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St. Thomas Aquinas on Politics and Ethics - Essay Example

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St. Thomas Aquinas on Politics and Ethics

In general, for the formation of the Christian thought probably the most important was its early period when this presently dominant religion was searching to define itself. The Romans widely propagated Greek culture and in this way Christianity found itself in the Greco-Roman society amidst pronounced philosophical and religious confrontation. It was integration of competing philosophies and of the rich Hellenistic philosophical heritage into the Christian world view that served as a winning strategy for the Christian religion. Before the first statements regarding the general doctrine of the church were made in the 4th century, philosophical theology was becoming more important than direct revelation in determining the essential Christian doctrines. At the same time, not all of the early church scholars had the same view on the available heritage of secular knowledge, which was mainly Greek. For instance, Tertullian in 2nd century treated the secular knowledge as unnecessary in comparison to scriptures, but his coeval Clement of Alexandria defended the usefulness of the Greek secular heritage, and of philosophy in general, as a proper addition to the gospel. In the 3rd century Origen of Alexandria went even further and claimed that there actually was a philosophical school that through reason confirmed the gospel. For Origen this school was represented by the philosophy of Neoplatonists - the further development of Platonic philosophy initiated by Plotinus - with its views on the essence of God and divine relation to the world and man. In the end, this position of Origen prevailed and thus Neoplatonism assumed the role of the basic philosophical theory that to a large degree would define the initial development of the Christian theology. To this school religious and mystical aspects are attributed which distinguish it from the traditional form of metaphysical dualism of Plato, who laid the basis for dualistic perception of Idea and Matter so that the surrounding reality was viewed as a mere image of a higher truth, which in its turn was the abstraction (Plato 1999). Plotinus did not think he presented a new version of Platonic philosophy, and maintained that he was actually interpreting original Platonic doctrines. Still, in the process of such interpretation he created almost completely new philosophy. Neoplatonism absorbed some Aristotelian elements and notions from other traditions, and in the end turned out to be deeply religious, because it confronted the spirit and the flesh, which can be related to Plato's more general distinguishing between Idea and Matter, because via notions of the nous and the world soul it introduced the metaphysical proposition of mediating agents which pass the power from the divine One, and because it called for rejection of the sensual world through a severe asceticism. All this was appealing to the Christian church and Neoplatonism entered the Christian theology of the Roman empire. In this way, the Christian theology absorbed the Greek vision of passionless philosophical God reminiscent of the transcendental Neoplatonic concept of One, and the Christian Platonists were employing elements of Platonism to defend the ...Show more

Summary

Many elements of modern Western world views are inherited from the Greco-Roman and late antique and medieval Christian philosophies. Schools of thought within them, however, did not develop separately but rather since the 1st century A.D. they were mingling together and combined old traditional world views with a newer world outlook…
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St. Thomas Aquinas on Politics and Ethics essay example
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