Thursday, June 09, 2005

Thomas Aquinas "The Doctor of the Church"

Born 1224/25 in Roccasecca, not far from Naples, Aquinas was a scion of the noble Aquino family. In 1239 went to Univ of Naples to study liberal arts. In 1244 he joined the scholarly, mobile Dominicans who established study houses all over Europe. With an aim to devote his life to the church, he was abducted in protest by his family, spending a year in the famliy castle before they accepted his decsion! Upon his release, Aquinas went to Paris to study theology with Albert the Great. Subsequently, he taught in Italy for 10 years, followed by a career at the Univ of Paris until his stance against Siger of Brabant's "unicity of the intellect." Brabant's teaching affirmed an eternal intellect for all peoples, implying an inferior and ephemeral view of the soul and body, clearly incompatible with Christian doctrine. During the controversty Aquinas took an opposing stance and was ordered to set up a school in Naples.

Aquinas' view of the relationship between philosophy and theology would set the tone for Christianity for centuries to come. He affirmed the harmony of the relationship between philosphy and theology, perceiving value in each discipline. Philosophy is not to be reduced to theology, although it should not contradict theological truth. Faith is the perfecting ingredient of the pursuit of knowledge. Aquinas did not believe in a necessary illumination for any knowledge, theological or otherwise. Nevertheless, he was a theologian first and a philosopher second, not in skill but in conviction. After producing volumes of philosophical and theological treatises, starting a school and lecturing all over Europe, he died at the age of 49, March 7, 1274. What will you accoplish in the next 19 years, Jonathan?


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