Existence and essence in Thomas and Husserl
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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In a series of conversations recorded towards the end of his life, Husserl is quoted as saying, "Yes, I do honor Thomas ..." and "... certainly I admit Thomas was a very great, a colossal phenomenon."1 With this, however, is the assertion that one "must go beyond Thomas."2 What is this going beyond Thomas? The purpose of this essay is to explore this in terms of the distinction between existence and essence we considered in our first chapter when we inquired into the ontological status of the ideas. Our claim is that on this point at least, Husserl is in agreement with Thomas Aquinas. The demand that we go "beyond" him does not concern this distinction. It rather amounts to an implicit call to bring Thomas’ epistemology--in particular, his view of consciousness--up to the level achieved by his metaphysical insights.
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