Volume 95, Issue 3, Summer 2021
Thomism and Contemporary Phenomenological Realism
Toward a Renewed Engagement
This paper looks to make a small contribution to the critical engagement between philosophical Thomism and phenomenology, inspired by the recent work of the German phenomenologist and hermeneutic thinker Günter Figal. My suggestion is that Figal’s proposal for a broad-based hermeneutical philosophy rooted in a renewed realism concerning things in their externality and “objectivity” provides great potential for a renewed encounter with Thomist realism. The paper takes up this issue through a brief examination of some of the more problematic idealistic features of Kantian and Husserlian thought, before turning to consider how these aspects of the tradition are reframed within Figal’s phenomenological realism. The Thomist position concerning the relation between things and their understanding (including the complex matter of the verbum mentis) is then raised, drawing both on Aquinas’s own texts and the interpretations of Jacques Maritain. Some striking emerging affinities between this tradition and Figal’s hermeneutic phenomenology are noted.