Thomas Aquinas Life and Works

Thomas Aquinas, born in 1225 in Roccasecca Italy, began his studies as early as age five. His parents enrolled him in a monastery where he would receive education in grammar, rhetoric, and logic.(McInerny, 2) His instruction was complemented with a r

orous studying of the Bible. Several years later Aquinas transferred to Naples where he pursued his thirst for knowledge with the works of Aristotle.(McInerny, 2) At the university Aquinas entered a program of scripture study and oration, which genera

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y required 10-15 years before one was granted mastery in the field. After completing a thesis on the Sentences, written by Lombard in the 12th Century, he was granted the seal of approval from the university and allowed to give his inaugural lecture wh

h is a feat of great accomplishment.(McInerny, 3) From this point Thomas Aquinas no longer spent his days as a student at the university but he did not stop studying Catholic history. When Aquinas had finished his stint in Naples he went to Rome in 126

During the next 6-7 years he studied the works of Aristotle. He wrote many commentaries, including On the Soul(McInerny, 3) At this point Thomas Aquinas begins his works on the Catholic doctrine which gave him much fame and accreditation.(McInerny,

Although Aquinas was also well known for his philosophical works and studies, his works on Catholic dogma are ever-present in all his works.(McInerny, 2) “At the time of his death in 1274 he was under a cloud in Paris and in 1227 propositions were con

mned by a commission appointed by the Bishop of Paris, among them tenets of Thomas (Aquinas). This was soon lifted, he was canonized and eventually was given the title of Common Doctor of the Church. But the subtle and delicate assimilation of Aristot

that characterized his work in both philosophy and theology did not survive his death, outside the Dominican Order, and has experienced ups and downs ever since.”(McInerny, 3) When Aquinas attacked the Dominican House of studies in his propositions, f

their lack of logic and reasoning, he was scornfully looked upon by his contemporaries, but soon after his death his works were recognized for their insight and intellectualism which allowed for his canonization. In Aquinas’s seminal work Summa Theolo

ca the author asks the question “Whether providence is suitably assigned to God?”(Pegis, 229-Vol 1) and provides the following answer “It seems that providence is not becoming to God. For providence, according to Tully, is a part of prudence. But sinc

according to the Philosopher, prudence gives good counsel, it cannot belong to God, Who never has any doubt for which He should take counsel. Therefore providence cannot belong to God.”(Pegis, 229-Vol 1) This article focuses on the ideological value

free will and how Catholics believe that free will was given from God to human’s and thus allows them to act of their own valition.

Aquinas also based some of his works on the belief of the soul, and whether or not is an actual “material body or more the metaphysical”(Kenny, 129) type of being. “The soul, he concludes, which is the primary principle of life, is not a body, but an

tuality of the body, just as heat, which is the principal of heating, is not a body, but a certain actuality of a body.”(Kenny,130) Aquinas tackles the concept of the actual tangibility of the soul, and thus states that the soul is not a being, but wit

ut the soul the body wouldn’t exist.

“Aquinas’s accomplishment was immense; his work marks one of the few great culmination’s in the history of philosophy. After Aquinas, Western philosophers could choose only between humbly following him and striking off in some altogether different di

ction. In the centuries immediately following his death, the dominant tendency, even among Roman Catholic thinkers, was to adopt the second alternative. Interest in Thomist philosophy began to revive, however, toward the end of the 19th century. In the

cyclical Aeterni Patris (Of the Eternal Father, 1879), Pope Leo XIII recommended that St. Thomas’s philosophy be made the basis of instruction in all Roman Catholic schools. Pope Pius XII, in the encyclical Humani Generis (Of the Human Race, 1950), affi

ed that the Thomist philosophy is the surest guide to Roman Catholic doctrine and discouraged all departures from it. Thomism remains a leading school of contemporary thought. Among the thinkers, Roman Catholic and non-Roman Catholic alike, who have ope

ted within the Thomist framework have been the French philosophers Jacques Maritain and Étienne Gilson.”(Microsoft Encarta, 2)

“Around 1250-1251 Aquinas was ordained a priest. From the Fall of 1252 to the Spring of 1259, Aquinas taught at the Dominican house of studies in Paris. It was during this time that he lectured on the Sentences of Peter Lombard. Between March 3 and

ne 17 of 1256, he was incepted as master of theology, and was regent master in theology at Paris until 1259, during which time he began his Summa contra gentiles. 1259 found Aquinas leaving Paris for Naples, where he stayed until the Fall of 1261 as he

of the Dominican house of studies. From September of that same year to September of 1256, Aquinas was at Orvieto as a lector, where he completed the Summa contra gentiles. After a time at Rome in 1256 and Vitero in 1267 (his great work, the Summa the

ogiae was begun in 1266), he took up his second Parisian regency from January of 1269 to 1272. This was followed by his assignment to Naples in 1272 as regent of theology. December 6, 1273 saw the cessation of his writing, after a physical and mental

eakdown from years of over work. While going north to attend the Council of Lyon, Thomas Aquinas injured his head, fell ill and died in the Cistercian abbey of Fossanova on March 7, 1274.”(Loughlin, 1) This chronicles Thomas Aquinas’s life of servitud

to the Roman Catholic church and the advancement of the church’s teachings while Aquinas was regent to certain areas of Europe.

Aquinas was the most prolific theologian of not only his time, but any time. “More successfully than any other theologian or philosopher, Aquinas organized the knowledge of his time in the service of his faith. In his effort to reconcile faith with i

ellect, he created a philosophical synthesis of the works and teachings of Aristotle and other classic sages; of Augustine and other church fathers; of Averroës, Avicenna, and other Islamic scholars; of Jewish thinkers such as Maimonides and Soloman ben

ehuda ibn Gabirol; and his predecessors in the Scholastic Tradition. This synthesis he brought into line with the Bible and Roman Catholic doctrine.”(Microsoft Encarta, 1)

“Finally, by refusing to identify philosophy itself with Aristotelianism, by silently bending Aristotle to the cause of philosophy, and often by freely criticizing him, St. Thomas Aquinas was able to make the Philosopher a worthy vehicle of reason with

Christian thought”(Pegis, XL-Vol 1) This passage says that St. Thomas was able to show that Philosophy does have its place in religion, and not only that but one cannot exist without the other.

Thomas Aquinas’s life was filled with servitude and obedience to his faith. He dedicated himself to the study of faith and its principles. He delved deeply into the questions asked by man in his works Summa Theologiæ. This work contains hundreds of

lf posed questions, along with their answers, that help the Roman Catholic to better understand their faith. Aquinas also tackles the subject of angels in this work (Pegis, 594-Vol 1). Aquinas spent years working on this masterful collection of argumen

, that ultimately lead to his canonization. (Online Pub, McIrnery)

St. Aquinas’s teachings and beliefs lead to the slow acceptance of philosophy to Roman Catholicism. “Thomas’s theological writings became regulative of the Catholic Church and his close textual commentaries on Aristotle represent a cultural resource w

ch is now receiving increased recognition.”(Online Pub, McIrnery) Since this event, the broad scope of Aquinas’s teachings and works are reflected in the consciousness of the contemporary Roman Catholic. Ideas such as, the belief in the soul, use of l

ic to determine moral ethics, and a better understanding of the nature of God.

Aquinas’s works were so powerful that like-minded people began to follow his teachings, they were known as “Thomists”.(Online Pub, McIrnery 5) Although this was not an offshoot of the already splintered Catholics, Aquinas introduced a new area to be k

wn as “Christian Philosophy”(Online Pub, McIrnery 4). “Many of the questions that can be raised philosophically are such that the believer already has answers to them — from his religious faith.”(Online Pub, McIrnery 4) This idea reveals that philoso

y in a religion is no longer heresy, but needed to have a better grasp of religious beliefs and questions.

St. Thomas Aquinas was able to grasp theological ideas and values from the inception of his studies. He was able to write numerous works(Microsoft Encarta, 1998) which impacted the church and allowed for a progressive change. Aquinas teachings also a

owed for the advancement of theological value and understanding.

Works Cited

1. Pegis, Anton C. Introduction to Saint Thomas Aquinas Random
House 1948
2. —— Basic Writings of Saint Thomas Aquinas-Volume One Random
House 1945
3. McDermott. Timothy. Summa Theologiæ; A Concise Translation Christian
Classics Inc 1989
4. Eco, Umberto. The Aesthitics of Thomas Aquinas Trans. Hugh Brendin. Cambridge:
President and Fellows of Harvard College, 1988
5. Kenny, Anthony. Aquinas On Mind New York, London: Routledge 1993

Internet Sources:
1. Loughlin, Stephen. Stephen’s PGP Public Key and Info. October 9, 1998

2. “Saint Thomas Aquinas” Microsoft®Encarta® Microsoft Corporation 1998
3. “Saint Thomas Aquinas.” Online Publication. [email protected] 12, July 1999

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