Wisdom's Apprentice

Wisdom's Apprentice: Thomistic Essays in Honor of Lawrence Dewan, O.P.

Edited by Peter A. Kwasniewski
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 328
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  • Book Info
    Wisdom's Apprentice
    Book Description:

    In Wisdom's Apprentice, twelve distinguished scholars pay grateful homage to their friend and mentor in recognition of his extraordinary contributions to the study of the philosophia perennis

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-2066-6
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Editor’s Introduction
    (pp. vii-xii)

    It is with commingled pleasure and reverence that I introduce this volume of essays offered to Lawrence Dewan, O.P., for the occasion of his seventy-fifth birthday on March 22, 2007. For all of the contributors to this volume, Father Dewan has been a redoubtable interlocutor, a vitally important teacher, or an esteemed colleague—in some cases, all three. To those who have had the good fortune to know him and work with him, he has been a model of that loving pursuit of wisdom in which Socrates, and the whole Western tradition inspired by his incisive questions, locates the highest...

  4. Biography of Lawrence Dewan, O.P.
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Publications of Lawrence Dewan, O.P.
    (pp. xv-xxii)
  6. PART I. Metaphysics
    • Is Truth Not a Transcendental for Aquinas?
      (pp. 3-12)
      Jan A. Aertsen

      IN A RECENT ESSAY, Lawrence Dewan has asked whether truth is a transcendental for St. Thomas Aquinas. The answer seems to be self-evident, for Thomas states at several places in his work that “being,” “one,” “true,” and “good” are transcendental terms. Nevertheless Dewan raises this question, since in his view an important change of doctrine concerning truth is to be found as we move from De veritate q. 1 to the Summa theologiae I, q. 16. The most fundamental revision concerns Thomas’s presentation of the “truth of things.” In the latter treatment, he eliminated any reference to a “truth” said...

    • Thomas Aquinas and “What Actually Exists”
      (pp. 13-39)
      Stephen L. Brock

      IT WOULD BE DIFFICULT to overstate the importance of Fr. Lawrence Dewan’s contributions over the years to our understanding of St. Thomas’s doctrine of being (esse). Best known, I imagine, are Fr. Dewan’s masterly treatments of the relation between the “act of being” (actus essendi) and essence. Among other things, he has made us appreciate how tight the bond is, and how subtle the distinction, between these two “targets of metaphysical attention” (to use a characteristic phrase of his).

      Perhaps not as well known is some rather recent work of Fr. Dewan’s on the relation between esse and truth.¹ In...

    • Really Distinguishing Essence from Esse
      (pp. 40-84)
      David B. Twetten

      GIVEN THE DEVELOPMENTS in contemporary analytic philosophy over the last thirty years, one no longer need apologize for theorizing about essence. Metaphysics in general, of course, is once again an acceptable philosophical project. Many analytic philosophers defend such counterintuitive positions as the Platonic reality not only of Universals but also of Propositions; a Counterpart Theory affirming the genuine existence of every possible world; and an Unrestricted Mereology affirming that this letter e taken together with the last breath of Shakespeare constitute as much a single entity as do you. After the resuscitation of such medieval theories as haecceity and middle...

    • The Real Distinction between Supposit and Nature
      (pp. 85-106)
      J. L. A. West

      RECENT SCHOLARSHIP upon Aquinas’s metaphysics has given detailed attention to the problem of the real distinction between being and essence. In comparison there has been relatively little study of Aquinas’s treatment of the supposit and his argument that the supposit is really distinct from its nature. This is probably due to the fact that many contemporary metaphysicians tend to distance themselves from substance-based theories. In any case, one can hardly expect a clear account of Aquinas’s own metaphysics and natural philosophy without coming to terms with his theory of the supposit and its nature.

      In this article I will begin...

  7. PART II. Natural Theology
    • From Shadows and Images to the Truth
      (pp. 109-121)
      Ralph McInerny

      IN HIS ENCYCLICAL The Gospel of Life, John Paul II wrote that “a new cultural climate is developing and taking hold, which gives crimes against life a new and—if possible—even more sinister character” (n. 4). Later in the same letter, having documented this claim, he said the following: “This reality is characterized by the emergence of a culture which denies solidarity and in many cases takes the form of a veritable “culture of death.” This culture is actively fostered by powerful cultural, economic and political currents which encourage an idea of society excessively concerned with efficiency” (n. 12)....

    • Re-thinking the Infinite
      (pp. 122-152)
      Leslie Armour

      IN MANY WAYS, though not in all, the high points in Western natural theology remain the works of Thomas Aquinas and John Duns Scotus. St. Thomas defined the task of natural theology, and Duns Scotus exposed much of its logic. Aquinas’s philosophy was provoked by a number of developments that put great strains on the Platonic thought that had been the vehicle for Christian theology almost from the beginning. Arab science and the philosophy of Aristotle came into the West together and provoked a major crisis in thought. A new kind of concern with the natural world was thus one...

    • Is Thomas’s Doctrine of Divine Ideas Thomistic?
      (pp. 153-170)
      Gregory T. Doolan

      THROUGHOUT HIS CAREER, dating back to his earliest works, Thomas Aquinas presents an account of ideas existing in the mind of God. For Thomas, these divine ideas serve two distinct although interrelated roles: one as cognitive principles accounting for God’s knowledge of things other than himself, the other as ontological or causal principles involved in God’s creative activity.¹ Although this Neoplatonic theme is seemingly straightforward in its presentation, its significance in Thomas’s writings has prompted much debate among scholars, principally concerning the question of how a multiplicity of ideas could be reconciled with the simplicity of the divine essence.


  8. PART III. Philosophy of Nature
    • The Impossibility of Action at a Distance
      (pp. 173-200)
      Christopher A. Decaen

      ALBERT EINSTEIN AND ISAAC NEWTON are not famous for their agreements. Historically speaking, Einstein proposed his theory of relativity in direct opposition to the absolutism underlying Newton’s theory of gravitation. Absolute space, time, velocity, mass, and so on were thereby reduced to quantities contingent upon the relative state of the reference-frame of the observer, and force itself seemed to fade into energy potentials expressing the non-Euclidean “curvature” of space-time itself.

      So finding the two emphatically agreeing about nontrivial matters gives one pause, and perhaps in no other context is this pause more pregnant than in the matter of action at...

    • Physics and Philosophy
      (pp. 201-213)
      Jude P. Dougherty

      THERE CAN BE NO CONFLICT between philosophy and the natural sciences any more than between theology and the natural sciences as long as both remain true to their methods. Conflicts do arise between physicists and philosophers or biologists and theologians, largely because of misunderstanding, sometimes aided and abetted by the propensity of some to “publish in the New York Times.” The sciences thus reported come laden with metaphor. We hear of “anti-matter,” “drops of electricity,” “black holes,” “right- or left-handed spin of a K-meson,” and I haven’t even mentioned relativity and indeterminacy. In the early 1950s when someone at the...

    • Two Masters, Two Perspectives: Maritain and Gilson on the Philosophy of Nature
      (pp. 214-234)
      Ralph Nelson

      WHEN TWO IMPORTANT TREATISES by leading Thomist philosophers were published just after the end of the Second World War, during the ascendancy of existentialism in Europe, Maritain’s Court traité de l’existence et l’existant and L’être et l’essence by Étienne Gilson,¹ it was reasonable to see a basic similarity between them. Of course Gilson was a well-known historian of philosophy and his research followed a historical order, while Maritain followed a doctrinal order. But the end result of both is a defense of a philosophy of being.

      However, with time, more attention has been paid to differences between them. The epistemological...

  9. PART IV. Ethics and Spirituality
    • Moral Taxonomy and Moral Absolutes
      (pp. 237-259)
      Kevin L. Flannery

      IN SUMMA THEOLOGIAE 1–2.18.10, Thomas Aquinas asks whether a circumstance might put a moral act into the species of good or evil. His answer is yes. “Whenever,” he says, “a circumstance concerns a special order of reason, either for it or against, it is necessary that the circumstance give species to the moral act, whether the act be good or evil.” This reply may strike some as incompatible with the rest of Thomas’s ethics. Is not one of his governing principles the pseudo-Dionysian dictum, “Good comes of a single and perfect cause, evil from many and particular defects”?¹ As...

    • Interior Peace: Inchoatio vitae aeternae
      (pp. 260-282)
      Heather McAdam Erb

      IT WAS SAID OF THE DESERT ABBOT ANTHONY that he compared monks outside their cells to fish outside water, warning that as a fish must return to the sea, so must the monk to his cell, lest by tarrying without, he forget the watch within.¹ Saint Thomas’s Dominican spirituality is as far from this version of interior peace as it is from the antiworldly passages of Cassian, which depicted the soul of a holy man as an anxious and vigilant watchman, shutting “both soul and body within the fence of its walls,” or like a fisherman, intent and motionless as...

  10. Works Cited
    (pp. 283-298)
  11. Contributors
    (pp. 299-302)
  12. Index of Names
    (pp. 303-305)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 306-306)