Essential Aspects of Cornelio Fabro's Thought
1. The definition of the essence of Thomism
Better than anyone else, Fabro has been able to define the speculative essence of Thomism as the comprehensive overcoming of Aristotelianism and Platonism. His genetic, historical and critical study of original Thomism drove him to assert the centrality of the metaphysical notion of participation, through which the metaphysical understanding of creatures always has to be read.
2. The defense of the main thesis of authentic Thomism
The discovery of the metaphysical notion of participation as the essence of Thomism provided Fabro with the opportunity to show in a new light the extremely important distinction between essentia and actus essendi in its real composition, and also to give a physiognomy of emergent act of esse. This is the first and last act, the act of all acts, of all forms and of all perfections. In direct relation to these speculative achievements, we have to mention the accurate defense of “perseity”, which is inherent to the principle of causality and which rigorously demonstrates God’s existence as ipsum esse subsistens (fourth way) as well as the ontological dependence of every ens of God (creation), always in strict relation to the texts of St. Thomas.
3. The denunciation of the formalist trend among Thomists
Fabro also can be credited for denouncing the formalist downward trend of the Thomistic school, which was increasingly adopting the terminology of its opponents in order to ease the pressure of several controversies. In this way, the school ended up reducing the value of the Thomistic thesis and sometimes even encouraging the opposite position (gaetanistic principle of the mihi aliter dicendum est).
4. Dialogue and confrontation with modern thought
The clear definition of the identity of original Thomism as well as a profound comprehension of the Thomistic esse allowed the philosopher to establish a consistent dialogue and confrontation with the sharpest instances of a thought inspired by the modern principle of conscience. Among some of the numerous fruits of this dialogue are: the valorization of the Thomistic ens as the “commencement” of thought and the presentation of the exceptional character of Thomism as philosophia essendi. Both themes are connected with the Hegelian doctrine of the Anfang and with the accusation of the “forgetfulness of being” (Vergessenheit des Seins), which Heidegger will launch against the whole of Postparmenidian Western philosophy.
5. The blame of the atheist root in the principle of immanence
With unequalled dedication Fabro also denounced the intrinsically atheistic value of the principle of conscience, or principle of immanence. In addition, his vigorous accusation of the anthropological downward trend in progressive theology, which has devoutly subjected itself to modern principles, may be considered a corollary of this denunciation. The same may be said about the theology of Rosminian immanentism.
6. Fabro’s discovery of Kierkegaard
Another important contribution which has to be observed is the valorization of Kierkegaard’s work. Actually, apart from the fact that Fabro has been one of the best translators of the Danish philosopher, it is important to underline the merit of his having offered the most balanced and correct interpretation of Kierkegaard’s thought, which has often been distorted and read on the basis of pre-defined intellectual opinions.
7. The recovery of the authentic notion of freedom
Fabro himself considered his magnificent speculation about freedom as the last step in the overcoming of formalism and Western rationalism. This speculation, which might be seen as the fulfillment of all his merits, is a controversial point and has been the cause of rejections even among some sectors of Thomism. However, apart from every polemical aspect, the merit of Fabro’s touching the central point of modern thought has to be recognized.
8. The need of a return to metaphysics according to the Magisterium of the Church
Another motive, worthy of merit, comes to us from the Magisterium of the Church with its insistent urge of a return to the real metaphysical instance, to St. Thomas and to his philosophia essendi, as it appears in Fides et ratio. This finds an excellent response in Fabro’s works thanks to their metaphysical profundity, their fidelity to authentic Thomism and the utter superiority which he himself gives to being as act (esse ut actus).
9. Fidelity to the Church
Finally, Cornelio Fabro’s work undeniably represents a wonder of the sensus ecclesiae in a time when the greatest praises seem to be directed to those “daring” people who contest the Magisterium of the Church and the voice of the Supreme Pontiff. By publishing his works we intend to recognize his fidelity to the authentic Magisterium and to put his thought within the grasp of students and scholars. Undoubtedly, this is a thought marked by the brightness of truth, a thought apt to give an answer to the generous urge of faith with the authentic audacity of reason, a thought which with wisdom and humility conceives being as it is.