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The One and the Many: A Contemporary Thomistic Metaphysics Paperback – January 31, 2001
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In this book, Thomistic thought is effectively applied to modern philosophical and scientific issues. Ch 8 on the nature of identity through time via substance is especially good, as is Clarke's explanation on the distinction between the act of existence and a thing's essence.
This is the text I recommend for both beginners in Thomas' thought as well as more advanced thinkers anxious to gain an insight in applying Thomism to modern issues.
In "The One and the Many", Norris Clarke accepts the challenge of Western thought. He does not attempt to start anew, invent a new language or rise above the past. Rather, he builds on the core ideas that Western speculation has provided seeking the limits and assimilating the truths of each.
Patiently and clearly by assimilation and contrast, Norris Clarke provides a 21st century "Thomistic existentialist" integration while calmly addressing the challenges of modernity to its ancient and medieval roots.
Half-way through Norris Clarke's The One and the Many, I decided to review some of Heidegger's Being and Time. Fresh from Father Clarke, Heidegger seemed intelligible. For this ametuer philosopher that was startling and a testimony to the clear think Father Clarke imparts to his readers.
This book is a joy to read. Enjoy him for both method and content and revel in a philosophy text that is an easy page-turner (this doesn't happen too often!).
What the reader has here in this one text is a 'one stop' place where a thorough examination of some of the major metaphysical themes can be researched. What is more, many of these issues have been either ignored or simply disregarded in light of current analytic philosophical trends, much to the demise of modern philosophy. However, if you are wanting a good text on the classic and all important issues of metaphyics (since doing philosophy is impossible w/o doing metaphysics), then you will want to get a copy of this text.
Also, for an excellent companion to this volume see Clarke's work "Explorations in Metaphysics." Another great text for those interested in studying metaphysics.
The book starts off exploring "existence" or "esse" and contrasts it with non-being. It then proceeds to explore what distinguises one being (say a human being) from another being (say a dog)and defines that difference by reference to "essence", essence being a kind of limitation on pure "existence". But, even though a human and a dog have different essences, they belong to the community of existents. We are all, to different extents, image of our Maker, who is pure Act.
The next question is what distinguishes this person from another person? So, Clarke digs deeper and notes that "essence" itself is made up of two metaphysical principles, namely "form" (a kind of blueprint) and matter (the space taken up by a being). All humans have the same human form (namely the soul) but they are each possessed of different matter (albeit plastic in nature) existing in space and time.
But, then how does one account for the fact that beings change? Clarke notes that being is in Act but is also in potentiality. God himself is pure Act but we are always in flux. Clarke explores further by noting that "matter" itself is made up of "substance" (the inner core) and "accidents" (extrinsic features such as hair colour).Read more ›
The end of every chapter has a series of questions to help you reflect on concepts learned in the previous pages. Some training or exposure to philosophy is presupposed because the book is written as an "advanced textbook of systematic metaphysics in the Thomistic tradition." As with any other philosophical work, reading slowly and making notes in the margins will help you grasp the concepts before moving on to others.
For those who are curious about Thomistic metaphysics, or if the Thomistic philosophical tradition appeals to you, then this book should be required reading. A truly remarkable book!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It a great overview of metaphysics in way that is crystal clear.Published 9 months ago by Peter V. Armenio
If you are new to Thomistic Metaphysics, then you may not be aware that there are many interpretations of St. Thomas Aquinas' metaphysics. Read morePublished 20 months ago by D. Young
I highly recommend this textbook for those reading the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas, specifically his Metaphysics. Read morePublished on April 6, 2014 by Mpr90
It's been some time since I read the book so I will not give a comprehensive review. I would say the book falls midway between a scholarly book and a popular book. Read morePublished on March 11, 2014 by Jose Ballester
Very good reading material, I just could not put it down. I will recommend it to my friends and family.Published on April 22, 2013 by Rex M. Alfafara
"The One and the Many" is a readable restatement of Thomist metaphysics. As such, it deserves a 5-star rating. Read morePublished on January 15, 2013 by not me
I have been a student of Philosophy for some time and I 'thought' I understood Thomistic Metephysics. Read morePublished on August 2, 2010 by Br. Bradley T. Elliott, O.P.