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Saint Thomas Aquinas - Research Paper Example

The influence of Thomas Aquinas on Western philosophy and thought is undeniable. This is demonstrated from the fact that a considerable portion of modern philosophy has been conceived either as an agreement to or a reaction to the ideas of Thomas Aquinas. This is particularly true when the areas of ethics, metaphysics, natural law and political theory in modern Western philosophy and thought are explored. For these reasons and others, the Catholic Church has designated Thomas Aquinas as the model teacher for anyone studying for priesthood (Davies, 2004). Saint Thomas Aquinas is best known for his Summa Theologica and Summa Contra Gentiles and is one of the thirty three Doctors of the Catholic Church. Furthermore he is considered as the greatest philosopher and theologian available to the Catholic Church and his services have been recognized on a number of occasions. This text will explore the ideas of Saint Thomas Aquinas within the domain of philosophy and will compare them to other more modern thinkers to gauge their standing. 2. Philosophy Saint Thomas Aquinas is considered as a Scholastic philosopher (Jordan, 2006) as well as a theologian by the thinkers who came after him. Within his life, Saint Thomas Aquinas did not consider himself to be a philosopher and was highly critical of philosophers. He considered philosophers as pagans for always “falling short of the true and proper wisdom to be found in Christian revelation” (Davies, 2004). Keeping this in context, the works of Saint Thomas Aquinas show limited reverence for Aristotle who is simply referred to as “the Philosopher” in the Summa. The majority of his works reflects on various philosophical issues and so it can be considered as a work of philosophy. As mentioned before, the ideas of Saint Thomas Aquinas have had great effect on subsequent Christian theology in general and on the Roman Catholic Church’s theology in particular. This influence has borne its mark clearly on subsequent Western philosophy and thought in general. Through his works, Saint Thomas Aquinas has stood for change in the traditions of Aristotelianism and Neo-Platonism. Saint Thomas Aquinas penned several significant commentaries on Aristotle such as Nicomachean Ethics, On the Soul and Metaphysics. These works are associated in large part with William of Moerbeke’s translations of the works of Aristotle from Greek to Latin. 2.1. Epistemology Saint Thomas Aquinas was a staunch believer of divine help required for garnering human intellect without which he believed that human beings would remain limited in knowledge. He states (Jones, 2010): "...that for the knowledge of any truth whatsoever man needs divine help, that the intellect may be moved by God to its act." However it must be stressed that these ideas were limited to garnering further knowledge as per Saint Thomas Aquinas. On the other hand his ideas relate that human beings had an innate capacity to know various things without the need for special divine revelation. Still he contended that such divine revelation occurred from time to time (Aquinas, 2005): "...especially in regard to such (truths) as pertain to faith." Hence it may be surmised that Saint Thomas Aquinas contended that human beings knew of many things around them from innate capacity while matters pertaining to faith could only be advanced through divine revelation. However this stands in stark contrast to the ideas presented by later Western philosophers and ...Show more


1. Introduction Saint Thomas Aquinas (also known as Thomas of Aquino or Aquinas) was a priest in the Catholic Church from the Italian Dominican order. His major distinction is his stature as a highly influential philosopher as well as his position as a theologian of the highest order within the tradition of scholasticism…
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Saint Thomas Aquinas
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