The Aesthetics of Thomas Aquinas

by Umberto Eco
Translated by Hugh Bredin

Harvard | October 15, 1988 | Trade Paperback

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The well-known Italian semiotician and novelist Umberto Eco discloses for the first time to English-speaking readers the unsuspected richness, breadth, complexity, and originality of the aesthetic theories advanced by the influential medieval thinker Thomas Aquinas, heretofore known principally as a scholastic theologian. Inheriting his basic ideas and conceptions of art and beauty from the classical world, Aquinas transformed or modified these ideas in the light of Christian theology and of developments in metaphysics and optics during the thirteenth century.

Setting the stage with an account of the vivid aesthetic and artistic sensibility that flourished in medieval times, Eco examines Aquinas''s conception of transcendental beauty, his theory of aesthetic perception or visio, and his account of the three conditions of beauty--integrity, proportion, and clarity--that, centuries later, emerged again in the writings of the young James Joyce. He examines the concrete application of these theories in Aquinas''s reflections on God, mankind, music, poetry, and scripture. He discusses Aquinas''s views on art and compares his poetics with Dante''s. In a final chapter added to the second Italian edition, Eco examines how Aquinas''s aesthetics came to be absorbed and superseded in late medieval times and draws instructive parallels between Thomistic methodology and contemporary structuralism. As the only book-length treatment of Aquinas''s aesthetics available in English, this volume should interest philosophers, medievalists, historians, critics, and anyone involved in poetics, aesthetics, or the history of ideas.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 302 pages, 9.02 × 5.98 × 0.03 in

Published: October 15, 1988

Publisher: Harvard

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0674006763

ISBN - 13: 9780674006768

Found in: Religion and Spirituality, Religious

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The Aesthetics of Thomas Aquinas

by Umberto Eco
Translated by Hugh Bredin

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 302 pages, 9.02 × 5.98 × 0.03 in

Published: October 15, 1988

Publisher: Harvard

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0674006763

ISBN - 13: 9780674006768

Table of Contents

Preface Translator''s Note Aesthetics in Medieval Culture Historiography The Medieval Aesthetic Sensibility Thomas Aquinas The Possibility of Aesthetic Pleasure Plan of the Research Beauty as a Transcendental The Problem The Aesthetic Vision of Things Aquinas''s Texts Modern Interpretations Beauty as a Transcendental in Thirteenth-Century Philosophy The Function and Nature of the Aesthetic Visio The Problem Medieval Texts Aquinas''s Texts The Aesthetic Visio Intellectual Intuition in Aquinas The Formal Criteria of Beauty The Texts The Concept of Form Proportion: The Historical Data The Concept of Proportion in Aquinas Integritas Claritas : The Historical Data Claritas in Aquinas Concrete Problems and Applications The Beauty of the Son of God The Beauty of Mankind The Beauty of Music Play and Playful Verse The Symbolical Attitude Universal Allegory Scriptural and Poetic Allegory Aquinas''s Theory of Allegory Didactic Parabolism A Thomist Poetics Aquinas and Dante The Theory of Art Art and Invention The Ontology of Artistic Form Artistic Form and the Aesthetic On the Possible Autonomy of the Fine Arts The Ambiguity of Art''s Autonomy Judgment and the Aesthetic Visio The Function of the Aesthetic Visio The Nature of the Aesthetic Visio Conclusion The Central Aporia in Aquinas''s Aesthetics The Dissolution of the Concept of Form in Post-Thomistic Scholasticism Aesthetic Categories and Medieval Society Thomistic Methodology and Structuralist Methodology Notes Bibliography Glossary
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From the Publisher

The well-known Italian semiotician and novelist Umberto Eco discloses for the first time to English-speaking readers the unsuspected richness, breadth, complexity, and originality of the aesthetic theories advanced by the influential medieval thinker Thomas Aquinas, heretofore known principally as a scholastic theologian. Inheriting his basic ideas and conceptions of art and beauty from the classical world, Aquinas transformed or modified these ideas in the light of Christian theology and of developments in metaphysics and optics during the thirteenth century.

Setting the stage with an account of the vivid aesthetic and artistic sensibility that flourished in medieval times, Eco examines Aquinas''s conception of transcendental beauty, his theory of aesthetic perception or visio, and his account of the three conditions of beauty--integrity, proportion, and clarity--that, centuries later, emerged again in the writings of the young James Joyce. He examines the concrete application of these theories in Aquinas''s reflections on God, mankind, music, poetry, and scripture. He discusses Aquinas''s views on art and compares his poetics with Dante''s. In a final chapter added to the second Italian edition, Eco examines how Aquinas''s aesthetics came to be absorbed and superseded in late medieval times and draws instructive parallels between Thomistic methodology and contemporary structuralism. As the only book-length treatment of Aquinas''s aesthetics available in English, this volume should interest philosophers, medievalists, historians, critics, and anyone involved in poetics, aesthetics, or the history of ideas.

About the Author

Umberto Eco Professor Emeritus at the University of Bologna and is the author of many books, including Foucault’s Pendulum and Six Walks in the Fictional Woods.
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