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Being and Some Philosophers Paperback – January 1, 1952


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Being and Some Philosophers + An Introduction to the Metaphysics of St. Thomas Aquinas + The One and the Many: A Contemporary Thomistic Metaphysics
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 235 pages
  • Publisher: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies; 2 edition (January 1, 1952)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 088844415X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0888444158
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.4 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #197,667 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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46 of 46 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is perhaps the greatest and most illuminating study of the history of metaphysics and the problems that motivate it that I've ever read. Gilson begins by discussing metaphysics as the inquiry of being qua being and shows why philosophy is led endlessly back to this issue because of a fundamental ambiguity belonging to the concept of being. On the one hand we use being as a noun denoting possibility or the whatness of a thing. For instance, a triangle is a three sided figure regardless of whether triangles actually exist or not. On the other hand we use being in the sense of the verb "to be" denoting existence or the fact that something is. Problems emerge when we recognize that when we speak of beings we tend to emphasize their intelligibility, essence or whatness, while nonetheless all of us are actually concerned with whether or not a particular essence actually is. Since there's not much that can actually be said about existence, philosophy progressively comes to emphasize the intelligibility of beings as in the case of Wolffe, Kant and Hegel such that being becomes reduced to a field of pure possibility (formal ontology) that cannot explain what existence adds, if anything, to the being of a thing. Gilson traces this tension throughout the history of philosophy, examining Parmenides, Plato, Plotinus, the Scholastics, modern thought and existentialism showing how all of these different thought experiments have been attempts to come to terms with this issue. Ultimately Gilson wants to advocate a Thomistic solution to this problem, but whether you agree with Gilson's solution or not, what's truly of value in this book is the paradoxes and difficulties inherent in the different attempts to reconcile being as possibility or essence and being as existence.Read more ›
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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
Gilson's treatise is a wonderful survey of the history of metaphysics, in its endless struggle with the question of being. Every bit as ferocious a critique of the metaphysical tradition as anything Heidegger wrote, and arguably superior in terms of insight and coherence, BEING AND SOME PHILOSOPHERS ultimately resolves philosophy's perennial "forgetfulness regarding existence" by a turn to Thomas Aquinas and the Thomist concept of God as the actus essendi subsistens. Anyone who thinks, after reading this book, that Thomas is not as innocent of metaphysical naivete as Heidegger is often said to be has simply failed to grasp the meaning of Gilson's argument. Really a brilliant book.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By John P. Rickert on November 13, 2002
Format: Paperback
A great friend of mine, who has taught the full spectrum of philosophy courses, gave me this book as a preparation for Fritz Wilhelmsen's book, "The Paradoxical Structure of Existence," which I had read some time ago but not understood well. Gilson is the pinnacle of lucidity and insight. He presents philosophical positions with which he may end up differing in such a way as to give them all the credit they do deserve. Like Aristotle carefully thinking and correcting, he arrives at compelling conclusions in a very undogmatic and patient manner. It is hard not to be jealous of Gilson in a way: Few people can combine such subtlety of understanding, keenness of insight, and lucidity. This is one of the rarest philosophical books to be found, in which there is really no "Gefuffel," to use Wilmoore Kendall's word. He is one of those people you read and think, "I wish I had a mind like that." This book has had a profound impact on me, because it is anything but "armchair philosophy" -- once you get what he's driving at, it makes all the difference.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By T. B. Vick on December 28, 2001
Format: Paperback
Gilson is an excellent communicator and this book is evidence of such a claim. From the Pre-Socratics to the Modern Period, Gilson peels back the cover of historical philosophy and examines the metaphysical issues of being, existence, essence, the one, substance, etc. What is more, Gilson ventures into the epistemic foundations of knowledge and existence - the two cannot be separated, but in usual Thomistic fashion, being always precedes knowing (unlike the Cartesian claim - which Gilson determines is one of the most serious problems of modern philosophy: see "The Unity of Philosophical Experience").
Gilson, in a type of systematic fashion, takes his reader on a journey throughout the history of philosophy and discusses certain philosopher's notions about specific metaphysical issues. However, but agreeably so, Gilson compares and contrasts the various philosophers to the metaphysical system which, according to this text, seems to be the most tenable, namely Thomistic metaphysics.
Gilson does such a good job pointing out the problematic areas of other philosophers (regarding these metaphysical issues) that it is difficult to disagree with him. The title of the book fits perfectly with its contents, namely being is discussed in light of some philosophers and their assertions regarding being, etc. If you are wanting a text which discusses certain philosophers throughout history, with respect to the issues of being, existence, substance, essence, etc. and wanting to gain a greater grasp of Thomistic metaphysics, then you could not read a better text. I highly recommend this book.
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