References

Saint Thomas Aquinas
Excellent article from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Summa Theologica
A well organized translation of the entire work. 

Thomistic Philosophy
An extensive resource of texts and commentaries maintained by Dr. Joseph Magee

On the Proofs for the Existence of God
Articles examining the proofs in detail.

 

Thomas Aquinas: thesis / antithesis

Great philosophers not only produce powerful ideas, they create new ways of thinking and communicating.  Plato's written Dialogues changed philosophy, Aristotle's logical syllogisms still set the foundation for much thinking, and Aquinas' method of writing in Summa Theologica stands as a fundamental format in debate.  You can learn to write using Aquinas' method.  If you do so, you will add a powerful tool to your communication repertoire.  Here is an explanation:

Each of the articles of Summa Theologica is focused on answering a specific question.  Aquinas notes that clear questions can be answered in two ways - in the affirmative (yes) and in the negative (no).  An answer to a question is not complete until it considers both sides (yes and no).  Aquinas knew quite well what positions he wanted to promote.  Still, he always gave serious consideration to the positions and arguments of opposing views.  He did this by a method of thesis and antithesis.

Step 1: Ask the question (the issue to be considered)

Step 2: State the antithesis and give the best arguments for it.  The antithesis is the position on the question opposite to the one that Aquinas is out to prove. These are called the objections.

Step 3: State the thesis and give the best arguments for it.  The thesis is the position on the question that Aquinas is out to prove.

Step 4: Refute each of the arguments for the antithesis by a strong counter argument. These are called replies to the objections.

Here is a diagram of how this method may be used. Use the diagram to find each of the steps listed above.  Note the relations between the steps.

This is more than just a way to write down some ideas.  It is formula for structured reasoning.  One does not just write this way, one must think this way in order to make it work.  Now the way of thinking involved here does not presuppose any specific claims or beliefs.  Though, for Aquinas, to think and write and talk in a tightly reasoned way, is to emulate the intelligent structure of the universe, and so to move steadily along the path of truth.  This is a remarkable achievement and you should do yourself the benefit of trying it out.

Next - Aquinas applies his method to the question of God Go to Aristotle's Logic page


 

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2002