De Ente et Essentia

Phil suggests that I read De Ente et Essentia, also known as On Being and Essence, a short treatise on these fundamental concepts of metaphysics which (I am told) St. Thomas wrote for the edification of one of his brother friars who was having trouble understanding them. This puts me in good company.

I had planned on getting a little further through the Compendium Theologiae before tackling this; but it so happens that I’ve just gotten to the chapter entitled “Ontology: Essence” in Jacques Maritain’s Introduction to Philosophy, and I thought I’d give St. Thomas’ explanation a try before Maritain’s.

This leaves the question of translation. I’ve found two different translations on-line; one which dates to 1965 and which appears to be by Joseph Kenny, O.P., and another by Robert T. Miller which dates to 1997. The former translation appears to be plainer and easier to understand, but it also bills itself as “a translation and interpretation.” There’s no indication of what “interpretation” means in this context, nor is there any copyright information. The translation by Miller, on the other hand, is translated less simply, but clearly indicates that it may be copied provided that the relevant notices are preserved. Consequently, it may be a better choice for the kind of treatment I’ve been giving the Compendium.

Does anybody have an opinion as to which translation is more accurate?

4 Responses to “De Ente et Essentia”

  1. Well, I had hoped someone with some knowledge would reply, I don’t know which is better. I do hope you will occasionally compare it to the Latin if it is unclear.

  2. Will says:

    That’s a nice thought, but I don’t read Latin. (One more thing I’m thinking of adding to my list…)

  3. a thomist says:

    In general, Aquinas translations are all the same, but I’d a avoid the first guy, since he is more or less announcing that he’s not translating the book. I glanced at Robert Miller and he seemed great. Many people seem to like Maurer’s translation.

    Aquinas is pretty hard to screw up, and as a rule you should take any opportunity to read him that you can get.

  4. Will says:

    Thanks much!