Dr. Lluis Clavell

Interview with Prof. Dr. Lluis Clavell (Pontifica Università Santa Croce - Roma) 19-08-2004



1.      Can you introduce yourself to our readers?

I am professor of metaphysics in the Faculty of Philosophy of the Pontificia Università della S. Croce in Rome . I was born in Barcelona (1941) and ordained priest of the Catholic Church (1966).

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

I work mainly in two fields.

The first is the philosophical caracterization of God as Ipsum Esse, and therefore as Life or Wisdom and Love, according to St. Thomas Aquinas.

The second is freedom as the most holistic knowledge of the personal being. The different meanings of the word "freedom" are very important in the current cultural climate. Freedom understood as the psychological capacity of choosing is certainly basic, but it does not capture the whole meaning of freedom. Freedom is a self-determination directed to personal fullness, which one can only find through growth in the moral life and in the love of friendship towards other persons and particularly towards God.

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

It is not easy to choose "the most important" thing learned from master Thomas. But in my case, probably the most decisive element is the synthetic approach towards reality: the harmony between theology, philosophy, sciences and spiritual life.

In this way, I feel myself free and open to study the different levels of being without falling into the present fragmentation or into the reductions of the sciences. I suppose that hearing the teachings of St. Josemaría Escrivá about the unity of life, since my youth, have had an influence in this approach.

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

I am in debt particularly to C. Cardona, E. Gilson and C. Fabro. From R. Garrigou-Lagrange I assimilated the harmony between ordinary knowledge (sens commun, in his words) and the scientific level of knowledge. More recently I have appreciated very much the important contributions of J. F. Wippel, Jan A. Aertsen, and of some of my colleagues at the University, like J.J. Sanguineti, A. Rodríguez Luño, S. Brock and L. Romera.

All of them contribute to a study of Aquinas that is not one-sided: a rigorous historical approach is necessary for a better understanding of his thought; it is also important to combine the aristotelianism and neoplatonism of Thomas; and finally, in view of the current cultural challenges, one must think in a personal way and try to have a thorough understanding of contemporary problems.

5. What is the importance of Aquinas for our times?

In my opinion, his faithful openness to the whole reality, to the entire field of beings, and to the act of being, gives the capability of integrating the new discoveries in the various sciences. Thomas himself had a great interest in knowing well the new philosophical books of his time. The philosophy of being was for Aquinas always the root of a deep insight.

6. How would you describe the current status of Thomism in your country?

In the recent past, the study of Aquinas in Spain , under the strong influence of the interpretations of commentators like Thomas de Vio or John Poinsot, was strongly speculative. The link between logics and metaphysics was very present, with advantages and disadvantages.

Today the situation is richer: the research is being done different points of view in not few universities: Barcelona , Navarra, Málaga, Ceu - San Pablo , etc. Much good assistance comes from the SITA (International Society of Thomas Aquinas).

In Italy we have several ecclesiastical universities or faculties in Rome , in which many theologians and philosophers study the writings of Aquinas from various approaches and also, in not a few cases, in connection with theological questions.

Generally in the state or private Italian universities (non ecclesiastical) the interest in Aquinas is mostly historical and of good quality. For instance, there is a good society for medieval studies (Società Italiana per lo Studio del Pensiero Medievale) which is very well known abroad. The Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa seems to be one the most relevant universities in this field, but not the only one in Italy . The renewed activity of the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas (under the direction of Prof. A. Lobato), with its growing internationality, is also a place of important discussion.

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

I like particularly some essays in the volume Metafisica e libertà (Armando, Roma 1996).

The book El nombre propio de Dios según Santo Tomás (Eunsa, Pamplona 1980) would need a revision, but probably is still useful.

In the didactical field, I wrote some years ago and in collaboration with some colleagues, a thomistic manual Metafisica.  There are Italian (Le Monnier, Florence 1987), English (Sinag-Tala, Manila ) and Spanish (Eunsa, Pamplona ) versions with several editions; now we are preparing a new edition.

I also edited with Ignacio Guiu the posthumus work of Carlos Cardona, Olvido y Memoria del ser, Eunsa, Pamplona 1997, pp. 518.

In addition I would mention some recent essays in the field of freedom:

  • Metafisica della libertà', nel volume Verità e libertà oggi, a cura di Battista Mondin, Collana "Problemi del nostro tempo" n. 104, Editrice Massimo, Milano maggio 1999, pp. 55-67
  • ‘The Freedom Won by Christ on the Cross. Theological Reflections on Freedom in Blessed Josemaria's Teaching', in Romana (Bulletin of the Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei), 2001, n. 33, pp. 234-261.
  • ‘El hombre como ser libre', in AA. VV. Idea cristiana del hombre, Eunsa, Pamplona , 2002, pp 63-81.
  • ‘Personas libres', in A. Malo (a cura di) "La dignità della persona umana", vol. III  del Congresso "La grandezza della vita quotidiana" (Pontificia Università della Santa Croce, Roma, 8/11 gennaio 2002), Edusc, Roma 2003, pp. 101-116.

I note also some essays on the encyclical Fides et Ratio and on the writings of John Paul II:

  • ‘I diversi stati della filosofia in rapporto alla fede', nel volume "Quaderni dell'Osservatore Romano" 45, Città del Vaticano 1999, pp. 178-187.

  • ‘L'istanza veritativa e la riflessione metafisica', nel volume Fides et Ratio, Testo e commento teologico-pastorale a cura di Rino Fisichella, San Paolo, Alba ( Cuneo ) 1999, pp. 189-206
  • ‘Necesidad de la filosofia para la teología en la actualidad', in Seminarium n. 3, luglio-settembre 2000, pp. 513-536.
  • ‘L'unità del sapere per l'attuazione di "Fides et ratio"', in Alpha Omega III, n. 2, 2000, pp. 211-225.
  • ‘La presenza di Aristotele nell'Enciclica "Fides Ratio"', in AA.VV., L'attualità di Aristotele, a cura di Stephen L. Brock, Armando Editore, Roma 2000, pp. 161-170.
  • ‘L'attualità della filosofia dell'essere: l'invito di Giovanni Paolo II a studiare Tommaso di'Aquino', in: Acta Philosophica, 5 (1996), pp. 5-20.
  • ‘L'antropologia integrale di Karol Wojtyla: un invito a unire teologia e filosofia', in: AA.VV. Etica e poetica in Karol Wojtyla, a cura di L. Leuzzi, SEI, Torino 1997, pp. 139-149.

The work of Cornelio Fabro, along with exploration of epistemological and anthropological fragmentation (postmodernism), has also been of interest to me.

  • La preghiera nel pensiero moderno di Cornelio Fabro', in Euntes docete 34 (1981), pp. 455-469.

  • ‘L'essere come atto e Dio in s. Tommaso d'Aquino secondo Cornelio Fabro', in Euntes Docete (1997), pp. 33-59.

  • ‘Les principals tesis de Tomàs d'Aquino segon Cornelio Fabro', in José Petit - José Mª Romero (Eds.), "La síntesis de santo Tomás de Aquino". Actas del Congreso de la SITA Barcelona, Vol I, Publicacions i Edicions Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona , 2004, pp. 57-74 (nelle  pp. 75-100 si trovano come appendice: ‘Nuevas Tesis tomistas propuestas por Cornelio Fabro').

  • ‘ Para superar la fragmentación del saber', in T. Trigo (a cura di) Dar razón de la esperanza. Homenaje al Prof. Dr. José Luis Illanes, Servicio de Publicaciones de la Universidad de Navarra, Pamplona 2004, pp. 1149-1160.

  • ‘Trabajo y familia: superar la fragmentación partiendo de la persona', in Domènec Melé Carné (coord.), Conciliar trabajo y familia : un reto para el siglo XXI EUNSA, Pamplona 2004, pp. 103-116.

  • György Lukács: Storia e coscienza di classe e Estetica (Japadre, L'Aquila 1977)

  • ‘La salvezza nella filosofia della religione di Kant', negli Atti del Congresso Internazionale di Missiologia "La salvezza oggi", Urbaniana University Press, Roma 1989, pp. 319-331.

  • ‘El ateísmo en Occidente después de la quiebra del marxismo', in: Athéisme et Foi 25 (1990), pp. 170-181

  • ‘Postmodernità & nuovo ordine', in: Studi Cattolici n. 508 (2003), pp. 412-417.

  • ‘Filosofia analitica e metafisica classica di fronte all'essere', in: Aquinas 1988, pp. 61-68.

  • ‘La crisi della verità e l'annuncio della fede', in: Aquinas, fascicolo 3, anno XLI, Facoltà di Filosofia della Pontificia Università Lateranense, Mursia 1998, pp. 583-595.

  • ‘Vers una nova cultura', Servicio de Documentación Montalegre n. 298, Barcelona 1990, pp. 9.

  • ‘Valors i contravalors a la cultura contemporània', in: Temes d'avui, nº 4, luglio 1998, pp. 27-40.




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