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El amor fundamento de la participacion metafisica: Hermeneutica de la 'Summa contra gentiles.'(Brief Article)

El amor fundamento de la participacion metafisica. Hermeneutica de la Summa contra gentiles. Buenos Aries: Editorial Sudamericana, 1990. 308 pp. n.p.--The thesis of Mendez is preceded by a preface by Cornelio Fabro, who explains the design of this important dissertation: the author gives a presentation of the metaphysics of Aquinas such as he sees it laid down in the Summa contra gentiles (SCG). He does so from the viewpoint of the doctrine of participation.

After a general introduction to Aquinas's concept of being and the act of being, Mendez considers the distinction between essence and the act of being in SCG 2.52. Being as such is one and not diversified. It becomes many and varied by something outside itself. After these introductory investigations the author gives a survey of "ascending dynamics," that is, from being to the act of being (pp. 81ff.). By this Mendez means the analysis of gradated perfections which leads us to discover God.

Next the author returns to the level of created things, which depend on God for their being. According to Aquinas, Plato and Aristotle did not reach this insight. This takes us to the fourth section: the foundation of the metaphysical "disruption" (meaning differentiation in created things), which Aquinas places in God. In the last part of his dissertation Mendez shows that God's love is the cause of creation; out of love God lets created things share in his perfection. This divine love is free and entirely gratuitous.

This study in Thomistic metaphysics is a difficult but important work: it follows a well organized scheme and is entirely faithful in rendering Aquinas' thought. The stress laid on participation is so overwhelming, however, that the author risks pushing aside other considerations. He makes only scanty use for the First Way, whose conclusion (God is actus purus) is so important both in the SCG and the Summa theologiae. Likewise the Second, Third, and Fifth Ways are hardly mentioned. The metaphysics of Aquinas is broader and richer than one particular, sometimes onesided, approach (such as Fabro's) assumes it to be. One should never neglect the place of efficient and final causality in his doctrine. We cannot but protest any attempt to reduce all of St. Thomas's metaphysics to participation. A final remark concerns the wording of the text: it is clear inasmuch as it expresses acute reasoning, but it is often a far cry from the noble simplicity and limpidity of Aquinas's text. One sample (taken out of hundreds of similar phrases) will suffice: "This implies that the static moment of the synthetic being, in the affirmation of its consistent truth, is derived at the dynamic level of its foundation, from its continuity with the Being-by-essence" (p. 75). Despite these flaws this thesis is a fine study of the theme of participation in the Summa contra gentiles.
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Author:Elders, Leo J.
Publication:The Review of Metaphysics
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Dec 1, 1992
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