He was nicknamed "the Dumb Ox" due to his quiet and deliberate
manner. Yet, he won his Doctorate at the University of Paris, lectured
for ten years in Rome, wrote more than eight million published words,
had such profound influence that in 1879 Pope Leo XIII declared his system
to be the official Catholic philosophy, and to this day is taught as the
basis of much Christian intellectualism. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) reversed
the tradition began by Augustine
of interpreting Christian thought through the philosophy of Plato.
Instead, Aquinas succeeded in making the philosophical approaches and
methods of Aristotle the basis
of Christian philosophy.
Of his many written works, The Summa Theologica (A Summary of
Theology) is the best known and most frequently read today. He began
the extensive work in 1265 and died (nine years later) before completing
it. Five chapters with 119 nineteen sections, each consisting of
several articles. To get an idea of the scale of this work, below
is an outline of the shortest chapter.
on the Creation
The Procession of Creatures from God, and of the First Cause of
Whether God is the efficient cause of all beings?
(2) Whether primary matter is created by God, or is an independent
coordinate principle with Him?
(3) Whether God is the exemplar cause of beings or whether there
are other exemplar causes?
(4) Whether He is the final cause of things?
The Mode of Emanation of Things from the First Principle
What is creation?
(2) Whether God can create anything?
(3) Whether creation is anything in the very nature of things?
(4) To what things it belongs to be created?
(5) Whether it belongs to God alone to create?
(6) Whether creation is common to the whole Trinity, or proper
to any one Person?
(7) Whether any trace of the Trinity is to be found in created
(8) Whether the work of creation is mingled with the works of
nature and of the will?
Of the Beginning of the Duration of Creatures
(1) Whether creatures always existed?
(2) Whether that they began to exist in an article of Faith?
(3) How God is said to have created heaven and earth in the beginning?
Of the Distinction of Things in General
(1) The multitude or distinction of things.
(2) Their inequality.
(3) The unity of the world.
The Distinction of Things in Particular
Whether evil is a nature?
(2) Whether evil is found in things?
(3) Whether good is the subject of evil?
(4) Whether evil totally corrupts good?
(5) The division of evil into pain and fault.
(6) Whether pain, or fault, has more the nature of evil?
The Cause of Evil
Whether good can be the cause of evil?
(2) Whether the supreme good, God, is the cause of evil?
(3) Whether there be any supreme evil, which is the first cause
of all evils?
As you shall see, each of the articles (titled as questions) is an extensive
examination of a philosophical question, its possible answers, with reasoning
for and against the possible answers.
Next - Learn about Aquinas' method of argument