Search This Blog

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Selected Writings of St. Thomas Aquinas

Selected Writings of St. Thomas Aquinas translated by Robert P. Goodwin is a collection of writing by Saint Thomas Aquinas, who is considered one of the greatest Christian theologians and philosophers to date. This book is composed of an introduction by the editor and then is split into four different parts. Each section begins with an introduction by the editor with some helpful comments on context and explanations on the basic message of Aquinas. The editor provides excellent footnotes throughout the book. Some of these footnotes only contain bibliography notes, while others contain editor's notes to assist readers in understanding the material.

"The Principles of Nature" is about matter, the world, and animals. During his time, the word "cause" had several different meanings. Even after reading about the uses by the editor, I sometimes found it difficult in these discussions to follow Aquinas's explanations because I'm just not accustomed to the usages. Overall, I didn't find this topic too interesting.

"On Being and Essence" was fairly interesting. Aquinas' understanding appears to be that body and soul are one in the same, not separate entities. It's not that simple, of course, and the editor manages to bring together the writings on this topic in a short and accessible manner.

"On the Virtues in General" drew me in immediately. Aquinas explains the nature of virtues and how they relate to the lives of men (humans).

The last chapter is about the popular topic "On Free Choice". This is not quite free will as we understand it today, which made it all the more interesting for me. What is free choice? Is it good or bad? For what portions of those choices are we responsible?

While I enjoyed this small book on Saint Thomas Aquinas, I've realized there are some other books I need to read before getting deeper into his writings if I want to understand him completely. While I have read Saint Augustine, which he references from time to time, he much more often references Aristotle. He also makes reference to Plato and many other theologians and philosophers that came before him. He uses them as both argument and support.

I was somewhat disappointed with the material itself. According to the knowledge of his time, Aquinas wrote excellent arguments; however, in this age of science, it just doesn't hold up all that well. For those who want to learn more about the Christian faith, I think this book could be an excellent introduction. It would also be good for those who are studying theology and philosophy to understand it historically.

Recommended Reads:
The City of God by Saint Aurelius Augustine of Hippo
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

No comments:

Post a Comment