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Philosophy of Being: A Reconstructive Essay in Metaphysics Paperback – December 6, 2002
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About the Author
Oliva Blanchette is Professor of Philosophy at Boston College. He is the author of numerous works, including The Perfection of the Universe According to Aquinas.
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From the outset, Blanchette is at pains to insist that what he is offering is, indeed, a work of philosophy, not an essay in the history of ideas. As he writes in the introduction to the book's first major section: "This is a book not about metaphysics, but in metaphysics. It is an invitation to do metaphysics for oneself as it is being done by another". And so while it is true that Blanchette is in continual dialogue with Parmenides and Plato, Heidegger and Hegel, above all with Aristotle and Aquinas, this is no mere survey of the ideas of other people. Rather, it is an attempt at providing a cogent "philosophy of being" which, while attentive to its root in the tradition of Aquinas, is no less attentive to developments in contemporary culture and philosophy.
As with any work of philosophy, Blanchette's efforts will elicit a variety of responses from a variety of readers. I cannot claim to be a trained philosopher; my background is in theology, which means that I do not pretend to come at a book such as this one with any significant degree of specialization. I am certain that professional philosophers will engage such a book at a far higher level of sophistication than the one I can claim to bring to this endeavour. In addition, I need to acknowledge that I am instinctively sympathetic to philosophers who write from an Aristotelian perspective; no doubt my favourable response to Blanchette's book owes a great deal to that piece of personal philosophical orientation. And yes, I am certain that those who have been shaped by other philosophical traditions, including those with little patience for metaphysical enquiry, will find Blanchette having fallen short of the mark.
For those, however--with or without formal training in philosophy--who are prepared to open themselves to a 500+ page metaphysical journey, Oliva Blanchette's Philosophy of Being is well worth the time and effort. While there is much here that will no doubt appeal only to the specialist, as a non-specialist I found Blanchette's style accessible and engaging. Why not give it a try?
This is not to say that Professor Blanchette writes sans context entirely. Rather, he touches on what has been done in metaphysics before him and then moves on to formulate his own metaphysical system. As for the system, it is very "involved" and complex, but it is so common-sensical and deeply rooted in human experience that one finds that the jumps Blanchette asks you to make are not as other-worldly or schoolastic as one would think. Blanchette is very explicit in what he counts as science in general and what is really metaphysics (the science of being AS being).
If you are not interested in a rigorous treatment of being, then by no means read this book. However, if you are interested in metaphysics as genuine philosophy and in reading a book whose author is able to use language to massage your mind to go where he is leading you, then by all means take on this tome.