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Episteme

Abstract

Aquinas’ metaphysics is a powerful, comprehensive system, but one that is subtle and demands careful attention. The author here argues that Henry B. Veatch’s paper, which attempts to reconcile Aquinas with Kant’s metaphysics, mistakenly turns Aquinas’ thought into a mere empirical science. The article begins with an overview of Kant’s two types of judgments and Aquinas’ notion of principia per se nota, or first principles. Aquinas’ first principles are analytic on Kant’s analysis yet are also said to give information about the world, according to Thomist thought. But “how are the principia per se nota informative about the world?”—Kant would think this impossible! The author argues that Veatch’s explanation fails to postulate the variable ways that principles can be about the world. Veatch errs in forcing metaphysics to conform to natural science. Because Aquinas’ metaphysical substances apply to all being—they are transcendent—, they naturally apply to sensible being, also.

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