Thomass Alleged Aristotelianism or Aristotle among the Authorities

Wishes that Thomas had provided sciences he could not, or had written texts that he decided against, are nowhere denser than around the topic of Thomas's Aristotelianism. The same topic provides the best site for thinking about his relation to philosophic authority in general. The quest to extract a discrete philosophy from Thomas, quite distinct from his theology and supposedly more credible before secular audiences, has expressed itself time and again in efforts to make Thomas a pure...

The Ethics in the Scriptum on the Sentences

In the version generally received, each of the four books of Thomas's Scriptum on the Sentences draws on the whole of Nicomachean Ethics.68 They do not do so equally or uniformly. The subject-matter of the first book overlaps least with the Ethics, so it is not surprising that it contains the fewest citations. The second book of the Scriptum contains four times as many, the 67 See Gauthier in the Leonine Opera omnia, 47 1 254*-256*. 68 I must leave aside the complicated questions about...

Chapter Eight Philosophy in a Summa of Theology

Nothing occurs more spontaneously to the modern reader of the Summa than to ask about the relations in it between Thomas's philosophy and his theology. The query supposes that Thomas would admit to having two separate doctrines and that he would agree that a doctrine was his in any important sense. Thomas was by vocation, training, and self-understanding an ordained teacher of an inherited theology. He would have been scandalized to hear himself described as an innovator in fundamental matters...

Structural Innovations in Summa

If it was important to notice several structural innovations in the first half, it is important to concentrate in the second half only on the most obvious innovation the disposition according to the three theological and four cardinal virtues. The innovation is bold for being so simple. Organizations of the virtues and vices reach back through the desert monastic traditions and the church Fathers to pagan mythographers and philosophers.42 The Summa presupposes no exact knowledge of the stages...

Ideals of Moral Science under the Limits of

After restoring art to its place through a more exact appreciation of law, it is possible for the modern reader to return to the notion of moral science without being entirely misled. At several points in the Summa, Thomas invokes an ideal of moral science (scientia moralis) to settle some problem of textual order. He invokes it first in regard to the location of the discussion of divine providence (1.22 prologue). The sequence of topics in moral science serves as paradigm or analogue - the...

On Recovering Thomass Sources

The term source is a sedimented metaphor of origin it hints that the text using sources is secondary, derivative, belated. Originality and purity lie further back, upstream. To speak of sources is for this reason much like speaking of a sincere manuscript A. E. Housman's instance of badly misplaced moral sympathy.4 Manuscripts cannot be sincere, and sources are not origins. We rarely suffer scruples over our category because the effort to identify what appear to us as Thomas's sources looks so...

Philosophy and Theology

No one can doubt that Thomas admired pagan philosophers both for their zeal in inquiry and for their way of life. He praises the philosophic pursuit of contemplation, just as he holds up the philosopher's abandonment of earthly goods.5 But Thomas also diagnoses the origin of philosophic contemplation as self-love, and so distinguishes it sharply from Christian contemplation.6 The philosopher's asceticism is not the Christian's, since the Christian must renounce worldly goods for the sake of...

Rewriting the Summa

It is not hard to show, from internal and circumstantial evidence, that Thomas wrote his Summa of Theology as an ideal of curricular reform for Dominican theology, that is, for the teaching of his own religious order, and by extension for other Christian priests or religious.19 The chief accomplishment of the reform is to incorporate moral and pastoral topics within the pattern of the great Christian creeds. (You can begin to appreciate the challenge if you remember that the ancient creeds...

The Competition of Authoritative Languages

One clich in the iconography of Thomas Aquinas shows the saint, abstracted, counting off arguments on his fingers.1 The image plainly represents an effort of memory, but we moderns are liable to mistake what is being remembered. To us, Thomas seems to recollect principles and to excogitate arguments. In fact, Thomas counts off on his fingers terms, topics, and classifications learned from texts that he has inherited.2 The inherited texts speak a multiplicity of languages that Thomas's...

Analyzing Sacramental Efficacy

Thomas is often credited with the definitive formulation of sacraments as causes of grace. Part of the credit usually goes to his philosophical account of causality he was able to explain the sacraments because he understood Aristotle so well. In other contexts, Thomas does indeed prove himself an attentive reader of Aristotle on causes. Of course, he often supplements the Aristotelian classifications of causes - for example, by borrowing from Avi-cenna and by insisting on the importance of...

Ancient Philosophical Motives for Esoteric Writing

Boethius begins by reminding Symmachus - his father-in-law, mentor, protector - that their shared inquiries could properly be spoken only between them.10 Boethius pleads this as one excuse for the roughness of his writing. He has had little chance to polish it in conversation. He also reminds Symmachus of what a lettered patrician hardly needs explained there are venerable customs of reserve in the most respected philosophic schools that they inherit together. The customs would have needed more...

Thomass Teaching on Multiple Languages

For those trying to retrace Thomas's conception of linguistic inheritance, there is at least one longer way and one shorter way. The longer way is to begin from Thomas's teaching on the nature of language, to apprentice oneself to the liberal arts of language as Thomas receives them in the trivium, to ascend through the variously self-limiting languages of his arrangement of speculative sciences, and then to grasp, at last, his theological transformations and delimitations of all the previous...

The Fantasy of Order

Many contemporary readers testify to finding in Thomas absolute orderliness, irresistible control. This is the testimony, for example, of a youthful poem written by Josef Knecht, the protagonist of Hermann Hesse's novel, The Glass Bead Game. The poem speaks wistfully of forgetting one's turbulent self in the tranquil Summa-temple of Thomas's Against the Gentiles.9 Similar testimony is given, in less polished form, by other contemporary readers.10 Thomas's writings appear as monumental...

Laws and Natural

Thomas is content when discussing the senses of law and natural law to rehearse familiar points from familiar authorities. Medieval readers learned about natural law not from vague intimations in the Latin Stoics, but from specific and detailed legal authorities. Both of the compilations of Roman law commissioned by Justinian begin with remarks on a law of nature and a law of peoples. The law of nature is the law written into all living creatures by which they seek their own survival and...

The New

The first thing that ought to strike a reader who turns to the Questions on the New Law is that they are so brief. Thomas devotes four times as many articles to the Old Law as the New (a ratio of 46 12). While many of the articles on the Old Law bristle with Scriptural quotations and their contested interpretations, articles on the New undertake disputative exegesis of details only once, when defending the Gospel as a sufficient guide to interior acts (1-2.108.3). Reasons for Thomas's brevity...

Defining the Virtues

Readers familiar with Thomas's teaching on analogy and with his views of philosophical language will not be surprised that he treats virtue explicitly as an analogous term 1-2.61.1 ad 1 . The analogical range of virtue is something more than the richness of any important philosophical term. Thomas is clearly aware not only that there are different authorities on the definition of virtue but also that the term itself, even on its best definition, must apply to a sundered range of cases. He must...

Political Philosophy in Aquinas

On Kingship is not an independent treatise on political philosophy composed by Thomas from his own reflections. Analyses of its choices among authorities and structures show that On Kingship is a clarification of inherited topics, arguments, and materials. Its novelties are novelties of balance and selection, not of doctrine or discovery. Thomas subordinates even the newest Aristotle, the Aristotle of a more complete Politics, to traditional themes and ends. Those themes and ends carry with...

Genre

Genre analysis inevitably risks essentialism. The essences may be deep patterns of representation offered to readers or tidy models for composition offered to writers, but they are essences all the same. The more like an essence genre becomes, the less useful it is as a category for readers and writers. Elaborately defined genres, for example, are invariably subject to 41 R.-A. Gauthier has cautioned that convincere in these paragraphs means, not persuasion, but the refutation of error. See his...

The Roman Lectura and the Invention of the Summa

What can be discovered about the origin of Thomas Aquinas's Summa of Theology suggests that it was a masterful improvisation in the face of very Dominican circumstances for the teaching of Christian theology. In June of 1259, at the age of 34 or 35, Thomas left Paris to attend the general chapter of Dominicans at Valenciennes, where he served as a member of a commission working on the promotion of studies within the order. In the months after that chapter meeting, and perhaps in response to it,...

Science and Art in the Summa

Thomas does speak of moral science in the Summa. The term is important, and I will return to it. Still I am convinced that mentions of science will mislead the modern reader almost entirely unless they are juxtaposed immediately with two other linguistic facts. The first is that Thomas does not propose a moral theology. He does, of course, speak of a moral part of theology, and he famously analogizes theology to certain Aristotelian conceptions of science.6 But there is no mention of a moral...

Medicine and Natural Philosophy

The conclusion about Thomas's use of medical doctrines and their sources would so far look to be entirely negative. There is no convincing evidence that Thomas knew much medicine beyond what was mediated by Albert or taught by Aristotle and his commentators. The few details of Galenic doctrine that figure in Thomas's earlier works are removed later on in favor of Aristotle. The preliminary argument for expecting detailed medical doctrine in Thomas was misleading - which ought to offer yet...

Authorities in On Kingship

For On Kingship, as for most of Thomas's works, there is little internal evidence about the date or the circumstances of composition. By combining citational and doctrinal evidence, Eschmann argued that On Kingship had to be written between 1260 and 1267.68 The Leonine edition corrects Eschmann on one detail, but concurs with the main conclusion the text was written while Thomas was in Italy during the 1260s.69 The date is suggestive for a study of the pattern of authorities in the 68 I. T....

Circumstances

Circumstantial evidence about Against the Gentiles invites a fallacy of authorial intention.2 Those who commit it classify the work as a missionary manual and include it in histories of missionary activity. In fact, the surviving evidence in no way decides the intention or even the title of the work known both as Against the Gentiles and On the Truth of the Catholic Faith. In a narration of the deeds of James I of Aragon, as part of a reminiscence of Raymond of Penafort, the Dominican...

The Structure of On Kingship

What is original in Thomas is often an order, an arrangement, or a hierarchical subordination. He illuminates received materials by displaying their pedagogical sequence, causal connections, or cognitive dependencies. So too with On Kingship its compositional motive may wait to be discovered in its structure. The discovery will not be easy. By all accounts, On Kingship is incomplete, and there is no agreement as to the order even of the extant parts. Thomas indicates in a preliminary way the...

Human Reproduction

Human reproduction is a famous crux of Aristotelian biology. Aristotle must explain not only how higher and higher states of actualization are brought about in the fetus, but also how an immaterial intellect if it is immaterial comes to be produced from or associated with an animal body. Thomas grapples with these issues in numerous places, but mostly from Aristotelian sources and in contention with Aristotelian interpreters. There are only a few other sources, and they had entered Aristotelian...

Chapter One St Thomas and the Police

If only we could read Thomas Aquinas without encountering some other of his readers especially the police. The police refers literally or figuratively. Figuratively we use the term to describe self-appointed guardians of social norms, as in the decency police or the style police. Literally we use it to refer to the forces that keep internal order municipal or state officers, the army on civic duty, and every other monitor or enforcer with the power of approved violence. Here I have both...

Definitions and Authorities

Thomas nowhere stops to construct or defend a definition of medicine in the way that he does with physics, metaphysics, or theology. Still he several times quotes definitions of medicine on the way to some other point. Three times he gives the formula, medicine is the science of the healthy and the sick in a fourth text, he says that medicine is by definition about the healthy and the sick.11 The phrases might be taken as echoes of the short definition that Galen himself calls the old account...

Preface

A small error at the beginning is great in the end, according to the Philosopher in On the Heavens and the Earth 1. Thomas Aquinas begins his first treatise with that allusion. In a gesture typical of hasty reading, the opinion is now attributed to him. Such gestures are repeated at much larger scale. Many a fat book on Thomas is undone by hasty presuppositions about reading that occur in or before its opening lines. Thomas could certainly have added a happier corollary from his own experience...

Wishing for a Thomist Medicine

One episode in what might be called the legendary history of the medieval medical school at Salerno features a role for Thomas Aquinas. For Salvatore De Renzi, Aquinas is the most complete synthesis and the most exact expression of Salernitan medical teaching through the thirteenth century.2 Andrea Sinno invokes the tradition that Aquinas taught theology in the Cathedral of Salerno for a time, apparently in close cooperation with the Masters of medicine.3 Both authors cite what they consider to...

Abbreviations and Editions

There is no single best edition for the works of Thomas Aquinas. When finished, the Leonine Opera omnia so called because commissioned and funded by Pope Leo XIII will be a superb edition of the complete works. The Leonine is likely to remain unfinished for a long time and in two senses. First, not all of Thomas's works have been edited for the series. Second, those works published before 1950 need to be revised in varying degrees. The best complete edition now available is the one published by...

Root Moisture

Thomas alludes to the doctrine of root moisture humidum radicale in seven works spread over his career. The notion is linked generally either to the discussion of digestion or to that of reproduction.54 More specifically, the notion is regularly introduced when deciding whether anything is added to human nature by digestion or what will figure in resurrected bodies.55 The second locus depends on the first, as Thomas makes clear by cross-reference within the Scriptum on the Sentences. The most...