Academic journal article The Review of Metaphysics

Les Principes Des Choses En Ontologie Medievale (Thomas d'Aquin, Scot, Occam)

Academic journal article The Review of Metaphysics

Les Principes Des Choses En Ontologie Medievale (Thomas d'Aquin, Scot, Occam)

Article excerpt

BASTIT, Michel. Les Principes des Choses en Ontologie Medievale (Thomas d'Aquin, Scot, Occam). Bibliotheque de Philosophie Comparee, Essais-10. Bordeaux: Editions Briere, 1997. 361 pp. Paper, n.p.--Bastit's inquiry into the works of Aquinas, Scotus, and Ockham is concerned with the ontological status of things. In the Scholastic vocabulary, res applies to any extramental entity, to the essence of quiddity which determines this external entity, or to one of the transcendentals convertible with Being. Things in their manifold constitute a necessary point of reference for any attempt to escape rationalism as well as voluntarism. Yet in order to understand the difficulty of any "return to the things themselves," we need to consider the turn that occurred with the translation of the Aristotelian metaphysics into Scholasticism and the transformation of ontology from analogy to univocity.

The fundamental concepts of Aristotle's metaphysics aim at accounting for the principles and causes of Being. These concepts imply a certain order of knowledge which rests on the ultimate character of Being. Things exhibit a proper nature, a movement, and an end which make them unavailable to manipulation. Yet "is the importance of things as source and term of thought not due to the fullness [plenitude] that Ancient thinking is able to grant them in the absence of creation?" (p. 12). The identification of the primary cause as the Creator entails that things do not owe their Being to themselves. Emptied of their consistency, they reveal Being only by participation or conservation. The road to an empiricist reduction or to a transcendental science is thus opened.

In Aquinas, ontology rules over analogical predication. Analogy aims at preserving the diversity and autonomy of beings whose cause is not so much essence as esse. However, Bastit insists, "the esse is immediately contracted by the essence in the ens of which it is the act. …

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