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Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association

Volume 89, 2015

Analyzing Catholic Philosophy

Joshua Lee Harris
Pages 109-118
DOI: 10.5840/acpaproc20171558

Transcendental Multitude in Thomas Aquinas

In this study, I consider the viability of what is perhaps one of the more “obscure” transcendentals in Aquinas’s work—that is, the concept of multitudo transcendens. This strange notion is mentioned explicitly (as a member of the transcendentia, that is) on four occasions in Aquinas’s oeuvre. Despite its apparent difficulties, i.e., the clear difficulties associated with claiming that ens is really convertible with both unum and multitudo, I suggest that Aquinas’s affirmation of multitudo as a transcendental is a conceptually coherent way of providing a compelling answer to a perennial problem in both ancient and modern philosophy: namely, the logical and metaphysical problem of doing justice to the seemingly equiprimordial notions of “the one” and “the many”—as harmonious perfections rather than competitive notions.