published on January 6, 2017
Joshua Lee Harris
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.