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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Sunday Guest: Thomas Aquinas

The pseudo-Aristotelian but actually neo-Platonic and Muslimized Book on Causes is especially interesting because it teaches that 99% of causes -- souls, angels, God -- are invisible. What we would simply term "causes" i.e. physical ones (causa corporea temporalis) are mostly ignored. Man's loneliness in an inscrutable cosmos? Not at all. It is about the awareness of belonging to a Whole in which everything is linked to everything, and all is cybernetically under God's control so that nothing, nobody are left on their own. Cf. in Sanskrit, ṛta, triloka.

It may be remarked that, as it even happens with the entire Parts I and II of Thomas' Summa Theologiae, Jesus and the mystery of the Cross, the very core of Christianity, is "the great absent." The general impression, here and with other works by the Aquinas, is that he tries to write, in philosophical terms, a poetry book like Tasso's Il Mondo Creato (The Seven Days of Creation) or the other way round, Dante's Paradiso, depicting the world as it was in the beginning, as it should be, as it will be after Salvation has been fully accomplished. Cf EA Poe's Eureka, in many respects.

The quote: "Somehow, the human soul exists because of the influence of angels, i.e. insofar as the human body is prepared to receive this type of soul by virtue of the celestial bodies acting on the 'seed,' that is why Aristotle said that man and the sun beget man." (§ 143)

Thomas Aquinas, In Librum de Causis expositio, edited by Fr. Ceslao Pera OP, Turin, IT: Marietti, 1955, pages LVIII + 174. The title is more extensively developed (in Latin) on page 1 as follows: "Book of the Pseudo-Aristotle dealing with Pure Goodness, or Book on Causes. Thirty-two propositions from the Elements of Theology written by the great philosopher Proclus, translated into Arabic and commented supposedly by the sublime Muslim philosopher al-Farabi, translated into Latin by Gerard from Cremona, and explained by Thomas Aquinas."
The book provides:
- A general introduction about the Book on Causes;
- An essay on "the Muslim Soul looking for spiritual harmony," both by Fr. Pietro Caramello;
- A "doctrinal" foreword by Prof. Carlo Mazzantini, where "doctrinal" however refers to the general structure of Proclus' Elements of Theology and the way in which it has been reused in the Book on Causes;
- A long list of passages in Thomas' work needing to be edited, on the basis of the different existing variations;
- The 32 propositions, each including the Book's text, Thomas' explanations, and three kinds of notes: as to the text, as to its meaning, as to the hints in the other works by the Aquinas, etc., sometimes adding quotations from Dante and other authors;
- A table showing the occurrences of quotations from the Book on Causes in Thomas' main works;
- A list of the philosophers and theologians being quoted in the book, and a list of mentioned names;
- An index of the main subjects being dealt with.

Supplier: Nuova Atlantide (go).