Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

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

Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

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

Article excerpt

Dynamic Transcendentals: Truth, Goodness, and Beauty from a Thomistic Perspective CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA, Z59 PAGES, $64.95

In his 1960 Elements of Christian Philosophy, Etienne Gilson called beauty the "forgotten transcendental." The appellation was again applied by Jan Aertsen (though this time in interrogative form) in his magisterial work, Medieval Philosophy and the Transcendentals. To this day, a steady stream of conflicting claims regarding the transcendentality of beauty continues to flow through the terrain of Thomistic scholarship. Yet despite these ongoing debates about it's transcendental status, there is at least one point on which all can agree: Beauty has not been forgotten by today's Thomists.

One need look no further than this collection of essays by Alice Ramos to find proof of the seriousness with which the topic has been treated. The volume does not attempt to put forth a systematic account of the transcendentality of truth, goodness, and beauty, nor does it engage in an extended treatment of their "dynamism." Rather, the strength of the collection lies in its ability to manifest the breadth of their applicability. With beauty as her central thread, Ramos not only shows how closely the beautiful is tied to the true and the good, but also how significant this thread is to subjects as disparate as cultural renewal, theodicy, human vulnerability, and the perfection of the universe. …

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