Differenza e contraddizione. Il problema dell’essere in Tommaso d’Aquino

Translated title of the contribution: [Autom. eng. transl.] Difference and contradiction. The problem of being in Thomas Aquinas

Giovanni Ventimiglia

Research output: Book/ReportBook


[Autom. eng. transl.] Even today, even the common way of thinking associates the idea of "Thomism" and "scholasticism" with that of "distinctions". Indeed, the history of the effects of Thomism in culture shows that the method of the distinctions of "secundum quid" remained in the common consciousness, beyond the divergence of judgments of merit, as the hallmark of a typically "scholastic" thought. In an ironic and incisive form, Erasmus of Rotterdam wrote that the Thomists "always find so many loopholes, which would even escape the net of Vulcan with their distinctions, with which they cut any knot". However the studies on Thomas Aquinas's ontology, multiplied since the beginning of our century, do not seem to have taken this aspect of his thought into consideration. The present work tries to fill this gap by showing the relationship that exists in Thomistic philosophy between the doctrine of being and the method of "distinctiones". Indeed in the text it is shown how some precise distinctions of "secundum quid" represent the foundation of possibility of the main ideas of the ontological conception of Thomas. In fact, according to Thomas, only if it is possible to consider being from different points of view (the "secundum quid"), it is then possible to consider it simultaneously one and multiple, identical and different. On the other hand, one would fall into contradiction and be forced to sacrifice in being or unity or diversity. But precisely this last hypothesis would contradict the main characteristic of Thomas's ontology, considered in its contents: that of not excluding from being neither unity nor diversity. Also on this side, there is a gap in the criticism. Because, if until the Forties the main attribute of the being of Thomas was identified exclusively in diversity, from the 1940s to the present day it is exclusively identified in unity. Conditioned by an Aristotelian reading only the first and only neoplatonic the second, the interpretation proposed in this study shows how being is considered by Thomas both in his aspect of unity - as the Platonic "traditional" doctrine wanted - and in his appearance of structural diversity - as the "new" doctrine of the Philosopher was arguing. The real problem of Thomist ontology, therefore, is not that of knowing whether to be the attribute of unity rather than of distinction - both belong to Tommaso - but to know how such coexistence of opposite attributes is possible , that is by virtue of what distinctions. Now, are these distinctions really effective? Do they achieve the purpose for which they were designed, saving the being from contradiction? They cut the knot, escaping from the Vulcan net? These are the basic questions this study tries to answer.
Translated title of the contribution[Autom. eng. transl.] Difference and contradiction. The problem of being in Thomas Aquinas
Original languageItalian
PublisherVita e Pensiero
Number of pages409
ISBN (Print)88-343-0392-X
Publication statusPublished - 1997


  • Aristotelism
  • Platonism
  • Thomas Aquinas
  • Tommaso d'Aquino
  • Trinity
  • aristotelismo
  • being
  • contraddizione
  • contradiction
  • essere
  • molteplicità
  • multiplicity
  • platonismo
  • transendentals
  • trascendentali


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