W. Norris Clarke, S.J.
When it is taught today, metaphysics is often presented as a fragmented view of philosophy that ignores the fundamental issues of its classical precedents. Eschewing these postmodern approaches, W. Norris Clarke finds an integrated vision of reality in the wisdom of Aquinas and here offers a contemporary version of systematic metaphysics in the Thomistic tradition.
The One and the Many presents metaphysics as an integrated whole which draws on Aquinas’ themes, structure and insight without attempting to summarize his work. Although its primary inspiration is the philosophy of St. Thomas himself, it also takes into account significant contributions not only of later philosophers but also of those developments in modern science that have philosophical bearing, from the Big Bang to evolution.
Norris pursues two central themes in his explication of Thomistic metaphysics. He uncovers the unity and diversity found at all levels of the universe, with all beings held together in harmony rather than disconnected chaos. He also proposes the act of existence as the core of the positive attributes of all real beings, which in its pure unlimited state is the very nature of God. In the end, he offers a final synthetic overview of being both emanating from and returning to God in the Great Circle of Being—a journey in which each of us is a traveler.
Through Aquinas’ metaphysics, Clarke helps the reader develop a holistic view of the meaningfulness of our universe and of human life. His work rescues the essence of Aquinas’ metaphysics, making this body of thought accessible to students and interested readers not trained in Thomistic terminology and contributing to a revival of this fundamental component of philosophy.
“W. Norris Clarke is one of the giants of North American Thomism. For over fifty years he has been a learned and illuminating interpreter of the metaphysics of Aquinas. . . . [I]n this book he provides the most comprehensive presentation to date of his distinctive philosophical and metaphysical thinking. Overall, Clarke has produced a most stimulating and thought-provoking book on the subject of metaphysics. It is replete with insights and written with a rare generosity of spirit which is most uplifting to read.” — The Heythrop Journal
“Both students and teacher will benefit from a highly readable account of major themes in Aquinas’ metaphysics. The material is presented in a way accessible to those unfamiliar with the formidable Aristotelian apparatus usually presumed in textbook presentations of Aquinas. Clarke divides his book into short, easily digestible chapters.” — Theological Studies
“. . . crisp, clear, and easy to understand metaphysical arguments. It presents a well-justified Thomistic metaphysical theory. The importance of this book goes far beyond that of a good Thomistic textbook. Its ahistorical approach should enable The One and the Many to become a voice in contemporary discussions of metaphysical issues.” — The Review of Metaphysics
“This book is rich in metaphysical insight and suggestiveness. At the same time it manages to be a rigorous presentation of Thomistic metaphysics suitable to contemporary life.” — Encounter
“Clarke has written a very interesting and provocative book, one that is likely to inspire future students to study metaphysics in the Thomistic tradition. We are especially indebted to Clarke for his willingness to engage modern science and his contribution to the revival of metaphysics as a systematic study.” — The Thomist
“[A] masterly account of the metaphysical system which he has worked out over a lifetime of historical research, teaching, and writing. Those who have been waiting for this account will not be disappointed. The One and The Many is a very important book and its contribution to speculative metaphysics and to the Thomistic tradition is outstanding.” — Maritain Notebook
“After a lifetime in the study and teaching of philosophy, especially to undergraduates at Fordham University, Norris Clarke has produced a valuable textbook of metaphysics, inspired by St. Thomas, and adapted to issues of the present day. It does not just repeat what St. Thomas said, but retrieves it, completes it, appropriates it, and systematises it.” — Australasian Catholic Record