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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.)