A Historical and Philosophical Profile
The development of ideas in Thomas Aquinas's philosophical thinking has been the subject of numerous smaller studies, but no contemporary work in the English-speaking world covers his every single work in chronological order in terms of philosophical development, influences, manuscript evidence, and historical setting. In Thomas Aquinas: A Historical and Philosophical Profile, Pasquale Porro has provided a complete landscape of Thomas's corpus that will give Thomistic scholars and students an invaluable reference point for research, discussion, and debate.
Porro's chronological approach contrasts with the systematic and thematic approach of existing summaries of Thomas's "philosophy," many of which provided only the thinnest historical contextualization and minimal accounts of influences. Beginning with the De principiis naturae and the De ente et essentia, composed while Thomas was still a young "bachelor of the Sentences," and concluding with a letter to the abbot of Monte Cassino, written shortly before his death in 1274, Porro meticulously sets each of the Angelic Doctor's writings in its unique historical context, indicating developments and changes of mind, and extensively analyzing the full range of philosophical influences—from Aristotle, Augustine, Proclus, and Pseudo-Dionysius to Maimonides, Avicenna, and Averroes, among others. Throughout the book he offers commentary on the existence and state of manuscripts and critical editions of Thomas's various texts, giving the reader a glimpse of the condition of the primary sources available to scholars. As he moves from one writing to the next, Porro also presents a finely wrought portrait of the Dominican master's life. Unlike many expositions of Thomas's thought, which relegate his biography to an introductory chapter, Porro works the biographical details into his interpretation of the texts, making them an essential part of his account of the historical circumstances in which Thomas wrote, thereby enhancing the reader's understanding of his texts.
Porro's interpretation of the philosophical dimension of Thomas's work challenges certain prevalent twentieth century interpretations on such topics as epistemological realism, the relationship between essence and existence, and creaturely contingency. Nevertheless, even scholars who disagree with him on particular points will have much to gain from this meticulously-researched and clearly-written study.
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"The breadth and depth of Porro's research is exemplary The clear and readable prose, as rendered in English by trabbic and Nutt, is the icing on the cake Summing up: Recommended"—F. A. Grabowski, Rogers State Univ, CHOICE
" a significant work in Thomistic studies, which certainly deserves a place in any graduate-level academic collection on philosophy or theology."—Amy Jill Strickland, Catholic Library World
"Porro is well-known as an expert on Aquinas, and in the present volume he offers a magisterial contribution to Aquinas scholarship. Anyone with serious interests in Aquinas who lacks fluency in Italian will be grateful to the translators and to the Catholic University of America Press for making the book available in English... his writings contain much that contemporary philosophers can recognize as philosophical. And Porro picks up on this fact to great effect. He offers a wonderful account of Aquinas's philosophy."—Brian Davies, Fordham University, Catholic Historical Review
"the translation of Porro's latest book on the Angelic Doctor identifies and fills a gap in Anglophone scholarship"—Mehmet Ciftci, Blackfriars, Oxford, Theology
"Anglophone philosophers and Thomists owe a debt of gratitude to Joseph Trabbic and Roger Nutt for their recent translation of Pasquale Porro's Thomas Aquinas: A Historical and Philosophical Profile. One of Europe's leading historians of medieval philosophy and editor of the prestigious journal Quaestio, Porro has achieved a truly original feat: a historical introduction to all of Thomas Aquinas's works accompanied by properly philosophical analyses of numerous key doctrines... Porro's opus stands out as unique within the literature on the Angelic Doctor... Porro writes in a very clear and accessible way, and the quality of his style comes out well in the English translation... There is little doubt that Porro has mastered the vast literature on Thomas's philosophical works and ideas... Porro's writings on De ente et essentia (int his book and elsewhere) should be required reading for metaphysicians... one cannot praise enough the astounding breadth and depth of Porro's metaphysical analyses... In short, Porro's marvelous work wil lsurely be a standard reference for scholars of Thomas's work for many years to come."—Bernhard Blankenhorn, The Thomist
"Translators Patrick M. Clark and Annie Hounsokou have presented Fr. Pinckaers' small book, The Spirituality of Martyrdom, which was originally published in French in 2000, in the context of the renewed interest in martyrdom. It is an offering that preceded many of the English-speaking works cited in the translators' introduction; and in many ways it anticipated them...However, Pinckaers speaks with purpose, clarity and great insight. As in much ressourcement theology, there is a deep engagement with the text of Holy Scripture. His chapter on martyrdom in Augustine is an outstanding account-both comprehensive and brief. Above all, Fr. Pinckaers is a wonderfully wise exegete and pastor."—Klooster, Anton ten, NTT Journal
"In his highly-regarded Thomas Aquinas: A Historical and Philosophical Profile, while grasping fully that by profession and self-understanding Thomas Aquinas was formally a Christian theologian for whom philosophy as such was a noble artifact of an un-Christian past, Pasquale Porro demonstrates that nonetheless in each of his writings Thomas turned decisively to the ancient discipline, at the time embodied in the Arts faculty of the university, not only to ground and guide his reform of theological pedagogy but also, as a sage, to engage directly the complete system of profane sciences. Reflecting the highest standards of philological and textual scholarship (notably the decades-long research of the Leonine Commission) accompanied by judicious philosophic analysis, Porro lucidly exposes the salient philosophical issues in each of Thomas's writings, which he presents in chronological order and interprets within the parameters of the temporal circumstances and institutional imperatives of their composition and in respect of the authoritative texts that Thomas encountered. The clear translation of Porro's original Italian text by Joseph Trabbic and Roger Nutt will make his masterful study readily accessible to English-speaking students and enthusiasts of Thomas Aquinas, and will serve to refine and elevate their discourse about the medieval Dominican." -Kent Emery, Jr., University of Notre Dame
"A major work. In elegant fashion, Porro gives a masterful introduction to the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas that is both historical and analytically thematic. Tracing the development of Aquinas's thought through time, this study serves as a wonderful introduction to the life of Aquinas, and simultaneously explains his thought within the context of his age. Porro's clear speculative analysis of Aquinas's arguments have repercussions for many contemporary debates in metaphysics and epistemology. This book makes the lasting insights of Aquinas available in our epoch without sacrificing the integral study of St. Thomas as a towering historical figure of his age." – Thomas Joseph White, OP, Thomistic Institute, Washington, DC.
"Biographically situating this thinker's thought and works in time, place and philosophical and theological context, Porro accomplishes his ambitious task with lucid accounts of major philosophical teachings spelling out the reasoning of Aquinas and detailing his frequent use of sources such as Aristotle and Avicenna in the development of his teachings throughout his career. Porro's unique contextual approach to the writings of Aquinas and his astute analyses of arguments make this work both an invaluable introductory work for students and at the same time an insightful overview for philosophers, theologians and historians of ideas "– Richard C. Taylor, Marquette University and the De Wulf-Mansion Centre, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.
"While acknowledging that Thomas Aquinas was by profession a theologian rather than a philosopher, in this book Pasquale Porro follows a historical-philosophical methodology in proceeding through the vast corpus of Aquinas's writings according to their chronological order in search of the philosophical content found in each of them. Throughout he displays a remarkable command of Aquinas's texts as well as of much of the more recent secondary literature on his life and philosophical thought. Porro's book will be a pleasure for seasoned specialists on Aquinas to read, and a must for all who are seriously interested in his philosophy." – John Wippel, The Catholic University of America"
"Perhaps the most noteworthy feature of Porro's massive work is that he weaves together analysis of Thomas's philosophy with historical contextualization of the literature at hand. Porro not only presents Thomas's thought in chronological order but also wraps those considerations with elements of Thomas's biography. This approach gives the reader a simultaneous sense of stimulation from both the rigors of philosophical thinking and the elements of quality storytelling."—Religious Studies Review
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