Dynamic Transcendentals

Dynamic Transcendentals: Truth, Goodness, and Beauty from a Thomistic Perspective

ALICE M. RAMOS
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 266
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt2850z7
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  • Book Info
    Dynamic Transcendentals
    Book Description:

    Addressing contemporary interest in the relationship between metaphysics and ethics, as well as the significance of beauty for ethics, Alice Ramos presents an accessible study of the transcendentals and provides a dynamic rather than static view of truth, goodness, and beauty.

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1966-0
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. vii-xii)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-8)

    The essays in this book have been in the making for over fifteen years. While they were initially devoted to the transcendentals in Thomas Aquinas, especially to truth and to beauty, the so-called forgotten transcendental,¹ they were not meant as a systematic treatment of these. In the past twenty years excellent studies on the transcendentals have been published, among them Jan Aertsen’s masterful book titled The Transcendentals and Medieval Philosophy: The Case of Thomas Aquinas.² In this book Aertsen points to the correlation between anima and being, between the transcendental openness of anima to all being, which makes the human...

  5. PART I TRUTH, MEASURE, AND VIRTUE
    • CHAPTER 1 A METAPHYSICS OF THE TRUTH OF CREATION: Foundation of the Desire for God
      (pp. 11-26)

      The question of the natural desire for God as it is posed in Aquinas has been the source of much discussion and controversy throughout the centuries, from the revival of Scholasticism in the sixteenth century in which a purely natural end for man was hypothesized, to the late 1940s and early 1950s during which discussion centered on the compatibility between a natural end for man and Aquinas’s theology of supernatural beatitude. During this latter period, Henri de Lubac’s work on the supernatural flatly denounced man as a thing of nature and therefore argued that man has no natural end, only...

    • CHAPTER 2 AQUINAS ON MEASURE
      (pp. 27-46)

      The notion of measure in Aquinas seems to be omnipresent. One has only to consult a Thomistic database to realize the pervasiveness of this concept throughout Aquinas’s works; despite this fact, however, relatively few studies of it have appeared in Neoscholastic metaphysics.¹ A discussion of measure is of central importance in Aquinas’s metaphysics of infinite and finite being, in the relationship of creatures to God, and in the ordering of all things to their end. The movement of the procession of creatures from God and their reversion to him both involve measure.² The measure theme is thus closely associated with...

    • CHAPTER 3 THE AFFECTIONS AND THE LIFE OF THE MIND
      (pp. 47-68)

      In the opening page of the Metaphysics Aristotle tells us that all men by nature desire to know. This desire has been described as the eros toward the first principle or the first cause, an eros which like all natural appetites will require regulation and purification. Without such correction the quest for the truth on the part of reason can be seriously hindered by unruly passion or evil habit, that is, by disordered loves, and also by the influence of the dominant culture in which we live. Our natural desire for truth can therefore be frustrated, along with our flourishing...

  6. PART II BEAUTY, ORDER, AND TELEOLOGY:: THE PERFECTION OF MAN AND THE UNIVERSE
    • CHAPTER 4 BEAUTY AND THE PERFECTION OF BEING
      (pp. 71-93)

      Many metaphors have been used in order to understand God’s creative activity: the Leibnizian metaphor of the divine calculator, the functionalist metaphor of a divine automaton, Aquinas’s metaphor of the divine artist, to name but a few.¹ The latter metaphor which, in my opinion, is more than a simple comparison is useful for a better understanding of the finality of creation.² According to Aquinas, the end for which the artist produces his forms is none other than beauty; he says, “No one takes pains to make an image or representation except for the sake of the beautiful.”³ The divine artist...

    • CHAPTER 5 EVIL, ORDER, AND PROVIDENCE
      (pp. 94-107)

      There is no doubt that the problem of evil has been a stumbling block for many in their belief in God, and yet, despite the atrocities recorded of man against man during the past century—one has only to think of the horrors of the Holocaust, the extermination of six million Jews, and the deaths of over ninety million people due to the wars of the twentieth century—John Paul II in 1995 at the United Nations exhorted us to believe that from the destruction and ashes of the twentieth century would come a “new springtime of the human spirit.”...

    • CHAPTER 6 THE EXPERIENCE OF VULNERABILITY AND SHAME
      (pp. 108-121)

      Since 9/11 in New York we have learned in an unexpected and tragic way what it means to be vulnerable, and perhaps this experience has allowed our country to come of age, so to speak. While vulnerability and dependence form part of human existence, few philosophical studies throughout the course of history have addressed these aspects of our fragile condition. Western moral philosophy, as Alasdair MacIntyre remarkably advances in Dependent Rational Animals, generally depicts moral agents as though they were always rational, healthy, and untroubled. To cite a case in point, MacIntyre refers to Adam Smith who in his Theory...

    • CHAPTER 7 ON THE GOOD AND GLORY
      (pp. 122-132)

      It is possible to speak of man’s desire for the good and for happiness in relation to the experience of beauty, to an experience which calls us beyond ourselves, beyond a simply natural happiness and an earthly dwelling place. (Beauty in Greek is named kallos, which is derived from the verb “to call.”)¹ To better understand man’s destiny, we can turn to the notion of glory, which is promised to us in scripture, and which has been the subject of reflection for many Christian thinkers, including Thomas Aquinas.² Although Aquinas agrees with Aristotle that man’s happiness does not consist in...

    • CHAPTER 8 HUMAN LIFE AND THE WORLD TRANSFIGURED
      (pp. 133-144)

      There is a great convergence of thought between Thomas Aquinas and John Paul II, although as is well known the late pope’s intellectual formation was also influenced by the phenomenological school. Concerning the latter influence, I wish only to point to John Paul II’s sensitivity to the language of signs—what appears as purely physical is the bearer of meaning and as such can be “read” and known. It is interesting to note that while contemporary culture is to a great extent very secularized, it is nonetheless sensitive to the presence of signs in its midst.¹

      Now from the beginning...

  7. PART III GOODNESS AND BEAUTY:: HUMAN REASON AND THE TRUE GOOD
    • CHAPTER 9 THE GOOD AND THE BEAUTIFUL: Why the Nonvirtuous Person Can See the Beauty of a Good Act
      (pp. 147-180)

      The moral and the aesthetic orders are closely related. John Rist’s book Real Ethics warns us that should the moral order and with it man himself perish due to its abandonment of a Christian metaphysics, based in part on a revision of Platonism, so would the aesthetic order. As he puts it, “With morality, aesthetics will also disintegrate, as it did under the rule of the Nazi ‘artist’ Hitler, for where there is no God, ‘beauty’ is a matter of choice and merely (ultimately official) taste. Moreover, in the event of the disappearance of the human race, nothing beautiful would...

    • CHAPTER 10 MORAL BEAUTY AND AFFECTIVE KNOWLEDGE IN AQUINAS
      (pp. 181-204)

      In his masterful book The Sources of Christian Ethics, Servais Pinckaers laments that modern ethicists have lost the sense of beauty to the extent that it is no longer associated with goodness. The Fathers of the Church, as Pinckaers shows, considered not only the beauty of God and creation but also the beauty that radiated from the interior of human persons and their actions. Good actions were also beautiful. Pinckaers calls for a rediscovery of beauty both in ethics and in theology.¹ As beauty needs to be recaptured, so too honesty, according to Pinckaers. For Aquinas the notion of the...

    • CHAPTER 11 ART, TRUTH, AND MORALITY: Aesthetic Self-forgetfulness versus Recognition
      (pp. 205-226)

      In today’s culture, which has relativized truth and morality and which has declared both the end of art and the end of metaphysics, we might be tempted to ask the reason for this essay. I do not, however, wish to engage in speculation about what Gianni Vattimo once called the “death of art.”¹ I would rather recall what Alexander Solzhenitsyn said on the occasion of his Nobel lecture in 1970. According to Solzhenitsyn, despite the predictions of the disintegration and the death of art, long after our mortal lives have ended, art will remain and it will continue to have...

  8. CONCLUSION
    (pp. 227-234)

    Since the completion of the manuscript of this book, a number of books and essays have been published that deal with truth, goodness, and beauty in rich and thought-provoking ways, a testimony to the perennial interest of these aspects of being.¹ Given our age’s quasi-obsession with physical beauty, it is no surprise that works on beauty seem to abound and that philosophers and theologians, among others, are reflecting on what has been called the forgotten transcendental.²

    For those of us who have the good fortune to be able to dedicate time and thought to the study of the transcendentals and...

  9. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 235-244)
  10. INDEX
    (pp. 245-259)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 260-261)