St Thomas Aquinas Essay

890 words - 4 pages

St Thomas Aquinas

It has been written that "since the day of Aristotle, probably no one man has exercised such a powerful influence on the thinking world as did St Thomas Aquinas." Thomas Aquinas was born in 1225 in Italy of a noble family, thus separated by 900 years to Aristotle. He received his first education at the Abbey of Monte Cassino, going on from there to the University of Naples. In 1243, he joined the Dominican monastic order at Cologin. His most influential teacher was another Dominican, Albertus Magnis, a German who wrote extensively on theological matters and questions of national science, especially biology. Thomas was also a highly successful lecturer, and travelled widely across Europe, particularly on the business of his order and the church.

In his short and active life, Thomas produced a prodigious amount of writing: commentaries on biblical books and Aristotelian work, short essays on philosophical problems, and a lengthy compendium of Christian apoletices, the Summa Centra Gentiles, which, as Chambers et. al. writes was probably intended for Dominican missionaries working to convert heretics and infidels.

St Thomas begins the Summa Centra Gentiles as writes by reaffirming what Aristotle claimed at the beginning of Metaphysics, namely, he that studies the end or purpose of the universe is rightly called a wise man. He is wise because he is studying that which is highest and most noble among the subjects of study: Truth. Truth, Aquinas claims, is the end or purpose of the universe due to the fact that the end of the universe is an intellect, and truth is the good of the intellect. God, the author and end of the universe, therefore is his own good; He is goodness itself, truth itself, intellect itself. Goodness or truth, or intelligence according to Aquinas, are not attributes of God; they are understood by us as individual things but are one in God’s simplicity.

Aquinas affirms at the beginning that God is understood as being the First Being who bestows being on all others. Thus, it can be derived that everything is produced through the will of an agent which he writes, ‘is directed to an end by that Agent because the good and the proper object of the will’.

Using similar philosophy to that of Pluto’s core analogy Aquinas writes ‘for some things are so produced by God that, being intelligent, they bear a resemblance to him and reflect his image. This shows that perfection, like God is unattainable and the closest we will come will only be a shadowy approximation.

Aquinas continues that every agent acts for an end, and draws a distinction in claiming that every agent acts by nature or by intelligence....

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