) They maintain that the texts of Thomas are explicit on this meaning: Cum in re duo sint quidditas rei et esse eius, his duobus respondet duplex operatio intellectus. Una quae dicitur a philosophis formatio, qua apprehendit quidditates rerum. Alia autem comprehendit esse rei componendo affirmationis. (See In I Sent. 37, 1, 3, In I Sent. 19, 5, 1, and In Boeth. De Trin. 5, 3.) But let it be said for the peace of us all: these and other similar texts do not treat at all of our precise question: they deal with the characteristic function of the two operations of the mind which divide the two-fold content of the notion of ens, ‘essence’ and actus essendi. Therefore, the notio entis precedes them both, just as, in fact, ens precedes res and verum in the grounding of the transcendentals.

Monday, July 21, 2008

0028: Actus Essendi and Existence (I)

Entry 0028: Actus Essendi and Existence (I)


Although connected with actus essendi, the meaning of the term ‘existence’ does not denominate the metaphysical principle of actus essendi. Fabro indicates this clearly.

In his “The Intensive Hermeneutics of Thomistic Philosophy: The notion of Participation,” (The Review of Metaphysics, 1974, Vol. 27, p. 470), Fabro writes:

The authentic notion of Thomistic participation calls for distinguishing actus essendi as ‘act’ not only from ‘essence’ which is its ‘potency,’ but also from ‘existence’ which is the ‘fact of being’ and hence a ‘result’ rather than a metaphysical principle.

Then in the article on “Participation” that he wrote for The New Catholic Encyclopedia (2nd ed., Detroit, 2003, Vol. 10, pp 905-910) he adds,

For St. Thomas the difference between ‘to be’ and ‘to exist’ is founded on being—as ‘intensive emergent act’—that is diversely shared by each being.

Fabro’s command of the notion of participation in Aquinas allows him to easily identify the interpreters who “stop at ‘existence’ as a fact and a positing of reality,” and to easily set them apart from interpreters who “are willing to probe into the profundity of Thomistic speculation concerning ‘act.’” (See “The Transcendentality of Ens-Esse and the Grounds of Metaphysics”, International Philosophical Quarterly, 6, pp 389-427, 1966.)


Monday, July 14, 2008

0027: Actus Essendi and Phenomenological Analysis

Entry 0027:

John Paul II does not belittle the power of the philosophy of being as many interpreters of his thought do. In Memory and Identity (Rizzoli, New York, 2005, p 12), John Paul II writes,


If we wish to speak rationally about good and evil, we have to return to Saint Thomas Aquinas, that is, to the philosophy of being.
According to the Pope, phenomenological analysis ends up in a vacuum if it does not find its significance within the larger horizon of the philosophy of being. John Paul II presents Aquinas’ metaphysics as an unsurpassable human achievement. And he is emphatic: “Everything else that is true will find a place within this metaphysics.”

Monday, July 7, 2008

0026: Pope Benedict XVI on Aquinas (I)

Entry 0026:

During his Apostolic Journey to Germany on the occasion of the XX World Youth Day, as he was ‘singing’ the praises of the city of Cologne, Pope Benedict XVI remarked,

I would like to recall that… Thomas Aquinas, the greatest theologian of the West, studied and taught here (Address at the Cathedral of Cologne, 18 August 2005).
When Benedict XVI identifies Aquinas as the greatest theologian of the West, the emphasis falls on the fact that the Pope’s affirmation is an integral part of the Ordinary Magisterium of the Church, a point worth revisiting.