Thomas of Aquinas (Thomas Aquinas)

Thomas of Aquinas (Thomas Aquinas)

December 13, 2020 Off By Felso

Thomas of Aquinas: He is a famous Christian philosopher who lived between 1225-1274.

Thomas Aquinas, who can be considered one of the most important thinkers of medieval philosophy and history of thought, was born in 1225 as the child of a noble family. He carried out his education in Italy, France and Germany. He was under the influence of his teacher  Albertus Magnus and Aristotle , one of the greatest philosophers in the history of thought  . Although he did not know Greek, he went down in history as one of the most important Aristotelian commentators in the history of thought.

He taught at the University of Paris in France and in Naples in Italy. He died in 1274, leaving behind a work of approximately 13 million words.

There are multiple editions of all of Thomas Aquinas’s works. Some of his works were written by himself, and most of them by his students and secretaries. The original language of his books is Latin. His main works are: Summa Contra Gentiles, Summa Theologiae, In libros De caelo et mundo expositio, In libros De generatione et corruptione exposition.

Thomas Aquinas is a medieval philosopher. So we have to take into account that he was a theologian as well as a philosopher. Therefore, it is necessary to understand Thomas Aquinas’s understanding of creation and God in order to establish a correct understanding of existence. This is not necessary for ancient philosophers. Because it is too early to talk about a creation at that time.  Plato ‘s Demiurgos, Aristotle’s first mover, cannot be compared with the concept of God in the medieval understanding of the monotheistic universe. However, we see that Thomas Aquinas acted depending on philosophy, especially in his comments on Aristotle’s works.

According to him, Being can be examined in many ways. We make the most important distinction  of existence when  we divide it into two as a necessary being  and an  unnecessary being . Necessary being is an entity that is identical with itself and needs no other reason for its existence than itself. This being is the cause of all beings except itself.

This being, which can be compared to Plato’s idea, Aristotle’s first mover, is God. God created this universe and its contents because of their inner perfection and provided them with unity. It can be said that beings created by God are also unnecessary. These beings, whose existence and essence are different from each other, need God as a reason. Apart from God, whose essence and existence are one and the same, there is no other being that is the source of his movement. Thomas Aquinas proves God in his proofs of God, not through the essence of God, but through his effects. This type of proof that occurs in five different forms is called the “cosmological proof of God” in the history of philosophy. Against this proof is Anselmus’s “ontological proof of God”. Thomas Aquinas,He understands creation in a cyclical manner and says that this process will continue until everything returns to its first principle.

Thomas Aquinas accepts the idea expressed by ancient philosophers that the constant change in the physical world is an obstacle to obtaining knowledge about objects. However, he thinks that there is a static structure in constantly changing objects. This stationary structure is the substance necessary for the object to be known. There is an element that remains unchanged in audible substances, and this constitutes the basis of the knowledge of objects. Sensory perception, then, is the necessary starting point of our knowledge. The similarity of the objects they carry imagination of the senses  image It is called. These are materials for the abstraction action of the active mind. Effective mind is simply a light created by God. Through this light, the mind pulls out the intelligible structure in the image. For example, individual people draw out human nature from particular traits. The concept emerging here is transferred to the passive mind and used for the act of understanding. It is true if it is adequate with the object of judgment that emerges here, and false if not.

Thomas Aquinas’s understanding of morality and society is a mixture of Aristotle’s philosophy and a rational interpretation of Christianity. For Aquinas, morality is concerned with human action but with actions caused by rational will. The measure or rule of action is reason, the first principle of action. Mind is the force that drives willpower. Willpower naturally tends towards the good, and practical reason commands us to go to the good and avoid the bad. The natural law guides each intelligent being within the framework of three natural tendencies:

  • To protect his life and to preserve his health;
  • To reproduce and take care of his wife and family;
  • To develop his mental life by observing the truth and to grow in social virtue.

But people sometimes deviate from the dictates of natural law. For this, it is necessary to make an eternal law. This law, which is the source of absolute obedience in humans, determines the structure of everything in the physical world on the one hand, and dictates how rational beings should live on the other hand. The welfare of the society as a whole is possible only if that society is governed by proper laws. This administration takes place through the humanitarian law that emerges as a result of the human lawmaker’s application of natural law to individual events. A good life depends on two conditions. The first is to act in accordance with virtue, and the second is to provide the material needs necessary for a virtuous action.

What Thomas of Aquino accomplished is not just these, as he was also a great philosopher. The world in which he lived and dominated by Christianity has changed and expanded so much for a while that the mere afterworldist scheme of Christian theology has ceased to be satisfactory and became significantly inadequate. As new art forms, the birth of universities, the emergence of interest in natural science for the first time, the need to revise the view of the classical world after the translations from the Islamic world began to force the theological scheme that exists, Thomas of Aquinas enriched the Christian worldview with new interests and brand new knowledge arising from these interests. and has been in need of development. In other words, he is a medieval man XIII.As he gradually emerged from the darkness of the Middle Ages and started to rebuild his culture and civilization and started to take an interest in worldly things, he made a new and robust synthesis of theology and philosophy, faith and reason, Christian worldview and classical worldview, in line with the needs of his age. Aristotle and his philosophy have undoubtedly provided Thomas the greatest help in this synthesis.

See also:

  • Aquine Thomas and the concept of will
  • Thomas’s Theory of Laws and the Limitation of Power
  • Thomas Aquinas and the evidence of God’s existence
  • The life and work of Thomas Aquinas
  • Thomas Aquinas’s philosophy of existence
  • What is creation (creatio)?
  • Thomas Aquinas’s philosophy of knowledge
  • Effective mind, what is the mind you are made?
  • What is abstraction?
  • Thomas Aquinas’s moral philosophy and understanding of society

Prepared by:  Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source:  Ömer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Department of Sociology First Class “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2., 3., 4. Class “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook