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Monday, April 27, 2009

0068: Pope John Paul II on Aquinas’ Actus Essendi (III)

Entry 0068: Pope John Paul II on Aquinas’ Actus Essendi (III)

In his Encyclical Letter “Fides et Ratio,” John Paul II states that “the ‘philosophy of being’ is strong and enduring because it is based upon the very act of being itself (ipsum actus essendi), which allows a full and comprehensive openness to reality as a whole” (“Fides et Ratio,” 14 September 1998, Acta Apostolicae Sedis, 1999, vol. 91, pp. 5-88, no. 97.)

With unmistakable clarity, in “Fides et Ratio” John Paul II directed our attention towards the methodology of the actus essendi. In favoring the ‘philosophy of the actus essendi,’ John Paul II identified the school of ‘sound’ thinking.

With the caliber of a philosopher and the authority of a teacher, Wojtyla indicated the way philosophers disqualify themselves. “Once reason successfully intuits and formulates the first universal principles of being and correctly draws from them conclusions which are coherent both logically and ethically, then it may be called right reason or, as the ancients called it, orth(o-)s logos, recta ratio” (“Fides et Ratio,” no. 4.)

In other words, through philosophy’s work and the ability to speculate, the human intellect has produced a rigorous mode of thought. The most precious fruit of this process is the notion of actus essendi which carries with it an intrinsic and inseparable methodology.

Monday, April 20, 2009

0067: Pope John Paul II on Aquinas’ Actus Essendi (II)

Entry 0067: Pope John Paul II on Aquinas’ Actus Essendi (II)

Even in the context of philosophical anthropology John Paul II remains unyielding on presenting the methodology of the actus essendi as a point of reference to keep philosophical reflection from running aground.

Thomistic anthropology does not end in the abstract consideration of human nature. It also shows, on the basis of experience… a striking sensibility, so dear to modern people, for the concrete historical condition of the human person, for—as one would say today—his ‘existential situation’...

It shows a sensibility also for the uniqueness and dignity of the individual person; for his dynamic and moral aspect; for the ‘phenomenology’—we could say in modern parlance—of human existence…

To understand the great esteem which the Angelic Doctor has for the reality of the person, we must go back to his metaphysics, in which the greatest perfection is given to being understood as the ‘act of being’ (esse ut actus). Here, the person, much more than ‘nature’ or ‘essence’, by means of the ‘act of being’ which sustains him, [by means of the actus essendi which sustains him,] is exalted to the very height of the perfection of being and reality, and thus of good and value…

Thus in the anthropology of Saint Thomas we find largely satisfied both the demand of subtle and systematic analysis and that of providing a foundation and a justification for the highest values of the person—so frequently invoked today—… The anthropology of Saint Thomas always closely unites the consideration of ‘nature’ with that of ‘person’ in such a way that nature is the foundation of the objective values of the person and the latter gives a concrete meaning to the universal values of nature (“Address to the participants in the International ongress of the Saint Thomas Aquinas Society”, 4 January 1986, Nos. 3-5, published in L’Osservatore Romano English Weekly Edition, 27 Janurary1986, pp. 6-7, in Acta Apostolicae Sedis, Vol. 78, 1986, pp. 633-637.)

Monday, April 13, 2009

0066: Pope John Paul II on Aquinas’ Actus Essendi (I)

Entry 0066: Pope John Paul II on Aquinas’ Actus Essendi (I)

As late as 1999, in his Apostolic Letter Inter Munera Academiarum, John Paul II remarked, “I considered it opportune to revise the Statutes of the Pontifical Academy of St Thomas [Aquinas], so that the metaphysical realism of the actus essendi which pervades all the Angelic Doctor’s philosophy and theology can enter into dialogue with the many directions in today’s research and doctrine.”

Monday, April 6, 2009

0065: Actus Essendi and the ascent to God

Entry 0065: Actus Essendi and the ascent to God

Reflecting on the “Actus Essendi Way” developed by Aquinas to prove the existence of God, David Bentley Hart writes:

In the terms of Aquinas, there is simply an obvious incommensurability between the 'essence' and the existence of things, and hence finite reality cannot account for its own 'being.'

And if this incommensurability is considered with adequate probity and clarity, it cannot fail but lead reflection towards something like what [Aquinas] calls the 'Actus Essendi Subsistens' - the subsisting Act of Being - which is one of his most beautiful names for God."