Thomas Aquinas essay

Thomas Aquinas (1225 or 1226, Rokkasekka Castle near Aquino, Southern Italy, 7.3.1274, Fossanuova Monastery, Southern Italy), medieval philosopher and theologian, systematizer of orthodox scholasticism, founder of Tomism; Dominican monk (since 1244). He studied at the University of Naples (1239–44), then at Albert the Great in Paris (1245–48) and Cologne (1248–1252) universities. Since 1257, doctor of the University of Paris. He lectured in Paris, Cologne, Rome and Naples. In 1323 he was canonized in the Catholic Church, in 1567 he was recognized as the fifth “teacher of the church.”

In the main monumental works “Summa of theology” (about 3 thousand articles, not finished) and “Summa pagan” summed up the theological and rationalistic searches of a mature scholasticism aimed at practicing dogma in forms of common sense. The culture of common sense, the ordering of “natural” reason, over which a tier of “supernatural” dogmas is built, F. A. after Albert the Great found at Aristotle. The task that F. A. sets for himself is the ordering of the multitude into unity, and not just the contemplation of unity, detached from all multiplicity; he, as it were, seeks to deduce the being of God from the being of things. In this, F.A.’s thinking differs from the abstract speculation of the early scholasticism (Anselm of Canterbury), which was oriented toward Plato, Neoplatonism, and Augustine. In the headings “Summings of theology”, the same patterns of thought are superimposed on the infinite variety of specific issues – from five proofs of the existence of God to determining the boundaries of the permissible and unacceptable in financial activities, etc.

The ontology of F.A. is based on the antithesis of “potential” (possible) and “actual” real) that goes back to Aristotle. “Potential” is an oscillating, unsteady, open to change incompleteness and so far imperfection. “Pure potentiality” – matter, “the weakest kind of being”; it is characterized only by passive susceptibility to external influences. “Actual” is realization, fulfillment, completeness and thereby perfection. “Actual” in its opposite of matter is form — the principle of order and clarity; absolute relevance that does not allow any potentiality – God, the source of all design. Matter introduces into the form and intrinsic form of ideal universality the concretizing “principle of individuation”. In everything that exists, F. A., following Aristotle, distinguishes between “substance” (essence) and “accidents”. The ontology of F.A., as is generally characteristic of medieval philosophy, is colored in value: “existing and good are interchangeable concepts” (Summa theologiae, II, q. 18, a. 3).

Anthropology F.A., especially associated with acute ideological conflicts of his era, comes from the concept of the human individual as a personal combination of soul and body. The soul is intangible and substantial, but it receives the final fulfillment only through the body. F.A. defended this idea both against Platonic Augustinian spiritualism and against Averroism (Seager Brabant), who taught about a single impersonal intellectual soul in all thinking creatures of the universe. The teaching of Origen about the essential identity of angelic and human nature, from the point of view of F. A., is false. The human soul is not just the “engine” of the body, but its substantial form. This concept provoked opposition from the Augustinist-Franciscan opponents F.A. until it was adopted at the Viennese Cathedral in 1314 as the orthodox doctrine of the Catholic Church. In averroism F. A. saw the overthrow of Christian eschatology, appealing to the fate of the personal soul. The personality for F. A. is “the most noble in all rational nature” (ibid., 1, q. 20, a. 1), intelligence is always personal intelligence and so far not an absolute beginning, but part of the whole. Only in God, intellect is essence, in man is the potency of essence, so that not “intellect thinks”, but man thinks “through the medium” of intelligence. This inclusion of intellect in the soul-body individuality and the denial of its absoluteness, arising from Christian dogmatic premises, is combined in F. A. with the assertion of the primacy of intellect over the will. F. A. believes that the mind itself is higher than will, but makes a reservation that in the life plane, love of God is more important than knowledge of God.

The ethics of F. A. is characterized by the doctrine of “natural law”, which God put into the hearts of people and is described in the spirit of Aristotle’s ethics; a “divine law” is built over it, which surpasses the “natural law”, but cannot contradict it. In the treatise “On the reign of sovereigns” F. A. combines the notions of Aristotle about man as a social being, about the common good as the goal of state power, about moral good as the middle between vicious extremes, etc. with Christian dogmas and the doctrine of the supreme authority of the pope. F.A., with reservations, recognizes the right of the people to rebel against a tyrant who systematically perverts justice.

The philosophical and theological system of F.A. became from the 14th century Dominican banner.