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Dynamic Transcendentals

Truth, Goodness, and Beauty from a Thomistic Perspective

Alice M. Ramos

Publication Year: 2012

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.

Published by: The Catholic University of America Press

Title Page

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-xii

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. ...


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pp. 1-8

Part I. Truth, Measure, and Virtue

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1. A Metaphysics of the Truth of Creation: Foundation of the Desire for God

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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,...

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2. Aquinas on Measure

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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 ...

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3. The Affections and the Life of the Mind

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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. ...

Part II. Beauty, Order, and Teleology: The Perfection of Man and the Universe

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4. Beauty and the Perfection of Being

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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 ...

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5. Evil, Order, and Providence

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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, ...

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6. The Experience of Vulnerability and Shame

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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. ...

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7. On the Good and Glory

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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 ...

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8. Human Life and the World Transfigured

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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 ...

Part III. Goodness and Beauty: Human Reason and the True Good

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9. The Good and the Beautiful: Why the Nonvirtuous Person Can See the Beauty of a Good Act

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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. ...

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10. Moral Beauty and Affective Knowledge in Aquinas

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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. ...

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11. Art, Truth, and Morality: Aesthetic Self-forgetfulness versus Recognition

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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 ...

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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, ...


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pp. 235-244


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pp. 245-259

E-ISBN-13: 9780813219660
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813219653

Page Count: 266
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: 1