Monday, September 10, 2018

Ariberto Acerbi on Knowledge
of the Transcendental Notions

Entry 0594: Ariberto Acerbi on Knowledge 

of the Transcendental Notions  

n his article “Aquinas’s Commentary on Boethius’s De Trinitate,” Ariberto Acerbi raises the issue of the operation whereby the human intellect knows the transcendental notions. Thus he writes in n. 19: “The intellectual operation at the origin of the transcendental notions appears to have to be entirely distinguished from abstraction, commonly understood” (325). The issue is addressed tangentially, and no detailed answer is given.

Acerbi indicates, however, that the operation seems to be a process of induction, for regarding the resolution to the final extrinsic cause, he argues, the necessity of nature’s dependence upon “a principle which is not in turn material and mutable” is “induced by starting from the ontological structure of matter and becoming” (325). In addition to this, it is stated that the transcendental notions “are able to be applied indifferently to material or immaterial reality” (325n19).

The author goes on to propose that at the bottom of the method of metaphysics there is a “non intentional intellectual function” which “consists in the habitual knowledge of being and of the relative principles” (333n34). Metaphysics, Acerbi explains, can reflexively detect and take up this function as the basis of its own method.

Acerbi concludes with no further explanation: “In such a perspective, the noetic priority of the transcendental notions upon abstraction, (…) appears to us to be able to be confirmed as far as to lead back their content to that radical intellectual apprehension (noesis) always acting in which consists the habitus principiorum” (333n34).

See Ariberto Acerbi, “Aquinas’s Commentary on Boethius’s De Trinitate,” The Review of Metaphysics 66 (December 2012): 317-338.