John P. O’Callaghan
Philosophers of all sorts will be richly rewarded by reading John O’Callaghan’s new book, Thomistic Realism and the Linguistic Turn. Based on his broad knowledge of Aristotle and Aquinas, O’Callaghan provides not only an excellent treatment of Aquinas’s epistemology but also a superb demonstration of just how Aquinas might contribute to contemporary debates.
The camps of realism and idealism fiercely engaged one another in the field of epistemology for a long time. Thomists participated in confronting idealism from their particularly unique realist position. Post Wittgenstein the conflict has been dominated by that form of epistemology that grounds all knowledge in linguistic practice. Since Thomists work in a textual and historical mode their response to the technical approach of the analytic philosophy in which most of the linguistic epistemologists write has been slow in coming. That is until John O’Callaghan.
O’Callaghan expertly closes that gap by successfully bringing together these fields. His impressive discussions use careful exegesis and analysis of contemporary philosophic issues, including an outstanding section on the historical origins of mental representationalism and the importance of understanding that history for anyone involved in the ongoing debates.
The strengths of this volume are many and its contribution is important. No philosophic library, personal or institutional, should be without it.
“This is a magnificent tour de force that engages head-on the attacks upon (and defence of) mental representationalism as the dominant epistemology of the modern period. . . . this work constitutes the closest approximation currently available to a definitive ‘map of the territory’ of Anglo-American analytic epistemology, its fatal affiliation to the Cartesian theory of ideas, and a most persuasive argument for the distinctness of the Aristotelian-Thomist approach. . . . [A] splendid achievement. . . .” — The Heythrop Journal
“An important and useful book. . . . the book renders a valuable service from Thomistic resources to contemporary thinkers struggling with the perennial problems of realism. . . .” — Theological Studies
“. . . A helpful survey of claims and arguments, as well as the presentation of a certain approach to an interconnected set of problems.” — The Philosophical Quarterly
“O’Callaghan offers an interpretation of Aquinas that is simultaneously traditional and innovative. [This] book undertakes a worthy effort to revitalize the traditional interpretation of Aquinas’s theory of cognition so that it can engage the contemporary debate about the relationship of language and thought to the world. His argument is timely . . . and it makes an important contribution to the field.” — The Thomist
“. . . this remarkable book will enlighten and delight all who are interested in the questions and the authors with whom it deals.” — Pro Ecclesia
“O’Callaghan writes as a passionate, penetrating, and faithful reader of St. Thomas. Thomists will have no difficulty recognizing the basic theses, but they will profit by following the careful development of these theses in dialogue with a number of contemporary philosophers.” — Review of Metaphysics