INTERVIEW WITH PROF. DR. ENRIQUE ALARCÓN

19.11.2004

 

1.      Can you introduce yourself to our readers?

I was born in Seville in 1962. I studied Philosophy and Theology in the University of Navarre, where I am presently Associate Professor of the Department of Philosophy. I am also President of the Fundación Tomás de Aquino, and Director of the Corpus Thomisticum project.

2.     What research are you doing at this moment and what courses are you teaching?

I prepare a book on the historical origin of the doctrine of the actus essendi. I am also working in a computer-aided stylometric analysis of the chronology of Aquinas' works. Other present tasks are: a new edition of Fr. Busa's Index Thomisticus (in collaboration with E. Bernot); a computerized "conceptual map" of Aquinas (in collaboration with E. Norvelle); and the completion of the Bibliographia Thomistica. My courses are Ontology and Introduction to the Philosophy.

3.     What is the most important thing you learned from Aquinas?

The sense of goodness, harmony, and hierarchy of reality; the correspondent harmonious use of all our capacities to know and appretiate such orderly reality; the inconditional fidelity both to natural truths and to the faith; the metaphysics of esse, and so many treasures of his doctrine... all of which, in Aquinas, is organically united.

4.     In which way were you introduced to the thought of Thomas and whom do you consider to be your teacher in Aquinas?

Dr. Antonio Segura, a good friend of my family, taught me first the importance of Thomas Aquinas. Later on, already in the University, I received advice and orientation from Prof. Ángel Luis González. I have been very influenced by the reading of so many wonderful scholars, specially in historical subjects: Chenu, Dondaine, Gils, Glorieux, Grabmann, Gy, Kaeppeli, Mandonnet, Marc, Walz... From a doctrinal point of view, I am specially in debt to Fabro, Gilson, and Leonardo Polo. Finally, the work of Fr. Roberto Busa inspired me to the development of the Corpus Thomisticum project.

5.     What is the importance of Aquinas for our times, especially in relationship to your field of research?

In my opinion, the crisis of Metaphysics as a scientific discipline derives from a misconception of reality. If esse is not necessary, the science of reality cannot be the first science. It is of critical importance to understand with Aquinas that esse is not caused formally, because not being is no possible alternative. Creation, thus, is not a change of status for possibles, but it is absolute origin of particular essences. Being, the object of First Science, is necessary as such, and not a contingent state.

6.     How would you describe the current status of Thomism in your country and/or in general?

Although we are not in our best times, there are good reasons to be optimistic. Let me provide some significant figures. In the database of the  Bibliographia Thomistica there are 327 records for works regarding Thomism published in 2000; 352 for year 2001; 412 for 2002; 490 for 2003; and already 450 for the first months of 2004 (disregarding the reviews of books). There is a steep and continuous increase of thomistic studies, as never in History. Another figure that makes evident the present renaissance of Thomism is the average number of accesses to the Opera omnia published in the Corpus Thomisticum website: some 3000 every day, from all around the world. Both facts confirm each other: there is a strong and growing interest for Aquinas among scholars in most of the world. With regard to my own country, Spain, the University of Navarre in Pamplona has published in the last five years some 110 books regarding Thomism. Also in Pamplona is published the Corpus Thomisticum. The thomistic school of Barcelona is very active: Fundación Balmesiana is developing a magnificent work. Dominicans, specially in San Esteban of Salamanca, continue to publish works of particular relevance for Spanish thomism. Finally, there are many scholars all around the country who have Aquinas as a first authority in Philosophy and Theology.

7.     Which publications of yourself do you consider to be the most important for Aquinas’ researchers to read?

The electronic edition of the Opera omnia published in the Corpus Thomisticum website is widely used all over the world. Also the Bibliographia Thomistica, with its 10700 references, is becoming an usual research tool for many scholars.

Regarding the historical aspects of Thomism, I have proposed a new hypothesis about the origin of the doctrine of the actus essendi in three complementary articles: San Alberto Magno y la Epistola Aristotelis de principio universi esse, in J. Ayala (ed.), "Actas del I Congreso Nacional de Filosofía Medieval (Sociedad de Filosofía Medieval, Zaragoza, 1992) p. 181-192; San Alberto Magno y la Epistola Alexandri de principio universi esse. "Tópicos" 3 (1992) 77-95; and Tomás de Aquino y la Metafísica perdida de Aristóteles. «Anuario Filosófico» 33 (2000) 557-571.

In metaphysics, I propose an interpretation of the philosophia perennis as a development of contents implicit in the first principles: see, for instance, El principio de contradicción y la estructura del ente en Aristóteles. «Acta Philosophica» 8/2 (1999) 271-277.