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Thomas Aquinas

(ca. 1224/27–1274). “Doctor angelicus or communis; Princeps scholasticorum”; philos. and theol.; b. Roccasecca, near Aquino, It.; educ. by Benedictines at Monte Cassino and Naples; Dominican 1243/44; studied in Paris and Cologne 1245–52, influenced by Albertus* Magnus; taught in Paris 1252–59, 1269–72; in It. 1259–69, 1272–74.

His Aristotelianism (see Aristotle) was opposed by Franciscans* (e.g., J. Peckham*) et al.; but his teaching was made official in the Dominican order; he was canonized 1323, made a Doctor of the Ch. 1567. Study of Thomas Aquinas was made part of all theol. training; cf. CIC 589.1, 1366.2. Made patron of all RC univs. 1880; authority as teacher reaffirmed 1923 by Pius XI (see Popes, 32).

In his thought, the relation of reason to faith is one of subalternation, in which the lower (reason) accepts principles of the higher (faith). He rejects Anselm* of Canterbury's ontological argument and accepts the cosmological and teleological arguments for the existence of God.* There is a level of knowledge attainable by reason alone; another level is attainable by reason for skilled thinkers and by faith for unskilled thinkers; the highest level is attainable only by faith. Arguments for the existence of God are at the 2d level.

Aristotle's distinction bet. matter and form raised a question regarding immortality of the soul (since matter individuates, how could a nonmaterial soul be individual?) and regarding the doctrine that angels are beings in which individual and species are coterminous (since there is no individuating matter in them). The movement of reality is conceived as transition from potential to actual being, God being actus purus.

His cen. theol. problems were Christological (Incarnation) and sacramental; God is esse ipsum, man is in His image, Christ with the sacraments is the via (“way”).

He had little direct influence on the Reformation, which knew him mainly through late medieval nominalism.* He had greater influence on 17th c. Protestantism, esp. as regards understanding of concepts, but his scholasticism* differs from 17th c. Prot. scholasticism in evaluation of formal thought and in relation of reason to theol. and faith.

Neo-Thomism* tries to preserve fundamental Thomistic philos. with adjustments to modern science and existentialism.*

His system is called Thomism, his followers Thomists.

Works ascribed to him include Summa contra gentiles; Summa theologiae (or theologica); Quaestiones disputatae (De veritate; De potentia Dei; De malo; etc.); Contra errores Graecorum (in Opuscula theologica). RPS

See also Analogia entis; Preaching, History of, 8; Psychology, E 4–5; Via antiqua.

F. C. Copleston, Aquinas (Harmondsworth, Middlesex, Eng., 1955); M. Grabmann, Thomas Aquinas, tr. V. Michel (New York, 1963); R. P. Scharlemann, Thomas Aquinas and John Gerhard (New Haven, Connecticut, 1964).

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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