The Theology Of Thomas Aquinas by Rik Van Nieuwenhove and Joseph Wawrykow (University of Notre Dame Press) This is an in-depth study of every major aspect of Thomas Aquinas' theology. Contributors offer fresh and compelling readings of Aquinas on the Trinity, creation theology, theory of analogy, anthropology, predestination and human freedom, evil and original sin, Christology and grace, soteriology, eschatology, sacramentology, ecclesiology, moral theology, the relation between theology and philosophy, and scriptural exegesis.
Contributors to The Theology of Thomas Aquinas come from seven different countries and a variety of specialties within the discipline of theology. Their diverse perspectives add considerable merit to the depth and breadth of this project. Contributors both outline the thought of Aquinas in its own right and bring it into dialogue with present theological concerns. The high quality of these essays make this volume an invaluable reference tool.
(CONTRIBUTORS: Bruce D. Marshall, Herwi Rikhof, Gilles Emery, O.P., David B. Burrell, C.S.C., Harm Goris, D. Juvenal Merriell, C.O., Rudi A. to Velde, Jean Porter, Joseph Wawrykow, Paul Gondreau, Rik Van Nieuwenhove, Thomas F. O'Meara, O.P., Liam G. Walsh, O.P., Carlo Leget, Thomas Prugl, Paul O'Grady, Eugene F. Rogers, Jr.)
This book will establish itself as the best scholarly introduction to the theology of Thomas Aquinas. It belongs on the bookshelf of every theologian and Thomistic scholar. It will be read with appreciation by students and scholars alike.
Rik Van Nieuwenhove is lecturer in theology at Mary Immaculate College in Limerick, Ireland. He is the author of Jan van Ruusbroec, Mystical Theologian of the Trinity, also published by the University of Notre Dame Press.
Joseph Wawrykow is associate professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame. He is the author of God's Grace and Human Action and co-editor of Christ Among the Medieval Dominicans, both published by the University of Notre Dame Press.
"Readers will be grateful for this excellent comprehensive survey of Aquinas' theology. It is a compendium in the best sense of the word, both introduction for beginners and a reliable source of information for advanced scholars. Even experts in Thomist thought will highly appreciate the great number of original and stimulating essays which provide new views and interpretations of seemingly well known texts." —Ulrich Horst, O.P., Ludwig Maximilian University
The Essential Aquinas: Writings on Philosophy, Religion, and Society by John Y. B. Hood (Praeger Publishers) Widely recognized as one of the dominant figures in Western intellectual tradition, Thomas Aquinas has influenced a variety of fields of thought for centuries. This new anthology of his writings, translated from the original Latin by Hood, contains selections from a broad range of his topics and ideas. It includes works of systemic theology, commentaries on the Bible, Aristotle, and other texts of the classical tradition. Divided into eight chapters, the book offers substantial selections from each of Aquinas' areas of interest: Metaphysics, Natural Science, Human Nature, Law and Ethics, Catholic Theology, the Study of the Bible, Art and Beauty, and the Social World. In vivid translations and enlightening introductions to the selections, Hood provides readers with a rich overview of the important work of this unique thinker, cutting to the chase of what is most enduring in the seminal thinker.
Law & Custom: The Thought of Thomas Aquinas and the Future of the Common Law by David Van Drunen (Peter Lang Publishing) Throughout the long history of the Western legal tradition, custom and law have been integrally related in both theory and practice. Their relationship is embodied by the Anglo-American concept of the common law. Nevertheless, the twentieth century witnessed a drastic decline in the importance of the common law in the very countries in which it once flourished. In this interdisciplinary work of theological ethics and legal theory, David Van Drunen explores the relationship of custom and law in the thought of Thomas Aquinas. Van Drunen argues that Aquinas’s concern for custom was a central aspect of his theology of law and was grounded in broader elements of his theological and ethical thought. Aquinas’s insights on the necessity of attention to custom for the formation of a just legal system, VanDrunen concludes, suggest many reasons for a renewal of interest in the common law in the contemporary world.
Aquinas by Ralph M. McInerny (Polity Press) (Paperback) A briefer but no less authoritative introduction to the life and central Aristotelian significance Aquinas, McInerny provides deft look into the central contemporary significance of the philosopher and theologian, with a definite leaning toward the philosophical. This book is a lively and highly accessible introduction to the thought of Thomas Aquinas. While primarily a theologian, Aquinas' conception of theology presupposed an autonomous philosophy. This book concentrates on his philosophy while making clear its openness to theology as reflection on Revelation.
As a philosopher, Aquinas is fundamentally Aristotelian. Like Aristotle, he sees philosophy as emerging from the ordinary thinking of ordinary human beings (and philosophers when they are off duty). Philosophy does not initiate certain knowledge but prolongs it by perfecting the instrument of thinking and expanding its content. The quest for wisdom, like that for happiness, is an inescapable fact of human existence. This book uses key and crucial texts to describe the trajectory of Aquinas' philosophical thought from the analysis of changeable things through the reasoned awareness that to be and to be material are not identical to such knowledge as we con have of God. This brings Aquinas to the threshold of Christian faith.
"Aquinas lived in a time of remarkable intellectual and religious ferment. His thought, which Mclnerny following John Paul Il describes as an implicit philosophy, articulates not just for his own time, but for all times, the philosophical principles implicitly operative in human nature. In his new primer on Aquinas, Ralph Mclnerny manages the impossible. He gives us Aquinas, his times, the core of his philosophical teaching, and the significance of his continued contribution to philosophy and theology. With the deft style of the novelist and the clarity of a seasoned teacher of Aquinas, Mclnerny provides a marvellous path into the thought of the greatest of Catholic teachers.” -Professor Thomas Hibbs, Department of Philosophy, Boston College
"Mclnerny is perhaps the most important Catholic philosopher of his generation. While many limit philosophy to textual exegesis or formal logic, Mclnerny, in the spirit of his immediate predecessors Etienne Gilson and Jacques Maritain, still regards philosophy as the pursuit of wisdom, speculative and practical. Steeped in the history of philosophy, Mclnerny is a reliable guide to Aristotle and Aquinas and their commentators through the ages. He writes not for colleagues down the hall or for the appreciation of a handful of specialists but to be read by those who share his appreciation of antiquity or who seek an intellectual compass in stormy times. Translated into many languages, his work rightly commands a global audience. For its freshness, Aquinas will only enhance Mclnerny's status as a major interpreter of the Angelic Doctor." -Professor Jude P Dougherty, Dean Emeritus, School of Philosophy, The Catholic University of America
Excerpt: There have been many efforts to characterize the shapes and forms of Thomism as the Leonine revival crested. I propose a threefold division: transcendental Thomism, existential Thomism, and Aristotelian Thomism.
Transcendental Thomism may be roughly characterized as based on the belief that the Kantian critique is justified. Consequently, if Thomism is to gain a hearing from a world in which that view of Kant is shared, a postcritical Thomas must be fashioned. Marcechal can be considered the father of this movement, which includes such figures as Karl Rahner and Bernard Lonergan, all Jesuits. Maurice Blondel's influence on Henri de Lubac is a variant of transcendental Thomism. To simplify even further, transcendental Thomism, having abandoned epistemological realism, seeks to find in the workings of the human mind warrant for objective truths. This type of Thomism is favored by theologians rather than philosophers, as even its proponents acknowledge.
Existential Thomism, while it bears some incidental relation to post-war Existentialism, is based upon the conviction that the real composition of essence and existence in everything but God is the clef de voute of Thomism. Etienne Gilson and Cornelio Fabro are the giants of this school, but there are significant differences between them. What is shared is the assumption that the distinction of essence and existence provides a warrant for metaphysics without any dependence on a philosophy of nature. Peculiar to Gilson is his insistence that the order of theology is the order of philosophy for Thomas and that his relation to Aristotle is ultimately antagonistic. In the eyes of critics, existential Thomism, in its final Gilsonian phases, is the abandonment of philosophy in favor of a Christian philosophy indistinguishable from theology.
Aristotelian Thomism is exemplified in Part II of this presentation. It seems to me clearly to be the most faithful and fruitful approach to Thomas. Moreover, by emphasizing the autonomy of philosophy – though of course for the believer philosophizing is never separate from his faith – it is better able to enter the wider philosophical marketplace. Of course, Aristotle is not in the ascendancy in contemporary philosophy, though he remains a permanent point of reference. Obviously, there are merits in the other approaches to Thomas, and it is a mark of Aristotelian Thomism that it is always on the qui vive for such merits since it aspires to assimilate in the principled way of Thomas himself.
It may be noted that theologians often complain that there has been a tendency to make Thomas into a pure philosopher and ignore the fact that he was by profession a theologian. The counter concern is also heard, that stressing Thomas as theologian has the unfortunate effect of estranging him from ongoing philosophizing. The answer to both these concerns is to be found in Thomas himself, as the discussion of the relationship between philosophy and theology.
If we have learned anything in the past few decades it is that our ability to foresee what lies around the corner of time is severely limited. Who would have thought in the heyday of Thomism, at the midpoint of the twentieth century, that the wholesale abandonment of Thomas's doctrine by individuals and institutions lay just ahead? That abandonment, if that is not too strong a term, has had the effect of releasing Thomas into the wider scholarly and philosophical scene, into the public domain. No longer is a person's interest in Thomas taken as prima facie evidence that he is on the verge of conversion to Catholicism – always of course a consummation devoutly to be wished. Unprompted by ecclesiastic approval, any number of philosophers have been drawn to the texts of Thomas. Medieval studies has continued its amazing advance into the third millennium, but not all interest in Thomas is of a historical nature. Interest in Thomas is to be found in the most surprising places. We seem to have entered a phase of its history that could be called freelance Thomism.
Once there were graduate programs fashioned to lead the neophyte into the arcana of Thomas's thought, programs that were, ut ita dicam, both Gilsonian and Maritain-like in their aims. Nowadays, many graduate programs in philosophy feature a Thomist, even two, sometimes as exotic novelties, often on the zoological principle followed by Noah in filling the ark. But even if there be but one, breeding occurs and a new generation of freelance Thomists is generated. Their sires – or dames – are sometimes remnants of the Leonine Israel long since dispersed. But as often as not these professors are autodidacts rather than disciples of a master or mistress. Once Thomists had organizations and journals and meetings in which to disagree with one another. Now there is something like a secret handshake by which the scattered devotees acknowledge one another.
What is lacking in this diaspora is any sense of representing a minority view, an odd specialty tolerated by the dominant secular trends in philosophy. It remains a mark of the Thomist that he does not consider himself to be engaged in a kind of philosophy. A remark-able statement of that conviction can be found in John Paul II's Fides et Ratio, the Aeterni Patris of our times. The pope begins, as presentations of Philosophy 101 often do, with the observation that philosophical questions, far from being the puzzles of the sophisticated few, represent large issues no one can fail to face sooner or later. In that sense, everyone is a philosopher by dint of being a human being. But then the question of the variety and rivalry of philosophical systems is raised, and the encyclical suggests something extremely important. It is not simply that there are certain questions no human person can fail to ask. There are shared answers to those questions.
Although times change and knowledge increases, it is possible to discern a core of philosophical insight within the history of thought as a whole. Consider, for example, the principles of non-contradiction, finality and causality, as well as the concept of the person as a free and intelligent subject, with the capacity to know God, truth and goodness. Consider as well certain fundamental moral norms which are shared by all. These are among the indications that, beyond different schools of thought, there exists a body of knowledge which may be judged a kind of spiritual heritage of humanity. It is as if we had come upon an implicit philosophy, as a result of which all feel they possess these principles, albeit in a general and unreflective way. (para. 4)
In Part II (chapter 18) we spoke of the pre-philosophical starting points or principles that Thomas assumes as already known and as non-gainsayable. Surely this is what is being referred to in the passage just quoted. It continues: "Precisely because it is shared in some measure by all, this knowledge should serve as a kind of reference point for the different philosophical schools." This is a succinct statement of the attitude that seems to characterize Thomists now as before. If I have been successful in presenting Thomas's world view in Part II, the reader will understand why the more or less technical vocabulary that is developed is anything but a jargon, some patois that separates the speaker from the mass of mankind. All philosophers long to be intelligible, perhaps, but the recognition that such intelligibility requires a warm and continuous relation to the knowledge every human person at least implicitly has is not universally recognized. It is the boast of the Thomist, alas often undercut by his practice, that what he puts forward in argument is the efflorescence of what Fides et Ratio calls "implicit philosophy."
The Cambridge Companion to Aquinas edited by Norman Kretzmann, Eleonore Stump (Cambridge Companions to Philosophy: Cambridge University Press) (Hardcover) As always, Norman Kretzmann and Eleonore Stump deliver another masterful work together. Each of these writers are experts in their philosophical field of Medieval Metaphysics and philosophy. For anyone interested in gaining a better grasp of one of the greatest philosophers in the history of philosophy, this volume will certainly help. Kretzmann and Stump have edited this volume and included some of the preeminent Thomistic philosophers of the last 40 years. Chapters cover Aquinas' thoughts on ethics, metaphysics, Aristotle and Aquinas, Aquinas' theory of knowledge, law and politics and theological issues. Thus, the essentials of Aquinas are here in one volume. Moreover, his is an excellent work for those who would like to dig deeper and gain a more thorough understanding of Aquinas, or for those who would like to simply be "peeping Thomists" and get a small glimpse of what Aquinas espoused.
great philosophers of the Middle Ages Aquinas is unique in pursuing two
apparently disparate projects. On the one hand he developed a philosophical
understanding of Christian doctrine in a fully integrated system encompassing
all natural and supernatural reality. On the other hand, he was convinced that
Aristotle's philosophy afforded the best available philosophical component of
such a system. In a relatively brief career Aquinas developed these projects in
great detail and with an astonishing degree of success. In this volume ten
leading scholars introduce all the important aspects of Aquinas' thought,
ranging from its historical background and dependence on Greek, Islamic, and
Jewish philosophy and theology, through the metaphysics, epistemology and
ethics, to the philosophical approach to Biblical commentary. New readers and
nonspecialists will find this the most convenient, accessible guide to Aquinas
currently in print. Advanced students and specialists will find a conspectus of
recent developments in the interpretation of Aquinas.
By gathering up some of the top Aquinas scholars in the field, this volume presents the major topics of Aquinas' work in a lucid, considered, and (most importantly) easily understood way. While certainly not comprehensive (that is not its aim, and after all, the book would be another 500 pages at least), any potential Thomist scholar would be greatly served by this volume. Not only do the various authors give the reader a general overview of Thomas' thought and development, they also introduce some of the disputes going on within academic Thomist studies. As such, this volume is a good starting point for those interested in Aquinas, be it an academic interest or an desire to learn about the life and thought of a Doctor of the Church.
Admittedly, one should not try and delve into this book with no previous background into Thomas' thought. It does presume some level of familiarity with the terminology Aquinas gained from Aristotle, as well as from the Church Fathers and others. Given this, a general background in philosophy and/or patristic/scholastic theology should suffice for most of the work.
Discovering Aquinas: An Introduction to His Life, Work, and Influence by
Aidan Nichols (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company) offers a lively and
authoritative introduction to the life, thought, and ongoing influence of this
This book could not have come at a better time. After a lengthy period of declining interest in Aquinas, we are starting to see a Thomistic renaissance, including a renewed appreciation for the way Aquinas's work so brilliantly weaves together philosophy, theology, spirituality, revelation, and ethics. As Nichols writes, "It is because of the wonderfully integrated character of the wisdom of Thomas Aquinas — integrated not only as supernatural with natural but also as "thinking with love" — that the church in our day should not leave him as a fresco on a wall but find inspiration from his teaching and example."
By means of writing as felicitous as it is insightful, Nichols chronicles the compelling facts of Aquinas's life, explores the major facets of his thought, establishes Aquinas's historical importance, and shows why many today are regarding him as a vital partner in current debates about the future of Christianity.
Truth in Aquinas by John Milbank, Catherine Pickstock (Radical Orthodoxy: Routledge) Provocative and sophisticated, Truth in Aquinas challenges all those with an interest in contemporary Christian thought to attend once more to the significance of this key medieval thinker. Milbank and Pickstock present an important re-evaluation of a fundamental area--truth--in the work of Aquinas.
In this book, Milbank and Pickstock present a wholesale re-evaluation of the thought of Thomas Aquinas. They claim, against many received readings, that Aquinas's philosophical account of truth is also an entirely theological one. His understanding of truth as adequatio is shown to be inseparable from his metaphysical and doctrinal treatment of the participation of creatures in God as esse; from his theory of the convertibility of the transcendentals as mediated by the transcendental `beauty'; and from his Christology and theology of the Eucharist. This vision is remote from the assumptions undergirding modern accounts of truth as correspondence or coherence or redundancy. Since these accounts are all in crisis, Milbank and Pickstock ask whether Aquinas's theological framework is not essential to the affirmation of the reality of truth as such.
Compelling and challenging, Truth in Aquinas develops further the innovative theological project heralded by the publication of the seminal Radical Orthodoxy (Routledge, 1999).
Excerpt: One can detect four main attitudes toward truth in contemporary thought. The first is a doubt as to the possibility of truth altogether; the second is a confinement of truth to practice rather than theory; the third, a confinement of truth to theory rather than practice, but a theory so esoteric that only a tiny minority is privy to it; the fourth promotes, in the face of the first attitude, a fideistic affirmation of some religious truth or other.
In the case of the denial of the possibility of truth, this can take many different forms. Sometimes truth is regarded as an unnecessary term because it is held to denote simply an affirmation of what is the case. But if this `what is the case' is not held to be true, then it reduces to what appears to be the case, or is held to be the case for certain practical purposes. Sometimes, again, truth is regarded as strictly relative to a certain set of cultural assumptions, and where the latter is regarded as arbitrary, then relativism or conventionalism ensues, with the consequence that there is no truth in any absolute sense. Finally, the same approach can receive an ontological extension, in such a way that even natural arrangements in time are regarded as aleatory. There may be temporary truths of fact, in the sense of contingent events of relation between things, including a relation to human under-standing, but these facts do not arise according to truth in the sense of a coherent logic. For this position, the only truth that remains is the truth of the aleatory itself, which is enthroned as a positive value.
For this first position, then, either truth is inaccessible, or else reality itself is not amenable to notions of truth. In the latter case, one has a full theoretical nihilism, whilst in the former case, one has a kind of practical nihilism.
The second position is an elaboration upon one version of the first. It holds that if truth as correspondence to reality is either unavailable or meaningless, then this is no cause for despair, because truth belongs much more naturally to practical rather than theoretical activity. Sufficient truth for human purposes is available in the successful attainment of humanly sought ends. Such attainment discloses to us a certain reality outside of which lies only vain speculation. However, this attitude drains truth of its connotations of the indefeasible, and of its sense of value. The first consequence follows, because if human achievement provides us no clue as to what is ultimately the case, then it is no more than a fleeting and contingent set of contrived circumstances Such circumstances may be true for a time, as truths of factual occurrence, but can in the end prove not true at all. For while, certainly, human access to truth can only be time-bound, if truth has no connotations of the eternal and abiding, then it is hard to see why it is called truth at all.
The second consequence follows because if the only measure of the truth of a practice is its success, then anything that works is regarded as just as good as anything else, so long as it works also, without regard for any judgement as to the inherent desirability of what has been constructed. In this fashion, truth becomes detached from the good. Furthermore, the criterion of success ushers in a bad infinite, for when is one to decree that a process has reached its ripeness? The boundaries of truth so understood perpetually recede, and can only halt by dint of the imposition of an arbitrary assertion of will. So here again a truth confined to time proves elusive within time.
The third position, by contrast, possesses an unbounded confidence not just in the truth of natural science, but in its ability to provide a true ontology rather than merely a very limited disclosure of certain aspects of reality lending themselves to manipulation and prediction (as the present authors would rather assume). Here the truth of science resides not merely in the success of its operations, as for the second position above, but rather in what those operations are held to reveal. In this way, truth is here an entirely theoretical matter and this is all the more the case because truth as a property of the way things are is seen to be entirely indifferent to the goodness of things and to their beauty and value for human beings.
It is characteristic of modern natural science that it will hold something to be true which is extremely counter-intuitive and often remote from what people think to be the case, and indeed from what they are capable of understanding. This imposes a gulf between the everyday world and the ironic gaze of the scientific sage from the height of his privileged insight. Truth, therefore, of the most ultimate kind has here become the property of an élite, by the same token that it is freed from its traditional convertibility with the good and the beautiful. Increasingly, this cold truth is regarded as the only truth, and society, to the detriment of democracy, allows its guardians to take vital decisions which the rest of us can scarcely comprehend.
The fourth position can be regarded as essentially reactive. In the face of secular skepticism, pragmatism and positivism, many religious people tend to take refuge in the notion that there is nonetheless another source of truth enshrined in certain texts, practices and traditions. Ironically, for these texts, practices and traditions to acquire absolute authority outside the workings of human reason, they have to be regarded positivistically, in a fashion which mimics scientific positivism itself. The irrational strangely colludes with the most vigorously reduced rationalism, and often one finds that various fundamentalisms and fideisms are able happily to coexist with, and even to reinforce, the technoscientific capitalism of our day.
Against the background of the above delineated crisis of truth, the present authors have undertaken a new reading of Aquinas's understanding of truth. We have turned to Aquinas because, in his writings, one can discover an entirely different approach to truth which allows one, first of all, to recover correspondence without a sense of redundancy; secondly, to regard truth as at once theoretical and practical; thirdly, to demonstrate that all truth is a matter of faith as well as reason, and vice versa; and, fourthly, to indicate that truth is immediately accessible to the simplest apprehension, and yet amenable to profound learned elaboration.
The first chapter, `Truth and correspondence', seeks to show that the notion of truth as correspondence is in crisis only because it is taken in an epistemological rather than ontological sense. Usually Aquinas himself has been read anachronistically according to the canons of epistemology, and read this way, he has nothing to offer contemporary thought. However, we seek to show that in Aquinas, correspondence indicates a real ontological proportion between being and intelligence in a perspective where these are regarded as transcendentally convertible. For Aquinas, within the human modus, there is a distinction between intelligence and being, and yet also an unfathomable link between them which we dimly discern according to an act of aesthetic judgement. This perspective ensures that truth does not simply reduce to our mode of apprehension of what is the case, as is bound to occur on the epistemological model for which the intellect is accorded no necessary ontological dignity, but is merely supposed to mirror a reality itself indifferent to being comprehended. This possibility of retrieving truth as correspondence, and therefore truth itself in a strong sense, is however indissociably linked with Aquinas's theology and metaphysics of participation.
In the second chapter, it will be shown how Aquinas's general theory of truth applies both to his understanding of the operation of reason and to the operation of faith. We will argue that, contrary to usual readings, reason and faith in Aquinas represent only different degrees of intensity of participation in the divine light of illumination and different measures of absolute vision. And, furthermore, that reason itself requires faith because it already presupposes the operation of grace, while, inversely, faith still demands discursive argumentation and is only higher than reason because it enjoys a deeper participation in the divine reason which is direct intuition or pure intellectual vision. In this way, Aquinas offers no support to those who claim that there can be a philosophical approach to God independent of theology, but neither, on the other hand, does he offer support to those who demand a confinement to Biblical revelation independent of the Greek legacy of metaphysical reflection. Rather, it will be shown that, for Aquinas, revealed theology supplements metaphysics with history and requires a completion of the theoretical ascent to truth with a meeting of the divine descent in liturgical practice.
The commencement of this descent is at the Incarnation. In the third chapter, it will be shown not only how, for Aquinas, truth is only restored for fallen men by the hypostatic union, but also how this restoration involves certain ontological revisions in excess of their occasion: namely the conjoining of an ontic event with esse ipsum and a kenotic elevation of the sensory over the intellectual, and more specifically the sensory as touch. In Christ, this new sensorial access to truth is something one both contemplates and reproduces through the enactment of the sacraments.
This double relation to Christ corresponds to the way in which, for Aquinas, truth in God is both something envisaged and something actively performed by the Father in the Logos. Because we participate in this truth, for us also it is something that we see as a reflection of the invisible in the visible, and, at same time, something that we construct, as-it were unwittingly, through our artistic and liturgical attempts to praise the divine. Seeing and making are combined in the mutuality of touch which is most intensely taste; and the Eucharist, as foretaste of our beatitude, newly discloses to us that this supreme intuition is itself also a `touching'.
In the fourth chapter, the nature of this liturgical completion of truth is elaborated. Here it will be shown how we have a certain anticipation of the beatific vision in this life because God descends in the Incarnation and its perpetuation in the Eucharist to our immediate sensory awareness, wherein alone we enjoy intuitive understanding. In this fashion, it is the lower reason which is required to educate our higher reason, although this new priority of the sensory is accompanied by a linguistic and emotional play between presence and absence. For Aquinas's Catholic position, the most abstruse intellectual reflection on truth passes into the more profound and ineffable apprehension of truth in the Eucharist. In this way, there is no gulf for him between the most elite and the most common.
One can find the entire Summa Theologica online but this useful CD-ROM Edition is easier to use and search.
St. Thomas Aquinas and the Summa Theologica CD-ROM Edition (Harmony Media) This CD-ROM is a collection of several of the works of St. Thomas Aquinas (1225 - 1274), also known as the "Angelic Doctor" and honored as the Patron of Catholic Schools. Because of his clarity of thought and massive systematic theological output, St. Thomas is considered the greatest theologian in the Church's history. Hence the importance of a software product devoted to his work.
The core of this program is the Summa Theologica, which is still referenced in the major works of theology today including the new Catechism of the Catholic Church. The entire English Dominican Fathers' translation of the Summa is included here, not merely major portions. The user will be glad to find that all inter-textual references are hyperlinked as are all biblical references linked with the Revised Standard Version of the Bible: Catholic Edition. Some of the references have been modified to match the verse ordering of the current biblical translation.
The goal of the CD-ROM was to understand the Catholic faith as St. Thomas Aquinas did. While the Summa Theologica provides the strong doctrinal foundation, the Holy Bible and the Bible Commentary provide the necessary counter-balance of Divine Revelation.
This CD-ROM includes:
The Ethics of Aquinas edited by Stephen J. Pope (Moral Traditions Series: Georgetown University Press) "A remarkable set of in-depth background essays by scholars of erudition, balanced judgment, and clarity of thought. . . . This is a rich and unparalleled resource for scholars of theological ethics." Lisa Sowle Cahill, Monan Professor of Theology, Boston College
In this comprehensive anthology, twenty-seven outstanding scholars from North America and Europe address every major aspect of Thomas Aquinas's understanding of morality and comment on his remarkable legacy.
The opening chapters of The Ethics of Aquinas introduce readers to the sources, methods, and major themes of Aquinas's ethics. Part II of the book provides an extended discussion of ideas in the Second Part of the Summa Theologiae, in which contributors present cogent interpretations of the structure, major arguments, and themes of each of the treatises. The third and final part examines the legacy of Thomistic ethics for the twentieth century and today.
These essays reflect a diverse group of scholars representing a variety of intellectual perspectives. Contributors span numerous fields of study, including intellectual history, medieval studies, moral philosophy, religious ethics, and moral theology. This remarkable variety underscores how interpretations of Thomas's ethics continue to develop and evolve—and stimulate fervent discussion within the academy and the church.
Recent years have witnessed a remarkable revival of interest in the ethics of Thomas Aquinas. Scholars have produced books and articles on the life of Aquinas, his spirituality, and his understanding of the relation between faith and reason, nature and grace, reason and faith, and other theological themes. Moralists have writ-ten on his accounts of human acts and agency, happiness, the will, the virtues, and various special topics. Some authors provide brief and very general overviews of Thomistic ethics, but none offers a comprehensive treatment of the basic moral arguments and content of Aquinas's major moral work, the Second Part of the Summa theologiae. This work intends to fill this lacuna.
This book addresses a fairly wide audience. It intends to attract the attention of experts, but also to assist readers who are interested, but not necessarily specialists, in the moral thought of Aquinas. Its essays complement, but do not substitute for, a careful study of the primary texts.
The chapters in this volume reflect a variety of intellectual perspectives. The contributors come from numerous fields, including intellectual history, medieval studies, moral philosophy, religious ethics, and moral theology. Some authors have spent a lifetime working with specific texts of Aquinas, others draw from Aquinas as one among a number of resources that help address their primary concerns with contemporary moral issues. As a whole, the contributors to this volume represent a spectrum of viewsabout the meaning and contemporary normative significance of Aquinas's moral thought. They certainly do not comprise a single school of thought. This variety underscores the way in which Thomistic ethics continues to be the scene of lively intellectual development.
The citations in the essays come from a variety of Thomistic texts (including various different texts of the Summa). Some scholars use the latest critical editions made available by the Leonine Commission; others draw from alter-native standard editions such as those published by Marietti. Each author furnishes an English translation of the words of Aquinas in the body of his or her chapter; readers who wish to consult the Latin texts can find them in the notes.
A word about the structure of the volume is in order. The initial chapters introduce readers to the sources, methods, and major themes of Aquinas's ethics. These orienting essays will be especially helpful for readers who have less familiarity with Aquinas's theology than some others.
The second, more lengthy, part of the book provides an extended discussion of the treatises presented in the Second Part of the Summa. Aquinas himself did not divide the text according to "treatises," but, for the sake of clarity and order, we use this conventional system of demarcation. These chapters are not exactly "commentaries" in the sense of a line-by-line explication of texts; our authors do not provide any critical discussion relating to the establishment of reliable texts, or much in the way of philological and grammatical analysis. They seek only to present cogent interpretations of the structure, major arguments, and themes of each of the "treatises."
The third part of this volume examines various aspects of Thomist ethics in the twentieth century and beyond. Some of the contributors to this section trace various movements within Thomist moral philosophy and moral theology in the last century, others take a more prospective view of future developments of Thomist ethics. These chapters make it abundantly clear that far from being a monolithic and static moral theory, Thomism is a tradition of inquiry that continues to experience the same kind of development that marks other such traditions.
The Thought of Thomas Aquinas by Brian Davies (Clarendon Paperbacks: Oxford University Press) Thomas Aquinas was one of the greatest Western philosophers and one of the greatest theologians of the Christian church. In this book we at last have a modern, comprehensive presentation of the total thought of Aquinas. Books on Aquinas invariably deal with either his philosophy or his theology. But Aquinas himself made no arbitrary division between his philosophical and his theological thought, and this book allows readers to see him as a whole. It introduces the full range of Aquinas' thinking; and it relates his thinking to writers both earlier and later than Aquinas himself. This book is intended for scholars and students of theology, philosophy, and medieval thought.
This book represents a long overdue modern comprehensive presentation of the total thought of Aquinas. While traditional studies of Aquinas invariably deal with either his philosophy or his theology, Davies introduces the full range of Aquinas's thinking, relating it to writers earlier and later than Aquinas himself. The book will be of considerable interest to professional theologians and philosophers, as well as to those with particular interest in medieval thinking. It is designed to be accessible to the general reader who has no specialist knowledge of medieval thought or professional training in philosophy or theology.
To study the Summa Theologiae- to do some Summa-wrestling- requires a good grasp of traditional logic, a thorough grasp of Aristotelian-Thomistic metaphysics, and some Thomistic natural philosophy. Understandably, very few have this background, and that is the beauty of Davies' book. Believe it or not, the Summa Theol. was meant for beginners. It's not, but Davies' book certainly is. Davies assumes nothing more than a desire to understand St. Thomas and his greatest work.Davies' writing is both lucid and luminous, just like the fellow Dominican who's thought he is writing about. The Southern writer Flannery O'Conner once wrote (in Wise Blood) that "Thomism usually comes in horrible wrappers." Unfortunately O'Connor never had the pleasure of reading Brian Davies.
On Evil (De Maleo) by Thomas Aquinas, translated by Richard Regan, introduction and notes by Brian Davies (Oxford University Press) (Paperback) The De Malo represents some of Aquinas' most mature thinking on goodness, badness, and human agency. In it he examines the full range of questions associated with evil: its origin, its nature, its relation to good, and its compatibility with the existence of an omnipotent, benevolent God. This edition offers the Leonine Commission's authoritative edition of the Latin text with Regan's new, clear English translation and an extensive introduction by Brian Davies.
Excerpt: Prospective readers of the De malo may expect to find in it an extended discussion of what is nowadays commonly called "the problem of evil." That is to say, they might expect to find Aquinas dealing directly in it with questions like "Does evil show that there is no God?" or "How can belief in the reality of evil be reconciled with belief in the existence of a good, omniscient, and omnipotent God?" But should the De malo be read as an essay on "the problem of evil' in this sense? The most accurate and short answer to this question is "No." For Aquinas in the De malo never attempts to defend belief in the existence of God. Throughout the text he takes it for granted that God certainly exists. And he never tries to show that we can consistently believe both that there is evil and that God exists. His discussion proceeds on the assumption that evil and God are both somehow there to be talked about. But his treatment of evil in the De malo, and what he says about it in other works, can still be read as engaging with what I am calling "the problem of evil." And we need to be clear as to how this is so.
To begin with, we need to note that there are some popular ways of approaching the problem of evil of which Aquinas does not avail himself. In particular, so I need to stress, he makes no attempt to show that the evil we encounter is something permitted by God for a morally sufficient reason. Also, so I must emphasize, Aquinas never tries to argue that evil arises by virtue of causes over which God has no control. Those who believe in God's existence despite evils occurring often suggest that these evils can always be viewed as necessary means to a good end and that God is morally justified in allowing them or in bringing them about. They often also argue that much occurring evil consists in or derives from the bad moral choices of creatures and that God is therefore not to be blamed for it. But this is not how Aquinas thinks. Why not? Partly because he does not think that the goodness of God is that of someone always acting with morally sufficient reasons. But also because he does not think that the choices of creatures derive from them as opposed to God. Or, to put things another way: God, for Aquinas, is not a good moral agent; and, for Aquinas, the choices of creatures always show forth the action of God, not his permission of actions that somehow arise only from agents other than himself.
With respect to God's goodness, Aquinas's point is not, of course, that God is immoral or submoral. Rather, it is that God cannot be the sort of thing we have in mind when we allude to agents acting (or failing to act) with morally sufficient reasons (i.e., for the most part, people). As we have seen, Aquinas has a lot to say on moral agency. But he does not take what we have seen him to think about this as applicable to God. For him, God is good not because God, like a virtuous human being, is well behaved, but because God is the source of all creaturely goodness which, in turn, reflects (in all its diversity) what God is by essence eternally. Or, in Aquinas's words:
Goodness should be associated above all with God. For goodness is consequent upon desirability. Now things desire their perfection; and an effect's perfection and form consists in resembling its cause, since what a thing does reflects what it is. So the cause itself is desirable and can be called "good," what is desired from it being a share in resembling it. Clearly, then, since God is the primary operative cause of everything, goodness and desirability belong to him.
For Aquinas, created things are made by God, and they all seek to be themselves (they seek their good) by acting in accordance with what God intends (has in mind) for them. For this reason Aquinas suggests that, in seeking (tending to) their good, creatures are manifesting a kind of blueprint in the divine mind, that "all things are said to be good by divine goodness, which is the pattern, source and goal of all goodness." As he sees it, this means that they are seeking God. For their goal is something that lies in God as their maker. God is that by virtue of which there is something instead of nothing. So he is the ultimate maker, the ultimately desirable, the ultimate good. He is the omega because he is the alpha. He is the end (what is desirable) because he is the beginning.
So what does God's goodness therefore amount to in detail? Aquinas does not claim to know. For, as we have seen, he takes God to be fundamentally incomprehensible to us. It is clear, however, that he does not take God's goodness to be that of something like a human being acting in the light of moral considerations. He certainly thinks that terms signifying human moral perfections can be predicated of God. He is clear that we can speak of God as just, truthful, or loving, for instance. But words that designate moral perfections in human beings do not, for him, signify God's moral integrity. They signify what flows from God and what must be somehow in God if God is the source of the being of things. But they do not signify moral attributes had by God as some of his creatures can be said to have such attributes. For Aquinas, therefore, questions like "Does God act with an eye on morally sufficient reasons?" or "Is God well behaved?" are irrelevant when it comes to thinking about God and evil (they are effectively like asking whether God always takes care to keep himself fit, or whether he does enough to provide for his retirement). They spring from confusing the Creator with his creatures.
As for Aquinas on choices independent of God, we have already seen how Aquinas thinks on the matter. For, as I noted above, even free human actions are, for Aquinas, caused by God. A popular line of reasoning frequently advanced in discussions of God and evil runs thus:
But this "free will defense," as it is usually called, is simply unavailable to Aquinas, given his account of God as the source of the beings of things and given how he applies it with respect to the actions of reasoning, creaturely agents. For him, there is no such thing as a real creaturely choice that is not caused by God.
How, then, does Aquinas view evil in the light of God's existence? What, positively speaking, does he say about the problem of evil? If we take what we find him maintaining in the De malo, and if we read it together with his other writings, the main points he makes are these:
What Aquinas means by these theses should be relatively clear from what I have written above. Here, therefore, the point most worth stressing, perhaps, is that Aquinas's contribution to discussions of the "the problem of evil" is essentially a negative one. For it is mostly concerned to stress that God does not creatively make evil to be.
At the same time, however (and bearing in mind what he does not want to say on the matter), Aquinas's approach to the topic of God and evil is a rounded and distinctive one. And it is grounded in a whole way of thinking about a variety of questions, not just those that might naturally occur to someone reflecting on what is nowadays often meant by "the problem of evil." Aquinas turns directly to some of these questions in the De malo. And, though it is only in other writings that he deals more directly with the rest, his discussions in the De malo frequently hark back to or presuppose what he says elsewhere. For this reason, as for others, the De malo is one of the works of Aquinas to which readers might most profitably be directed as they seek to understand him in general.
Scripture and Metaphysics: Aquinas and the Renewal of Trinitarian Theology by Matthew Webb Levering (Challenges in Contemporary Theology: Blackwell Publishers) (Hardcover) In this major contribution to contemporary theological and philosophical debates, Matthew Levering bridges the gap between scriptural and metaphysical approaches to the triune God.
Levering's argument rests upon St. Thomas Aquinas's understanding of theology as contemplative wisdom. Taking us through Aquinas's theology of God as One and Three, he demonstrates that Trinitarian theology should be a spiritual exercise assisting our movement from self- to God-centeredness. Crucial to the spiritual exercise is the contemplative appropriation of biblical revelation, which, Levering argues, has to be joined to a correspondingly rich metaphysical analysis if the "God" who is revealed is to be understood in a non-idolatrous fashion. In chapters that broadly follow the structure of Aquinas's treatise on God in his Summa Theologiae, Levering engages with a wide range of contemporary theologians, biblical exegetes, and philosophers.
Excerpt: For Aquinas, Trinitarian theology is ultimately ordered to contemplative union, and so at the outset we can note that his Trinitarian theology is not isolated from his doctrine of salvation. In the Eucharistic liturgy, in which the whole Mystical Body shares in Christ's sacrificial fulfillment of Israel's Torah, Christ's members (as the perfect Temple) manifest God's name by worshipping the Trinity. By sharing in the self-emptying form of Christ, revealed by the Spirit in word and sacrament, Christ's cruciform members already mystically "see" the Father. This liturgical union with the Trinity is contemplative, although as a liturgical union requiring the active holiness of Christ's members, Christian contemplation is not thereby bifurcated or cut off from Christian action. As the Fathers and medieval theologians recognized, the contemplative liturgical union with the Trinity that is enjoyed by believers whose faith is formed by charity, is expressed theologically in contemplative and metaphysical modes.
The goal of this book, therefore, is sharing in the Church's manifestation of God's "name" by renewing the practices of theological contemplation. The first chapter of the book treats sacra doctrina, the sacred teaching or wisdom that is knowledge of God and all things in relation to God. This chapter argues that appropriating the revealed sacred teaching has always demanded, even for the biblical authors, metaphysical questioning. Indeed, the practice of metaphysical questioning constitutes a spiritual exercise that purifies from idolatry those who would contemplate the self-revealing God. This unity between rational investigation and contemplative beatitude finds wonderful expression in St. Athanasius's understanding of human sharing in the divine image:
They would be no better than the beasts, had they no knowledge save of earthly things; and why should God have made them at all, if He had not intended them to know Him? But, in fact, the good God has given them a share in His own Image, that is, in our Lord Jesus Christ, and has made even themselves after the same Image and Likeness. Why? Simply in order that through this gift of God-likeness in themselves they may be able to perceive the Image Absolute, that is the Word Himself, and through Him apprehend the Father; which knowledge of their Maker is for men the only really happy and blessed life.
The alleged opposition between metaphysics and salvation history in theology founders when confronted with this understanding of salvation (in history) as holy contemplation, an understanding shared by Aquinas.
The remaining chapters continue in systematic fashion the book's discussion of divine "being" with various theologians, most importantly St. Thomas Aquinas." The chapters span the themes contained in Aquinas's treatise on God in the Summa Theologiae 1, qq.2–42. While not directly treating q.43, on the temporal missions of the Son and Spirit, the bookengages this topic by emphasizing the scriptural and soteriological foundation of Aquinas's theology of God." Chapters 2 and 3 address God in his unity, in dialogue with Jewish and Christian theologians whose concern is that Aquinas's account of God's "attributes" (what one can say about God as one) distort, in a supersessionist and onto-theological manner, the one living God revealed as YHWH to Israel as narrated in the Old Testament. Chapters 4 through 7 then explore aspects of the theology of the Trinity. Chapter 4 asks whether the Paschal mystery of Jesus Christ is revelatory of the Trinity in such a way as to constitute an analogy for the Trinity. This chapter inquires into the modes by which we understand the "distinction" of Persons in God. The fifth chapter extends this topic by directly considering Aquinas's account of the "psychological analogy" as a means of under-standing the Persons as subsisting relations. In both the fourth and fifth chapters, at stake is whether Aquinas's analogy for understanding the Trinity is grounded sufficiently in God's revelation in Scripture."
The sixth chapter turns to Aquinas's description of the Persons of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Here the theologians in light of whose work I contextualize Aquinas's views are biblical exegetes. Aquinas's description
of the Persons can seem far from the narrative reality that one meets in the New Testament and in the "biblical theology" practiced by contemporary biblical exegetes. This chapter inquires into whether Aquinas's highly metaphysical (speculative) account treats the themes of "biblical theology," and if so, what is gained by Aquinas's nonnarrative approach. Lastly, the seventh chapter addresses the movement in theology towards developing a metaphysics that is properly theological, in other words a Trinitarian metaphysics. After examining the work of proponents of this development in light of classical Jewish and Muslim concerns, I argue that Aquinas's nuanced analysis of the relationship of "essence" and "Persons" accomplishes the main goals of proponents of "Trinitarian ontology," without creating the conceptual and interreligious problems that Trinitarian ontology creates. Aquinas's approach retains the integrity of the Old Testament revelation while fully displaying its integration into Christ Jesus' definitive revelation of God.
In short, the book aims both at reordering contemporary Trinitarian theology and at identifying further "signposts," as Walker Percy might put it, along the contemplative path marked out by God himself in Scripture and tradition. I hope to show that by following a path of contemplation (grounded in the active holiness that sharing in Christ's salvific fulfillment of Israel's Torah involves), Trinitarian theology remains fully inserted within Christ's salvific fulfillment of Israel's Temple, where God's name, against the idols, is manifested.
Knowledge and Faith in Thomas Aquinas by John I. Jenkins (Cambridge University Press) offers a revisionary account of key epistemological concepts and doctrines of St. Thomas Aquinas, particularly his concept of scientia (science). It proposes a new interpretation of the purpose and composition of Aquinas' most mature and influential work, the Summa theologiae, which has traditionally been regarded as a work for neophytes in theology. John Jenkins' comprehensive and original study will be of interest to readers in philosophy, theology and medieval studies.
Excerpt: The questions of Thomas Aquinas about knowledge and faith are not ours. Twentieth-century philosophers have tried to find in Aquinas answers to our questions, but with predictable results: his detractors have found him either confused or simple-minded, while many of his supporters have tended to assimilate his thought to one or another modern philosophers. Both, I contend, have misunderstood his thought. We cannot find our questions in Aquinas's writings because the interrelated cluster of epistemic concepts denoted by the terms he uses – such as cognitio, intelligere, notitia, credere, opinio, fides and especially scientia – differ in varying degrees from our concepts of cognition, understanding, knowledge, belief, opinion, faith and science. Thus when Aquinas raises broadly epistemic questions, he does so in a different conceptual framework, and in this framework a different set of propositions is considered unproblematic, and another set is open to question. There are undoubtedly affinities between Aquinas's questions and our own, and many of his concerns are quite similar to ours. Still, I want to argue, in an important sense which has not been fully appreciated in the literature, Aquinas asks different questions and pursues different ends in his inquiries. My particular concern in this work will be with the central notion of scientia in Aquinas, and how this concept plays a role in the scientia of sacred doctrine, the scientia of Christian theology which is based upon faith and presented in Aquinas's magnum opus, the Summa theologiae...
In the first chapter of this book I examine Aquinas's understanding of Aristotle's notion of scientia (in the Latin translation Aquinas used), as this is presented in Aquinas's commentary on the Posterior Analytics. The Aristotelian view as presented in this work and in Aquinas's commentary is complex and not easily summarized. A noteworthy feature of this account, however, is that a condition for perfect scientia of some predication is that not only must one know the cause of this predication being true (in the Aristotelian sense of formal, material, efficient or final cause), but one must also know the cause better than its effect. The reason for this rather stringent requirement is that, for perfect scientia, one's awareness of the cause must eventually become the cause of one's awareness of the effect.
This condition for scientia, which seems strange to modern ears, has important implications for the process of acquisition of scientia within a certain field. To acquire such scientia two stages are necessary. In a first stage one becomes familiar with the fundamental concepts within the field and discovers the causes, and thus becomes able to say which causes bring about which effects. In addition to this, however, a second stage is also required which will make the causes sufficiently well known that they become the foundation of one's thinking in that field, and one's knowledge of the causes becomes the cause of one's knowledge of the effects. To use an anachronistic example, consider a car mechanic who knows very well that when octane is combined with oxygen and a spark is applied, combustion occurs. He may even be able to recite the cause of this; he may have learned, through reading it or being told, that octane reacts with oxygen because it has the chemical structure of an alkane hydrocarbon. However, though he in some sense knows the cause of octane's combustibility, he does not have scientia of this fact until he becomes so familiar with the respective structures of hydrogen, carbon and alkane hydrocarbons such as octane that his knowledge of octane's combustibility flows from, is caused by, his knowledge of these chemical forms. The second stage in the acquisition of a scientiais meant to bring about the required familiarity with the cause in a field. Its purpose is to induce habits of thought, intellectual habits, in virtue of which a person's knowledge of the cause becomes the cause of; the epistemic grounds for, his knowledge of the effect. Its purpose, that is, is to make one's thinking in a particular field mirror the order of causality.
In chapter two I argue that in the Summa theologiae Aquinas adopts the Aristotelian notion of scientia, or at least something quite close to it. The structure of the scientia of the Summa theologiae, sacred doctrine or Christian theology, differs from other forms of scientia which humans can have, for in it humans participate in God's own scientia. The principles of this scientia are the articles of faith which have been revealed by God and accepted in faith. Although these principles cannot be fully understood and must remain mysteries in this life, and although this scientia transcends many of the limitations to which other scientiae are subject, sacred doctrine is properly a scientia subject to the fundamental conditions of an Aristotelian scientia.
In chapter three I draw the consequences of the preceding analysis for our understanding of the Summa theologiae and sacred doctrine. There I argue that the Summa was not written for neophytes in the study of theology, as has been widely thought, but was a pedagogical work for very advanced students who had come to the second stage in the acquisition of this scientia. That is, it was intended as a work for students who were already familiar with Christian theology, its concepts and principles, and the philosophy it presupposes, but who stood in need of the intellectual habituation by which the principles in the field, the articles of faith, become the foundation and cause of their thinking about matters in this field. Thus the Summa theologiae offers a synoptic view of the field which, as much as possible, moves from causes to effects so that the proper habits of thought are instilled.
My interpretation of Aquinas on scientia and sacred doctrine raises a question about his view of how we apprehend the principles of the various scientiae. If one's knowledge of principles is to be the cause of one's knowledge of conclusions, and if scientia is to be a practical ideal for inquiry and pedagogy, it must be a practical possibility for us to know the principles of the scientia and to know them better than its conclusions. In chapters four to six I take up this question. In chapter four I give a general sketch of Aquinas's account of our apprehension of the principles of scientiae which are not based upon divine revelation, but on natural human cognitive powers. Aquinas, I contend, held views according to which the required apprehension of principles in these scientiae is at least possible.
In chapter six I consider assent to the principles of sacred doctrine, the articles of faith. Against the standard interpretations, I argue that Aquinas did not think that this assent is inferred from any conclusions of natural theology, nor that it is due to a command of the will which overrides a lack of evidence. Rather one is able immediately to apprehend these propositions as divinely revealed. To prepare for this, I consider in chapter five the nature of grace, which elevates our natural powers, and the theological virtues and Gifts which are due to divine grace.
In the final chapter, I take up two final objections to my reading of the Summa theologiae as a whole and the sort of intellectual virtue which it was trying to instill. This will provide an opportunity to review the way we can acquire the scientia of sacred doctrine. The perfection of this scientia, which is the highest wisdom, is only attained after one's life on this earth when he enjoys the vision of the divine essence and knows other things through God's essence. In this life, however, we can attain an inchoate realization of it which will help us attain the perfect state. I summarize just how the Summa theologiae is meant to instill the imperfect state.
"Philosophy in the ancient world began in wonder," Henry Frankfurt recently observed. "In the modern world, of course, it began in doubt." One might add that the philosophy which began in wonder sought wisdom, while that which began in doubt sought indubitable, or certain, or reliable information about the world. If we take philosophy in its classical sense, as the love of and search for wisdom, the whole of Aquinas's thought, even his Christian theology, can be called philosophical. And, in this wider sense of philosophy, the whole of Aquinas's thought stood within the ancient philosophical tradition. Aquinas was, of course, distinguished from earlier pagan thinkers in that he believed the wisdom philosophy sought could not be fully attained by strictly natural human powers, or in this world. He learned much from his reading of Aristotle and Aristotelians, but his fundamental concern was to understand and articulate a Christian wisdom. This wisdom could not be had through natural, human reasoning, but was possible only through Christian faith and through living a life informed by love of God and neighbor, a love which is realizable only if God elevates us beyondour nature. According to Aquinas's Christian vision, we attain perfect wisdom in heaven, when we will see God as He is (Mt 5:8), and know all other things in and through our grasp of divine essence. Then we will know perfectly, even as we are known (I Cor. 13:12). Indeed, then we will be like God, for we will see God as He is (I Jn 3:2).
My contention, then, is that we distort Aquinas's thought if we remove it from this ancient philosophical tradition and try to find and make central the issues of modern philosophy. A further consequence of my study will be that we miss the impetus and tenor of his thought if we consider elements of it apart from the specifically Christian wisdom which is its end, its Lelos. Aquinas's writings have, I believe, been subject to both sorts of distortion.
My concern in what follows, then, will be with understanding certain pivotal aspects of Aquinas's thought, particularly his concept of scientia and the nature of his project in the Summa theologiae. I will not try to argue whether Aquinas is right or wrong, whether ultimately his views can be defended or whether they must be rejected. As was said, scholarship on Aquinas has often been hampered because scholars were too quick to try to defend his views as viable in the contemporary philosophical debate, and failed to understand them fully. We shall find that simply to understand Aquinas on several key points on which he has been misunderstood will be quite enough to occupy us in the following pages. A sustained and systematic critique or defense of Aquinas's views must be the subject of subsequent work.
Nevertheless, although my concern will be limited to the historical or interpretive question of what Aquinas thought, I hope it will be of some use to those interested in the viability of contemporary Thomism. Since the end of the Second Vatican Council the influence of the central figures of twentieth century Neo-Scholasticism – such as Maréchal, Maritain and Gilson – has waned. But in their place has arisen some excellent work on both understanding and developing Aquinas's views. My hope is that my efforts will aid this strand of contemporary Thomism.
Among Neo-Scholastic Thomists we find a tendency to define Thomism by some set or core of unalterable doctrines. Difficulties arose, however, when someone argued that one or more of these doctrines was not in fact in Aquinas's writings, or was in fact false. Alasdair Maclntyre has argued that a better way to think of Thomism is as a tradition. A tradition is defined with respect to a certain language, shared beliefs, institutions and practices. In the course of time debates, conflicts and inquiries lead those working within a tradition to modify and revise not only the doctrines under consideration, but also aspects of the shared language, background beliefs, institutions and practices. Nevertheless the continuity of debate and inquiry makes for the continuity of an identifiable tradition. If we understand Thomism as a tradition, we can see how we can critique or modify certain doctrines of Aquinas, and yet still remain faithful to the tradition.
Certainly there is much in Aquinas's thought which contemporary thinkers, even contemporary Thomists, will find untenable in light of subsequent scientific, philosophical and theological developments. It would truly be miraculous (in Aquinas's sense of this term) if, given the work of the past seven hundred years, that were not the case. However, I believe that any careful study of Aquinas's views will reveal much that is philosophically and theologically suggestive, true and profound. The most viable contemporary Thomism is one which takes its start from Aquinas's texts, but subjects Aquinas's claims to critical examination, and develops and revises them in light of this subsequent criticism and inquiry. It is this sort of work which constitutes a Thomistic tradition. It is hoped that my effort to reach a better understanding of this medieval Master will also illumine possibilities for the Thomistic tradition.
Dialectic and Narrative in Aquinas: An Interpretation of the Summa Contra Gentiles by Thomas S. Hibbs (Revisions: a Series of Books on Ethics: University of Notre Dame Press) investigates the intent, method, and structural unity of Thomas Aquinas's Summa Contra Gentiles. In this innovative study Thomas S. Hibbs goes against the grain of most traditional interpretations of the work, which claim it serves a missionary or apologetic end, and argues that the intended audience is Christian and that its subject is Christian wisdom. In the process of making his argument, Hibbs also demonstrates that the Summa Contra Gentiles is the most important of Aquinas's texts on the relationship between faith and reason, theology, and philosophy.
Since the prologue to the Summa Contra Gentiles has been the focus of nearly all the debates over the work, Hibbs begins with an examination of it and the controversies it has provoked, and tests various interpretations of the prologue in light of the actual text. He then goes on to suggest that the method of the Contra Gentiles is dialectical and that its unifying principle is provided by the narrative structure of scripture. The next chapters are devoted to each of the Contra Gentiles' four parts and Hibbs argues that any interpretation of the first three books must consider how the order of Aquinas's discussion is driven by a series of dialectical encounters with received opinions, especially those of Aristotle and his commentators. Hibbs further demonstrates how attention to the dialectical method of the work has two advantages: first, it enables readers to avoid misinterpretations of Aquinas's positions on various issues, and second, it allows the reader to recapture something of Aquinas's original pedagogical intent. Dialectic and Narrative in Aquinas also reveals how the dialectical method of the Contra Gentiles is crucial to Aquinas's project of subordinating philosophy to theology, and in the concluding chapter Hibbs considers in detail the narrative unity of the Contra Gentiles and brings themes from Aquinas into conversation with contemporary work in genre theory.
Dumb Ox Books' Aristotelian Commentary Series: Dumb Ox Books makes available long out of print commentaries of St. Thomas Aquinas on Aristotle. Each volume has the full text of Aristotle with Bekker numbers, followed by the commentary of St. Thomas, cross-referenced using an easily accessible mode of referring to Aristotle in the Commentary. Each volume is beautifully printed and bound using the finest materials. All copies are printed on acid-free paper and Smyth sewn. They will hold up.
Commentary on Aristotle's Metaphysics by Thomas Aquinas, translation and introduction by John P. Rowan. Preface by Ralph McInerny. (Dumb Ox Books' Aristotelian Commentary Series: Dumb Ox Books) (Hardcover) Of all Thomas Aquinas's Commentaries on Aristotle, that on the Metaphysics is in many ways the most intriguing. For most of the twentieth century, Aristotelian studies were governed by the claim of philologists that the Metaphysics is a compilation of disparate materials, probably made by someone after Aristotle, and that the order of the books cannot be taken to represent any literary unity. Indeed, the internal contents of the books were said to represent materials of different date and purpose. Furthermore, presumed aim of these treatises, and indeed of philosophy generally, the acquisition of wisdom, receives in the Metaphysics two radically different accounts. Is God the object of Wisdom or is wisdom the most comprehensive view of the natural world? Is the science Aristotle is seeking in the treatises an ontology or a theology?
In marked contrast to such imaginative accounts, the net effect of which is to discourage rather than to encourage reading of the work, Thomas Aquinas finds the twelve books he comments on wonderful for their order, both overall and in the minutest detail. His reading is governed by what he takes to be the clear sense of the text, his interpretations keep close to what Aristotle actually said, his account is breathtaking in its acuity. Thomas's commentary belongs to the great tradition that was broken - one hopes only temporarily - by the rise of philology, which a cynic has described as the effort to read a text without understanding it. Any student of Aristotle can appraise Thomas's interpretation since its measure is the text of Aristotle.
This edition reproduces the translation of John Rowan as well as his introduction, but in a single volume, rather than in two. The Leonine critical edition of the text will soon appear; in the meantime, as it has for most of this century, the Marietti edition, on which this translation is based, can continue to be help to those who wish to learn from "the master of those who know."
Commentary on Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics by Thomas Aquinas. Translation by C.I. Litzinger, O.P. Foreword by Ralph McInerny. (Dumb Ox Books' Aristotelian Commentary Series: Dumb Ox Books) (Hardcover) Thomas Aquinas was introduced to the "New" Aristotle at the University of Naples and, after becoming a Dominican, studied under Albert the Great at Cologne and edited Albert's commentary on the Ethics of Aristotle. Throughout his career, Thomas exhibits a more-than ordinary interest in the philosophy of Aristotle and an ever deeper appreciation of it. Nonetheless, it was relatively late in his short life that he composed a dozen commentaries on Aristotelian works, spurred on, doubtless, by the controversial use to which Aristotle was put by those in the Faculty of Arts at Paris who are variously called Latin Averroists or Heterodox Aristotelians. These commentaries are among the most careful, helpful, and insightful ever written on the text of Aristotle. It is sometimes mistakenly thought that in them Thomas was somehow "baptizing" Aristotle, wrenching his thought into conformity with Christian doctrine. No one who reads the commentaries could long entertain this libelous view of them.
The translation of Thomas's Commentary on the Nicomachean Ethics made by Father Litzinger has long been out of print. It is here reprinted in a somewhat altered form. The translation itself stands as Litzinger produced it , but the presentation of the Aristotelian text, with accurate identification of Bekker numbers as well as the mode of referring to Aristotle in the commentary have been changed so that the commentary can function better as a Commentary.
Commentary on Aristotle's De Anima by Thomas Aquinas, translation by Kenelm Foster, O.P., and Silvester Humphries, O.P. Introduction by Ralph McInerny. (Dumb Ox Books' Aristotelian Commentary Series: Dumb Ox Books) (Hardcover) The commentary Thomas Aquinas completed on Aristole's De Anima is thougt to be the first of some dozen such commentaries that he wrote toward the end of his short career. He may have produced the work in 1268 while teaching in the Dominican house of Santa Sabina in Rome. Shortly thereafter he returned to Paris where he was swept into the Latin Averroist controversy, at the centre of which was the proper interpretation of the De Anima.
Avicenna and Averroes, the great Arabic commentators, read the De Anima in such a way that intellect was taken to be a separate substance and not a faculty of the human soul. Some of Thomas's contemporaries, Masters of the Faculty of Arts, accepted the Avicennian and Averroist interpretations as good money and thus came to old positions incompatible with their Christian faith.
What is the correct reading of the De Anima? This commentary, composed before Thomas was caught up in the contemporary controversy, sets out to understand what it is that the text teaches. Many students of Aristotle have come to see this commentary as indispensable to reading the text aright.
Commentary on Aristotle's Physics by Thomas Aquinas, translation by Richard J. Blackwell, Richard J. Spath and W. Edmund Thirlker Introduction by Vernon J. Bourke. (Dumb Ox Books' Aristotelian Commentary Series: Dumb Ox Books) (Hardcover) Review pending
Aquinas as Authority edited by Paul van Geest, Harm Goris, Carlo Leger, Carlo Leget (Peeters) There is no doubt that Thomas Aquinas, together with Augustine, is among the most influential authorities in the history of Western Christian theology. Although Thomas was highly esteemed and consulted by all classes during his lifetime, the case for his authority was by no means clear in the decennia following upon his death in 1274. On the contrary; in 1277 Stephen Tempier, bishop of Paris, and the Dominican Robert Kilwardby, archbishop of Canterbury, condemned a list of theses, some of which were attributed to Aquinas. This provoked a debate, known as the Correctoria‑controversy, in which Aquinas' orthodoxy and the correct interpretation of his thought were fiercely discussed. Only in 1324 ‑ a year after Aquinas' canonization ‑ was his work purged of the condemnations that had cast a shadow on his authority for almost half a century.
From the first half of the fourteenth century onwards, the orthodoxy of Aquinas was settled. However, the study of his works remained limited to the Dominican Order. Only gradually, they gained more influence, till by the middle of the sixteenth century the Summa Theologiae had supplanted Peter Lombard's N Libri Sententiarum as the textbook of theology. It is said that the Summa was laid beside the Sacred Scriptures at the Council of Trent. In 1567 Dominican Pope Pius V proclaimed Aquinas doctor ecclesiae.
Some centuries later, in his attempts to provide Catholics with a coherent worldview and lucid answers to the problems of his day, Pope Leo XIII would draw upon Aquinas and his scholasticism because of `that ready and close coherence of cause and effect, (...) those clear definitions and distinctions, that strength of argument and those keen discussions, by which light is distinguished from darkness, the true from the false."
The contributions in this volume can be divided into three parts. The first series of six articles is dedicated to the way Aquinas' thought was considered as authoritative before the twentieth century. The reception of Aquinas' work is studied, using a mainly historical approach, by clarifying how his concepts and ideas were adapted and used in the structure of texts, and in philosophical or theological reflections.
The second series consists of nine articles that shed some light on the way Aquinas has influenced twentieth‑century theology and philosophy. Some of these contributions are historiographical in nature; others focus on the thought of a particular tradition, thinker, theological discipline or subject. Both perspectives, the systematic and the historical, provide us with a broad view on the differences within the great variety of ways in which the works of Aquinas are approached.
The volume closes with two contributions that are dedicated to the reception of Aquinas in art. The testimonies in painting and music remind us of the fact that the history of thought is always embedded in the history of a culture that is much richer and broader than the academic world.
The first series of contributions opens with HARM GORIS. He gives an insight into how, in the fifteenth century, Thomism revived at the University of Cologne, and spread from there to other universities. `Cologne' Thomism was, firstly, shaped by debates between Thomists, nominalists and Albertists in Cologne, in which the status of the universals was, philosophically speaking, the key issue. Other disputed topics followed from it in the debate between Thomists and Albertists. Secondly, the innovation of didactic methods by the via antiqua, and the organization of education in bursae, led to the formation of distinct philosophical schools. The Thomists in Cologne focused on the teaching of young students in the Faculty of Arts, and this determined to a large extent the kind of texts they produced. Having determined the two main factors of the Thomist revival, Goris gives an overview of the most important Cologne Thomists and their writings, especially their commentaries on the Summa Theologiae. He argues that these were not written as a result of ordinary lectures at the University, but originated from lectures within the Dominican houses of study.
HENK SCHOOT offers an impression of the historical merits and the linguistic and apophatic character of Aquinas' christology. After presenting some biographical data on Henry of Gorkum (t1431) ‑ a theologian and artist who was the first commentator on Aquinas and made a considerable career in Cologne ‑ he focuses on his tract De divinis nominibus in order to study Henry's interpretation of Aquinas' christology in the context of his theology of naming God. Aquinas' christology is proved by Henry to be linguistic, to be centred around names and naming, to be intrinsically connected with the general doctrine of God, and to be apophatic in character. This study shows that Henry's commentaries do not improve on Aquinas, but form a precious key to the larger corpus of Aquinas' christology and theology. Moreover, studying his commentaries on Aquinas' works, one will discover striking similarities to contemporary interpretations which stress the relative efficiency of the knowledge of faith according to Aquinas.
PAUL VAN GEEST begins his contribution with a short summary of investigations that have been carried out so far into the effect of Thomas' thought on the work of the nominalist and Modern Devout, Gabriel Biel (1410?‑1495). Research into Biel's debt to Thomas has always been marginal, like the research in general into the interaction between the (Thomist) via antiqua and the (Ockhamist) via moderna. Subsequently, he investigates Biel's extensive theological and spiritual commentary on the Lord's Prayer, contained in his Canonis Missae Expositio. It becomes clear that Thomas' ideas form significant elements in the thoughts and arguments which Biel develops on two central issues of the spirituality of Modern Devotion: the correctio fraterna, and the interiorization of prayer. As far as the latter issue is concerned, Biel appears to attribute an anti‑affective approach to Thomas: his work is consistently supplemented by sources which stress dimensions such as affectivity and intuition as important for prayer. In Biel's more spiritual theological work, Thomas appears as a welcome and even essential authority, but even when Biel claims Thomas as authority, the work and spirituality of Augustine is detectable.
KARL‑HEINZ ZUR MOHLEN concentrates on the question as to how the works of Thomas influenced the development of Luther. Although Luther had considerable knowledge of Thomas' work, Aquinas was not a source of inspiration for Luther, as were Tauler, the Theologia deutsch, the humanists and the Ockhamists. Until 1517, Luther's criticism of Scholastic Aristotelianism is only indirectly and incidentally concerned with Thomas. It is only when Tetzel, Eck, Prierias and Cajetan claim Thomas as authority in the quarrel over indulgences that Luther begins his explicit confrontation with, and criticism of, Thomas. Determined by the course of the battle, Luther challenges Thomas' authority, and criticizes the different opinions of the schools, the way in which Aristotle is received in scholastic theology, as well as the way in which Thomas deals with issues such as the praesentia realis. After the years of criticism (1517‑1520), Luther speaks less about Thomas. In addition to dealing with Luther's association with Thomas during those years, zur Mdhlen concludes by examining the agreements and differences between Luther and Thomas with respect to the justitia aliena Christi, the certitudo salutis, and the idea that mankind is simul iustus et peccator.
MISHTOONI BOSE considers the extent to which Thomas may be regarded as authority in the vernacular works of the fifteenth‑century English bishop, Reginald Pecock (1393?‑1461?). Attempting to assist the doctrinal formation of the English laity in connection with the vernacular experimentation of the Wycliffites, Pecock refers explicitly, a number of times, to `Thomas of Alquyn'. However, he paid little attention to such points as the practical significance of grace, which were emphasized by Thomas. Furthermore, the essentially pragmatic character of much of Pecock's thought, and his simplifications, separate him even further from Aquinas. Bose argues, however, that Pecock's `nostalgia' for a different kind of theology led him to explore the pragmatic dimensions and functions of Scholastic discourse. It seems, here, that Pecock's affinity with Aquinas may be seen in their shared methodological self‑consciousness. In developing his rhetorical sensitivity, and in making his work so explicitly concerned with the question of literary method, Pecock recovered, in this respect, the vitality of the Scholastic tradition. In this extended sense, the `rhetorically‑aware' Aquinas may, indeed, be viewed as Pecock's authority, inspiring him more profoundly than his infrequent references to Aquinas' work might suggest.
The contribution of JOHN INGLIS gives a clear example of the interwovenness of political and philosophical concerns in the work of Albert Stockl (1823‑1895), one of the major German contributors to the revival of Thomism during the 1800s. Inglis argues that St6ck1's analysis of free will in Aquinas is more determined by St6ckl's aspiration to give an alternative to the views on freedom upheld by the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, than by his attempt to render Aquinas' thought faithfully within its historical and textual context. The author raises the important question to what degree the writing of the history of medieval thought depends on ‑ both in the sense of its being distorted, and its being made possible by ‑ the historian's own context.
The transition to the second part of the volume is made by two historiographical overviews of Aquinas research in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
OTTO‑HERMANN PESCH considers how the growing awareness of the historicity of dogma brought about a change in opinions on Thomas. His normative position as `true, authentic teacher' of the Church, a consequence of the historical event of the Reformation, had become more definitive over the centuries. Whereas both his work and his method of scholarship were prescribed as mandatory by the Church in the nineteenth century, the reflection on Thomas as philosopher and theologian after the First World War, the awareness of the historicity of his work, and the interest of Protestant theologians in his work, allowed changes to grow in views of Thomas. More recent research has examined Thomas' theological method, his approach to the Bible, his religious beliefs, his anthropology and moral theology and, in the context of the latter, his doctrine of sin, his Trinitarian doctrine, and his opinions on ecclesiology. Furthermore, Pesch shows how, and to what extent, Thomas' voice can be heard as distinct but not omnipresent in present‑day dogmatic works and fundamental theology, although Thomas appears, once more, to be treated as a `Traditional Court of Appeal' in questions about the relationship between the resurrection of the dead and the immortality of the soul, in the discussion on transubstantiation, the existence of God, and in the field of moral theology. For at least the last two decades, Thomas' work is also included in exegetical‑linguistic studies and in ecumenical discussions. Studies carried out on Thomas' negative theology, on his apophatic, metaphorical‑analogical, and, therefore, very circumspect way of speaking about God, provide Pesch with an explanation of the practical function of Thomas' contribution to these discussions. This survey of present‑day Thomist research may encourage optimism about the role of Thomas in theological discussions, but any optimism should be laced with a certain amount of scepticism.
The overview provided by Pesch mainly focuses on the research of continental scholars. FERGUS KERR on the other hand, in his historical survey of present‑day interpretations of Thomas' work, focuses on the English‑speaking universities. Beginning with a sketch of the position and picture of Aquinas in the Oxford BA (the Thomas of the theistic proofs and natural law ethics), the author investigates and criticizes this picture, which gains a great deal of its authority from the work of Rahner and Balthasar. Subsequently, he gives a survey of widely differing Aquinas interpretations, including: an `interfaith' perspective (Burrell), Wittgensteinian Thomism (Anscombe, Geach, Kenny), Analytical Thomism (Haldane), natural theology (Kretzmann), and the revival of virtue ethics (Anscombe, MacIntyre). The overview is concluded by two more recent theological studies that both have their roots in the work of George Lindbeck at Yale: Eugene F. Rogers' comparison of Aquinas and Barth, and Anna N. Williams' interpretation of the Summa Theologiae as a work primarily focused on the process of sanctification.
The historiographical contributions can be considered as providing a context for the papers in which Aquinas' influence on contemporary philosophers and theologians is studied. The first of these ‑ still historiographical in nature ‑ is written by BRAN JOHNSTONE. Johnstone summarizes the discussion of the plan of Aquinas' Summa Theologiae, begun by M.‑D. Chenu in 1939, and offers an analysis of the various ways in which contributors to sixty years of ongoing discussion have interpreted the relationship, in the Summa, between `scientific' understanding and the realities of salvation history. In relation to the treatment of salvation history in the Summa, the author follows Ghislain Lafont's 1961 study, arguing that the acta et passa Christi, and in particular the resurrection, have an importance in Thomas' scheme that has not been adequately recognized. As a conclusion, a suggestion is presented as to how the two. i.e. understanding and salvation history, are brought together in the Summa. In particular, there are a number of texts in the Tertia Pars which refer the resurrection back to the fundamental structures of the moral life as portrayed in the Secunda Pars and to one crucial text of the Prima Pars. Therefore, at least to this limited extent, the resurrection has a structural role in this work. Through the resurrection God reveals who he is.
DAVID LIBERTD looks at how Thomas' thoughts have been integrated into W. Norris Clarke's thinking about man. Aquinas provides the basis for Clarke's statement that not all relations are generated by action, but rather that action and passion necessarily generate relations. Liberto examines the integration of Thomas' thoughts into those of Clarke in the light of criticisms of Clarke's work by Steven A. Long and George A. Blair; criticisms which would have been more valid if they had sufficiently appreciated Thomas' influence as the source for Clarke's ideas. Clarke finds Thomas' anthropology important in his reflections on the capacity to receive as being essential to the perfecting of mankind. Thomas Weinandy is brought into the discussion to show that Clarke's philosophical thoughts on receptivity should be seen in relation to ideas on the subject that are already in circulation in theology. For instance, Weinandy had already claimed that the Holy Spirit becomes a person precisely in His receptivity.
HERwI RIKHOP addresses the question of whether Aquinas makes a systematic‑theological contribution to the contemporary debate on the Trinity. He concludes that Aquinas does, but in a twofold negative way. Historically speaking, he is blamed for the isolation of the theology of the Trinity from the rest of theology and spirituality; systematically speaking, he is not considered a serious discussion partner in the current debate. The author is puzzled by this situation, because of his own experience of Aquinas as a stimulating and helpful discussion partner in theological reflections on the theology of the Trinity. In order to understand the twofold negative way in which Aquinas figures in the contemporary theology of the Trinity, Rikhof examines the arguments used for this negative evaluation by three theologians: K. Rahner, C. LaCugna and M. Corbin. This, however, does not remove his puzzlement: it increases it. For on one level, these three theologians present an interpretation that neither fits the texts, nor takes into account results of modern scholarship. On another level, there appears to be a preconception, an agenda that determines the interpretation.
JOHN BOWLIN shows that in recent years, Protestant moral theologians in North America read Thomas well. Although Karl Barth considered
Aquinas' treatment of natural law to be an intolerable attempt to justify `the Christian position before the forum of general human thought', Bowlin tries to provide an explanation of the favourable reception that Aquinas' remarks on natural law have received among a number of contemporary Protestant moralists. It appears that Thomistic and Barthian sympathies converge in the work of certain Catholic contemporary interpreters of Aquinas' moral theology. Russell Hittinger insists that Aquinas' account of natural law is best regarded as an ethic of divine command. John Finnis, Germain Grisez, and Joseph Boyle argue that Aquinas' brief discussion of natural law does not add up to a natural law theory at all, precisely because it does not, by Aquinas' lights, provide the concrete moral guidance we expect a theory of natural law to provide. These exegetical innovations solve the puzzle. Protestants have become Thomists largely because Catholics have read Thomas as Protestants would, or, at the very least, they have read Thomas as Protestants are expected to do.
FRANS VOSMAN studies John Finnis' claim that Aquinas is a founder of modern political, ethical and social thought. He sketches the theoretical model that Finnis proposes in order to make use of Aquinas in a modern ethical debate, and examines the limitations of this model.
Drawing on `principles Aquinas has subscribed to', it is possible to claim an ontological (first order) foundation of human rights. Though he never uses a term translatable as `human rights', Aquinas clearly has the concept. Finnis offers refined knowledge of Aquinas, and, indeed, political‑ethical wisdom; he encourages us to raise critical questions about the political and ethical nature of key concepts in present‑day politics.
But Vosman also shows that, as a philosopher, Finnis does not deal with Aquinas' theology. This leads him to neglect the importance of some theological ideas that play a role in Aquinas' political ethics. Precisely because of the theological nature of Aquinas' interpretation of governance by God, of conversatio and of friendship with God, Vosman proposes to read Aquinas as a contrast to modem political‑ethical theories. The similarities to, and differences from, modem political‑ethical theories direct the attention to a contrast, to the strangeness of Aquinas' thought compared with late modern theories. By accepting the strangeness of Aquinas' thought, it gains great critical power.
In his contribution, CARLO LEGET explores the ambiguity, problems, and possibilities that are related to the use of STh II‑II, q. 64 a. 5 co. In this famous fragment, Thomas framed a threefold argumentation on why it is not permitted to kill oneself. This argumentation became successful in the history of thought. According to some, its plausibility is still unchallenged. According to others, however, Aquinas' argumentation has been refuted for centuries. In order to sketch the limits of the plausibility of the argumentation, Leget studies its reception by John Donne and David Hume, and lists the problems that one encounters when using the argument today. Subsequently, he reflects on the various ways in which Aquinas is used as authority, and makes a case for an interpretation of the argument that counters the objections that were listed so far. This interpretation is developed against the background of Aquinas' theory of virtues, and focuses on having access to the good.
EMMANUEL TOURPE, finally, directs our attention to the future, addressing the more methodical question of how Aquinas can become an authority on the level of creative thought. He makes a plea for a metaThomism that overcomes the problems the two dominant types of interpretation of Aquinas have caused through the centuries. In the first type, scholars attempt to find the historical Thomas by focusing on the letter of the text, unaware, however, of the fact that every historical interpretation is determined by the problems or methods of the receptor. The other approach, which is Suarezian in character, tends to restrict every text to a system consisting of a‑historical concepts. The problem with this approach is that it runs the risk of losing contact with the dynamism of the text. The problems adhering to both types of Aquinas interpretation accumulate in a third approach: (neo‑) Scholasticism, which limits itself to selecting and paraphrasing fragments of Aquinas' work, without dealing with the `spirit' of Aquinas' thought. In order to overcome the problems, Tourpe proposes a `generative hermeneutics'. Theoretically proceeding from Aquinas' epistemology, and metaphysically interpreting along the lines of Siewerth, Blondel, and von Baader, this approach holds the viewpoint that an idea, expressed in a text, is only fully understood when it has been `born' in the reader to such an extent that the reader has access to the idea apart from the text. Reading and interpreting the work of Aquinas in this way, one could say that every authentic Thomism must be a meta‑Thomism: the new birth of his thought in his interpreters.
The third and last part of this collection is dedicated to the reception of Aquinas in art, more precisely: in painting and music.
BRAM DE KLERCtc describes the frescoes decorating the Spanish Chapel in the Dominican monastery of Santa Maria Novella in Florence. Having been painted soon after Thomas' canonization, they betray an interest both in his person, and in his writings and way of thinking. Both the frescoes on the Eastern wall, usually described as the `Triumph of the Church Militant', and on the Western wall (in which Thomas is the protagonist) present Aquinas as the real doctor communis, who is master of all fields of medieval thinking. In accordance with Margarethe Dieck, de Klerck contends that the visual formulation of all the frescoes in the chapel can be traced to Thomas' Compendium Theologiae, in which the author goes extensively into the four parts of the Creed. The decorative programme of the Spanish Chapel can, perhaps, be considered as a metaphor for the Creed, seen through the eyes of Thomas Aquinas.SANDER VAN MAAS' paper brings us back to the twentieth century, and to music. His contribution begins by sketching the general position of music in the theology of Aquinas against the background of the medieval tradition of Augustine, Boethius and Cassiodorus, in which Thomas' view on music is rooted. Next, he shows how the French composer Olivier Messiaen (1908‑1992), in his organ cycle Meditations sur le Mystere de la Sainte Trinite, is inspired by passages of the Summa Theologiae, and describes the technical way in which Messiaen translated Aquinas' words into music. As a conclusion, he gives a short introduction to the questions and problems raised by Messiaen's unusual statements with regard to the religious possibilities of his music. Inspired by Hans Urs von Balthasar's theological analysis of beauty, and JeanLuc Marion's phenomenology, Messiaen's music is reflected on as a `breakthrough towards the beyond, towards the invisible and the ineffable'.
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