Aquinas and Joyce on Beauty

Aquinas and Joyce on Beauty

On 15 November Dr. Fran O’Rourke presented on “Aquinas and Joyce”. He gave the following outline of his talk, which will be available soon on this post: “Although St Thomas never composed a treatise on beauty, this has not prevented scholars from attempting to develop a comprehensive aesthetics from sparse comments throughout his writings. My talk will begin with a survey of Aquinas’ historical sources in Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, Augustine, and Pseudo-Dionysius. I will relate his notion of beauty to the transcendentals of Truth, Unity, and Goodness, and consider whether Beauty is for Aquinas a distinct transcendental concept. Addressing the charge that his definition of beauty is based upon a preconceived grasp of divine perfection and applied by derivation to creatures, I argue that his approach is grounded in empirical experience. I will outline the significant influence of Aquinas on James Joyce and analyse those texts in which Joyce draws heavily on St Thomas. Joyce’s interpretation diverges significantly from Aquinas and the resulting theory may be described either as a careless distortion or an ingenious invention.”

Fran O’Rourke is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, University College Dublin, where he taught for thirty-six years. He studied at the Universities of Vienna, Cologne, Louvain, and Leuven, where he received his PhD summa cum laude. He has held Fulbright and Onassis fellowships, and in 2003 was Visiting Research Professor at Marquette University. He has published on Plato, Aristotle, Neoplatonism, Aquinas, and Heidegger. His Pseudo-Dionysius and the Metaphysics of Aquinas (University of Notre Dame Press, 2005) was described by Alasdair MacIntyre as ‘one of the two or three most important books on Aquinas published in the last fifty years’. His study of James Joyce and Aristotle, Allwisest Stagyrite: Joyce’s Quotations from Aristotle, was published by the National Library of Ireland in 2005. His collection of essays, Aristotelian Interpretations, was published earlier this year by Irish Academic Press. He is completing a book on James Joyce, Aristotle, and Aquinas. [As well as philosophical influences on James Joyce, he is interested in Joyce’s use of Irish traditional song and regularly performs recitals of Joyce-related songs with John Feeley, Ireland’s leading classical guitarist. A CD of their concert in Monaco, St Patrick’s Day 2015, has been published (www.joycesong.info). In 2016 he initiated the Symposium Thomisticum which aims to promote international cooperation in research into the works of Thomas Aquinas (www.ucd.philosophy/symposiumthomisticum).

Join us!

* indicates required