The Semantic Principles Underlying St. Thomas Aquinas’s Metaphysics of Being
Medieval Philosophy and Theology, vol. 5, no. 1 (1996)
As I hope the title clearly indicates, this article is not intended to contribute its ounces to the tons of literature on Aquinas’s metaphysics of being. On the contrary, its primary motivation is the perhaps deplorable, but certainly not negligible, fact that the very form of discourse within which the substantive claims of that literature, as well as Aquinas’s own claims, are formulated is radically different from that of contemporary philosophical discussions.
Faced with this different form of discourse, modern readers are either willing (and able) to ‘join in,” in which case they may become “players” of the relevant “language game,” or they are unwilling (or unable) to do so, in which case they will be left ultimately “intellectually intact” by these claims. In either case, without careful reflection on the general principles governing “the game,” this willingness (and ability) on the part of the modern reader will be determined mostly by vague intuitions and more or less articulated sympathies or antipathies, rather than by serious philosophical considerations.