Gregorio Fracchia (Bio)

Aquinas’ “intensive” esse as the basis for a Thomist Parmenidism

My paper intends to address the solution offered to the problem of the One-Many relationship by Thomism. In particular, I will focus on the fourth way (quarta via), the so-called via ex gradibus, as the fundamental theoretical way to prove the existence of God. This way, as has been demonstrated by distinguished Thomists of the second half of the 20th century (especially Cornelio Fabro), hinges on the notion of participation, which allows St. Thomas to explain the relationship between creature and Creator in terms of the intimate presence of God as the first foundational act in the created entity. The real composition of essence and actus essendi in the created entity says at once the radical dependence of the finite on the Infinite and the absolute transcendence of God as esse subsistens in which pre-exist in eminent form all the perfections found in creatures. This Thomistic conception of the “intensive” esse is the true original discovery of St. Thomas, who not only combined in a superior synthesis the Platonic couple of participated and participant and the Aristotelian couple of power and act, but also definitively reorients the speculative framework of Neo-Platonism (Pseudo-Dionysius, De causis). In this sense, it is necessary to analyse the semantics of the relationship between finite entity and God from the point of view of the analogy of intrinsic attribution. Thomistic esse thus stands in direct continuity with the ὄν of Parmenides without, however, sacrificing either the experience of becoming or multiplicity. On this, too, I propose to show with direct references to Parmenides' poem (taking advantage of Mario Untersteiner's studies) the validity of a 'Thomistic Parmenidism'. St. Thomas can therefore be said to have the satisfied the instance of Parmenides just as Heidegger hoped, without any concession to essentialism, which instead has "obscured" in later rationalisms the authentic conception of being as an emergent intensive act. By the way, Cornelio Fabro was among those who most studied the relationship between Heideggerian denunciation of the forgetfulness of being and the originality of St. Thomas' system. I therefore want to argue that St. Thomas has indeed realised the foundation of the finite in the Infinite on which the main immanentist systems of modern and contemporary times have worked.