American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 92, Issue 2, Spring 2018

Brian T. Carl
Pages 225-247

The Transcendentals and the Divine Names in Thomas Aquinas

Interpreters of Aquinas tend to posit a seamless transition from knowledge of the transcendentals in the abstract to naming God as one, true, and good. Some even suggest that the convertibility of the transcendentals with being implies the unity, truth, and goodness of esse divinum. Others hold simply that the meaning and order of these divine names is founded upon the meaning of the transcendentals. This study: (1) explains why Aquinas avoids “transcendental arguments” for these divine names; (2) argues that truth and goodness, as divine names, are derived not only from the transcendental meanings of these terms but also from specific perfections: namely, truth of intellect and moral goodness; (3) shows that the order of these divine names in the two Summae (being, good, one, true) better reflects the order of the transcendentals as received perfections than their more familiar order in the abstract (being, one, true, good).