Theory and History of Ontology

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Selected Bibliography of Jan A. Aertsen. Writings in English

Jan Adrianus Aertsen (Amsterdam, 1938 - 2016), formerly professor of Medieval Philosophy and Modern Catholic Philosophy at the Free University of Amsterdam (since 1984), was the director of the Thomas Institute in Cologne (Germany) until 2003; his areas of interest were the history of transcendentals, the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas and Meister Eckhart.

A complete bibliography of his writings up to 2002 was published by Sabine Folger-Fonfara in:

Martin Pickavé (ed.), Die Logik des Transzendentalen. Festschrift für Jan A. Aertsen zum 65. Geburstag, Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2003, (Miscellanea Mediaevalia, 30), pp. XXIII-XXXII.

I give an updated bibliography with the omission of the publications in Dutch and of some minor writings.


  1. Aertsen, Jan A. 1984. Medieval Reflections on Truth. Adaequatio rei et intellectus. Amsterdam: VU Boekhandel.

    Inaugural address on the occasion of his taking up the chair of Medieval philosophy of the Free University in Amsterdam on November 9, 1984.

    "There are certain basic words which form the undertone of our thinking and of the manner in which we experience things. These basic words are not unchangeable; they often receive a different content . . . One such basic word is 'truth'."

    This is the start of the report of the Synod of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands, issued in 1981, "On the nature of the authority of Scripture".(1) How does it happen that the Bible is read so differently? In searching for an answer to this problem, the report adopts a course remarkable within the. Reformed tradition. It poses a truly philosophical question: "What is truth?" That the Bible is read differently is related to the fact that not all people mean the same by what they call "truth".

    If I want to raise this same question today, then I am in good company - though I must add at once that it is the matter rather than the company that motivates me. From the outset, that is, as early as with the Greeks, philosophy and truth are seen in an intimate connection. Aristotle, for example, describes philosophy as the "theory" of truth.(2) It is in the Middle Ages, however, that for the first time treatises appear under the title of De veritate, where truth itself is explicitly made the object of reflection. I would like to draw your attention to medieval observations on the query about truth.

    'Adaequatio rei et intellectus' as the medieval formula of truth and the criticism of it.

    Is an exposition on this theme worthwhile, though? Do we not already know what truth was in the Middle Ages? Probably there is no formulation in scholastic thought that has become more widely known. Even those who did not enjoy the privilege of a classical education are able to say that truth is adaequatio rei et intellectus. What is meant by that seems to be clear. The formula appears to express the "natural" idea of truth, i.e., the correspondence between thought and reality. The determination of truth as adaequatio has become so self-evident that, as the Handbuch philosophischer Grundbegriffe states, it is the point of depart and reference for all contemporary discussions on truth.(3) It can be added that this occurs mostly in a critical sense. Two examples may suffice.

    In the above-mentioned synodal report the first chapter sketches the changes in the concept of truth over the course of time. The so-called subject/object relation underlies the entire exposition, apparently from the unquestioning presupposition that this relation is fundamental to the phenomenon of truth as such. The changes in the concept of truth, then, are described in three phases. Successively the report speaks of "objective truth", "subjective truth" (in systems of thought like idealism and existentialism), and finally, of a newer conception called the "relational" concept of truth - the objective and the subjective in one. This means that "truth always occurs within a relation, within the 'relatedness' of man to something else."(4) As the report claims, moreover, this relational concept of truth links up with what the Bible calls truth.

    The objective concept of truth - the most current idea of truth - is represented by the medieval formula, phrased "truth is the correspondence of the human way of picturing things with the matters themselves." The human way of imagining things, the human consciousness, is like a mirror able to reflect "the objective state of affairs". This conception of truth is not only ascribed to Thomas Aquinas, but to a great variety of people: " . . . Greek philosophers, . . . the classical Reformed theologians, . . . the logician Bertrand Russell, . . . the Marxist Lenin". The drawback of this conception, in the assessment of the report, is that man is very passive. Does knowing the truth not demand man's activity, research; and wrestling? Without a human spirit there is no truth.

    An entirely different criticism can be found in Heidegger, who dealt most thoroughly with the western conception of truth. The lectures he delivered at the University of Freiburg during the winter semester of 1942-43 appeared in 1982 in the Gesamtausgabe of his works under the title Parmenides.(5) Strictly speaking, the title is misleading for actually these lectures deal with the essence of truth, the identical subject that engaged Heidegger in writing Vom Wesen der Wahrheit, which dates from the same time. In the lectures, however, there is "a more direct confrontation with the history of western thought".(6) In his view a change in the essence and "locus" of truth has evolved in philosophy. Truth becomes "rightness" (Richtigkeit) of knowing and asserting; it is no longer "unconcealedness" (aletheia) of being, as it was for the early Greek thinkers. The medieval formulation fixes this essential transformation. " `Veritas est adaequatio intellectus ad rem' Im Sinne dieser Umgrenzung des Wesens der Wahrheit als Richtigkeit denkt das gesamte abendländische Denken von Platon bis zu Nietzsche. "(7) Truth becomes a characteristic of a mental act within man. Inevitably the problem then arises how a psychical process in the inner man can be brought into agreement with things outside.(8) This traditional and current conception of truth, however, is derivative (abkünftig). Parmenides' thought reveals "the road of truth, far away from the beaten track of men". (Fragm. B 1, 27). It can give us a reminder of the forgotten "primordial" sense of truth, the unhiddenness of being, which is the ground of the possibility of rightness.

    But when the proper function of philosophy is to "re-mind", we are also allowed to ask of this twofold criticism: do we recall the meaning of truth as adaequatio rei et intellectus at all? Does it have a merely derivative sense, i.e., the rightness of thought? On the other hand, does the formula imply that truth is "reflection" and leave the human mind out of account? These questions lead, me this afternoon to focus on medieval views of truth, in which the idea of the adaequatio plays a central role." (pp. 3-5)

    Concluding observations.

    Looking back over the course of this discussion, we may conclude that the criticism of the medieval adaequatio-formula, outlined at the beginning, did not grasp its original meaning. Neither is this conception concerned with truth in a merely derivative sense, nor does it ignore man's activity. For in the previous analysis we observed that Thomas's notion of true includes first, transcendentality, second, relationality, third, anthropocentrism, fourth, the fulfilment in an act of the intellect, fifth, the necessity of a norm and measure, sixth the intrinsic connection with the word, seventh, the relation to the divine Logos, and finally, the identity with God Himself. These moments are implicitly or explicitly expressed in the formula adaequatio rei et intellectus, in which every term is charged with meaning.

    Compared to the breadth of this conception, modern theories appear to be a reduction of the integral process of truth. It is philosophically important to note that in the medieval approach what is fundamental to truth is not the duality of subjective and objective from which then their togetherness has to be conceived. Rather, it is the primordial conformity of being and intellect that is fundamental to truth. Indeed, as we have seen, being and thinking are the same in the Origin.

    Another remarkable aspect in this medieval view is the attempt to integrate philosophical and religious truth. This endeavour runs parallel to the philosophical introduction of the synodal report of the Reformed Churches, with which I began this address. Its intention is that the "relational" concept of truth links up with what the Bible calls truth. Thomas's conception lies concretely in the notion of word, a good example of the way in which his understanding of truth is deepened by a theological reflection. But that which fundamentally enables the integration is the basic idea of the transcendentality of truth. This conception underlies his entire discussion.

    The medieval doctrine of the transcendentals - being, one, true, good, and beautiful - forms "the heart of scholastic ontology and metaphysics."(93) This doctrine will be the subject of my research over the coming years. Today I wanted to present you with a sample of it.(94)


    (1) In the Dutch original, the report carries the title God met ons . . . over de aard van het Schriftgezag, published in: Kerkinformatie, nr. 113 (Febr. 1981). The report was translated into English by the Secretariat of the Reformed Ecumenical Synod, Grand Rapids, Mich., U.S.A.

    (2) Metaphysica II, c. I, 993 a 30. Cf. 993 b 20.

    (3) L.B. Puntel - Wahrheit, in: Handbuch philosophischer Grundbegriffe III, München, 1974, 1651. Cf. Th. de Boer - De eindigheid van de mens en de oneindigheid van de waarheid. De geschiedenis van het fenomenologisch waarheidsbegrip van Brentano tot Levinas, in: De eindige mens?, Bilthoven, 1975, 55 f.

    (4) o.c., 10 (in the English translation).

    (5) Frankfurt am Main, 1982 (Gesamtausgabe II. Abteilung, Bd. 54).

    (6) Vom Wesen der Wahrheit, in: Wegmarken, Frankfurt am Main, 1967, 73-97. See also for Heidegger's view of truth Sein und Zeit, VIII ed., 1957, 212 f.; Vom Wesen des Grundes, in: Wegmarken, 25 f.; Platons Lehre von der Wahrheit, in: id., 109-144; Kant und das Problem der Metaphysik, Frankfurt am Main, III ed., 1965, 31 f.; 107 f.; 112 f.

    Cf. W. Brettschneider - Sein und Wahrheit. Über die Zusammengehörzgkeit von Sein und Wahrheit im Denken Martin Heideggers, Meisenheim, 1965; J. van der Hoeven - Heidegger, Descartes, Luther, in: Reflecties, Opstellen voor Prof. dr. J.P.A. Mekkes, Amsterdam, 1968, 71-116; Th. de Boer - o.c., 78 f.; E. Tugendhat - Heideggers Idee von Wahrheit, in: G. Skirbekk (Hrsg.) - Wahrheitstheorien. Eine Auswahl aus den Diskussionen fiber Wahrheit im 20. Jahrhundert, Frankfurt am Main, 2nd edition, 1980, 431-448.

    (7) Parmenides, 73.

    (8) id., 74.

    (93) J.B. Lotz - Zur Konstitution der transzendentalen Bestimmungen des Sein nach Tomas von Aquin, in: Die Metaphysik im Mittelalter (Hrsg. P. Wilpert), Berlin, 1963, (Miscellanea Mediaevalia Bd. 2) 334.

    (94) Cf. my essay "The Convertibility of Being and Good in St. Thomas Aquinas" to be published in The New Scholasticism [59, 1985, pp. 449-470]

  2. ———. 1988. Nature and Creature. Thomas Aquinas's Way of Thought. Leiden: Brill.

    Translated by Herbert Donald Morton from the Dutch Dissertation Natura en Creatura. De denkweg van Thomas van Aquino (Amsterdam, 1982) .

    Contents: List of Abbreviations XI; Preface XIII; Introduction 1; 1. From questioning towards knowing 7; 2. By the way of predication ( Per via predicationis): Definition and participation 54; 3. By the way of causality ( Per viam causalitatis) 92; 4. The way of truth ( Via veritatis); 5. By the way of reason ( Per viam rationis) 191; 6. Hodo-logy 230; 7. Principium 279; 8. Finis 337; Epilogue 391; Bibliography 397; Index Rerum 409-413.

    "The study presented here is the revised version of a doctoral dissertation that was submitted to the Central Interfaculty (Faculty of Philosophy) of the Free University in Amsterdam in fulfillment of the requirements of the Doctorate of Philosophy and defended publicly on April 16, 1982. That this dissertation was originally published at a Protestant university may be considered a sign of common responsibility for a Doctor of the still undivided western Christendom." (from the Preface).

    "Our aim was to develop an interpretation of the inner coherence and direction of Thomas's philosophizing. This objective was pursued by following his way of thought and by seeking to fathom the motives of his quest for intelligibility. Now that this inquiry has been brought to an end, it turns out that our investigation of Thomas's way of thought has proceeded according to the order of the transcendentals "being," "true," and "good." Their logical order, which Thomas sketches, is that "being" is the first and that "the true" and "good" come after it, in this order. For, so he argues in S. Th. I, 16, 4, "knowledge naturally precedes the appetite." "Being" is the first, "good" the ultimate.

    From the triad "being"-"true"-" good," their convertibility, and their conceptual nonidentity a number of coherences can be brought to light that were not always signalized or worked out by Thomas himself. They are nonetheless most illuminating for the movement of Thomas's thought, and also for the course of our investigation. These coherences show that in what has preceded, a multiplicity of themes has been traversed according to a definite pattern." (p. 391)

    (7) The result of Aristotle's exposition in Metaph. II is the thesis: "There is the same disposition of things in being and in truth" (4.3.1.). On the analogy of this thesis Thomas himself frames the statement: "There is the same disposition of things in goodness and in being" (8.1.1.). A hierarchical order can be found in being, the true, and good. Whatever is in any way and is true and is good is to be reduced to the first Being, to the maximally True and to the ultimate Good, namely, God. The causal relation of God to the world is therefore threefold. He is 'causa efficiens', 'exemplaris', and 'finalis'. With this threefold causality Thomas connects the triad of transcendental determinations 'ens (or: unum) - verum - bonum'.

    This coherence of the transcendentals with the divine causality makes clear that the "anthropocentrism" in Thomas's doctrine is to be specified: man is marked by a transcendental openness, certainly, is "in a certain sense all things," but not in a constitutive sense. It is typical of the medieval approach to inquire into the origin of being, into the ground of the truth and goodness of things. This origin and ground is conceived as "creation." Every being is true and good because it is thought and willed by the Creator. The relational character of the transcendentals "true" and "good" is ultimately founded in the relation to the divine intellect and will.

    The divine foundation of the transcendentals is connected by Thomas with the circulation in God Himself, the eternal coming forth of the Persons. "Being" (or: "one") is attributed by appropriation to the Father, "true" to the Son, and "good" to the Spirit. This connection with the divine Trinity provides the basis for developing a trinitarian interpretation of that which is creaturely. In the conceptual nonidentity of the transcendentals ' ens - verum - bonum' the threefold structure of that which is comes to expression. Viewed in the light of the Triune causality, the different components of that which is concur into a unity.

    "Being," "true," and "good" are not only common names but also divine names. The relation of what is common to what is proper to the Transcendent is conceived by Thomas in terms of "participation." He subscribes to Aristotle's criticism of this Platonic idea by stating that there

    are no separate, self-subsisting Forms of natural things. But Thomas, in the prologue to his commentary to pseudo-Dionysius's De divinis nominibus, recognizes the legitimacy of this doctrine with regard to what is most common. Only in the case of transcendental forms can a first be posited which is the perfection essentially and as such subsistent. All else must consequently be understood as participation in this perfection. Against this background it becomes understandable that Thomas conceives "creation" preeminently as "participation."

    The doctrine of the transcendentals is found to have an important, integrating function in Thomas's way of thought. In man's quest for intelligibility, the transcendentals present a comprehensive perspective on nature and creature. Their circular ways come to an end in the return to the Origin, in which "being," "true," and "good" are perfectly one." (pp. 395-396).

  3. ———. 1996. Medieval Philosophy and the Transcendentals. The Case of Thomas Aquinas. Leiden: Brill.

    Contents: Preface IX-X; Introduction 1; One. The Beginnings of the Doctrine of the Transcendentals 25: Two. Thomas's General Account of the Transcendentals 71; Three. Metaphysics and the Transcendentals 113; Four. Being as the first Transcendental 159; Five. One as Transcendental 201; Six. True as Transcendental 243; Seven. Good as Transcendental 290; Eight. Beauty: A forgotten Transcendental? 335; Nine. Transcendentals and the Divine 360; Conclusions 416; Bibliography 439; Index Nominum 455; Index Rerum 459-467.

    Spanish translation: La Filosofía medieval y los trascendentales. Un estudio sobre Tomás de Aquino, Pamplona: Eunsa 2003.

    "The title of this book speaks of "Medieval Philosophy" and "the Transcendentals." It can be read as affirming that there is a philosophy in the Middle Ages and that this philosophy encompasses a doctrine of the transcendentals alongside many others.

    But our aims in this work are more ambitious. Our title means to suggest a more intrinsic relation between the terms "Philosophy" and "Transcendentals" than mere juxtaposition. We want to show that philosophy in the Middle Ages expresses itself as a way of thought which can be called "transcendental." The present book may therefore be seen as a contribution to the discussion of the question: what is philosophy in the Middle Ages? A recent review of literature offers a telling example of the relevance of this question: "Unmistakably philosophical research about the Middle Ages has fallen into a crisis ( ... ) It is even impossible to reach agreement on the premise what philosophy means in the Middle Ages.(1) '"

    (1) A. Speer and J.H.J. Schneider, "Das Mittelalter im Spiegel neuerer Literatur", in: Theologische Quartalschrift 172 (1992), p. 235.


    In this introductory chapter I want first to analyze three different answers to the question "Is there a medieval philosophy?" that are (or were) important for the place of the Middle Ages in the history of philosophy. This analysis affords me an opportunity to take stock of the current study of medieval philosophy (0.1.-0.3.), I will then explain how I myself approach the period, indicating what, in my view, is constitutive for the thought of the Medium Aevum (0.4.). This final section will clarify the intention of this book." (pp. 1-2).


    "Is there a medieval philosophy? Thus far I have discussed three significant conceptions, those of Gilson, of the Cambridge History and of De Libera. They have made substantial contributions to the study of medieval philosophy, but I have formulated objections to all three because they do not provide sufficient insight into the philosophical dimension of medieval thought. Now in order t0 make some progress in this question, I am interested in statements by medieval writers in which they personally indicate what they consider to be fundamental to their thought or what they regard as decisive for the possibility of philosophy. Such "ego" statements are relatively rare among Scholastic authors, but they are not altogether absent. I mention four examples, all taken from theologi. [The authors discussed are Bonaventure, Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus and Meister Eckhart.] (p. 17).

    "The transcendental way of thought is neglected in the conceptions of medieval philosophy discussed above. Although the doctrine of the transcendentals is the core of medieval metaphysics, the doctrine is not considered at all in Gilson's The Spirit. In the Cambridge History it receives only one brief reference (p. 493), and it remains outside of consideration in De Libera's determination of the place of medieval philosophy. One of the objectives of the present study is to show not only that the "forgotten" doctrine is important for our understanding of medieval philosophy, but also that the idea of medieval philosophy as a transcendental way of thought does not exclude the other conceptions, but incorporates them.

    The conception of medieval philosophy as transcendental thought expresses already in its terminology a moment of continuity with modern philosophy, for the term 'transcendental' is generally reserved for the way of thought inaugurated by Kant.

    Kant brings the project of his three Critiques together under the title of "Transcendental Philosophy," but he himself recognizes that this notion has a long tradition. In the Critique of Pure Reason (B 113) he points to the 'transcendental Philosophy of the Ancients" and quotes the proposition "so famous among the Schoolmen: quodlibet ens est unum, verum, bonum," At the same moment, however, he distances himself from the traditional conception. 'These supposed transcendental predicates of things are nothing else but logical requirements and criteria of all knowledge of things in general" (B 114 ) . 'Transcendental' in the Kantian sense is concerned with the mode of our cognition of objects, insofar as this mode of cognition is possible a priori.

    The Kantian perspective has strongly affected the study of medieval transcendental thought. An example of the connection of medieval thought with "modernity" is to be found in Kurt Flasch's important study on Nicholas of Cusa which contains a chapter, entitled "Metaphysics and Transcendental Thought in the Middle Ages. (56) Flasch does not refer here to the doctrine of the transcendentals, for he wants to take the term 'transcendental' exclusively in a Kantian sense, that is, as transcendental-logical. (57) Every transcendental philosophy, in his view, is based on the idea that the world of objects is constituted by the human mind. Transcendental thought in the Middle Ages is therefore related to those thinkers who acknowledge a constitutive function of the human mind, such as the German Dominican Dietrich of Freiberg (d.

    after 1310), They show "a much more modern Middle Ages than it is generally supposed. "(58)

    Yet this transcendental-logical approach seems questionable from a historical point of view. It makes the Kantian position the exclusive criterion for determining what transcendental thought is in the Middle Ages. Medieval philosophers, however developed their own concept of transcendentality, and it is this way of thought that Kant called the 'Transcendental Philosophy of the Ancients'.

    It would be more appropriate historically and philosophically to consider the medieval doctrine as a distinctive form within the tradition of transcendental philosophy.

    The French scholar S. 8reton wrote in 1963 that the doctrine of the Transcendentals is "classic and yet poorly known."·(59) His observation still holds. We only possess two general studies on this subject, the first by H. Knittermeyer, the other by G. Schulemann.

    Both studies go back to the 1920's and must be regarded as out of date. Their main shortcomings are that they do not pay sufficient attention to the historical and doctrinal background of the formation of the doctrine in the thirteenth century and fail to give an explicit analysis of the notion of transcendentality. A new history of transcendental thought in the Middle Ages is required.(61)

    The focus in this book will be on Thomas Aquinas ( 1 224/5-1274), a representative of medieval thought, whose importance for the transcendental way of thought is often neglected or underestimated. Although libraries have been written on his thought, and although we possess various studies of some aspects of his doctrine of the transcendentals, it is striking that a comprehensive study of Aquinas's doctrine is lacking. This book will till this lacuna and wants to show that the doctrine of the transcendentals is not, as has been suggested, "a small, rather insignificant part' of his metaphysics," (62) but is of fundamental importance for his thought. By the same token, the study will substantiate in an exemplary way the claims made in this section concerning the conception of medieval philosophy as a transcendental way of


    Thomas Aquinas was, however, not the first to formulate the doctrine of the transcendentals. The beginning of the doctrine is t0 be located in the first half of the thirteenth century; it coincides with the introduction of a voluminous body of new philosophical literature into the Latin West. Not only the entire corpus aristotelicum, but also the writings of Arabic philosophers become available in translation at this time. In the first chapter we will analyze the beginning of the doctrine of the Transcendentals. It is, of course, a requirement of modern scholarship on Thomas t0 place his philosophy in its proper historical context. The first chapter provides the background for Thomas's transcendental thought and enables us to see its traditional and innovative aspects," (pp. 21-24)

    (56) K. Flasch, Die Metaphysik des Einen bei Nikolaus von Kues. Problemgeschichtliche Stellung und systematische Bedeutung, Leiden 1973, pp. 105 ff.

    (57) See the extensive note in ibid., p. 103.

    (58) Ibid., p. 156. Cf. on Dietrich of Freiberg K. Flasch, "Kennt die mittelalterliche Philosophie die konstitutive Funktion des menschlichen Denkens? Eine Untersuchung zu Dietrich von Freiberg", in: Kantstudien 63 (1972), pp. 182·206.

    (59) S. Breton, "L'idée de transcendantal et la genèse des transcendantaux chez Saint Thomas d'Aquin". in: Saint Thomas d'Aquin aujourd'hui, Paris, 1963. p. 45.

    (60) H. Knittermeyer, Der Terminus Transzendental in seiner historischen Entwicklung bis Kant, Marburg 1920; G. Schulemann, Die Lehre der Transzendentalen in der scholatischen Philosophie (Forschungen zur Geschichte der Philosophie lind der Pädagogik, vol. IV,2), Leipzig 1929.

    (61) Cfr. J..A. Aertsen, "The Medieval Doctrine of the Transcendentals: The Current State of Research", in: Bulletin de la Philosophie médiévale, 33 (1991), Pl'· 130-147. See also the special issue of Topoi 11 (1992). devoted to the 'Transcendentals in the Middle Ages," (ed. J.J.E. Gracia) It contains contributions by J..J.E. Gracia, S. Dumont, J. Marenbon, J.A. Aersten and S. MacDonald.

    (62) L. Honnefelder, "Die Rezeption des scotischen Denkens im 20. Jahrhundert", in: Theologische Realenzycklopedie vol IX, sV. "Duns Sc0tus/Scotisumus II, Berlin/New York 1982, p. 233; id., Transzedentalität und Moralität. Zum mittelartelichen Ursprung zweier zentraler Topoi der neuzeitlichen Philosophie, in: Theologissche Quartalschrift 172 (1992). p. 184.

  4. ———. 2012. Medieval Philosophy as Transcendental Thought. From Philip the Chancellor (ca. 1225) to Francisco Suárez. Leiden: Brill.

    Contents: Preface XIX-XX; Introduction 1; One. The Concept of transcendens in Medieval Thought: What is beyond and what is common 13; Two: Conditions, Presuppositions and Sources of a Doctrine of the Transcendentals 35; Three. The Beginning of the Doctrine of the Transcendentals (ca. 1225): Philip the Chancellor 109; Four. The Doctrine of the Transcendentals in Franciscan Masters [Alexander of Hales, Bonaventure] 135; Five. Albertus Magnus: Different Traditions of thought and the Transcendentals 177; Six: Thomas Aquinas: A First Model 209; Seven. Henry of Ghent: The onto-theological transformation of the doctrine 273; Eighth. The German Dominican School: Dietrich of Freiberg and Meister Eckhart 315; Nine. Duns Scotus: A Turn in the Doctrine of the Transcendentals 371; Ten. Discussions on the Scotist Conception [Francis of Meyronnes, Peter Thomae, Nicholas Bonet, Francis of Marchia] 433; Eleven. The Doctrine of the Transcendentals in Nominalism [William of Ockham, John Buridan] 515; Twelve. Neoplatonic Critiques of Transcendental Metaphysics [Berthold of Moosburg, Nicholas of Cusa] 545; Thirteenth. The Doctrine of the Transcendentals in Renaissance Philosophy [Lorenzo Valla, Pico della Mirandola] 569; Fourteen. The "Metaphysical Disputations" of Francisco Suárez: Between Scholasticism and Modernity 587; Fifteenth. The Doctrine of the "Supertranscendentals": An Alternative Model? 635; Sixteen. Conclusion: The Importance of the transcendental way of thought for medieval philosophy 657; Bibliography 707; Index Nominum 741; Index Rerum 747-756.

    "The present work represents the completion of a research project that has engaged me intensively throughout my scholarly life. Its origins reach back to my inaugural address on the occasion of taking up the Chair of Medieval Philosophy at the Free University of Amsterdam (1984). At the end of this lecture, Medieval Reflections on Truth, 'Adaequatio rei et intellectus', I concluded that the idea of the transcendentality of truth underlies these reflections and announced that the medieval doctrine of the transcendentals "will be the subject of my research over the coming years".

    This programmatic statement, typical of an ambitious new professor, turned out to be a fortunate choice. The choice had been motivated by a twofold interest. Historically, the doctrine of the transcendentals is an innovative contribution of the Middle Ages to the history of philosophy; the origin of transcendental thought is not to be sought in modern philosophy but is medieval. Systematically, the transcendental terms "being", "one", "true" and "good" concern what is first in a cognitive respect and what is fundamental; they express "basic" words of philosophy.

    The project resulted in a large number of studies, including the monograph Medieval Philosophy and the Transcendentals. The Case of Thomas Aquinas (1996). In the Introduction, I advanced the provocative thesis of an intrinsic connection between medieval philosophy and transcendental thought, already suggested by the main title of the book. My argument was that the theory of the transcendentals is essential for insight into the properly philosophical dimension of medieval thought, which is often developed in a theological context; medieval philosophy can be regarded as a way of transcendental thought. The thesis provoked critical comments and questions: does it not presuppose an "essentialist" conception of medieval philosophy and ignore its real diversity? In my view, the critique was based on a misunderstanding, which could only be removed by providing a complete history of the doctrine of the transcendentals that shows the multiplicity of transcendental thought in the Middle Ages.

    In 2003, on the occasion of my retirement as Director of the Thomas Institute at the University of Cologne, thirty-five colleagues, friends and students offered me an impressive Festschrift with the title Die Logik des Transzendentalen. The editor of the volume expressed the hope (p. XXI) that the various contributions would stimulate the realisation of the planned history of the doctrine of the transcendentals in a not too remote future. The Festschrift was indeed both a tribute and a stimulus." (from the Preface)


  1. Aertsen, Jan A., and Speer, Andreas, eds. 1995. Die Bibliotheca Amploniana. Ihre Bedeutung im Spannunsfeld von Aristotelismus, Nominalismus und Humanismus. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

    Miscellanea Mediaevalia 23.

  2. ———, eds. 1996. Individuum und Individualität im Mittelalter. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

    Miscellanea Mediaevalia 24.

  3. ———, eds. 1998. Raum und Raumvorstellungen im Mittelalter. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

    Miscellanea Mediaevalia 25.

  4. ———, eds. 1998. Was ist Philosophie im Mittelalter? = Qu'est-ce que la philosophie au Moyen Âge? = What is philosophy in the Middle Ages? Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

    Miscellanea Mediaevalia 26.

    Akten des X. Internationalen Kongresses für mittelalterliche Philosophie der Société internationale pour l'étude de la philosophie médiévale, 25. bis 30. August 1997 in Erfurt.

  5. Aertsen, Jan A., ed. 1999. Albert der Grosse in Köln. Gehalten auf der Feierstunde zur 750sten Wiederkehr der Einrichtung des Kölner Generalstudiums der Dominikaner am 6. November 1998. Köln: Universität zu Köln.

  6. Aertsen, Jan A., and Endress, Gerhard, eds. 1999. Averroes and the Aristotelian Tradition. Leiden: Brill.

    Sources, Constitution and Reception of the Philosophy of Ibn Rushd (1126-1198).

    Proceedings of the Fourth Symposium Averroicum (Cologne, 1996).

  7. Aertsen, Jan A., Emery, Kent Jr., and Speer, Andreas, eds. 2001. Nach der Verurteilung von 1277. Philosophie und Theologie an der Universität von Paris im letzen Viertel des 13. Jahrunderts. Studien und Texte. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

    Miscellanea Mediaevalia 28.

    English title: After the Condemnation of 1277. Philosophy and Theology at the University of Paris in the Last Quarter of the Thirteenth Century. Studies and Texts

  8. Aertsen, Jan A., and Speer, Andreas, eds. 2001. Geistesleben im 13. Jahrhundert. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

    Miscellanea Mediaevalia 27.

  9. Aertsen, Jan A., and Pickavé, Martin, eds. 2002. Ende und Vollendung. Eschatologische Perspektiven im Mittelalter. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

    Miscellanea Mediaevalia 29.

    Mit einem Beitrag zur Geschichte des Thomas-Instituts der Universität zu Köln anlässlich des 50. Jahrestages Institutsgründung.

  10. Pickavé, Martin, ed. 2003. Die Logik des Transzendentalen. Festschrift für Jan A. Aertsen zum 65. Geburstag. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

    Miscellanea Mediaevalia 30.

  11. Aertsen, Jan A., and Pickavé, Martin, eds. 2004. 'Herbst des Mittelalters'? Fragen zur Bewertung des 14. und 15. Jahrhunderts. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

    Miscellanea mediaevalia 31.


Abbreviations: DT = Doctrine of the Transcendentals

  1. Aertsen, Jan A. 1985. "The Convertibility of Being and Good in St. Thomas Aquinas." New Scholasticism no. 59:449-470.

    "In many medieval thinkers, e.g. Alexander of Hales, Bonaventure, Albert the Great, Thomas Aquinas, the statement can be found: " being and good are convertible " (ens et Comm convertuntur).(1) That is to say, " being " and " good " are interchangeable terms in predication (converti enim est conversim praedicari).(2) Wherever " being " is predicated of something, the predicate " good " is involved as well.

    That must imply that " good " is here not a concept that adds a real content or a new quality to " being ", as a result of which " being " is restricted. For in that case there would be no question of convertibility.(3) " Good " is an attribute which pertains to every being, it is a property of being as such, a "mode that is common, and consequent upon every being." In other words, " good " is coextensive with " being ", it is one of the so-called transcendentie which, since Suarez, are usually referred to as " transcendentals ".

    (1) Alexander of Hales, Summa I, Inq. 1, Tract. 3, q. 3, membrum 1, c. 1, a. 1, "An idem sit bonum et ens "; Bonaventure, In II Sent., d. 1, p. 1, a. 1, q. 1, fundam. 5, "Ens et bonum eonvertuntur, sicut volt Dionysius ", d. 34, a. 2, q. 3, fundam. 4; Albert the Great, De Bono q. 1, a. 6; Summa Theol. tract. 6, q. 28; Thom. Aquinas, In I Sent. 8, 1, 3; De Ver. XXI, 2; In De Hebdomadibus, lect. 3; Summa Theol. I, 18, 3.

    (2) Thomas Aquinas, De Ver. I, 2 obj. 2.

    (3) De Pot. IX, 7 ad 5: Bonum quod est in genre qualitatis, non est bonum quod convertitur cum ante, quod nullam rem supra ens addit.

    (4) De Ver. I, 1: modus generaliter consequens omne ens.

    (5) Comp. Albert the Great, Summa Theologiae tract. 6, q. 27, c. 3: Bonum dicit intentionem communem et est de transcendentibus omne genus sicut et ens.

  2. ———. 1986. "The Circulation-Motive and Man in the Thought of Thomas Aquinas." In L'homme et son univers au moyen âge. Actes du septième congrès international de philosophie médiévale, 30 août - 4 septembre 1982, Vol. I, edited by Wenin, Christian, 432-439. Louvain-la-Neuve: Peeters.

    "Little attention is usually paid to this divine circular motion in the interpretation of Thomas' work, even though Thomas himself says in the prologue to the first book of his Commentary on the Sententiae that this bringing forth is the «reason» (ratio) of every subsequent process. The circulatio within God is the archetype of the work of creation. A trinitarian interpretation of Thomas' thought, albeit unusual, finds support in this idea. And his reflections on the originating order of the Trinity could also open up fruitful perspectives for further thought about (the problematics of) his thought.

    In his explanation of the Trinity, Thomas gives a new elaboration of the concept of relation. In the divine circulatio there are relation of primordiality which are subsistent : «In God relation and essence do differ in being from each other, but are one and the same» (S. Th., I 28, 2). Relation is not an accidental category of substance; being and relation belong « originally» together.

    This idea has remained outside of Thomas' metaphysics of creation. But it is this model of relation,which is philosophically important for a renewed reflection on created being. The relation of the creature to God is not accidental as Thomas claimed (18), but for the creature to be is to be in relation. At precisely this point a more comprehensive notion of finite being can be developed. There is the three-foldness in the creature: of subsistent-being, what-being, and act-being. These components agree in esse, which is a being from, through, and to God. In relationship to the Triune-Origin there is unity.

    In man the Trinity is represented in a distinctive way, viz., according to the identical character of activity (secundum eamdem rationem rationis, De potentia, 9, 9). The processes of intellection and volition are found in man. Man, who is a person, is therefore imago Trinitatis. It la in this idea that the «anthropocentrism» of medieval thought most clearly comes to the fore.

    The manner, however, in which man's movement to God is worked out by Thomas, formed a second «crux» in his thinking. Here again we find in his elaboration of the idea of relation, possibilities for giving his penetrating intuition of the circular motion of egress and return a more integral meaning.

    Man is destined to one purpose, viz., communion with God. His drama consists not so much in the natural inability to close the circle through knowing, as in the aversion from his own essentially relational mode of existence. The circular motion thereby comes to stand in a concrete salvation history. This moreover offers the possibility of doing justice to the internal coherence of the structure of the Summa Theologiae. In the prologue to bk. 1, 2, Thomas indicates this design: the first part deals with God, and «the procession of all creatures from Him»; the second with the movement of the rational creature toward Him; and the third with Christ who as man is the way (via) of our tending to God. The second person of the Trinity, the Word, became flesh in order to show mankind the way (back) to its Origin. True human-being is possible only by God's grace.

    In summary: the new perspective which Thomas' reflection on the faith mystery of the divine process opens up, is philosophizing oriented to the perfection of being-itself in being toward something else." (pp. 438-439)

    (18) De potentia, 3,3 ad 3.

  3. ———. 1987. "Natural Law in the Light of the Doctrine of Transcendentals." In Lex et Libertas. Freedom and Law according to St. Thomas Aquinas. Proceedings of the Fourth Symposium on St. Thomas Aquinas' philosophy, Rolduc, November 8-9, 1986, edited by Elders, Leo and Hedwig, Klaus, 99-112. Città del Vaticano: Pontificia Accademia di S. Tommaso e di Religione Cattolica.

  4. ———. 1989. "Method and Metaphysics: The v ia resolutionis in Thomas Aquinas." New Scholasticism no. 63:405-418.

  5. ———. 1990. "Aquinas and the Classical Heritage: A Response." In Christianity and the Classics. The Acceptance of a Heritage, edited by Helleman, Wendy E., 83-89. Lanham: University Press of America.

    Reply to the essay by Arvin Vos: As the Philosopher Says: Thomas Aquinas and the Classical Heritage, same volume, pp. 69-82.

    "Arvin Vos has written an excellent paper on Thomas Aquinas and the classical heritage. His paper shows admiration for and affinity with Aquinas's achievement. I share this admiration; Aquinas is a great thinker. Now it is a mark of great thinkers that the content of their thought is so full and rich that one can put emphasis on different aspects. And this is what I intend to do in my response by making some comments and raising some questions. My reflections, stressing a number of underlying ideas, are primarily meant as a supplement to what has been said.

    In order to present my remarks in a systematic and coherent way, I take as a starting point a statement of Aristotle which I will develop in four steps, more or less related to the main parts of Vos's paper: (1) the background of the thirteenth century; (2) Thomas's attitude towards Aristotle; (3) the relationship between faith and reason; and (4) the conclusion concerning the question whether the classical heritage can be integrated in the Christian position." (p. 83)

  6. ———. 1990. "The Eternity of the. World: The believing and the philosophical Thomas. Some Comments." In The Eternity of the World in the Thought of Thomas Aquinas and his Contemporaries, edited by Wissink, Jozef, 9-19. Leiden: Brill.

  7. ———. 1990. "Method and Metaphysics: The via resolutionis in Thomas Aquinas." In Knowledge and the Sciences in Medieval Philosophy. Proceedings of the Eighth International Congress of Medieval Philosophy (S.I.E.P.M.), Helsinki 24-29 August 1987, Vol. 3, edited by Tyôrinoja, Reijo, 3-12. Helsinki: Yliopistopaino.

  8. ———. 1991. "The Medieval Doctrine of the Transcendentals. The Current State of Research." Bulletin de Philosophie Médiévale no. 33:130-147.

    "An important, new development in medieval philosophy was the constitution of the doctrine of the transcendentals (DT) in the thirteenth century. The term « transcendental » - the medievals themselves speak of transcendens -- suggests a kind of surpassing. What is transcended are the special modes of being that Aristotle called the « categories », in the sense that the transcendentals are not restricted to one determinate category. « Being » and its « concomitant conditions », such as « one », « true » and « good », « go through (circumeunt) all the categories » (to use an expression of Thomas Aquinas). DT is thus concerned with those fundamental philosophical concepts which express universal features of reality.

    The doctrine played a prominent role in later medieval thought. The study of it is essential for our understanding of philosophy in this period, since, according to J.B. Lotz, [« Zur Konstitution der transzendentalen Bestimmungen des Seins nach Thomas von Aquin », in P. Wilpert(ed.), Die Metaphysik im Mittelalter (Miscellanea Mediaevalia, Vol. 2). Berlin 1963, pp. 334-340] p. 334), DT is « the core of Scholastic ontology and metaphysics ». Remarkably, however, research on this doctrine has hitherto been rather limited. The observation, made by the French scholar S. Breton [« L'idée de transcendental et la genèse des transcendentaux chez Saint Thomas d'Aquin » in Saint Thomas d'Aquin aujourd'hui. Paris 1963, pp. 45-74] p. 45) in 1963, that DT is « classic and yet poorly known », still holds. An example of its neglect is the Cambridge History of Later Medieval Philosophy (ed. N. Kretzmann, 1982) that contains only one brief reference (p. 493, to Ockham). In this contribution I want to take stock of the current state of research on DT, to assemble and discuss the relevant literature, to indicate certain lacunas, and to make some suggestions for further research." (p. 130).

  9. ———. 1991. "Good as Transcendental and the Transcendence of the Good." In Being and Goodness, edited by MacDonald, Scott, 56-73. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.


    In ST Ia.6.4 ("Whether all things are good by the divine goodness?") Thomas concludes that the Platonic view appears to be unreasonable in affirming that there are separate forms of natural things subsisting of themselves; still, it is absolutely true that there is something first that is essentially being and essentially good which we call God. Hence, everything can be called 'good' and 'being,' insofar as it participates in the first being, which is essentially good. To this conclusion Thomas still adds, however, an important remark. That every being is good through an external cause by no means excludes each things being called through a goodness that is formally its own goodness. "And so of all things," Thomas ends, "there is one goodness, and yet many goodnesses."

    This text can serve as a summary of our analysis, which is focused on the relation between the good as transcendental and the transcendence of the Good. I want to emphasize four points of philosophical importance in Thomas's reflection on the good.

    First, Thomas really understands the good transcendentally by establishing an intrinsic connection between being and goodness. To be is the actuality of everything and thereby a good proper to each thing. Things are called good in virtue of an inner goodness. It is characteristic of finite things that although being and good are convertible, there is in them nonetheless a nonidentity between being absolutely and good absolutely.

    Second, because the good is transcendental, Thomas applies to it the predication essentially or by participation. This predication expresses the transcendence of the divine goodness and the creaturely character of the goodness of other things. That which is in any way good must be reduced to what is good by its essence as to its origin. That things are good through an intrinsic goodness is not incompatible with their dependence on that which is the good itself.

    Third, from a historical point of view, Thomas effects a kind of synthesis between the Aristotelian way of thought and Aristotle's conception of the good, on the one hand -- the good is something common and the essential forms of things are inherent in them -- and the Platonic way of thought and Plato's conception of the good, on the other hand -- the Form of the Good is "separate" from particular goods.

    Fourth, Thomas effects a synthesis in still another respect. Characteristic of Boethius's position, according to MacDonald,(29) is the creation approach to explaining the relation between being and goodness. Aristotle's view, in contrast, exemplifies what might be called the nature approach. This approach explains what it is for a thing to be good by referring to the nature of the thing. "The historical significance of DH [Boethius's De Hebdomadibus] MacDonald says, "consists largely in its offering an interesting account of the nature of goodness which is possibly incompatible ... with the sort of account medieval philosophers found in Aristotle." Thomas's reflection on the claim that all things are good and on question how they are good can be regarded as a philosophically original synthesis of the nature approach and the creation approach."(30) The nature approach explains the intrinsic goodness of things, for 'nature' says what beings are in themselves; it always refers to an intrinsic principle. Now, it is Thomas's transcendentality claim that everything is good, insofar as it is. Things are good (in a certain respect) in virtue of their own being. So all things owe their being good to their nature. The creation approach explains that everything is called 'good' through an external cause, for 'creature' says being-related to the Origin of things. Creation expresses that things received their being and goodness from another. Their goodness consists in their relation to the transcendent good, that is, in their participation in what is goodness itself." (pp. 72-73)

    (29) MacDonald "Boethius's Claim That All Substances Are Good." Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 70:345-79, 1988. (See also the Introduction in this volume.)

    (30) The relation between nature an creature in Thomas is the central theme of Aertsen 1988a [ Nature and Creature]

  10. ———. 1991. "Beauty in the Middle Ages: A Forgotten Transcendental?" Medieval Philosophy and Theology no. 1:68-97.

  11. ———. 1991. "Thomas Aquinas (1224/5-1274). The natural desire for knowledge and its supernatural fulfillment." In Bringing into Captivity every Thought. Capita selecta in the History of Christian Evaluations of non-Christian Philosophy, edited by Klapwijk, Jacob, Griffioen, Sander and Groenewoud, Gerben, 95-122. Lanham: University Press of America.

  12. ———. 1992. "Truth as Transcendental in Thomas Aquinas." Topoi.An International Journal of Philosophy no. 11:159-171.

    "Aquinas presents his most complete exposition of the transcendentals in De veritate 1, 1, that deals with the question "What is truth?". The thesis of this paper is that the question of truth is essential for the understanding of his doctrine of the transcendentals.

    The first part of the paper (sections 1--4) analyzes Thomas's conception of truth. Two approaches to truth can be found in his work. The first approach, based on Aristotle's claim that "truth is not in things but in the mind", leads to the idea that the proper place of truth is in the intellect. The second approach is ontological: Thomas also acknowledges that there is truth in every being. The famous definition of truth as "adequation of thing and intellect" enables him to integrate the two approaches. Truth is a relation between two terms, both of which can be called "true" because both are essential for the conformity between thing and intellect.

    The second part of the paper (sections 5--7) deals with the manner in which Thomas gives truth a place in the doctrine of the transcendentals, and shows that his conception of truth leads to important innovations in this doctrine: the introduction of relational transcendentals and the correlation between spirit and being. If "truth" is transcendental, it must be convertible with "being". Sect. 6 discusses objections that Thomas advances himself to this convertibility.

    Sect. 7 deals with a difficulty in his account of truth as a relational transcendental. Ontological truth expresses a relation to an intellect but the relation to the human intellect is accidental for the truth of things. Essential for their truth can only be a practical intellect that causes things. In this way, Thomas argues, the divine intellect relates to all things." (p. 159)

  13. ———. 1992. "Ontology and Henology in Medieval Philosophy (Thomas Aquinas, Master Eckhart and Berthold of Moosburg)." In On Proclus and His Influence in Medieval Philosophy, edited by Bos, Egbert Peter and Meijer, Pieter A., 120-140. Leiden: Brill.

    "In this contribution I would like to investigate whether and in which way the opposition between ontology and henology took shape in medieval thinkers and was a subject of discussion. I will focus my inquiry on three Dominicans of different generations, namely, Thomas Aquinas, Master Eckhart and Berthold of Moosburg. The last one is the least well known of the three. Yet I want to begin with him, since we find in his work not only a justification but also a philosophical deepening of our question." (p. 122)


    5. Conclusion

    In my paper I first presented a medieval version of the question: "Metaphysics of Being or philosophy of the One?" - namely, the interpretation of Berthold of Moosburg. In his commentary on Proclus [*] he traces the opposition between ontology and henology to the different structures of thought associated with Aristotelianism and Platonism, which we have indicated with the keywords "transcendentality" and "transcendence" of the first. I then proceeded to use Berthold's model to elucidate the thought of Thomas Aquinas and Master Eckhart. To this analysis I would add three concluding observations.

    First, we can ascertain that for Thomas and Eckhart the transcendental and transcendent approaches do not form an absolute opposition. Thomas posits a causal relation between God and the maxime communia. Transcendentals are to be traced to God as their cause. Eckhart identifies. God and the transcendentia. That which is most general is God.

    Secondly, both in Thomas and in Eckhart the doctrine of transcendentals is found to have an integrating function. That is notable, because Berthold regards this doctrine as typical of the Aristotelian position. Now this theory certainly contains anti-Platonic elements, as we observed in Thomas, such as the emphasis on predicative generalness. But transcendentals have yet another aspect, which Berthold does not mention, an aspect which played an essential role in the development of the doctrine. Generally, the Summa de bono of Philip the Chancellor, written about 1230, is regarded as the first treatise on transcendentals. In the prologue of this work Philip observes that "being," "one," "true" and "good" are not only that which is most common but are sometimes also "appropriated," that is, treated as "proper" to something. For in Scripture these names are attributed pre-eminently to God, they are also divine names. (90) The attention given this second kind of naming is undoubtedly influenced by pseudo-Dionysius, who functions in Berthold as an eminent witness for the Platonic view. Thus we see that in the context of the doctrine of transcendentia themselves the question must arise concerning the relation between the most general which goes through all categories, and the divine which surpasses all categories.

    Thirdly, the medieval doctrine of transcendentals is pluriform. The solutions of Thomas and Eckhart diverge. Philosophically more important, however, is that in which they agree. Characteristic of philosophy is a transcending movement. It surpasses the concrete things of experience in quest of a first, from which reality can be understood. The answer to the question of what this first is can be sought in different directions. Berthold sketches two options: the first is the most general, which is the precondition for man's intellectual knowledge; or the first is the cause of the being of things but is not itself of the nature of the caused. Thomas and Eckhart represent a type of philosophical thought in which the two options in question are connected. That is their contribution to the debate about what philosophy should be: ontology or henology." (pp. 139-140)

    [* See note 16:] Berthold von Moosburg, Expositio super Elementationem theologicam Procli: Prologus. Propositiones 1-13 (Corpus Philosophorum Teotonicorum Medi Aevi VI, 1) ed. by M.R. Pagnoni-Sturlese and L. Sturlese, Hamburg 1984. The first volume contains a valuable ?Einleitung' by K. Flasch (XI - XXVIII). See also A. de Libera, Introduction à la mystique rhénane d'Albert le Grand à Maître Eckhart, Paris 1984.

    (90) Philippi Cancellarii Parisiensis Summa de bono (ed. N. Wicki), Bern 1985, 4 - 5. Cf. H. Pouillon, 'Le premier traité des propriétés transcendantales. La Summa de bono du Chancellier Philippe', Revue neoscolastique de philosophie 42 (1939), 40 - 77.

  14. ———. 1992. "The Platonic Tendency of Thomism and the Foundations of Aquinas's Philosophy." Medioevo no. 18:120-140.

  15. ———. 1993. "Aquinas's Philosophy in its Historical Setting." In The Cambridge Companion to Aquinas, edited by Kretzmann, Norman, 12-37. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    "In this chapter Aquinas's attitude towards philosophy, his leading sources, and the aims of his philosophical interest are clarified in two complementary ways. First, his writings, which are very voluminous in spite of his relatively early death, will be placed within the historical context of the thirteenth century. An overview of his work and its philosophical relevance will be provided in connection with the most important intellectual developments in this period -- the rise of the university, the reception of Aristotle, and the conflict between the faculties (sections II-IV). Subsequently, Aquinas's view of philosophy and of its relationship to theology will be elaborated in a more systematic way (sections V-X)." (p. 14)

  16. ———. 1995. "The Beginning of the Doctrine of the Transcendentals in Philip the Chancellor (ca. 1230)." In Quodlibetaria. Miscellanea studiorum in honorem Prof. J. M. da Cruz Pontes Anno Iubilationis suae Conimbrigae MCMXCV, edited by Santiago de Carvalho, Mario A., 269-286. Porto: Fundação Eng. António de Almeida.

    A revised version of this study form the Chapter Three of Medieval Philosophy as Transcendental Thought. From Philip the Chancellor (ca. 1225) to Francisco Suárez (2012), pp. 109-133.

    "Our comparative inquiry does not allow any other conclusion than that Philip the Chancellor, in the introductory questions of his Summa de bono, really presents something new. His intention of going back into the "ground of thought" by reducing our understanding of questions to the communissima results in the earliest systematic formulation of a doctrine of the transcendentals. The doctrine is introduced as the philosophical answer to the dualism of Manichaeism. For the first time, Philip brings together four basic notions, "being", "one", "true", and "good", and investigates their mutual relations. But his account bears the marks of a first draft; it is rather terse and sometimes little explicit.

    Viewed from a historical perspective, his doctrine has an atypical aspect, insofar as it is centered in a metaphysics of the good. The context of the doctrine generally is a conception of metaphysics, in which "being" is the proper subject of this science. Philip recognizes that ens is the first concept, but he does not say much about it. His interest concerns "the good", a notion that is richer than (habundat) "being". Two elements of Philip's doctrine were especially directive for subsequent discussions of the transcendentals. The first is his view of the twofold relation between the communissima: there exists a real identity between them -- they are convertible according to their supposits --, but they differ according to their concepts. The other element concerns the order of the most common notions, which is based on the notion of "indivision". It is somewhat paradoxical that Philip does not deal separately with unum, whereas the ratio of "one" determines his understanding of bonum and verum.

    The Summa de bono was attentively read and frequently used, especially in the Franciscan milieu. The influence of Philip's account of the communissima is manifest in two works that were composed about twenty years after his Summa, namely, in the Franciscan Summa theologica attributed to Alexander of Hales, and in De bono, an early writing of the Dominican Albert the Great." (pp. 132-133)

  17. ———. 1995. "Tendencies and Perspectives in the Study of Medieval Philosophy." In Bilan et perspectives des études médiévales en Europe. Actes du premier Congrès européen d'Études Médiévales, Spoleto, 27 -29 mai 1993, edited by Hamesse, Jacqueline, 107-128. Louvain-la-Neuve: Fédération internationale des instituts d'études médiévales.

  18. ———. 1996. "Transcendental Thought in Henry of Ghent." In Henry of Ghent. Proceedings of the International Colloquium on the Occasion of the 700th Anniversary of his Death (1293), edited by Vanhamel, Willy, 1-18. Leuven: Leuven University Press.

    "From the account of the relation between res and ens it is possible to draw a number of conclusions pertinent to Henry's way of thought and his point of departure.

    I. The first conclusion is that it is incorrect to say that in his thought there is an insoluble tension between the primacy of being and that of thing. Henry describes the relation between the first concept, that of "thing" in the most general sense, and the second concept, that of "being," as a relation of foundation. "Something cannot have the character of being unless it first has the ratio of thing in the sense of reor, reris, in which the ratio of that being is founded (fundatur). (46)

    2. The firstness of res is not an a priori condition of knowledge, that is, a "transcendental form" in the Kantian sense. It can be an idle concept, such as an imaginary thing. The firstness is related, as appeared from the discussion of the seventh Quodlibet, to the way in which the human intellect is "moved" by reality. The relation of foundation between res and ens is worked out by Henry in two respects, from the angle of the theory of science and ontologically.

    3. From the angle of the theory of science, the relation is that between the precognition of a quiddity and intellectual knowledge of it. At the first level, res in the sense of reor, reris is the most general concept, the communissimum of the seventh Quodlibet. At the second level, "being" is the first and most general concept. Henry's statement that ens is the first that is scientifically known (scita) must be understood in this precise sense.

    In ontological respect, the relation between the first and the second concept is the relation between the still undetermined thing and the thing that is determined by its essence. The quidditative being however is not determined to this or that thing, to creator or creature, to substance or accident. It is understood, Henry states, under the aspect of being that is the subject of metaphysics. (47) Not the first mode of "thing" but the second mode is the point of departure of metaphysics.

    The level of quidditative being is the level of the transcendentals. Henry's identification of res, ratitudo with ens is the answer to the question (see section 3, above) why res is not named in Henry's account of the transcendentals. It is the concept that lies at the basis of his doctrine of being and of the most general intentiones. In comparison to his predecessors, the novelty of Henry's doctrine is the central place he attributes to Avicenna's notion of "thing." That res, ratitudo lies at the basis of Henry's doctrine explains the fact that he, otherwise than in the tradition, understands truth as a real relation to the exemplar.

    Another distinctive feature of Henry's doctrine of the transcendentals is its being preceded by a more general concept, the cognition of "thing" in the broadest sense. For the clarification of this relation one may utilize a distinction that emerged in post-medieval philosophy. In a study of the concept of res, Ludger Oeing-Hanhoff has called attention to the fact that in the seventeenth century transcendental concepts were opposed to "super-transcendental" concepts, which are said not only of real but also of fictitious beings. Examples of these super-transcendental concepts are cogitabile and opinabile.(48) Henry's notion of res may be regarded as an anticipation of such concepts." (pp. 17-18).

    (46) Summa 34.2 (ed. R. Macken, p. 175): "Et tamen rationem esse nihil potest habere, nisi prius habendo rationem rei dictae a reor, in qua fundatur ratio esse ilius."

    (47) Cf. Summa 24.3 (fol. 138v P).

    (48) L. Oeing-Hanhoff, "Res comme concept transcendental et sur-transcendental", in: M. Fattori and M. Bianchi (ed.), Res (III Colloquio Internazionale del Lessico Intellettuale Europeo), Rome 1982, pp. 285-296.

  19. ———. 1997. "Thomas Aquinas: Aristotelianism versus Platonism?" In Néoplatonisme et philosophie médiévale. Actes du Colloque international de Corfou 6-8 octobre 1995 organisé par la S.I.E.P.M., edited by Benakis, Linos G., 147-162. Turnhout: Brepols.

  20. ———. 1998. "What is First and Most Fundamental? The Beginnings of Transcendental Philosophy." In Was ist Philosophie im Mittelalter?, Qu'est-ce que la philosophie au Moyen Age? What is Philosophy in the Middle Ages?. Akten des X. Internationalen Kongresses für mittelalterliche Philosophie der Société Internationale pour l'Étude de la Philosophie Médiévale, 25. Bis 30. August 1997 in Erfurt, edited by Aertsen, Jan A. and Speer, Andreas, 177-192. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

  21. ———. 1998. "Being and One: The Doctrine of the Convertible Transcendentals in Duns Scotus." In John Duns Scotus (1265/6-1308). Renewal of Philosophy. Acts of the Third Symposium organized by the Dutch Society for Medieval Philosophy Medium Aevum (May 23 and 24, 1996), edited by Bos, Egbert Peter, 13-26. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

    "In the prologue of his commentary on the Metaphysics, Duns Scotus explains the name 'metaphysics' as transcendens scientia, that is, the science that is concerned with the transcendentia.(1) This explanation is indicative of the prominent place Scotus ascribes to the doctrine of the transcendentals, which was formulated for the first time in the Summa de bono of Philip the Chancellor that is datable about 1225. The connection between the object of first philosophy and the transcendentals is not in itself new, although the identity posed by Scotus is more radical than in his predecessors.(2) Yet it is no exaggeration to say that Scotus's philosophy marks a new phase in the history of the doctrine of the transcendentia.

    Scotus understands the concept 'transcendental' differently than his predecessors did. To thinkers of the thirteenth century, transcendental properties are communissima. 'Being, 'one,'true' and 'good' 'transcend' the Aristotelian categories because they are not limited to one of them but are common to all things. According to Scotus, however, it is not necessary that a transcendental as transcendental be predicated of every being; it is not essential to the concept transcendens that it has many inferiors. In his Ordinatio he determines the concept negatively: 'what is not contained under any genus' or 'what remains indifferent to finite and infinite'. (3) This definition makes possible a vast extension of the transcendental domain; the most important innovation is formed by the so-called disjunctive transcendentals, which are convertible with being, not separately but as pairs.

    The fact that the transcendental properties are not necessarily identical with the communissima is, I suspect, the reason why the expression transcendentia, which occurs only sporadically in thinkers like Albert the Great, Thomas Aquinas and Henry of Ghent, gains the upperhand in Scotism and becomes the usual term.

    About Scotus's doctrine of the transcendentals, in contrast to that of other medieval thinkers, we are well informed by Allan B. Wolter's pioneering study, The Transcendentals and Their Function in the Metaphysics of Duns Scotus (1946). Yet there are aspects of his doctrine that have thus far received little attention in scholarly literature. One of them is Scotus's treatment of the transcendentals 'one, 'true' and 'good,' which as such are convertible with being. In my contribution I want to show that with respect to the traditional transcendentals, too, Scotus breaks new ground and approaches critically the views of his thirteenth-century predecessors. Because he discusses most extensively the relation between being and one, I foals on this discussion." (pp. 13-14)

    * The original version of this study will appear in T. Noone and G. A. Wilson (eds.), Essays in Honor Girard Etzkorn: Franciscan Texts and Traditions, Franciscan Studies 56 (1998) [pp. 47-64].

    (1) Quaestiones subtilissimae super libros Metaphysicorum Aristotelis, prol., n. 18: Et hanc scientiam vocamus metaphysicam, quae dicitur a 'meta', quod est 'trans', et 'ycos', 'scientia', quasi transcendens scientia, quia est de transcendentibus.

    (2) Albert the Great, Metaphysica I, tract. 1, ch. 2 (Opera omnia XVI, 1, ed. B. Geyer, 5, 13-14), who uses the phrase prima et transcendentia in his analysis of the subject matter of metaphysics. For Thomas Aquinas's doctrine, see J.A. Aertsen, Medieval Philosophy and the Transcendentals. The Case of Thomas Aquinas, Leiden, Brill 1996, 113-158.

    (3) Ordinatio I, dist. 8, part t, q. 3, nn. 113-114 (ed. Vaticana IV, 206).

  22. ———. 1998. "Being and One: The Doctrine of the Convertible Transcendentals in Duns Scotus." Franciscan Studies no. 56:47-64.

  23. ———. 1998. "The Philosophical Importance of the Doctrine of the Transcendentals in Thomas Aquinas." Revue Internationale de Philosophie no. 52:249-268.

  24. ———. 1998. "Beauty: Medieval Concepts." In Encyclopedia of Aesthetics. Vol. I, edited by Kelly, Michael, 249-251. New York: Oxford University Press.

  25. ———. 1999. "The Medieval Doctrine of the Transcendentals. New Literature." Bulletin de Philosophie Médiévale no. 41:107-121.

    "In 1597 Francisco Suarez published his Disputationes Metaphysicae, a work that had an incredible influence on seventeenth century philosophy. The most salient feature of his metaphysics is the central position of the transcendentia or transcendentalia (Suarez uses these terms as synonyms) : Disp. 2-11 deal with being, unity, truth and goodness. In comparison with Aristotle's conception of a science of being, metaphysics had acquired a « transcendental » character. As Suarez knew very well, this transformation had taken place in the Middle Ages.

    In the Bulletin 33 (1991), pp. 130-147, I analyzed the current state of research on the medieval doctrine of the transcendentals (= DT), which is essential for our understanding of philosophy in this period. In the present article I will assemble and discuss the relevant literature of the last decade, adding some older publications that were not mentioned in the first report." (p. 107)

    [The first report listed 104 titles, the current report 84].

  26. ———. 1999. "Is There a Medieval Philosophy? I. The Case of Thomas Aquinas. II. The Case of Meister Eckhart." International Philosophical Quarterly no. 39:387-412.

  27. ———. 1999. "Thomas Aquinas on the Good. The Relation between Metaphysics and Ethics." In Aquinas's Moral Theory. Essays in Honor of Norman Kretzmann, edited by Scott, MacDonald and Stump, Eleonore, 235-253. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

  28. ———. 2000. " Transcendens - Transcendentalis. The Genealogy of a Philosophical Term." In L'élaboration du vocabulaire philosophique au moyen âge. Actes du Colloque internationale de Louvain-la-Neuve et Leuven 12-14 septembre 1998 organisé par la S.I.E.P.M., edited by Hamesse, Jacqueline and Steel, Carlos, 241-255. Turnhout: Brepols.

    "In the study of medieval philosophy it is customary to speak of the doctrine of the « transcendentals » (1). We have to realize, however, that this term comes from the vocabulary of modern philosophy. The medieval authors themselves speak of transcendentia. What is the significance of this fact ? What is in those names ? By way of introduction, we consider the two terms, « transcendent » and « transcendental », more closely in order to make clear that the interference of the conceptual language of modem philosophy with that of medieval philosophy is not coincidental. The difference in terminology points to a doctrinal evolution. (p. 241)


    "By way of conclusion, let me sum up the main results of our inquiry into the genealogy of the term transcendentia (in the sense of transcendentals »).

    (i) The first philosophical account of a doctrine of the transcendentals is presented in Philip the Chancellor's Summa de bono. This work did not use the term transcendentia, but later in the thirteenth century Roland of Cremona, Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas applied the term to a systematic doctrine of the communissima. The origin of the doctrine is not the Platonic-Augustinian idea of « transcensus », but rather the Avicennian tradition of primary notions.

    (ii) The term transcendentia already existed before the emergence of a systematic doctrine. Albert the Great's commentaries and some texts from the Logica modernorum strongly suggest that the term originates in logical discussions, focussing on the distinctive nature of certain (« transcendental ») terms." (p. 255)

    (1) I myself wrote a book with the title Medieval Philosophy and the Transcendentals. The Case of Thomas Aquinas, Leiden - New York, 1996.

  29. ———. 2002. "'Res' as Transcendental. Its Introduction and Significance." In Le problème des Transcendantaux du XIVe au XVIIe siècle, edited by Federici Vescovini, Graziella, 139-155. Paris: Vrin.

    "The history of res as a transcendental term is an intriguing one: it could be described in terms of a success-story: from "nothing" to "king". In the first account of a doctrine of the transcendentals, the Summa de bono written by Philip the Chancellor ca. 1225-28, res is not mentioned at all. In the prologue Philip states that « most common (communissima) are these : ens, unum, verum, bonum », whose mutual relations he investigates in the next questions (1). Res is also absent in the expositions by Alexander of Hales, Bonaventure and Albert the Great: they restrict the number of transcendentals to the four that Philip had listed in his Summa (2).

    Thirty years after Philip, however, the picture changes. In his account of the transcendentals in De veritate q. 1, a. 1 -- the most extensive one in the thirteenth century --, Thomas Aquinas incorporated res into the doctrine. He distinguishes six transcendentia, in the order ens, res, unum, aliquid, verum and bonum (3). Yet the role of the new transcendental res in Thomas and the Thomistic tradition in general remains somewhat marginal. A good illustration offers a treatise from the 14th century, the Tractatus de sex transcendentibus, composed by Franciscus de Prato (who was lector in Perugia from 1343-45). The treatise is an attempt to systematize the doctrine on the basis of Thomas's teachings. Contrary to the order in De veritate, res holds the last place in this work, and its treatment is substantially briefer than those of the traditional transcendentals (4).

    But in the generation after Thomas Aquinas, res started, as we shall see a splendid career. A notable reaction against Thomas's doctrine is Lorenzo Valla's philosophical mainwork Dialecticae disputationes (first version 1439) (5) In these disputations, Valla critically inquires into the basic notions of traditional philosophy, starting with the six primordial prin ciples (primordia) which the Aristotelians called transcendentia. They regarded these principles as the "princes of princes" or the "kings", but according to Valla a plurality of firsts is impossible ; only the monarchy is good. He will therefore investigate which among the six is the true rex imperator, that is, the most comprehensive (capacissima) notion (6).

    Valla's conclusion is that only res can claim this title. It is evident unum is to be understood as "one res", aliquid as "another res", etc. But how about the notion ens, to which the Aristotelians give a place honour? In Valla's view, the term does not have a universal force of its own, but its force is wholly borrowed from another, namely from res (7) His arguments are marked by the (humanistic) linguistic turn; they are mainly philological. Ens is a participle that is to be resolved into a relative pronoun and a verb : id quod est. Id is to be resolved into ea res, so that finally ens can be reduced to ea res que est (8). When we say, for instance "the stone is being" (lapis est ens), the expression means "the stone is thing (res) which is". But does such a formula make any sense, when simpler and clearer to say "the stone is a res"? The words "that which is" cannot mean that the stone is "the thing that is", because only God "is" in the proper sense (Exodus 3,14). When therefore it is said of something else than God that it is "being" (ens), one uses an inappropriate way of expression (9).

    The dignity of a transcendental was given only to res (10). To illustrate its position, Valla alludes to a story, reported by Herodotus in his Historiae (III, 86), a work that Valla translated into Latin. Six Persians contested the empire, but when Darius managed to become the king of the Persians, the other five descended from their horses and rendered hommage to the king. Similarly the other five transcendentals descend in order to honor res (11).

    With respect to the remarkable history of "thing" I want to raise three questions: How did res come into philosophy, why did it enter philosophy and what did it bring about in philosophy, for our understanding of "reality" (12)?" (pp. 139-141 notes renumbered)

    (1) Philippus Cancellarius, Summa de bono, prol. (ed. N. Wicki, t. I, Bern, 1985, p. 4).

    (2) Cf. J.A. Aertsen, Medieval Philosophy and the Transcendentals. The Case of Thomas Aquinas, Leiden-New York-Köln 1996, p. 25-70.

    (3) Thomas Aquinas, De veritate q. 1, a. 1 (ed. Leonina t. XXII, 1, Roma, 1970, p. 3-8).

    (4) Cf. the recent edition by B. Mojsisch « Franciscus de Prato, Tractatus de sex transcendentibus », Bochumer Philosophisches Jahrbuch für Antike and Mittelalter 5, 2000, p. 177-217.

    (5) The different versions were edited by G. Zippel in two volumes : Lorenzo Valla Repastinatio dialectice et philosophie t. I, Retractatio totius dialectice cum fundamentis universe philosophie; t. II, Repastinatio dialectice et philosophie, Padova, 1982. [A new edition is now available: Lorenzo Valla, Dialectical Disputations, Latin text and English translation by B. P. Copenhaver and L. Nauta. (I Tatti Renaissance Library), Harvard University Press, 2012 (two volumes).]

    Cf. S.I. Camporeale, Lorenzo Valla, Umanesimo e teologia, Firenze 1972, p. 153-162. M. Laffranchi, « L'interpretazione "retorica" del linguaggio dei trascendentali in Lorenzo Valla » in A. Ghisalberti (ed.), Dalla prima alla seconda Scolastica. Paradigmi e percorsi storiografici, Bologna 2001, p. 167-199.

    (6) Lorenzo Valla, Retractatio I, cap. 1,n. 9 (ed. Zippel I, p. 11) : « Ea numero sex dicuntur : "ens", "aliquid", "res", "unum", "verum", "bonum". Que quoniam sunt altiora principia et velut principum principes et quasi (ut istis videtur) quidam imperatores et reges (...), de his prius ordine ipso dicendum est 0. Cap. 2, n. 1 : « Iam primum non plures esse debere imperatores ac reges, sed unum (...). Ergo quod ex his vocabulum, sive que vocabuli significatio sit imperator et rex, idest omnium capacissima (...), inquiramus ».

    (7) Lorenzo Valla, Retractatio I, cap. 2, n. 12 (ed. Zippel I, p. 14) : « Quo palam est, omnem vim non naturalem habere, sed, ut sic dicam, precariam ac mutuo sumptam ». Repastinatio I, cap. 2, n. 9 (ed. Zippel II, p. 369) : « Quare quis non videt "ens" non habere suapte natura aliquam universalem vim, sed omnem mutuari ab illo 'res' ? ».

    (8) Lorenzo Valla, Retractatio I, cap. 2, n. 11 (ed. Zippel I, p. 14) : « Igitur si "ens" ita resolvitur : "id quod est", et "id" resolvitur "ea res", profecto "ens" ita resolvetur : "ea' que est" ».

    (9) Lorenzo Valla, Retractatio I, cap. 2, n. 12 (ed. Zippel I, p. 14-15) : « Quid enim sibi vult verbi causa "lapis est ens", id est "ea res, quae est' ? Quid faciunt ille voces "ea que est", cum sit et apertius et expeditius et satius, "lapis est res' ? (...) cum presertim absurda videatur oratio: "lapis est ea res que est", sive "lapis est res que est", quasi nihil sit proprie nisi solus lapis, aut quicquid erit illud, de quo dicemus ipsum esse "rem, que est" : que oratio de solo Deo propria est ( ...). Itaque cum de alia re quam de Deo dicitur quod sit "ens", inepte dicitur ».

    (10) Lorenzo Valla, Repastinatio I, cap. 2, n. 12 (ed. Zippel II, p. 370) : « Quo fit ut solum sit "res", quod transcendentis dignitate donetur ».

    (11) Lorenzo Valla, Retractatio I, cap. 2, n. 2 (ed. Zippel I, p. 11-12) : « Apud me autem ex his sex que nunc quasi de regno contendunt, non aliter "res" erit rex, quam Darius Hystaspis filius futurus rex erat ex illis sex Persis, qui regnum sorti permisere ». Cap. 2, n. 16 (ed. Zippel I, p. 15).

    (12) There does not exist a comprehensive study on res as a philosophical concept. A good overview is offered by J. F. Courtine, Res, in Historisches Worterbuch der Philosophie, vol. 8, Basel 1992, p. 892-901. The volume Res. Atti del III (Colloquio internazionale del Lessico intellettuale europeo, ed. by M. Fattori and M. Bianchi, Rome 1982 (Lessico intellettuale europeo, 26), contains two interesting contributions : J. Hamesse, Res chez les auteurs philosophiques du XIIe et XIIIe siècles ou le passage de la neutralité a la spécificité (p. 91-104); L. Oeing-Hanhoff, Res comme concept transcendental et sur-transcendental (p. 285-296). See also R. Darge, "Suarez" Analyse der Transzendentalien "Ding" und "Etwas" im Kontext der scholastischen Metaphysiktradition », Theologie und Philosophie 75, 2000, p. 339-358.

  30. ———. 2002. "Truth in Thomas Aquinas." In The Contemporary Debate on the Truth. Proceedings of the II. Plenary Session of the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor Communis II, n. s., 50-54. Vatican City: Pontifica Academia Sncti Thomae Aquinatis.

    "When I was invited to comment upon the theme of the section -'Truth in Thomas Aquinas' - I pondered on the best way of meeting the request. I asked myself: What is most important in his conception of truth? The following comments are designed to be an answer to that question and are based on Thomas's remarks in De veritate. As such, my answer does not pretend to be definitive, but is based on personal reflections that are indebted to on-going discussions in the German academic world to which I belong. That said, I would hope that my comments possess some general relevance to other students of Thomas. It is my view, that the salience of Thomas's view of truth can be appreciated by means of highlighting four substantive points.

    1. First and foremost we should attend to Thomas's approach to the question quid sit veritas.


    2. Having considered the transcendentality of the truth, Thomas then solicits an answer to the question as to what it is.


    3. There is truth in things; 'truth' is also predicated of the intellect.

    What, then, is the primary 'locus' of truth: the thing or the intellect?

    In his reply to this question ( De veritate q. 1, a. 2) Thomas advances the idea of the analogy of the true; this predicate is said of many things according to an order of priority and posteriority, that is, in relation to one (thing) that possesses the ratio of the predicate primarily. The classical application

    of the doctrine of analogy concerns the term 'being'. The novelty of Thomas's thinking here is to be seens in his application of the analogy to the predicate 'true', in order to determine the relation between the truth of being and the truth of the intellect.


    4. At De veritate 1,4 Thomas poses the question that dominates the first systematic account of truth in the history of philosophy, Anselm of Canterbury's work De veritate: 'Is there only one truth by which all things are true?' Anselm had answered this question affirmatively; there is only one truth in the proper sense ( proprie), the divine truth. Thomas's reply is more differentiated: truth is properly found in the human or divine intellect; primarily in the divine intellect; secondarily in the human intellect. A human truth, too, is truth in the proper sense.

    The power of truth manifests itself in its claim of having absolute force; it holds without respect of persons. Thomas gives a remarkable example of that in his Commentary on the Book Job. He interprets the dispute between Job and God after the model of a medieval disputation. But Thomas wonders whether such a disputation is appropriate, since God is far superior to any human being. Truth does not change because of the difference of persons.

    When somebody speaks the truth, he cannot therefore be defeated, irrespective of the person, with whom he disputes ( cum aliquis veritatem loquitur, vinci non potest cum quocumque disputat). (8)

    In summary, four ideas are most important in Thomas's conception of truth: the transcendental character of truth; its relationality (truth as adequation); the primary 'locus' of truth is the mind; and a human truth also is a truth in the proper sense. Seen together, they reflect the novelty of his philosophical thought and its relevance." (pp. 50-54)

    (8) Expositio super Iob c. 13 (ed. Leonina vol. XXVI, 1965, 87).

  31. ———. 2003. "Meister Eckhart." In A Companion to Philosophy in the Middle Ages, edited by Gracia, Jorge J.E. and Noone, Timothy B., 434-442. Oxford: Blackwell.

  32. ———. 2003. "The Transcendentality of the Good: Its Historical Context and Philosophical Significance." Doctor Communis no. 1:32-43.

  33. ———. 2004. "The Concept of "Transcendens" in the Middle Ages: What is Beyond and What is Common." In Platonic Ideas and Concept Formation in Ancient and Medieval Thought, edited by Van Riel, Gerd and Macé, Caroline, 133-154. Leuven: Leven University Press.

  34. ———. 2005. "Metaphysics as a Transcendental Science." Quaestio.Yearbook of the History of the Metaphysics no. 5:377-389.

  35. ———. 2005. "Aquinas and the Human Desire for Knowledge." American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly no. 79:411-430.

    "This essay examines Aquinas's analysis of the human desire to know, which plays a central role in his thought. (I.) This analysis confronts him with the Aristotelian tradition: thus, the desire for knowledge is a "natural" desire. (II.) It also confronts him with the Augustinian tradition, which deplores a non-virtuous desire in human beings that is called "curiosity." (III.) Aquinas connects the natural desire with the Neoplatonic circle motif: principle and end are identical. The final end of the desire to know is the knowledge of God. (IV.) Aquinas also connects the end of the natural desire to know with Christian eschatology, teaching that man's ultimate end is the visio Dei. This end, however, is "supernatural." (V.) Duns Scotus severely criticizes central aspects of Aquinas's account. (VI.) As a rejoinder to Scotus's objections, we finally consider Aquinas's view on the proper object of the human intellect."

  36. ———. 2006. "The Triad "True-Good-Beautiful". The Place of Beauty in the Middle Ages." In Intellect et imagination dans la Philosophie Médiévale. Actes de XIème Congrès International de Philosophie Médiévale, Porto, 26 au 30 août 2002 organisé par la Société Internationale pour l'Étude de la Philosophie Médiévale, edited by Pacheco, Maria Cândida and Meirinhos, José F., 415-436. Turnhout: Brepols.

  37. ———. 2007. "Is Truth "Not" a Transcendental for Aquinas?" In Wisdom's Apprentice. Thomistic Essays in Honor of Lawrence Dewan, O.P., edited by Kwaniewski, Peter A., 3-12. Washington: Catholic University of America Press.

  38. ———. 2008. "Avicenna's Doctrine of the Primary Notions and its Impact on Medieval Philosophy." In Islamic Thought in the Middle Ages: Studies in Text, Transmission and Translation, in Honour of Hans Daiber, edited by Akasoy, Anna and Raven, Wim, 21-42. Leiden: Brill.

  39. ———. 2010. "Truth in the Middle Ages: Its Essence and Power in Christian Thought." In Truth. Studies of a Robust Presence, edited by Pritzl, Kurt, 127-146. Washington: Catholic University of America Press.

  40. ———. 2010. "Scotus' Conception of Transcendentality: Tradition and Innovation." In Johannes Duns Scotus 1308-2008. Die philosophischen Perspektiven seines Werkes = Johannes Duns Scotus 1308-2008. Investigations into his Philosophy. Proceedings of "The Quadruple Congress" on John Duns Scotus. Part 3, edited by Möhle, Hannes, Speer, Andreas, Kobusch, Theo and Bullido del Barrio, Susana, 107-123. Münster: Aschendorff.

  41. ———. 2010. "Platonism." In The Cambridge History of Medieval Philosophy. Vol. I, 76-85. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  42. ———. 2011. "The Transformation of Metaphysics in the Middle Ages." In Philosophy and Theology in the Long Middle Ages. A Tribute to Stephen F. Brown, edited by Emery, Kent Jr., Friedman, Russell L. and Speer, Andreas, 19-39. Leiden: Brill.

  43. ———. 2011. "The Goodness of Being." Recherches de Théologie et Philosophie médiévales no. 78:281-295.

    "This essay in honour of Carlos Steel examines a fundamental thesis behind the medieval metaphysics of the good, namely the «goodness of being» thesis, according to which everything that is is good. The basic text used is a Quodlibet disputed by the Parisian master Gerard of Bologna at the beginning of the fourteenth century, in which he discusses various determinations of the nature ( ratio) of the good. This discussion reveals the difficulties to which the metaphysics of the good can lead: is it really the case that every being is good?"

  44. ———. 2011. "Tino-logia: An alternative for Ontology?" In Mots médiévaux offerts à Ruedi Imbach, edited by Atucha, Iñigo, Clama, Dragos, König-Pralong, Catherine and Zavattero, Irene, 729-737. Turnhout: Brepols.

    "In our contribution to the Festschrift in honour of Ruedi Imbach the focus will be on the term « tino-logia ». The notion is not mentioned in the most complete philosophical dictionary of our time, the Historisches Worterbuch der Philosophie, which appeared in 13 volumes from 1971-2007. The vocable was suggested by French scholars two decades ago in their analysis of the genealogy of Western metaphysics and has since then found acceptance. « Tinology » is meant to characterize an alternative for the traditional ontological model of metaphysics. Influential was an observation made by Jean-Francois Courtine at the end of his monumental study on the metaphysics of Francis Suarez : « En rigueur de termes, l'ontologie classique-moderne devrait donc plutot être caracterisée comme une 'tinologie' »(1). The emergence of this neologism and its historical place is the first thing that calls for attention." (p. 729)

  45. ———. 2012. "Why Is Metaphysics Called "First Philosophy" in the Middle Ages?" In The Science of Being as Being: Metaphysical Investigations, edited by Doolan, Gregory T., 53-69. Washington: Catholic University of America Press.

  46. ———. 2013. "Albert's Doctrine on the Transcendentals." In A Companion to Albert the Great, edited by Resnick, Irven Michael, 611-618. Leiden: Brill.

  47. ———. 2013. "The Human Intellect: "All things" and "Nothing". Medieval Readings of De anima." In Medieval Perspectives on Aristotle's De anima, edited by Friedman, Russell L. and Counet, Jean-Michel, 145-160. Louvain-la-Neuve: Peeters.


  1. ———. 2012. "La doctrine des transcendantaux de maître Eckhart " In Maître Eckhart, edited by Casteigt, Julie, 21-39. Paris: Les éditions du Cerf.


  1. ———. 2004. "La scoperta dell'ente in quanto ente." In Tommaso d'Aquino e l'oggetto della metafisica, edited by Brock, Stephen L., 35-48. Roma: Armando.