A Thomistic perspective
Kevin E. O’Reilly
'Aesthetic Perception is essential reading for serious students of Thomistic aesthetics', Patrick Sarsfield.
‘This is a book for which the world has waited two generations … O’Reilly’s monograph is at once a welcome return to an argument left hanging in the air and a sure footed application of the insights more recent historical theology and the revived Thomism of the last couple decades has given to the meaning of Aquinas … O’Reilly gives us a renewed sense of the metaphysical reality that subtends our experience of beauty, explaining in the process why the contemplation of art is essential to the full realization of human life even as art and literature have no been, and perhaps cannot be, resolved into sciences (perfect disciplines) of their own', James Matthew Wilson, Christianity and Literature.
‘Dr Kevin O’Reilly’s investigation of aesthetic perception will be essential reading for future students of Thomistic aesthetics', Gerald Hanratty, Irish Catholic.
‘[O’Reilly’s] approach is unique; it tries to connect Aquinas’s notion of beauty more closely to his theory of knowledge and moral philosophy … O’Reilly ties Aquinas’s esthetics to connatural knowledge. He argues that knowledge through connaturality accords with an esthetic pleasure that involves both intellect and will, understanding and emotion. It thus effects a synthesis of knowledge and love that are “inseparable in the concrete unity of the human person” (63). This synthesis is a spiritual activity requiring the exercise of free will and the acquisition of moral habits … O’Reilly’s desire to place beauty within the wider context of Aquinas’s thought is refreshing … [S]uch boldness is necessary to unpack the full richness of what Aquinas either implied or took for granted concerning beauty’, Daniel B. Gallagher, Theological Studies (September 2008).
‘O’Reilly pours a sober astringency on the Romantic effusions of almost all recent Thomists, showing that Thomas’ theory needs no such exaggeration for its integrity, power and, yes, beauty to shine through … a better exposition of Thomistic aesthetics you will not find', Patrick Madigan, Heythrop Journal (2009).
‘Kevin O’Reilly’s Aesthetic perception: a Thomistic perspective is a welcome addition to this topic, not only for its study of Aquinas’s aesthetics but also as it leads us to appraise the importance of that aesthetics within a broader philosophical spectrum. O’Reilly provides a penetrating and expansive treatment of this field. Beyond his thoughtful review of the psychological and metaphysical moorings of Aquinas’s aesthetics, he also considers its moral significance, which has received scant attention in other studies. Moreover, he proposes Aquinas’s thought as a response to some more recent developments, thus encouraging Thomists to consider how the Angelic Doctor might be introduced into quarters where he might have been previously unknown … In his final chapter O’Reilly characterizes his study as a “humble effort in the direction of what one might call a virtue aesthetic”. Though humble in its length, it is certainly thorough in its survey of the relevant elements of the subject', Brian Chrzastek, The Thomist (April 2010).