This talk will begin with a survey of Aquinas’ historical sources. Addressing the charge that his definition of beauty is based upon a preconceived grasp of divine perfection and applied by derivation to creatures, it will be argued that his approach is firmly grounded in empirical experience. The talk will also consider the question whether beauty is for Aquinas a distinct transcendental concept. Finally, the talk will conclude with brief mention of the importance of Aquinas for the aesthetics of the Irish writer James Joyce.
Fran O’Rourke is an Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, University College Dublin, and in June 2016 he initiated the Symposium Thomisticum.