<theology, aristotelianism, scholasticism, mataphysics, ontology, ethics, essence, existence of god, epistemology, politics, Albert the Great, William of Moerbeke> Born to an aristocratic family living in Roccasecca, Italy, Thomas Aquinas (1224-1274) joined the Dominican order while studying philosophy and theology at Naples. Later he pursued additional studies in Paris and Koeln, where he was exposed to Aristotelean thought by Albert the Great and William of Moerbeke. During the rest of his life, he taught at Paris and Rome, writing millions of words on philosophical and theological issues and earning his reputation among the scholastics as "the angelic doctor." Aquinas developed in massive detail a synthesis of Christianity and Aristotelian philosophy that became the official doctrine of Roman Catholic theology in 1879. De Ente et Essentia (On Being and Essence) includes a basic statement of Aquinas's metaphysical position. His literary activity stopped abruptly as the result of a religious experience a few months before his death. Although he wrote many commentaries on the works of Aristotle and a comprehensive Summa de Veritate Catholicae Fidei contra Gentiles (Summa Contra Gentiles) (1259-1264), Aquinas's unfinished Summa Theologica (1265-1273) represents the most complete statement of his philosophical system. The sections of greatest interest for survey courses include his views on the nature of god, including the five ways to prove god's existence, and his exposition of natural law. Although matters of such importance should be accepted on the basis of divine revelation alone, Aquinas held, it is at least possible (and perhaps even desirable) in some circumstances to achieve genuine knowledge of them by means of the rigorous application of human reason. As embodied souls (hylomorphic composites), human beings naturally rely on sensory information for their knowledge of the world. Reading hint: Although the rigidly formal structure of the Summa articles can be rather confusing to a modern reader, the central portion beginning with the words, "I answer that..." is always a direct statement of Aquinas's own position. Recommended Reading. Primary sources: Opera omnia (Rome, 1882- ); Thomas Aquinas, Selected Writings, ed. by Ralph McInerny. (Penguin, 1999); Thomas Aquinas, Selected Philosophical Writings, tr. by Timothy McDermott (Oxford, 1998); Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae: A Concise Translation, ed. by Timothy McDermott (Christian Classics, 1997); An Aquinas Reader, ed. by Mary T. Clark (Fordham, 2000); Thomas Aquinas, On Law, Morality, and Politics, ed. by William P. Baumgarth and Richard J.Regan, S.J. (Hackett, 1988). Secondary sources: Etienne Gilson, The Philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas (Dorset, 1981); The Cambridge Companion to Aquinas, ed. by Norman Kretzmann and Eleonore Stump (Cambridge, 1993); Ralph McInerny, St. Thomas Aquinas (Notre Dame, 1982); The Christian Philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas, by Etienne Gilson, tr. by I. T. Shook (Notre Dame, 1994); Ralph McInerny, Ethica Thomistica: The Moral Philosophy of Thomas Aquinas (Catholic University of America, 1997); Guide to Thomas Aquinas by Josef Pieper (Ignatius, 1997). Additional on-line information about Aquinas includes: Daniel J. Kennedy's extremely thorough treatment of Aquinas and treatise on his relation to medieval thought at The Jacques Maritain Center. The thorough collection of resources at EpistemeLinks.com. Alexander Broadie's article in The Oxford Companion to Philosophy. Also see: concupiscence, the cosmological argument, the first cause argument, the five ways, human nature, medieval philosophy, moral philosophy, neo-Thomism, ratiocination, philosophy of religion, scholasticism, suicide, Thomism, analytical Thomism, traversal of the infinite, and just war. An article in The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. The excellent bibliography prepared by ThÈrËsa Bonin. Walter Farrell's masterly Companion to the Summa. The article in the Columbia Encyclopedia at Bartleby.com. Snippets from Aquinas (Latin and English) in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. Gyula Klima's essay on faith and reason in Aquinas. The extensive biography of Aquinas at Brother Michael's Internet Catholic Church. Robert Sarkissian's philosophical summary. The Bloomsbury Guide to Human Thought on Natural Theology. Bob Beard's brief guide to Aquinas studies. A brief entry in The Macmillan Encyclopedia 2001.
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