Who was St. Thomas Aquinas and why is he such an important figure in the history of philosophy? This series aims to make learning about the history of philosophy as easy as possible by bringing together the best videos, podcasts, and articles from across the internet and allowing you to choose the type of content that best suits your learning style. Simply choose one of following links to get started:
If you want a comprehensive overview:
- Read the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Aquinas. However this article is very long at around 40,000 words. Here’s a short excerpt that explains why Aquinas is such an important figure in the history of philosophy:
“St. Thomas Aquinas was a Dominican priest and Scriptural theologian. He took seriously the medieval maxim that “grace perfects and builds on nature; it does not set it aside or destroy it.” Therefore, insofar as Thomas thought about philosophy as the discipline that investigates what we can know naturally about God and human beings, he thought that good Scriptural theology, since it treats those same topics, presupposes good philosophical analysis and argumentation. Although Thomas authored some works of pure philosophy, most of his philosophizing is found in the context of his doing Scriptural theology. Indeed, one finds Thomas engaging in the work of philosophy even in his Biblical commentaries and sermons.
Within his large body of work, Thomas treats most of the major sub-disciplines of philosophy, including logic, philosophy of nature, metaphysics, epistemology, philosophical psychology, philosophy of mind, philosophical theology, the philosophy of language, ethics, and political philosophy. As far as his philosophy is concerned, Thomas is perhaps most famous for his so-called five ways of attempting to demonstrate the existence of God. . . . Arguably, Thomas’ most influential contribution to theology and philosophy, however, is his model for the correct relationship between these two disciplines, a model which has it that neither theology nor philosophy is reduced one to the other, where each of these two disciplines is allowed its own proper scope, and each discipline is allowed to perfect the other, if not in content, then at least by inspiring those who practice that discipline to reach ever new intellectual heights. . . .”
If you’re looking for a somewhat shorter and and more engaging introduction:
If you’d prefer a video introduction:
If you prefer audio and podcasts:
- Listen to the In Our Time episode on Aquinas [43:00 mins]
If you’d just like to casually browse a few quotes:
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