Essay on The Philosophy Of St. Thomas Aquinas

Essay on The Philosophy Of St. Thomas Aquinas

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Deep within medieval European civilization, suffused with the inviolable imperatives of obedience and faith, reason struggled for legitimacy. At that time, the church enjoyed a stranglehold over human knowledge, and no intellectual revolution could have come from beyond the pale of its own teachings (Palmer & Colton, 1995). In this sense, St. Thomas Aquinas was truly a guiding light in the darkness. The longstanding problem of how to reconcile the classical teachings, and Aristotle preeminent among them, with Christian theological doctrine was at last resolved in the writings of Aquinas (J. Brennan, 2003). His philosophy represented a pivotal shift in western thought, with far-reaching impacts on scientific and religious paradigms, and paved the way for the empirical study of psychology.
Aquinas saw the human being as a dynamic combination of the physical body and the divine soul, both functioning as one entity (R. Brennan, 1941). The soul, as it was understood in the middle ages, included the faculties of intelligence, memory, learning, and will—similar to today’s conception of the mind, but then thought to be the immaterial and immortal identity of the individual (Freeman, 2008). What Aquinas succeeded in doing was to affix a high value on human reason as an integral part of the divine soul, exalting rational thought such that it stood on a level of equality with the powers of religious faith in bringing the individual closer to earthly beauty, universal truth, and God. In this way, reason became as righteous as faith in the search for truth and goodness, and the immortal soul/mind as expressed through the body, did not act in conflict, but as a unified, harmonious whole (Butera, 2010). In other words, rational human beings co...


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... his teachings came under attack. The Scholastic movement, with Aquinas at the very crest of its wave, had begun its slow but inexorable process of undermining the near-total authority enjoyed by the church (Chesterton & Rogers, 1980). A papal backlash lead to the Condemnation of 1277, which included many parts of Aquinas’s doctrine, along with other philosophers with classical leanings. The damage done to Aquinas’s reputation appears to have been short-lived, however. The Dominicans prevailed, and Aquinas’s teachings became fixed in the universities, and spread quickly across Europe (J. Brennan, 2003). Thomas Aquinas eventually was given the title of Doctor of the Church, raising the status of his doctrine to the highest level recognized by the Catholic Church. In 1323, less than fifty years after his death, he was canonized as a saint (McInery & O’Callaghan, 2014).

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