Josef Pieper presents Aquinas as he wrote, taught
and debated at the University of Pars in the
thirteenth century. Against the background of hs
day-the Inquisition, the rsing monastic orders,
the fomenting universities-the author shows St.
Thomas in his role as a Socrtic teacher. Rather
than oferng a systematic char of the Thomist
doctrine, Dr. Pieper ilustrates the penetrating,
inquiring attitude that made Thomas Aquinas the
c•unversal teacher" whose infuence has prevaied
wthn the Church for seven centures, whose
prophetic vision of reality still remains vitl and
compelng for the moder world.
by Josef Pieper
In a series of astonishng essays, the author indicts
the twentieth century cult of ''work" and hectic
amusements, which can ultimately destroy both
our culte ad ourselves. Introduction by T. S.
Elot. (#MP550-60¢)
by Etienne Gilson
Te noted French philosopher illumates the key
ideas of te theolog of St. Thomas Aquinas.
by Jacques Maritain
An intoduction to the science of metaphysics in
seven briliant lectues by the distinguished French
Neo-Tomst. (#MP403-60¢)
A scholarly discussion of the doctne of the
Catholic Church a reveaed i the life, works,
personalty and message of Jesus Christ. By an
ement German teologia and priest.
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Fist Printing, November, 1964
Original German title: Hinfuhrung zu Thomas von Aquin,
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N  OBSTAT James T. Clarke, S.T.L.
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Te "Occidental" centr scarcely a harmonious era
Thomas brigs in a short spell of "classical" breadth.
Remarks on the Aquinas literature: Chesterton, Grab­
mann, Chenu, Gison. Wat is known concerng Tom­
a' educaton. 11
Thomas' canonization, elevation to "doctor of the
church" and "universal teacher." How is Thomas an
exempla? Perection and orgalit. His desire to omit
nothng whatsoever. Te frst decisions: for the "Bible"
and "Aristotle." Te voluntar pover movement and
the begin ngs of the Domican Order. 23
Entrance into the Dominican Order. "Evangelical per­
fection" and passion for teaching. His original concer
imperiled: the Inquisition. The attitude of St. Thoma.
Aristotle and the Christiant of the High Middle Ages.
Peter of Hiberna, a new tpe. 34
Thomas does not become an "Aristotelian"! Afmation
of the visible world. The historical Astotle is not i
question. "As the trth of thngs stands . . ." Wat the
quotation means-both for us today and for Thomas. 44
But for Thomas, Aristotle would no longer speak to our
intelect. The problem of "unhistorical" interpretation.
Te medieval university: in spite of the facult's doc­
trinal powers, not a par of the hierarchy; an institution
for al of Christendom; tie to the city. Pais: the purest
embodiment of the idea of a university. 54
Thoma and Pars, ''is natral arena." The "Mendicant
Contoversy"; the mendicant orders invade the univer­
sit. The frst yeas of teaching. Begi  ngs of the
written works. 62
Disputation as a literar form. Origns in the Platonic
diaoge ad the Aistotelian Topics. Te structural form
of te articulus in the works of Thomas. Spiit of
disputation: listening to the interloutor; respecting
his agment and person; addressing oneself to him;
refrang from arbitrar jargon; seeking clarity, not
sensatonaism. The disputation a te rea in which
universaity is achieved. Possible reason for the de­
generation of publc discussion today: the lack of
proper models. 72
Tomas above al a teacher-i spite of multiarious
special assignments. Teaching as a mode of intellectual
lie. Tinkin
from the beginner's point of view. Mastery
of the pedagogue's trade. Bid's-eye view of the "major
works. " The opuscula; the commentaries; the Quaes­
tiones disputatae; the two Sumas. The Summa theo­
logica a refection of event. 83
Medieval Latin not a dead language. University and
"technical" language. From Cicero and Seneca though
Boethius to Tomas: translation from the Greek. Te
creative element in this process of assimilation. Verbal
beauty in Thomas; language utterly an instrment. Never­
theless, avoidance of artifcial technical terminology.
Distrst of "terminology. " Living usage as the standard.
Sobriet the expression of extreme receptivit t reality.
The task that Tomas set himself: to create an intellec­
tual synthesis in which the natural world and kowl­
edge were gven their due-as well a the supernatura
and belief, so that both reams achieve full recognton.
Pronounced worldliness. Unabahed afation of the
body. Efect upon the style of theologcal thought. He
siultaneously rages himself against the seculaism
of Siger of Brabant and the unworldliness of the domi­
nat theolog. Teologically founded worldliness. Te
arguments fom creation ad from the Incaation. The
keystone of the Christian West: acceptance of the world
along with a receptivity to the supramundane cal. 106
Non-Occidental Christianit. "The West" not the sum
of institutions but a historical design. Readiness for
ever new conficts. The "existential" interpretation of
te concept of Being and God. "I a Wo A"
Existence a a product of the actus purus. Everything
tat exsts is not only good, but holy. The role of
philosophizing and the role of theologizing in Thomas.
The concepts of "philosophy" and "theology." Their co­
ordination can be meaningfully discussed only insofar
as both are accepted as legitimate acts of the intellect. 119
Philosophy and theology both deal with the Wole of
reality-insofar as the encountered phenomena are seen
by the gaze fed upon them and insofar as the "speech
of God" is heard by believers. The problem of method­
ologicaly neat delimitation is extraneous here: both
philosopher and theologian must be ready to incorporate
any available information on reality into their intellec­
tual structures. Ancilla theologiae? Theology stands in
need of the totality of natural knowledge of the world.
The Summa theologica not a "closed system." Its frag­
mentary character is part of its statement. Negative
theology and negative phiosophy. Immuniation against
false clams of fnality. 131
This book is closer to the spoken than to the written lan­
guage. It is baed on a series of universit lectures given
before collective student bodies. Its purpose and scope ae
precisely what the title suggests: to sere a a guide and
introduction. It is intended neither a a detailed biogaphy
of Thoma nor a a systematic and comprehenive inter­
pretation of his doctrines. Nor i it meant to be an origina
contribution to the hitorical study of medieval philosophy.
Everone acquainted with the feld will see at once to what
degree my account i baed, far beyond specifc quotation,
on the works of Marie-Dominique Chenu, Etiene Gilson,
Fernand van Steenberghen, and others.
The purpose of these lectures i to sketch, againt the
background of his times and his life, a portrait of Thoma
Aquina a he truly concern philosophical-minded person
toda, not merel a a historical personage but a a thinker
who ha something to sa to our own era. I eanestly hope
that the speculative attitude which wa Thoma' most saient
tait a Christianity's "universal teaher" will emege clearly
and shaply fom my exposition. It i to this end alone, I
repeat, that I present the following chapters, and it is this
apect for which I acept full responibilit.
So bound up is the life of St. Thomas Aquinas with te
thirteenth century that the year in which the century reached
its mid-point, 1250, was likewise the mid-point of Thomas'
life, though he wa only twenty-fve years old at te time
and still sitting at the feet of Albertus Magnus as a stdent
in the Monastery of the Holy Cross i Cologne. The thir­
teenth century has been called the specifcaly "Occidental"
century. The signifcance of this epithet has not always been
completely clarifed, but in a certain sense I too accept
the term. I would even assert that the special quait
"Occidentality" was ultimately forged i that very century,
and by Thomas Aquinas himself. It depends, however, on
what we understand by "Occidentaity." We sha  have
more to say on this matter.
There exists the romantic notion that the thirteenth cent
was an era of harmonious balance, of stable order, and of
the free fowerig of Christianity. Especially i the realm
of thought, this was not so. The Louvain historian Femand
van Steenberghen speaks of the thirteenth century as a
time of "crisis of Christian intelligence";! and Gilson com­
ments: "Anybody could see that a crisis wa brewing."2
What, in concrete terms, wa the situation? First of
all we must point out that Christianity, already besieged
by Islam for centuries, threatened by the mounted hordes
of Asiatics (1241 is the year of the battle with the Mongols
at Liegnitz)-that this Christianity of the thirteenth centu
had been drastically reminded of how small a body it
was within a vast non-Christian world. It was learning it
own liits in the most forceful way, and those liit were
not only territorial. Aound 1253 or 1254 the court of
the Great Khan in Karakorum, in the heart of Asia, wa
the scene of a dsputation of two French mendcant fias
with Mohamedans and Buddhists. Wether we can con­
clude that these frars represented a "universal mission sent
forth out of disilluionent with the old Christianity,"3
is more than questionable. But be this a it may, Chistianity
saw itsel subjected to a grave challenge, ad not only
from the aeas beyond its territorial limits.
For a long tme the Arab world, which had thrust itself
into old Europe, had been impressing Christians not only
with its mlitary and political mght but also with its philos­
ophy and science. Through translations from the Arabic
into Latin, Arab philosophy ad Aab science had become
fmly established in the heart of Christendom-at the Uni­
versity of Pais, for example. Lookng into the matter
more closely, of course, we ae strck by the fact that
Arab phlosophy and science were not Islamic by origin
and chaacter. Rather, classical ratio, epitomized by Aristotle,
had by such stangely involved routes come to penetrate
the intellectual world of Christian Europe. But in the begin­
ning, at any rate, it wa felt as something alien, new, danger­
ous, "pagan."
During this same period, thirteenth-century Christendom
was being shaken politically from top to bottom. Internal
upheavals of every sort were brewing. Christendom wa
entering upon the age "in which it would cease to be a
theocratic unity,"4 and would, in fact, never be so again.
In 121
a national king (as such) for the fst time won a
victory over the Emperor (a such) at the Battle of Bouvines.
During this same period the frst religious wars within Chris­
tendom faed up, to be waged with inconceivable cruelty
on both sides. Such was the efect of these conficts that
all of souther France and northern Italy seemed for decades
to be lost once and for all to the corpus of Christendom.
Old monasticism, which was invoked as a spiritual coun­
terforce, seems (as an institution, that is to say, seen a
a whole) to have become impotent, i spite of all heroic
eforts to reform it (Cluny, Clteaux, etc.). And as far as
the bishops were concerned-and here, too, of course,
we are makng a sweeping statement-an emnent Domin­
ican prior of Louvain, who incidentally may have been
a fellow pupil of St. Thomas under Alberus Magnus i
Cologne, wote the following signifcant homily: In 1248
it happened at Paris that a cleric was to preach before a
synod of bishops; and whe be was considering what he
should say, the devil appeaed to h. "Tell them tis
alone," the devil said. ''The princes of iera dakness
ofer the prices of the Church thei greetings. We tank
them heary for leading their chages to u and commend
the fact that due to thei negligence aost the ente world
is succumbing to dakness."5
But of course it coud not be tat Chistiaty shoud
passively succub t tese developments. Tenth-cent
Christiaty rose i its own defense, ad i a most energetc
fahion. Not only were geat cathedras built i that cent;
it saw aso the founding of the fst uversites. Te uver­
sities undertook, aong other tings, the task of assimating
classica ideas and phosophy, and t a
lage extent acom­
plished this tak.
There was aso the whole matter of the "mendcat or­
ders," which represented one of the most creative responses of
Christianit. These new associations quite unexctedy aled
themselves with the institution of the uvesit. Te most
iportant universit teacher of the cent, i Pa a
well a i Oxford were a  monks of the mendicat orders.
Al in a  , nothing seemed to be ''hed"; everg had
entered a state of fu. Albertus Magnus voiced this bold
sense of futurit i the words: Scientiae demonstrativae
non omnes factae :unt, sed plures restant ahuc invenien­
dae; most of what exist i the rea of kowledge rema
still to be discovered. o
The mendicant order took the lead in movg out ito
the world beyond the fontier of Christiait. Shortly
ater the middle of the centry, whe Toma wa wting
his Summa Againt the Pagan, addressed to the mahumetis­
tae et pagani, 7 the Domcans were founding the fst
Christia schools for teaching the Arabic laguage. I have a­
ready spoken of te disputation between the mendicat fias
and the sage of Eater faiths i Kaaorum. Toward the
end of the cent a Franciscan tanslated the New Testaent
ad the Psalms into Mongolian and presented ths taslation
to the Great Kan. He was the same Neapolta, John
of Monte Corvino, who built a church aongside the Ipe­
rial Palace i Pekg and who became the fst Archbishop
of Pekg.
This mere listng of a few events, facts, ad elements
should make it clear that the era wa anyhng but a hao­
nious one. Tere is ltte reaon for wishig for a ret to
those times-aside from the fact that such wishes ae i
temselves foolish.
Nevereless, it may be said that in terms of the hstory
of thought t tteenth century, for al it polyphonc cha­
acter, did attan someting like harmony and "classical
fullness." At least ts was so for a period of thee or four
decades. Gilson speaks of a knd of "serenity."B And although
that moment i tie is of course gone and cannot ever
agai be sumoned back, it appears to have left it trace
upon te memor of Wester Chrstianity, so that it is
recaled as somethng paadigatic and exemplary, a kind
of ideal spirit of a age which men long to see realied once
more, althoug uder changed conditons and terefore,
of couse, i some altogether new cast.
Now as it happens, te work of Thomas Aquinas falls
into that brief historical moment. Perhaps it may be said
that his work embodies tat moment. Such, at any rate,
is the sense i which St. Tomas' achievement has been
understood i the Chstian world for almost seven hundred
years; such ae te ters in which it has repeatedly been
evaluated. Not by al, to be sure (uter called Thomas "the
geatest chaterbox" among te scholastic theologians9);
but te voices of approbation and reverence have aways
predominated. And even aside from his witten work, his
personal destiny and te events of his life unite virally
a  the elements of that highly contradictory centry in
a kind of "existenta" syntesis. We shal now speak of
tese matters at geater lengh, and i detail.
First of al, a few remaks regading books.
The best intoducton to the spirit of St. Thomas is,
to my mind, the smal book by G. K. Chesterton, St.
Thoma Aquina.10 This is not a scholarly work in the proper
sense of the word; it mght be ca  ed jounaistic-for whch
reason I am somewhat chay about recomending it. Maisie
Wad, co-owner of te British-American publishing fn
which publishes the book, wites in her biography of Ches­
teronll that at te time her house published it, she wa
seized by a slight anxiet. However, she goes on to say,
:tienne Gilson read it and comented: "Chesteron makes
one despair. I have been stdying S. Thomas al my lfe
and I could never have witen such a book." Still troubled
by the abigt of t coment, Masie Wad asked Gison
once more for his verdict on te Chesterton book. Tis
time he expressed himself in unmistakable ters: "I consider
it as being, without possible comparison, the best book
ever written on St. Thomas. . . Everybody will no doubt
admit that it is a 'clever' book, but the few readers who have
spent twenty or thirty years in studying St. Thoma Aquinas,
and who, perhaps, have themselves published two or tee
volume on the subject, cannot fail to perceive that the
so-called 'wit' of Chesterton has put their scholarship to
shame. . He has said all that which they were more
or less clumsily attempting to express in academic formua."
Thus Gilson. I think this praise somewhat exaggerated;
but at any rate I need feel no great embarasment about
recomending an "unscholarly" book.
It would not do to rely on Chesterton aone, even for
an intoduction. I therefore recommend, for its more pro­
fessional approach, Marti Grabma  's Thoma von Aquin,
Personlichkeit und Gedankenwelt, which ha appeaed in
numerous editions since 1912.12 Grabman (died 1949
in Munich) is kown and esteemed toughout the world
as the master of scholastic reseach; his book ha that
very special merit which is achieved ony when a schola
who knows the material fom the origial souces down
to the lat details, and who for the most part has hsel
uncovered these souces, wites a summa for te nonspe­
cialist. I point this out because Grabman conceas hs
deep scholarship behind an utterly plai preentation.
A more modern study is the splendid, toroug, ad bril­
liantly written Introduction a l'etude de St. Thoma d'Aquin
by Marie-Dominique Chenu.ts Chenu divide his book into
two parts, the frst dealing with "the work," the second with
"the works." I think it may be said that at the present moment
no better historical and systematic itoduction to Toma
Finally I should like to mention te more comprehensive
and ambitious exposition of the phiosophy of St. Toma,
by Etienne Gilson: Le Thomisme, Introduction a la philo
sophie de St. Thomas. A revised edition of ts work ha
recently been published in English uder te tite, The
Christian Philosophy of St. Thoma Aquinas.14
The books by Chenu and Gilson have, by the way, one
feature in comon which may at frst seem incidental.
Te autors of bot are French (Chenu i a Domican;
Gilson is a layman, orignally a professor at the College
de France), but both have taught for many years in the
New World, that is to say, in Canada. That both books
were produced in a very special atmosphere of that young
continent seems to me more tan accidental. As I read
these works, I felt toughout the breath of the fresh winds
of North America-by which I mean something rather
precise: a certain objectivity and earnestness, the determin­
ation on the part of the writers to go beyond mere schola­
liess ad to ask and answer the question of the truth of
Let us begin with a quick biographical survey. Tomas
was bor aound 1225 in the castle of Roccasecca near
Aquino, a smal town between Rome and Naples. Was
he therefore a "Latin," a south Italian? Yes and no. Ths
ambiguity is in itself important. First of all, the "yes"­
Thoma wa an Itaian. We know that he later preached
i his native tongue, the language of the people of Naples.
And one of his brothers, Rinaldo, made a name for hself
a a lyic poet,15 his best-known works being certain love
poems i the vlga tongue which at that time-two gen­
erations before Dante's Divina Commedia-was becoming
a nationa laguage. Whe St. Tomas' articuli are of course
i Latin, their iner dyamics must be thought of as refecting
south Italian speech-that is to say, they are rapid and ener­
getic in maner and tempo.
However, we must keep i mind that Thomas was of
Germanc blood on bot his father's and his mother's side.
His mother's fanl y was Norman, his father's either Lombard
or likewise Noran. And te social envionment from
which Tomas sprang and in which he grew up was given
its character by the Swabian emperors, te Hohenstaufen;
his father and his brothers were members of the court nobil­
ity of Frederick I of Hohenstaufen. Taken all together,
this means that Tomas did not spring from the soi of
the classical Roman Empie; he stemed from the new tibes
whch had overheled and taken possession of the Imperium
Romanum, fst a babarian invaders, then as "occupiers,"
and fally as docile pupils and the historica heis of Rome.
The times of Boetius, who had endeavored to pass on
te heritage of Greco-Roman classicism to the new historical
powers by tanslation and commentary, were long since
pat. Te pupils had come of age.
Thomas was te youngest of the family. At the age of
fve he was sent to school at the nearby Abbey of Monte
Cassino. Baely ten yeas later, a we may read in many a
biogaphical account, he "moved" to Naples. On closer exam­
iation we discover tat it was not a simple change of
residence, but rather a fight. After all, it would not be
quite accurate to say of scholars who had left Nazi Germany
as exiles that tey simply "went" to America. And young
Tomas' move wa likewise infuenced by political develop­
ments, tat i to say, by the struggle between Emperor and
Pope. Monte Cassino was not merely a Benedictine abbey;
it wa also a citadel on the border between the imperial
and the papal territories. Moreover the abbey, which had
been founded by S. Benedict i 529 (the year of the dis­
solution of the Platonic Academy in Athens), had been
destroyed twice-nce by the Lombads and once by the
Saracens. It had at one time lain i rn for more tan
a hundred yeas.
I have said that the life of St. Thomas contains almost
al the components of the centry. A number of these com­
ponents lie witin this mere fact of his "fight from Monte
Casino to Naples." Firt, there was the stuggle between
Emperor and Pope, which shook Christendom to its founda­
tions and was to force it into a new shape. Second, there
was te tang leave of the feudally constituted Benedictine
abbey with its ealy medieval character, which was no
longer representtive of the age now dawning and could
not operate efectually i that age. Thd, there was not
only te negative step of withdrawing from the solitude
of old monasticism, but the entance into a city. The entance
also into a uversity, the frst state university of the Western
world, founded ony a shor while before by Frederick
I. Fourth, there was the confrontation with Aistotle whch
was unavoidable precisely at this consciously secular un­
versity, and which could not have taken place in so itensive
a form at ay oter university. Fifth, there was the encounter
with the tremendously dynamic voluntary poverty movement,
with te ft generation of the mendicant orders-an en­
counter which, again, was possible and to be expected ony
i a cit. Later we shal discuss each of these poit i
detail, but especialy te last tee (universit, Astotle,
mendicant order movement).
Thomas was about nineteen when he joined one of the
two mendicant orders, the Order of Preachers founded by
the Spaniard Domc. Apparently he took ts step on
the basis of a sudden decision which he probably did not
tell his family, but which he held to with unyielding resolution.
In a polemical acle i defense of the monastic estate,
Thomas raises a point which may have autobiogaphical
signicance. He poses the question of whether such a decision
should not have t be long considered and discussed-and
answers with unusual sharpness that blood relations should
fst ad foremost be excluded from such deliberatons,
since in this respect they are foes rather than friends.16
In his own case the move was not undertaken without consid­
erable confct. Wen the Neapolitan brethen of the order
endeavored to get teir novice as quickly a possible out
of reach of his famly's and the Hohenstaufen Emperor's
power (for the mendicant order were constantly under
suspicion of workng on the Pope's side agaist the Emperor)
by dispatching Thomas at once to Pais, his own brothers
captured him-probably with imperial assistance-and held
him for a long time i one of his father's castles. His impris­
onment may have lasted a full year. In any case, he profted
by the time: as Grabmann had discovered,17 he transcribed
a copy or an extact fom one of Aristotle's witings on
logic. Finally he wa releaed, and contued on his way
to Paris.
Thomas arived at the university of the Wester world
fst as a stdent; later he was to become one of that univer­
sity's greatest teachers. In 1245, the very year of hs a val
in Paris, Albertus Magnus had begun teaching tere. Had
all Europe been canvassed, no more important and more
up-to-date teacher for Thomas could have been found. The
two proceeded together to Cologne, where Albertus was
to set up an academy of the Dominican Order. During
this period of apprenticeship under Albert-icidentally,
the foundation stone of Cologne Cathedral was lad at
this time-Thoma became acquainted with a wholly new
strain in Western phiosophy: Neo-Platonism. He wa led
to it by his teacher. During tose very years in Cologne,
Alberts Magus had plunged into the study of Dionysiu
Aeopagita, te Neo-Platonic mystic who, by maquerading
as that disciple of Paul mentioned in the Acts of the Apos­
tles, preserved the Platonic heritage for a Chistian West
faciated by Aristotle.
At the age of twenty-seven Thomas was recalled to
Pais. He wa employed there fst at the Dominican academy
in the Monatery of St. Jacques. Later he became professor
of theology at the universit-in spite of considerable op­
position directed not so much against hiself as an individual
a agaist the ever mounting iuence of the mendicant
orders at te universit. Thomas wa drastically af ected
by these bickerings. The Pope hself had to intervene to
cause the unversity to lit the boycott against Tomas. Under
papal pressure the ban was fnally lted-on the same day
for Thoma and for Bonaventra; the Pope's letter mentions
both by name.
It is astonishing to note tat in St. Thomas' fst work,
written dung tis period, the smoot fow of not a single
sentence appears to have been rfed by all these troubles.
Readers of these opuscula, such a De ente et essentia,
will fnd it hard to believe that they were not written in
the undisturbed peace of a monastic cel. That, too, was
a new element which Thoma embodied: cloistral seclusion
becae inner secluion. Times were changing, and from
now on it would be necessar to constuct a cel for con­
templation within the self to be carried about through te
burly-burly of the vita activa of teaching and of intellectu
Tomas experienced this hurly-burly i good meaure.
It is tue that he gave up hs teaching chair at the University
of Paris as early as 1259-after three yea, tat is-m­
barking instead upon a life of wandering tat lasted until
his deat and never permitted him to remain longer than
two or three yeas in te same place ad in te same posi­
tion. One burden, however, he car ed about with him 8
his life: te task of presenting, whether by teachng or writing,
te whole of the Chstian view of the uverse.
Fist of 8 he wa sent to Italy by the Dominican Order,
on commssions prncipally conected wit the organiation
of studies. Ten Pope Urban I ca  ed hm for three years
to his court in Orvieto where-ven though the ofcial pro­
hibitions upon Aristotle were stil i force-a Flemish
Dominican who had learned the language of Aristotle during
a stay i Greece was engaged on no oter task than tans-
lating the works of tis same banned philosopher. Thomas
himsel had urged his brother Dominican Wiliam of
becke to undertake ths work. The Pope, however, needed
Tomas' aid i a enterprise of literaly universa signifcance.
It seemed possible tat a union might be brought about
between the Easter and Western branches of Chistiaty.
Thomas was asked to lay down the theologic basis for ts
Thee yeas later came a new assignment, as head of
the Dominican academy at Santa Sabina in Rome. Thomas
stayed at this post for two yeas. Only ten yeas of life
remained to him, and as yet not one of the twelve com­
mentaies on the writings of Aristotle had been written,
nor a line of the Summa theologica. Dung these two years
in Rome he set to work on both. Then a new Pope, Clement
I, called hm back to the court at Viterbo. Ts Pope
was not without guilt i the death of te last of the Hohen­
staufens, the boy Conradin, who met his end on the scafold
at Naples during tese yeas. At this time Thomas was witing,
aong other thngs, hs book On the Governance of Princes,
which contais the magnifcent chapter on te rewad to
be expected by righteous kings.
In 1269, after baely two yeas, came the unexpected
and highly unusual comand fom the superiors of his
order to ret to the University of Paris. Te batte against
the mendicants had meanwhile considerably itensifed and
taken a more radical t. It no longer centered aound cap­
turing teaching chairs, but aound the teachngs themselves.
Nor was this the only thing at stake. The rea issue was
the conrontation with to fndaenta phosophcal ad
theological views. Tis had a direct bearing on te position
taken. by St. Thomas himself, the positon which concered
him deeply and which he had single-hadedly been trying
to forulate, clari, and defend. At this point we canot
go into detail. We ca only say that what was at stake was
the special character of "Occidentality." What was more,
it was threatened simultaneously by tose who were aou
to hold fast to taditiona Christia concepts and also by those
who pererted Thomas' bold new concept by exaggeration.
Oddly enough, Thoma stood completely alone in this
situation. A most astonishing fact comes to light: this
man who was a teacher by birth, by iclnaton, ad by
grace had no disciple of real imporance. Even imediately
after his deat there was no one who could have presered
and defended the master's heritage with a persuasiveness
even remotely equal to his own. Thomas stood alone-and
he threw himself into his tk with fantastic vehemence.
What he wrote during those last years i Paris-nce more,
only three years-seems almost beyond belief: comentaries
on virtually all the works of Aistotle; a comentary on
the Book of Job, on the Gospel of John, on the Epistles
of Paul; the great Quaestiones disputatae on evi, on the
virtues; te comprehensive Second Part of the Summa theo­
logica. At te same time Thoma by no means absented
hsel from the great debate which was raging. On
the contrary, al his works were actual contributions to
it-ven i we disregard the distinctly polemical writings.
The debate gew ever more heated, ad in 1 272 the superiors
of the order suddenly recalled Thomas fom Paris. We
may suppose that they hoped thereby to temper the intel­
lectual stuggle. At any rate, Thomas' successor to the chai
inclined more towad te taditional, conservative views.
Assigned to found an academy within the order, Thomas
retured to Naples, the scene of hs frst decisions. Here,
after about a year, another papal assignment reached h,
this time to paticipate in the General Council which was
to begin its sessions i Lyons in the spring of 1 274. On
the way there he fel il and soon afterard died, on March
7, 1274, having not yet reached the age of ft.
Several months before he set out on te jourey to Lyons,
Thoma had already stopped witing, athough his opus
magnum, the Summa theologica, was not yet fnished. Pupils
and friends urged him to continue, but Thomas refused
to write or to dictate anoter line. And tere the work
stood. "Everything I have written seems to me straw"-ths
was hs reply to the ugings of Reginald of Piperno, his
friend, secretary, ad taveling companion of many years.
Later, to be sue, he amplifed tis statement: "Everyhng
seems to me straw-ompared wit the vision I
have had." These words point to something which fa  s
outside the scope of tese lectures, and which nevertheless
canot be pased over in silence: the fact tat Thomas was
not only a philosophical and theologica thner, not ony
a university professor, but also a mystc visionary, a saint.
In the following pages we shall review the course of
Thomas' life again, at a more deliberate pace, in order to
see more clealy how the work of St. Tomas sprag from
te chalenges of the times and his responses.
We must add to this frst rapid and necessarily brief survey
of Thomas' life a few comments on some facts which, though
they cannot properly be regarded as strictly biographical,
are yet part and parcel of the story of the man Thoma
The frst of these facts is Tomas' canonization. I a
sometimes surprised at the wild notions held by cultivated
people of the meaning of this procedure-as, for example,
the grotesque idea that canonization is a knd of posthumous
"promotion." Naturally, the act of canonization in no way
alters or afects the person so celebrated; nothing whatsoever
comes into being that was not so before. Of course not!
Rater, the act is an announcement-based upon a solemn,
exautive, and carefl procedure of investigation-that
the given life was one of unusual, heroic "rightness,"
expressing a paradigmatic emanation of super-human, divie
force and the fnal retu into ths divine Source. Of course
we know that for the seculaized intellectual these are empty
words. But perhaps it is not too much to ask of h that
he take note of what is "meant."
Well, then: Tomas Aquinas was canonized on July
18, 1323, barely ffty years ater his death. In conection
with this we should note that, as Grabmann says,1 Thomas
seems to have been the frst person canonzed for being
a theologian and teacher. The forty-two witnesses at the
canonization trial had little to report concerning extraordiary
acts of penance, sensational deeds, and mortifcations. In
fact, they seem to have been somewhat put out by this
aspect of te problem: they could only repeat unanously,
again and again: Thomas had been a pure person, humble,
siple, peace-lovig, given to contemplation, moderate, a
lover of poverty. And he himself had said repeatedly that
perfection of le consists far more in iner rightness ta
in outer acts of asceticism.2 One of the witnesses at the
canonization trial, William of Tocco (as a young man he
had been a pupil of St. Thomas and had witten a detailed
biography of himS), said that in his prayers St. Thomas had
always asked for one thing only: wisdom. That is, by the
by, not quite accuate. For a prayer has come down to
us in which Tomas asks that it may be given him "to
be serene without fivolity and mate without self-impor­
Since, however, we shall be dealing with Thomas Aquinas,
not so much as a man, but rather as a thinker, theologian,
and above all phosopher, with Tomas the teacher and
writer, te point is worth noting that even the canonization
seems to have been concerned with the thinker and teacher.
Non solum virtutes, sed doctrinam etiam . . . . 5
Tus there began a process which was later to be confmed
and developed further when-in 1567-Thomas was declared
a "doctor of the Chuch" and subsequently became a veritable
institution. For in 1918 he was incorporated into one of
the great lawbooks of history, the Codex Juris Canonici, 6
which diected that the priests of the Catholic Church should
receive thei teologcal and philosophcal education according
to the method, doctines, and principles of Thomas Aquinas.
The special title which was confered upon Thomas, a
upon almost al the other important teachers of te Middle
Ages, shortly after hs death-the title of doctor communis
-has recently been taken up again with added emphasis.7
It has been uged tat Tomas, whose doctine te Chuch
has made her own, ought to be called doctor communis
seu universalis, the general and universal teacher.
The enthroning of any system of thought is bound to
have some undesirable results. Tus, it is only too easy
for those with hghy special doctinal axes to grind to
help their cause by appeaing to the ofcially acknowledged
canon, Thomas Aquinas. The same ting happens within
the particular real which has set up Karl Marx as its
doctor communisveryone attempts to validate his own
opinion by a quotation from Marx, whether or not there
is any objective justifcation for his use of the quotation.
(aturally, this analogy is not meant to suggest that the
canonization of Marx or Lenin ca be placed upon the
same level as that of St. Thomas.)
I should le to forestl any misunderstandng of what
I am saying here. I do not regard the special, unusual ds­
tinction conerred upon Thomas Aquinas by ecclesiatical
authority as a mere chance product of certain conservative
and unyielding tendencies. Nor do I consider it primarily
a disciplinary measure intended to establish or preserve
"intellectual unity." The Vienese theologian Albert Mitterer,
for example, states that "Thomism" is "prescribed by the
Church."B I thi such phraseolog extemely unfortunate,
and misleading as well (as i the Church's decision were
a kind of police ordinance issued solely for reasons of ex­
pediency and susceptible to abrogation or alteraton). Rather,
I am convinced tat the pre-eminent position assigned to
St. Thoma, which may now and then stike people as
strange, is meaningl and necessary in ters of the subjec
matter itself, inherenty so. Naturally, ts is not to cal
for the sterile paroting of Thomist doctine (the Tomas
encyclical of Pius X expressly wa against any such
thing), or to press for the atifcial keeping alive of tose
elements in Thomas which were conditioned by his times.
Mitterer insinuates that Thoma' conception of te universe
was completely diferent from ours-fase, scanty, and primi­
tive, since he did not have the beneft of the investigations
of modem science-and that this poses a dilema for the
Catholic. I must say that it has never occured to me to
extend the obligatoriness of St. Thoma' teachings to hs
biological doctnes. It is, moreover, generally held9 tat
natural philosophy was the weakest point in the tnking
of St. Thomas. He "has no heart for the task," says Gilson.1o
Rather, Thomas husbanded his intellectal powers for oter
subjects. Nevertheless, the very special stats accorded to
St. Tomas (why not to Augstine?
y not to Albertus
Magnu or Bonaventra?) cannot very wel mean ang
but this: that in his works he succeded i stating the whole
of truth in a unique, exemplary fashion.
This very fact, however, leads to some less than com­
mendable tendencies. For example, it stengthens te tempta­
tion to deal wit Thomas in a purely derivative fahon.
It favors the tendency to palm of certain theses upon Toma,
in order to give them the cachet of his authority. The "drea­
iness of Thomas-interpretation" may b traced to this. (e
phrase is not mine, but that of the Benedictine theologian
Anselm Stol.11)
I a not suggestig tat the whole wide feld of interreta-
tion of St. Thomas is dominated by such subjective motiva­
tions. Rather, once Thomas has become an "institution,"
it is perfectly natural and totally unavoidable that the nature
of tha
institution be defned. The interesting and pressing
question then becomes: In what does his exemplariness,
in what does his typical and unique quality consist; and
above all, precisely which of his doctrines are obligatory?
What, in short, is the greatness of Thomas that ha made
him the doctor communis of Christendom?
Probably it is not the "originality" of his ideas; Augustine
is far more original. Perfection and originality seem in
a sense mutually exclusive; what is classical is not, properly
speaking, original. George Bernard Shaw in his brilliant
music criticism made a remark about Mozart that can apply
to Thomas as well. Shaw says: "Mozart, like Praxiteles,
Raphael, Moliere, Shakespeare, was no leader of a new depar­
ture or founder of a school
Shaw might safely have
added: "any more than was Thomas Aquinas." (I should
like to recall the astonishing fact, already mentioned, that
Thomas, although so great a "teacher," had no real "pupils"
in the narower sense; all his life he remained alone. Shaw
continues, that one cannot say about Mozart: "Here is
an entirely new vein of musical art, of which nobody ever
dreamt before Mozart. Anybody, almost, can make
a beginning: the difculty is to make an end-to do what
cannot be bettered. It is always like that. Praxiteles,
Raphael and Co. have great men for their pioneers, ad
only fools for their followers. "
Undoubtedly this sort of thing can be said less imper­
tinently, but the essence of Shaw's observation seems to
be true. What is geat in the great appears to consist precisely
in those qualities which rle them out as representatives
of a "movement." And this is also true of Thomas. His
greatness, and incidentally his timeliness, consists precisely
in the fact that a real "ism" cannot properly be attached
to him; that, therefore, "Thomism" cannot really exist.
Not, at any rate, if we understand the term to mean a specifc
doctinal tendency conditioned by polemical theses and
demarcations, a system of tenets handed down from teacher
to pupil, as is the case with any "schoo1."
3 Tis cannot
exist because the magnifcent statement residing in the
work of St. Thomas is far too rich; its special virtue lies
i its not seekg to be anything "special." Thomas refused
to be selective; he undertook the enormous tak of "choosing
everything." "He seeks to be faithl to the deeper intention
of Saint Augtine, as well as to that of Aristotle; the deeper
aim of human reason a well as of divine fait."14 Simarly,
the French Domnican Geiger, who in his much-discussed
book on the concept of "paicipation" i Thomas Aquinas
attempted to show the Platonic elements in te thg
of the alleged Aristotelan Thomas, bas made the same
observation: Thomas ought to have made choices but did
not do soor il n'a pa choisi.15 Thoma was neither Platonst
nor Aristotelian; be was both.
This peculiarit was a part of St. Tomas' basic temper,
i te existentia as well as the itellectual realm. How
much that wa so is evident in his very earliest decisions.
And in these early decisions it is likewise apparent bow little
this refusal "to choose" bad to do wit neutralt or ideci
I have already mentioned that Thomas, at te age of
about fteen, bad to leave the sanctuary of the Benedictine
abbey of Monte Cassino, and tat hs fight took
im to
Naples, to an urban environent and a university; and that
there be encountered to phenomena whch were new not
only to hm, but aso to the thirteenth century.
First of all Toma encountered the voluntary povert
movement, the mendicant orders; and secondly be encountered,
at the unversty, Aristotle. As a stable and entirely open­
mnded young man with a tremendous receptivit of soul
and spirit, be encountered the two forces whch were to
exer a determining efect upon hs own time and upon
te whole future of the West a wel. And Thomas embraced
both with the aaing vehemence of his nature-although
te drives behid these two phenomena at frst appear to
be contadictory. Here, ten, in his fst actions, I would
say, there emerges te paadigatic, te exemplary quality
of the future doctor communis: te assimlative powers
which exclude nothing, omitted nothing, which isisted
that everyting tat is, "belongs"-for example, both te
Bible and the metaphysics of Aristote. We shal discuss
ts point in greater detail.
I have used the word "Bible" istead of "voluntary povert
movement. " For the Biblical, the "evangelical" aspect was
te most tellng characteristic of tat movement. Cbenu
employs te term evangelime
6 t descrbe it. From a
sociological point of view it was a kind of youth movement,
and incidentally an urban one which fourished only on
the soil of cities (homas would never have encountered
it in Monte Cassino). It was, moreover, an "anti" movement
-irected against the solid secularity of a Christianity
that was makig itself at home in the world economically
and politically.
But the essentia natre of the movement cannot be
defned sociologcally. The two mendicant orders were
founded almost siultaneously; the Domncans were formally
confrmed as an order i 1216, the Franciscans in 1223 ;
St. Dominic died in 1221, St. Francis of Assisi in 1226.
Tese two foundations cannot be understood without a
knowledge of the heresies from which they derived. Over­
simplifying, we may say that their ancestry goes back to
two movements: Catharism and Waldensianism.
The Cathar, as they caled themselves (from katharof,
the "pure")-te medieval Cathars-were the heirs of ancient
Manichaeanism, a tendency which is probably a recurrent
one in human tought. The Manichees held matter and
all material things to be evil, including the body, marriage,
the state, visible religious institutions, and the Sacraments.
The Cathars lad utmost stess upon asceticism, some even
carrying this to the point of fasting themselves to death.
In view of the secuariation of Chstianity and of the
hierarchy, this movement seemed to have a good deal of
rigt on its side. It atacted to itself a tremendous amount
of misgded fervor, and te conditions of te period con­
stantly supplied fuel to the fames.
The Waldensian movement was at :st entirely orhodox,
but was forced into heresy by the failure of te ofcial Church
to meet its cha  enge. The name stems from a merchant
of Lyons caled Peter Waldo who in the famine year of
1176 gave away his property and tried to lve literally
by the comandments of Christ, that is, by the Gospel.
He gathered around him a fellowship of like-minded persons
whose distingshig marks were poverty, Bible-readng,
and itinerant preaching.
Tese two curents mngled in a number of ways, espe­
cially in souther France, where they culminated in a massive
popula movement which is usually called the Albigensian
movement, after the city of Albi. All missionary efors
of the Chuch faied. Innocent III sent the Abbot of Citeau
with some of his brethren to souther France to "combat
heresy ater the manner of St. Bernard by the power of
17 At that time, around the year 1200, the great
reformer, Bernard of Clairvaux, was dead barely ffty
yeas; yet his work had already been undone. What had
happened wa simple enough. A few yea later the Rhineland
Cistercian Caesaius of Heisterbach was to describe the
process a a tragic law: discipline engenders wealth and
wealth destoys the discipline.1B At ay rate, the Pope's
legates descended upon the rebelliou heretics. They came
as judges rather than missionaies. They excommunicated,
iterdicted, and condemned. But that wa not the worst
of it. They also stripped themselves from the st of any
moral advantage by appearing clothed i immoderate worldly
pomp. "I met on the street, " wote the Dominican prior
of Louvain, Thomas of Chantimpre,19 whom we have
already quoted, "an abbot with so many horses and so
large a retinue that i I had not kown him I would have
taken him for a duke or count. • Only the addition
of . . a ciclet on his brow would have been needed."
Later a new Pope, Honorius III, addressed a letter to
the University of Paris calling upon the professors and students
to go into the disafected cities of southern France and
conduct missions there.20 It is highly improbable that
anythng of this sort was done. Moreover, it was too
late, for violence had already been resored to. The twenty­
year Albigensian War had begun. Begnning a a crusade,
it quickly changed-as Joseph Berar remarks in his
papal history21-"in spite of the religiou eaestness of
many an individual knight, into a comon wa of conquest
on the part of French baons."
At this point, then, the activity of St. Dominic began.
Of Visigot blood, born in Catile in 1 170, he became sub­
prior in the cathedral chapter of Osma. Accompanying
his superior, Bishop Diego, on a journey to Rome, he naturally
passed through souther France, through what may be
called the "earthquake territory." He was destined not to
return to his native land. Meeting the papal legate in 1 206
i Montpellier, he liewise met hs life's work, which he
at once embraced with wholehearted passion. Dominic
was then a man of thity-fve, and he would die at fty.
Yet these fteen yeas could ony be adequately related
i the style of an Icelandic saga.
The two Spaniads, Dominic and Bishop Diego, realized
that a temendous task awaited them. They perceived that
al prevous attempt to win back these regions for the Church
had been wong in their whole approach. Tey themselves
began the missiona work frst of al by takg the injunction
of evagelica povery seriously, and above all by taking
the heretics seriously a people sharing a comon humanity
with temselves.
Tat same year of 1206 there took place in Montea
te fst real disputation i which te Abigensians dd not
stand like defendants before thei judges but a dputant
with equal rghts. Te two paies sought the tuth according
to prear anged rules of debate, one of whch wa the following:
He who can ot prove his thesis from the Bible is to be
regarded as defeated.22
Ts disputation was the germ of te Dominican Order,
which fom the start encountered extreme distrust within
the Church. The papa legates considered this method of
missioning a foly.2s There were, to be sure, exceptional
fgures who thought otherwise. One of these was Bishop
Foulques of Toulousexceptional in many respects, for
this Foulques had once been one of the most famous trouba­
dors. Then one day he laid aside his lute, entered the
Cistercian Order together with his wife and two sons, became
an abbot, and, a year before the disputation of Montreal,
became Bishop of Toulouse. It wa he who fally obtained
recognition for the Order of Preachers fom Innocent III.
Dominc ad Bishop Diego remained i France and es­
tablished the frst community of the order. A year after
te disputation of Monteal, Bishop Diego died and Dominic
became the sole spirit behind the dynamic movement that
had so suddeny come into being. It was a movement that
altogether iitated the practices of te Abigensians! "Dom­
i's refor movement arose out of Waldensianism."24 "To
Domnic it wa clear tat Waldensianism could be conquered
ony i it valid demands were ackowledged and carried
out within the Catholic Church."25 "Like te Waldensians,
he went back to te prmtive Church."2
Dominic's point of view was only strenghened by what
he was compelled to witness, then and to the very end
of hs life, uder his very eyes: the unspeakable cruelty of
the Abigensian War. He was present at Lavaur in 1 21 1
when, after te captre of the cit, the heretics were stoned,
burned, and crucied by the hundreds. But while this
frenzy raged, the Dominican Order aose-although the
Lateran Council had just decided that no new orders were
to be conrmed. It was an order which distinguished itself
in highly revolutonary fahion from the old orders. Its
members had no stabilita loci; they lived not i isolation
but in the midst of cities. They practiced poverty in the
literal sense: the poverty of beggas (begging had hithero
been forbidden to clerics2'). Furhermore, they devoted
temselves to Bible study and science; the rles of the order
even stipulated that for the sake of study members could
be excused from canonica prayers-a dispensaton unthi­
able in the Benedictine Order.2B
But Dominic's community, which soon became known
as the Order of Preachers, was likewise distinct from the
Franciscan Order founded alost simultaneously by St.
Francis of Assisi-ven though both foundations were
a response to the same challenge. I the fst place, Dom­
inic's order was an order of priests from the sta (St.
Francis was never a priest); in the second place, it was alto­
gether unomantic in its origins, wa of rational and sober
complexion; in te third place, it did not reject culture and
science in principle (as did St. Francis). Instead, it expressly
turned its attention to the frst universities of the Wester
world. And the university students above all, as well as
their teachers, poured into the newly fouded order-a re­
makable and exciting fact.
With a harshness which perhaps only a Spaniard could
show, Dominic sent his brethen, who were just beginning
to feel at home in the communty, tramping across hal
of Europe- without resources, without a penny, and moreover
forbidden to use any form of animal tansportation-to
the university cities of Bologna and Paris. The community
in Bologna was so miserably housed that it began to disinte­
gate; several of the brothers wanted to leave and had
already obtained permission from the Church to enter the
Cistercian Order. But ten, during those frst heroic years,
altogether improbable event occurred (whose hstoricit
is not open to doubt). When, for example, the brethen were
assembled in Bologna to say farewell to those who were
leaving the fold, one of the most famous professors of
philosophy of the University of Bologna entered the room
ad i exteme excitement pleaded t be taken ito te
comunity of the order. This man was Roland of Cemona.2
He became te frst Dominican to receive a teaching chair
at the Universit of Paris. Incidentally, te second teaching
chair at Pas fel to te Dominicans in a similar untowad
manner. Te secular cleric Professor John of St. Giles was
deliverig a sermon on evangelical poverty at the Dominican
monastery of S. Jacques. I the course of the sermon he
suddenly stopped and asked for te habit of the order.
Events of ths sort could not but make a bit of a sensation
i te uversity. Aong te papers of the second general
of te Domcan Order, Jordan of Saony, we fd in
a letter fom Pas of te yea 1226: "During the fst
four week of my presence twent-one brothers entered
te order; si of these are doctors of the Faculty of Arts. "30
During te wnter semester of 1 235-36 he presided over
the iduction of seventy-two scholars. It was like a conaga­
ton. When Dominic died in 1221, exhausted by fteen
years of te most strenuous labors, tere were nuclei of
the order i Spain, France, Itay, Germany, Hungary, England,
Sweden, and Denmark-a tota of more than thir monas­
We have revewed te events and atmosphere of these
foundg years i order to understand the auspices under
whch Tomas, not two decades after te death of St.
Domic, met the Dominicans in Naples, and what his own
entrace ito te order mut have meant. Here was an
order dominat on the one hand by te passion for the
enunciation of the tth (in his fst summa, the Summa
Against the Pagan, Thomas cals tis te propositum nostrae
intentionis, te aim tat matters to us�nunciation of
truth i such a way that the truth reveals itsel as itsel
and by itsel to the opponent in particular). It other drive
was evagelica. It embodied the sae radical tendency which
had fred Peter Wado and it own founder Dominic-a radical
ret to te Bible and a renewed dedcation to the ideal
of povert. This last is an element which is aso present
i the doctrine of St. Thomas, but which i often completely
repressed. We cannot deal wth it here expressly and in
detail. But it is iportant to know that these element played
a pa i the iner le of Tomas, and have a place in
his phiosophy. "Evanglcal perfection" is a concept that
occurs many times in Thomas.s2 "Evangelical perfection
consits i te itation of Christ; but Chist wa poor
not only in his desire, but also in reality [realiter]"-this
is a sentence fom one of te polemcal paphets wtn
i behal of the voluntay poverty movement
But the Biblical element count for far more i the work
of St. Toma, though the same i not tue for scholaticism
generaly. Te Summa theologica contains thee exensive
tacts on Biblical theology,s4 which at that time wa a
innovation. It wa sometg new for Toma helf, and
a far cry fom the "systematc" theolog of the commentaries
on the Sentences. I ts Tom wa showing the iuence
of the voluntar pover movement. Toma drew upon
Biblica exple to just the icurion of the mendicant
orders into the feld of preachig and pastora care: "Tere
ae to be foud [i the pash clerg] only ver few, paucissimi,
who kow Holy Scripturealthough the proclaimer of
the Word of God must be conversat wit Holy Scripture."35
Even whie Tomas was wtg h comentary on Astotle's
Physics i te Dominican monatery of St. Jacques i
Pas, other of the same commuty were engaged on
the mighty labor of the fst Bible corection ad the fst
Bible concordace.
We stess t preoccupation with the Bible i order to
show the other end of the ac which Toma undertook
to span. Te to ends belong togther. I we consider ony
the one end, the atempt to itate the gidig iage pro­
vided by the Gospels, we woud regard Toma a only
a mendicat fria, a phenomenon of sigcac ony with
the Church. Te picture must be supplemented by the other
side of Toma: the highly realistic and secular apect of
h which ted to Aristotle. Yet we would sadly msunder­
stand what ts "Aristotelianism" (in quotation marks!) i
al about i we did not see it as pereatd and intrpenetated
by the appaently alien and even opposed element of a
stongly evangelca Chrstiaty. It is i tis lght, then,
tat we mut spea of St. Toma' encounter wt Atote.
Te intelecta dynamics of the early thiteenth centry
wa, we have said, determined chiefy by two forces, both
revolutionary and both of temendous vitalty: on the one
hand te radical evagelism of the voluntary poverty move­
ment which rediscovered the Bible and made it the guide
to Chstian doctine and Chistian life; and on the other
hand te no less ferce urge to investigate, on the plane of
pure natural phlosophy, the reaity that lay before men's
eyes. Ts latter movement i the direction of a hitherto un­
known ad novel "worldliness" found ammunition in the
complete works of Aristotle, which were at that te jut
beginnig to be discovered.
Bot movements contaied withi themselves sufcient
explosive force to shatter the whole structure of medieval
Chistianity's intelectual order. Both appeared in extemist
form-theologicaly speaking, i the form of heresies. The
remakable thing about St. Thomas, who was exposed to
these two intellectual curents whie he was still a . student
at Naples, is that he recognied and accepted the rightness
of both approache; that he idented hisel with both;
tat he a  ed both, although they seemed mutually opposed
to one another; and that he attempted to icorporate both
in hs own spiritual ad intelectua lie. The paradigatic,
the exemplay quaity of St. Thomas is, as we have said,
contaied precisely i his refual to "choose" between the
to extreme possibilties. Instead he "chose" both-and did
so not by merely tacking one onto the other in a mechanical
fashon, but by gaping and demonstrating thei inherent
compatibiity; in fact, by showing the necessity for fusing
these apparently contradctory ad mutually exclusive ap­
proaches to the word.
So far we have spoken ony of one end of the arc which
Thom undertook to span and mapulate. We have spoken
of the evangelical and Biblical element, of Tomas' casting
back to the Ecclesia primitiva-as it was represented in
the largely heretical and destuctive voluntary poverty move­
ment, and as it was subsequently tamed in the mendicant
orders. What had led Thomas into the Domincan Order
as a youthful student was, frst, hs yeang for the guiding
light of evangelcal Christianity-his love for the idea of
poverty. In the canonization trial the witnesses particularly
emphasized this: that all his life, Thomas had been a praecipuus
paupertatis amator. A telling part of the picture is the fact
that Thomas, in his restless career which kept him constantly
on the move from assignent to assignment, between Naples,
Paris, Cologne, Rome, and Toulouse, made all these journeys
on foot-just as did Albertus Magnus who, a superior
of the German chapters of the order, iposed harsh penances
upon his priors and brethen i any of them dared to use
a mount. He himself tamped through amost all of Europe,
from souther France to the aber coast of East Prssia,
and from Pas to Hungary (a feat which eaed him, a
Bishop of Regensburg, the nckname of "The Clog"). Ts
too may be added on the subject of voluntry poverty:
when Thomas wrote the Summa Against the Pagans he
did not even have enough paper at hand, and had to use
smal scraps. So at least we read i the proceedig of
the canoniation tial.1
The second thing which brought Thomas into the Order
of Preachers was his passion for teaching. Teaching does
not consist in a man's making public talks on the result
of his meditations, even i he does so ex cathedra before
a lage audience. Teaching in the real sense takes place
only when the hearer is reached-not by dint of some per­
sonal magetism or verbal magic, but rather, when the tut
of what is said reaches the hearer a trut. Real teachg
takes place ony when its ultiate result-which must be
intended from the start-is achieved: when the hearer is
"taught." And being taught is someting else again from
beig carried away, and something else again from being
dominated by another's intelect. Being taught means to
perceive that what the teacher has said is true and valid,
and to perceive why tis is so. Teaching terefore presuppose
that the hearer is sought out where he is to be found.
Thus teaching implies proceeding from the exsting position
and dipositon of te hearer. Nor ca that position be
determined abstractly in advance, or fxed once and for
all; it must be located in its own historical context, determned
concretely for what it is. The hearer's counterarguments must
be taken seriously and the elements of truth in them recognied
-for aside from the products of feeble-mindedness or
intellectual gamesmanship, there are no entirely false opinions.
The teacher, then, must proceed from what is valid in the
opinions of the hearer to the fuller and purer truth as he,
the teacher, understands it.
That is the nature of teaching as Thomas understood
it. In this procedure, therefore, the hearer has an absolute
right to "speak up," even if he does not actually take the
foor. Te teacher must give him the foor within the frame­
work of his own lecture. Here, then, is the old Socratic­
Platonic conception at work: that truth develops only in
dialogue, in conversation. This, precisely, was what Dominic
had striven for when, shocked by the violent methods being
used against the Albigensians and convinced of te utter
ftility of a merely authoritative, merely judicial mode of
establishng truth-the very opposite of "teaching"-he re­
placed interogation by dialogue between equals i the
famous disputation at Monteal.
At this point however, a terible matter must be mentioned,
one whch is diametically opposed to everything that we
have said about Dominic's and Thomas' own ethics of
teaching and the propagation of tuth. This terrible matter
is called te Inquisition. It cannot be passed over because
the Inquisition-precisely during the lfetime of Thomas
Aquinas-very directly afected the fst generations of
te Domican Order. It represents, moreover, a taint and
a disgace tat canot be wiped out by any attempts at
"historical" explanation.
It was a Domcan (Ferier) who, at te very time that
Thomas was enterig the order, set up the fst Inquisitional
tbunals i France. It was another Dominican, Rober le
Bouge, known as "the Scoundrel," who in May of the
year that Thoma arrived in Naples (1239), had one hundred
and eight Cathars, together with their bishop, bured in
Champage. Even at this ealy period Dominican mon­
asteries were stormed on this account.2 "Inquisitional trial,"
a we wel know, meant teats, coercion, application of
force-not, moreover, in wa, but in carrying out the defense
of doctries. Obviously this is the very opposite of propaga-
tion of truth by teaching, which Dominic, the founder of
the order, and Thomas Aquinas stood for.
What can we say? Naturally, it is quite impossible, within
the framework of these lectres, even to attempt a fl
account of the Inquisition. And as far as passing judgent
is concerned, I do not know whether there is anyone, even
given a full knowledge of all the facts, who would be capable
of a wholly just judgment. On the whole we must no doubt
speak of an unjustifable, feaful aberration which leaves
us horrifed and mystifed-although we understand that
such things become possible as soon as the spiritual power
joins hands with the secula power (as has happened in
the West ever since the days of Constantine). But the
perplexing aspect of this is that we also cannot wish the
two realms to have nothing whatsoever to do with one aother.
Wherever a social order, or rather te power that preseres
this social order, sees the foundations of the order shaen,
endangered not by plans for overthrow but by idea, there
looms on the horizon the possibility of an Inquisition; i
this the Middle Ages were no diferent from today, whether
we speak of modern Russia or of modern Aerica I
is plain that this is an everlasting temptation and danger.
In 1230 or 123 1 , ten yeas after the death of Domnic,
Pope Gregory I assigned to the Dominican Order, of
all instittions, the task of providing Inquisitors for the
trials of heretics. This same Dominican Order, it should be
remembered, had been founded out of awareness that the
only way to deal with the Waldensian-Abigensian movement
was for the Church itself to recognize and carry out the
heretics' justifed demands. If we wish to appraise this
papal act correctly, we must consider its connection with
a number of other matters. For it was essentialy a counter­
measure. Countering what? Countering a number of things.
In the frst place it was directed against the Emperor,
or rather against the legal practice initiated by Frederick
II, the supposedly "modern" and "liberal" Hohenstauen,
of having heretics tracked down by ofcials of the state-thus
leaving the primary condemnation of heretics to men who
were ill-equipped to deal with the problem.
Secondly, the papal ordinance was meant to counter the
vagaries of "popular feeling"-i which irational elements
have always been migled with highly rational aims governed
by private vengeance and enmities. The sources state wit
one accord that the people-ne might also say "the masses,"
i not "the mob," "the rabble"-always demanded te hash­
est, crelest measures ad would have prefered to infict
these themselves, i acts of savage lych law. lnquisitio
means investigation-and this precisely was the Pope's con­
cern: a real investigaton, a judicial procedure, instead of
outight lyching, istead of simplistic police brutalty.
When we fd one historian describing the intoduction
of the Inquisition as a "step forward in juristic theory,"3
we must understand h in this sense. At any rate, here
is a new possible explanation for the fact that the Dominicans
should have been the ones chosen for this assignment. The
itention was to put a stop to the violence of which the
Albigensians had been victims for close to thity years.
But this attempt to alleviate an evil led to fresh evils. It
led above all to something that ultimately pererted into
its opposite the original intention of the order's founder.
Thomas Aquinas, too, apparenty could not raise himself
above his times. In the Summa theologica4 he poses the
question of whether heretics can be endured, tolerated;
tat is, whether it is rght to let them go their way. And
his answer is that heretics can not be tolerated. I it wa
just to condemn counterfeiters to death (and ths is a factor
which must always be borne in mind: the general hashness
of j udicial penalties in those times), ten surely it was
necessary to put to death those who had comitted the
far worse crime of counterfeiting the faith.5 For eternal
salvation must be regarded as greater than temporal property,
and the welare of al mut be regaded a greater than
te welfare of an individual.
Tis principle, of course, says nothing about the procedure
by which guilt wa to be determined-and that was the
area of the most terrible abuses. Nevertheless, no Christan
of our own times can possibly agree with the doctor com­
munis on ths point. (ough we may well ask: On what
grounds do we fnd it impossible to agree? Obviously not
on the grounds of being a "modern" man! When we think
of the most "modern" practices in the rea of contemporary
"ideological terrorism," we fnd that we can scacely lay
clai to any moral superiorit over the Middle Ages.) Wat
is so utterly incomprehensible in the case of St. Thomas is
that in his Treatise on the Faith he states quite clearly what
i perecty obvious: No one can be forced to beleve; people
can do many things under compulsion, but the one thing
tey cannot do is believe.
As far as the procedures of investigation are concered,
there is among St. Thomas' opuscula one witten during
his last years, entitled On Secrecy. This is not, as it happens,
an essay composed by Thomas alone; it is a collection of
answers to questions, a symposium i which he participated
with seven others.
One of the questions posed was the following: Assuming
that one man accuses another of a fault which he, te ac­
cuser, alone knows of, or which he cannot prove: in such
a case may the Superior himself launch an inquiy; or
may he order the accused to tell the trth before the assembly
of the brethen; and is the accused tereby obligated to
confess his fault to the Superior?6 Let us tanspose this
question into the terminology and the atmosphere of con­
temporary investigative procedures directed at "ideologca
deviations"; and if we consider how, in East and West,
use is made of the lie detector, secret tape-recording, tel­
evision surveillance, and special drugs, we see how extremely
timely this subject of "secrecy" is in connection with tota­
itarian practices and with the whole matter of "Inquisitions. "
Let u, furthermore, view this question which was put
to St. Thomas in connection with the usual notions we have
fored of the "Inquisition" and "coercion of conscience"
in the thirteenth century. What answer would we expect
to fnd, nowadays and at that time? Certainly not, it seems
t me, the answer Thomas actually gives. It reads as follows:
"The Superior may not so order [that the accused shoud
confess] ; i he does, he sins gravely. And the accused is
not required to expose himself; rather, he may say: Let
the accuser prove what he has said; otherise I demand a
judgment [against him] for defamation. The accused may
answer something along these lines, or else he may simply
keep silent. Quia in occultis non est homo iudex, ma is
not appointed the judge of what is hidden."7 This reply
scarcely accords with the idea that this same Thoma was
an advocate of the Inquisition. I myself know no solution
to the paadox. But it is important to take note of ths
paadox. It appears all the sharper when we see how Thomas
as a writer and teacher handled the opinions of opponents.
For he shows not a trace of dictatorial or magsterial attitude.
It ca happen to anyone reading, say, the Summa Againt
the Pagans, that he will · come unsuspectingly upon a chapter
in. which Thomas expounds the arguments of the opposite
camp; if theological matters are under discussion, these
arguments may well be heretical ; yet the reader will almost
be inclied to consider the arguments irrefutable-so entirely
without bias does Thomas present them. He himself brings
to light their force with a persuasiveness which the opponent
himself might well have envied. Here Thomas completely
fulflled te dialogue character of his work, the quality
of a dialogue between persons who respect one another.
That does not mean that each opinion is right; but it does
mean that each side has the right to formulate his argument
ad that each is obligated to listen to the other. Truth must
be brought to bear in and for itsel, with its own inherent
strength, ad not by means of an adventitious force. This
special quality of St. Thomas' mode of thinking and speaking,
which is evidenced thoughout his entire works, and es­
pecially in the polemical writings, continues in pure form
the impetus which originally led to the foundation of the
Domcan Order. Ad it was Thomas' inner afity with
that drive, in addition to his decision to live a lfe of eva­
gelical poverty, that led hi to enter that order.
Now, however, it is time to speak of the second element
whch Thomas, with his tremendous powers of afrmation
ad assilation, likewise embraced. This other end of
te arc is sumed up by the name "Aristotle."
Virtualy nowhere else in the West wa it possible to
encounter Aristotle so intensely and so comprehensively
as in the city of Naples. In the frst place, Sicily, to which
Naples of course belonged at that time, had always been
a border area and transfer point between East and West.
At the court of the Noran kings, and later at te Hohen­
staufen court, foreign elements of both Greek and Arabic
origin were present in the most natural way-as neighbors
are always present in border areas. Under the Hohenstaufen
emperors the city of Palermo was a kind of translation center.
Frederick I brought the mysterious Michael Scot (Michael
Scotus) to Palero as court astrologer; and this savant,
who had been educated i Oxford, and had learned Arabic
i Toledo and already made translations from the Arabic
while still in Spain, went to work (around 1 230) translating
Averoes, the comentator on Aistotle, into Lati. He
diected a whole team of translators. It also appea that
he brought with him or recomended the Irishma Peter
of Hiberia, who subsequently became young Thomas' teach­
er. . . Te second reason why a student at the Unversity
of Naples could steep himself in the work of Aristote wa
te fact that this purely state university, which wa keenly
aware of its independence from the Church, fagrantly fouted
Rome's ofcial ban against Aristotle.
The Logic of Aristotle had been accepted textbook matter
i Wester schools since the times of Boetius. In te twelfth
century, by various adventurous routes-tanslation not
directly fom Greek into Latin, but from Arabic ito Latin,
te Arabic versions themselves restng upon Syrian tan­
lations-the works of Aristotle dealig wth nata phil­
osophy, together with his books on metaphysics, ethc,
and psychology, became kown in the West almost all
at once. This meant a good deal more than the addition
of a few books to the curriculum. Suddenly a totaly new,
rounded, coherent view of the world wa pited agaist
another more or less coherent taditiona view.
What added to the excitement wa tat these novel Ars­
totelian idea were not entirely strange. Sometg had been
gestating wthin Western Chstendom of the second m­
lennium and was practically on the verge of seeing te
light-a view of the universe and life that greaty resembled
the Aristotelian viewoint. This felow Arstotle "suted"
Wester Christendom of around 1200 uncannly well; he
ofered to the Christan world the possibity of understanding
itself. And so the result is not too surprsing: ths new tg,
"like a wildly roaring torrent" (a Grabman, who is icled
to avoid exaggeration and is usua  y ver temperate i
his phraeology, expresses it), threatened t sweep away
the dams and levees of tadition.s Nor is it sursing tat
some men should have been concered, afraid tat the co
herence of tadition might be shattered by the assaut of
radicals infatated by the new ideas. It is perfectly uder­
standable tat in their concern for the totality of tth tei
frst act should have been a defensive one. After al, it
wa too much to expect that any man would emerge with
te enorous powers of assimilation needed to establish
some kind of "co-existence" between te new doctrines,
no matter whether they were a touand te t ad
vad, and te Old Trt.
I must be said that the ecclesiastical warnings, restrictions,
and prohibitions were a hopeless business from the start;
and it appeas that the ecclesiastical authorities were not
entirely unaware of this. There is something strangely lack­
adaisical about these ordinances, which were only spottily
enforced. The University of Toulouse, for example, though
also an ecclesiastical institution, in its eforts to recruit stu­
dents openy advertised that in Toulouse it was permissible
to do what was forbidden in Paris-that is, to study Aistotle.9
The result of this publicity, however, was that in 1 245 the
ban against Aristotle was expressly extended to Tououse.
The yea 1 245 was the same yea that Thomas set out
for Pas; he had aleady completed his studies of Aistotle
at Naples. And in Paris, despite the persistence of the ban,
Aristotle was unquestionably in the curiculum. We possess
Thomas' own copies, dating from his frst year of study
under Abers Magnus, of lectres on Aristotle's Nico­
machean Ethics. I 1263 Rome issued a reiteration of
the prohbition of Aristotle. But in St. Thomas' frst book,
De ente et essentia, written almost ten years before (1254),
the frst chapter opens with a quotation from the Meta­
physics. Moreover, Aristotle is not quoted as just any author,
but is alluded to by his honora title of "the Philosopher."
At tis same period Albert was witing his great com­
mentar on Aristotle-"under the eyes of the popes,"
Grabman says;to probably this means in defance of the
popes. I confess that I do not fully understand how this
state of af airs was possible, either for the popes or for these
wholly papal-minded monks. It is also bafing that, as Grab­
mann says, the comentaries on Aistotle by Albert and
Thomas "practicaly abrogated"11 the Church's rling. Prob­
ably such inconsistencies refect the historical cross-cur­
rents: on the one hand the elementary process of assimiating
Aistotle was begun and concluded within the span of barely
a generation; on the oter hand the Church took under­
standable and no doubt necessary measures to presere the
contiuit of tadition in spite of te new ideas coming to
the fore.
I 1366, when te papal legates once more sureyed the
cur iculum and examination schedules of the University
of Paris, they isisted that any candidate for the academic
degree of Licentiate i Philosophy at Paris must be familia
wit a  te work of Aistotle. Ad ts obtaed deep
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The simple fact is that those who have dubbed Tomas with
the epithet "Aistotelian" have not ht the mark. Tis is
the reaon why the frst moder eforts to open up the world
of St. Thoma-which date from about 1 89(failed. Yet
they etablshed an iage of Thomas whiCh prevailed for
a long time-an iage which has in fact prevailed to the
present day. One of the frst complete systematic accounts
of St. Thoma' baic philosophical idea, a book which serves
as a txt even now, bears the ttle Elementa philosophiae
But why should it seriously matter to us today, after seven
hundred years, beyond our interest in the purely historical
aspects of the subject, that Thomas wa "the founder of
the Christian Aistotelianism of the Middle Ages"?
it was not for this aone that Thomas ha been pronounced
the doctor communis of Chistendom.
But to repeat-fom a purely historical point of view,
too, it is a misinterpretation of what really happened to
iagine that young Thomas trned to Aistotelianism because
it had become modish and that he thus became an "Aris­
totelian." This notion literaly obstructed any real under­
standing of Thoma for decadess-until i recent years
it was energeticaly pointed out that Plato too, Augustine
too, the Neo-Platonist Dionysius Areopagita too, are ver
much present and efective in the work of St. Tomas, and
that Thomas hisel was not unaware of their presence.
Thomas frequently defends Plato against Aristotle; he points
out that Astotle, i his polemics, often did not consider
the substance of what Plato said, the veritas occult a, 4
but only the superfcial phrasing, the sonus verborum. 5
The doctrie of Ideas, te conception of the Creation as
following prototpes living within the divine Logos6-this
centra Platonic concept was somethg that Thoma never
abandoned. Ad a tally of the works of St. Tomas bas
trned up almost seventeen hundred quotations fom Di­
onysius Areopagita.
Tis wl astonish only those who regad intelectual history
as a succession of "isms" that replace one anoter. But
of couse it is not so. In the history of Wester thought
Plato, for example, could never be "displaced" or replaed
by Aristotle;7 i fact, the former was never an obstcle i
te way of the latter. Gilson bas convincingly demonstated
tat. Te Chstian West's encouner with Plato, a it took
form during te fst milennium, was wholy df erent i
stcture fom its encounter with Aristotle. Te encounter
with Plato was a encounter of to religious modes of
tougt; but the encounter with Aristotle was te encouter
btween relgon and philosopby.s
Te question, then, is what it meant to Tomas when
he ted to Aristotle.
We fnd Toma gvig us ever new shade of te f­
damenta Aristotelian position. Aristotle, be says, refses
to witdraw fom the realities present to the senses, refses
to be distacted fom those tgs that ae evdent to
the eyes. 9 And Tomas hself emphatcaly accepted ts
principle. Here was the decisive t to concreteness, to
the empiica realit of the world. Tose tgs evdent to
the sense, which can be seen, bead, tasted, smeled, ad
touched, are to be ten as realities i thei own rgt, stand­
ing on thei own gound-not as mere refections, shadows,
not as mere sybols of something else, sometg ivsible,
spirtual, oterwordly. Te visible, and sight itself, te per­
ceptions of the senses ad the power of percepton-a 
tat is now a  e ad acknowledged to be valid i itelf.
Which means tat the physical world of materal reait,
within man hisel also, the body, the sense and what
the senses gasp- is all to be taken seriously i a man er
hthero unknown.
Several reaons can be ofered a to why te world vew
of Aristotle, above al his theories of nature, his teories
of the human soul, and his metaphysics, should have made
the conquest tey did. One reason, of course, i te i­
mediately obvious intelectual superiorit of thei proponent
Wen a new idea emerges which explais ad ilumates
phenomena better than earler ideas, it exers a irresistible
force. And Aistote wa ater all not just some wter who
had sigfcant things to say. Aristotle was like a phenomenon
of nature: a personication of intellectual energy of el­
ementa power, within whose feld of radiation fundamenta
problems and situation seemed to be clarifed of thei own
accord. Tis bas been said again and again in various ways.
"Te intelect in its highest manifestation," says Goethe of
him.1o Ad John Henry Newman: "He has told us the meaning
of our own words and idea, before we were born. In
many subject matters, to think correctly is to think like
Aristotle."ll It is quite understandable that around 1 200,
men in te West should decide that God had imparted to
the geat Greek some of His own wisdom, had endowed
him with maculous powers, and at last had taken him to
Hiself in a pillar of light.l2 But it need scarcely be said
that nothig of ths sort is to be found in Thomas. For
Thomas wa anything but a participant in the "excessive
cult of Aristotle"lS which had become a fad in his time.
Grabmann remarks that he has found no evaluations of
Aristotle at al in the works of Tomas. 14 This very restraint
to be sure, is in keeping with the Aistotelian style.
We have aeady suggested a second reason for the fascina­
tion exerted by the works of Aistotle. In the bosom of
Wester Christendom of the second millennium a world
view wa aeady preparing, independently, which was much
akin to the Aristotelian world view, an element that quickly
made comon cause with the other. This element arising
of its own accord in Western Christendom has been called
the "Hobenstaufen spirit." The whole era of the Hohen­
staufens, it has been said, must be understood as a rebellion
against the old Augstinian-Cluniac doctrine of the i­
feriority of te natural world-that is, againt contempt for
the world. "The whole of the courtly, chivaric culture re­
stores its due to te world and the bere-and-now."15 Te
same autor states that Thomas Aquinas' Aistotelian cos­
mology was literally "the subsequent philosophical justifca­
tion for the attitude which Hohenstaufen poetry and the
Hobenstaufen spirit had long since assumed."16 This statement
is probably far too simplistic, where it is not downright
wrong. We ca  ot say that older Christendom was identied
absolutely with "contempt for the world. " On the other
hand it is tue tat Albertus Magnus, a Swabian nobleman,
was related by blood to the Hohenstaufens; and we have
aleady mentoned tat Tomas lewise was closely con-
nected with Hohenstaufen circles through his father and
brother, who were among the courers of Frederick I.
But probably we must say that the poetry, the spirit
and the philosophy all together were rooted i some deeper
soil-soil i whch religious convictons ae also fored.
Tere is much to be said for Chenu's conjecture: that what
Aristotle brought so vividly to light for the mds of those
decades, ad what they primaily saw i his work, wa not
so much natural reaon a nature itself, te natal realty
of the universe.l7 This element, evidently, wa what so
powerfully agtated and faciated the ''younger generation."
I have mentioned that the University of Toulouse for a
time recrited students by advertising tat te study of
Aristotle wa permitted tere, tough banned i Pais.
A it happens, we possess the text of one such bit of prop­
aganda whch expresly mentions the Physics of Aristotle:
"The books on nature, libri naturales, which ae forbidden
i Paris, ae available to anyone here who has the wil
to penetate more deeply ito the inermost heat of nate."18
Thoma hsel, in his fst geat work, te Summa Agant
the Pagans, put it tis way: the theological point of view
doe not consider fe "as such," isofar as it is :re, but
isofar a the sovereignty of God is repreented in it and
isofar as it i i some sense refered to God.19 (T i,
as I have said, an early deftion of theology; later Thoma
phraes it d  erenty.) Such denaturalization of the natural
world sooner or later had to become itolerable; it is siply
impossible to live a healthy and humaa life i a world pop­
ulated exclusively by symbols. Ad by aoud 1200 te
moment had come for Chritendom, out of what may be
tered a purely vital reaction, to gow sick ad tred of
seeing ad denominatig the world in that way. What te
telfth century lacked, ad craved, wa the concrete realty
beneath this world of symbols.
o It wa altogether logica
tat i the midst of the Chistian West itelf ts irrepressible
longing for the had metal and the resistt substce of
"real realty," so long submerged, mut at lat burst forh
a a mighty, may-voiced, and enthusiastic assent towad
te Aristotelian cosmology, a soon a tat whole complex
of ideas about the universe hove i sight.
I have said that theology ad philosophy here encoutered
one another-philosophy in the sense that Thoma defed
it i that chapter of te Summa Againt the Pagan
as a mode of seeing things as they are in themselves, secun­
dum quod huiusmodi sunt: fre as fe and not as a mere sym­
bol of divine sovereignty. What emerged in this ealy Ars­
totelianism was a completely elementa outburst of "world­
liness," antagonistic toward the spiritualistic symbolism which
had hitherto govered the tone of Christian cosmolog and
biolog. And as wa very soon to become apparent, that
worldliness was naturally linked with the peril of complete
Such, then, was the situation which Thomas found around
1240 at the Universit of Naples-or rather, in whose midst
he could not forbear to plunge. And the magnifcent part
of it all is that be succeeded in uniting this heart worldliness
with the radicality of the evangelical spirit, which has always
rather tended toward negation of the world, or at least
towad unworldliness.
Sure enough, the charge of worldliness was soon raised
by conservative Christians. "They arogated to themselves
divine wisdom, although worldliness is far more native to
their mnds"-so we may read in a polemic against Thomas
and Albert. Whereupon Thomas responded: "They hold
a plainly fase opinion who say that in regard to the trth
of religion it does not matter what a man thinks about the
Creation so long a he has the corect opinion concering
God. An eror concerng the Creation ends a false thnkng
about God.
In such a sentence as this Toma maes plain that
he was not reacting simply out of instinct, however much
be may have been in the sway of the "Hobenstaufen spirit."
It was not in the spirit of chivalry that he found the symbolic
deconcretization of the world of sense intolerable; it was
as a theologian tat Thomas cast his choice for te world­
lness represented by the works of Aistotle. What is truly
exciting about this choice is the reason Thomas gives for
it. His trnig to Aristotle was a process of recognition,
not of "acceptance" of something foreign, Greek and "pagan."
In Aistotle's fundamenta attitude toward the universe,
in his afmation of the concrete and sensuous reality of
the world, Thoma recognized something entirely his own,
belonging to himself as a Christian because it had been
present from the very beginnings of Chistianity. To put
it in a nutshell, this element wa the same a the Chitia
afmation of Creation.
We shall have to discuss this point frther: that the recep­
tion of Aistotle in the thirteenth century was not merely
the result of "a choice between rval philosophies," but was
a theological act, the work of a theology in fll possession
of its faith2S (though also a theolog tat had not yet become
a mere specia branch of scholarship jeaously fencing of
it particula area) ; the action of a theology which was not
yet sepaated from the world, its condtions, its perspectives,
its procedures, its culture.
4 We shal, I say, discuss tis
later. At this point in our considerations the chief ting
is to realize as vividly as possible what it sigifes that
Thomas, whie still a young man, accomplished so unique
a task: that of joining these two apparently incompatible
decisions (or the "Gospel" and for "Astotle") and creating,
intellectually and existentially, a foundation upon which
the whole orderly stcture of te Christian world view
could be raised, a structure which contiues to sere us
to this day, and seems to have a timeless durability. For
Thomas, bot decisions signied a turing point in his life.
And he adhered to both decisions to the day of his death.
Even towad te close of his life, in 1 270, he published a
polemic glorfying the evangelical ideal of the Dominican
Order. He dd not begin his comentaies on the writings
of Aristotle until the last decade of his le (aound 1 266),
and when he fally ceaed writing, a number of these com­
mentaies were left uncompleted.
A few more remaks ae in order, to cast light on the
sigifcance of ths lielong concentration upon Aristotle.
Tis endless quoting from and comentng on Aristotle
did not mean that Thoma regaded Astotle a the absolute
autority. And the uual talk about "iuences" and "de
pendenc, " i which history books aboud, misses the point
completely. Yet what do the tousands of quotations from
Arstotle i the works of St. Thoma (in the fst twelve
quaestiones of te Summa theologica there ae ft-fve
such quotations) mean i not tat he regaded Aristote
a an authority?
Let u remember that a quotation can have severa ues.25
It can be mere ornament-when, for example, its diction
is specially elegant. It can be intended historicaly. But
it is not for either of these reasons that the Communists,
say, cite Karl Marx-although in ths ream, too, there ae
ite nuaces: protecton, camouage, decepton provoca-
tion. In the main, however, the Communist world cites
Karl Marx a an authorit. In oter words, something is
tue because Ma said it. We contend tat St. Thomas does
not cite Aristotle in this sense. But what, you may well
ask, is the meaning of the constantly recurring formula:
"As the Phiosopher [Aristote] says," or sicut patet per
Philosophum? Is not the implication: "He" sad it and tere­
fore it is true?
The answer is no- it does not mean that. Sicut patet
per Philosophum must be rendered: as has been made clear
by Aristotle. Not because it is Aristotle who said it, but be­
cause he said it in a way that thows light on the problem­
that is why it is so. (he fact that the "he" is Aristotle is,
to be sure, no accident.) It is so because it is tre. A writer
who quotes in this maner is not really quoting an authorit;
he is not ting himself to the author's apron stings. On
the other hand he does not hesitate to cite an author i
it seems to him that this author is right and has contrived
to express te tth in exemplary fashion. He taes the
liberty of concurring with someone who, he beleves, has
told the truth.
I do not deny that there are also a great many quotations
from Aristotle in Thomas whch ae intended solely as
ornament, or even as confmations of the sant's own ex­
position. But what I do venture to asser is this: Tomas
never present a quotation from Aristotle with the iplication
that the statement is valid because Aristotle made it. Thomas
very often takes issue with some opinion of Aristotle's.
He never assumed that the doctrine of Aristote was in­
vaiably compatible wt Chstian doctne. This attitude
was quite prevaent aong medieval Aristotelians; Tomas
himself was never of this number; we fnd hm speaking
of "those who vay endeavor to prove that Aristote said
nothg against the fath. ."26 But above and beyond
al tat, a is wel known, Thomas stated outight that
the argment from autority is, in itself and quite generally,
te weakest of al aguments.27 To attempt to prove somethig
on the basis of autority is to prove nothg, he says.2
We have, however, not quoted tese sttements in context.
Tomas quafes tem. The argument from authorit, he
says, is the weaest agument insofa a human knowledge
i i question; where it bais is divine revelation, it pos-
sesses supreme power.29 Thus Thomas fully ackowledges
the authority whose word is valid because it comes from
this source, irespective of whether we are able to check
on its tuth and valdity. Al te tadition leads back to
this superhuman source; the traditum, what ha been handed
down, is valid because it ultiately derives from the Word
of God.B0 This very acceptance of an absolutely valid au­
thorit and an absolutely valid tadition, tis very restriction,
makes for freedom and an unbiased attitude toward al
other hstoricaly encounterable "taditions" and authorities,
whether their naes happen to be Aristotle or Max or
Heidegger or St. Thomas. Philosophca agments, Thomas
says,B1 are valid "not because of the autority of those who
state them, but because of the reasonng of what is stated,"
non . propter auctoritatem dicentium, sed propter ra­
tionem dictorum.
There is something else closely connected with ts:
namely, that Thomas in hs lifelong labors of interpreting
Aristotle was ultiately not concered with the hstorical
author named Aristotle, nor with a accurate reconstuction
of his doctine. This last statement must at once be clarifed,
lest it be misunderstood. It is te that Thomas endeavored,
in a maner highy unusual for te tirteenth century, to
discover Aristotle's rea meaning. His comentaries on
Aristotle remai to tis day among the few congenia com­
mentarie whch tuly cast light upon Aristotle's doctrines­
this in spite of te mediocre tanslations upon whch Thoma
had to rely, ad atough he helf scacely knew Greek,
and although, i te case of the Metaphysics, he had no
inling that the book was not planed as a unit ad cast
in one mold, as it were, but was a mscelaneous collection
of very diferent pieces. Nevereless, te ultiate intent
of St. Thoma' interpretation of Aristotle aimed at something
beyond Aristotle. "He sticks to hs text, it is tue, and he
wants to understand it-but not as a scholar who indulges
in the historica reproduction of a system belonging to
the pat; rather, as a seeker, who wishes to fnd i it a
witness for the tuth."
What interests Thomas in Aristotle, ten, is not Aistotle,
but the truth. He is not primaily concered with "what
others have thought"-this is hs own phraseology, and to
be found, moreover, in a comentary on Aistotle whch
yet obviously aims at fnding out what Aistotle did think.33
For ultimately he i iterested not i what Aristote tought
but in "how the trut of things stands."34 Naturaly this
does not mean that Thomas considered it possible or per­
missible to falsify the rea meaning of Aristote where, say,
it runs counter to Christian doctrine, or even to conceal
that meaning. This last was, for exaple, seriously proposed
by Bonaventura. 35 Because of Aristote's geat iuence,
he argued, ay fase elements in Aristotle's teachings ought
to be passed over i silence. In contrast, Thomas advocated
the followg course: We wil say tat Aistotle teaches ex­
actly what he does teach; but we wil determine whether
he realy teaches it, and above all we will not conclude from
the mere fact that he taught it that it is tue. "Even if
it contradicts the tuth, te intentio Aristotelis, what Aristotle
meant, ought not to be concealed," he says.36 Ad he adds:
"Incidental y, I do not see tat the manner in whch one
iterpret the sentences of te Philosopher ought to have
anything to do with the doctrine of faith."
To be sure, Thomas would never have concurred with
the opinion of a contemporary of his who ca with justice
be ca ed a "Aistotelian," his coleague at the University
of Paris, Siger of Brabant. Siger maintained that one must
"rather seek to discover the meaning of the Philosopher
tan the tuth."37 "The medieval philosophers were . • not
interested in Greek philosophy in purely historical ters.
• • . The historica Aistotle was for them only the tt
whch he himself derived from his principles, not also
te tt whch h principles were capable of sutaning.
The historica Aistote was for them Astotle in a 
hs gradeur, but ao wit al his ltations. The same
was true for Plato. The medieva philosophers, in studying
Aristotle ad Plato, wished to know a  tose thngs ad
only those things which were tue. Where the truths of
these philosophers were not complete, they asked temselves
how to complete them."38
Tere i a enorous diference between this attitude
and that usua  y held nowadays and which we consider
te sole possible ad responsible attitude toward "sources."
For the student especially, tat dif erence is of vital i­
porace. Anyone who ask Tomas his opinion receives
a reply which makes perfectly clear what he, Thomas, con­
siders to be the tuth-ven when h reply is couched i
the form of a quotation from Aristotle. But if we are asked
our opinion, we reply with historically documented quotations
which may reveal a good many things-for example, how
widely read we are-but fail to reveal one thng aone:
what we ouselves hold to be te tt.
Thomas, then, did not regard Aistotle prmarily as a his­
torical author, any more than he so regaded Augustine
or Dionysius Areopagita. He considered them a witnesse
for the tuth which revealed itsel though them, both to
himself and, he hoped, to his reader (not only of the Summa
theologica but also of the commentaies on Aistotle) ; trth
whose validit is established out of itsel and by virtue of
it own objective arguments. "I te teacher answers a
question with mere citations, nudis auctoritatibus, then
the listener wil depa empt-haded, auditor • • • vacuus
abscedet."l Inofa as philosophing is in question, a his­
torical author is not of primary interest, even i his name
is Aistotle; of primary interest i the tuth of the matter
at hand.
Thus Thoma examines the texts of Aristotle-whch
he attempts to iluminate in voluminous commentaies;
but he siultaeously examines somethng beyond the his­
torica Aristotle. And he follows preciely te sae procedure
with St. Augustine. There is only one text that he treats di­
ferently: Holy Scripte, which a the divine Word holds
absolute authorty for h and is the highest conceivable
expression of objective truth. The thing that is sought "beyond"
Aistotle and Augustine, a the mater tat is really of
iterest-namely, the tuth of the objectve world-is pre­
cisely what is embodied in Holy Scrpture. In saying this
Thomas by no means contends that it is easy to grap the
meaning of te speech of God a it is made audible i
tis document of revelation.
Once, when Thoma was attempting to refute a text
from Augustine, whch he had hmself cited as a possible
antithesis to hs own thinkg, he couched his toughts
in a manner memorable both historically and dialecticaly.
He expla hs point of view i a sigle sentence: ut
profundius intentionem Augustini scrutemur et quomodo
se habeat verita circa hoc. On the one hand, that is, he
is unwilling to rest content with the literal sense of the words;
he looks behind the text for the author's intentio, which
is to be gasped at a deeper level. On the other hand, ad
above all, however, he wants to grasp te truth as his author
ha formulated it. I this special case, what happens is
that Thomas pursues the deeper ramifcations of his own
opinion, which at frst glance seems so far removed fom
the thesis of Augustine, until it becomes apparent tat
the diferences have lost importance. They are not obliterated,
but: non multum refert, "it does not matter much" whether
one replie a Augustine does or as Thomas himself does.
Dealg with Augtine or Aristotle in this way, concerning
onesel with them not primarily as historical authors but
as witesses for the tuth-possibly witnesses of genius,
but nevertheless not the embodiment of "truth" itsel-such
dealing "unistoricaly" with these witers is simultaneously
the truly fuitful way to deal with them so that they afect
living history. By such an approach the impulse which mo­
tivated Augtine or Aristotle himsel, 'd continued to
operate withn him, is kept alive-whereas the purely his­
torical approach forever runs the risk of removing te text
or autor under discussion fom the realm of immediacy,
from living, intellectual tmeliness, and consigning it or
h to the realm of the museum, or mere hstorica interest.
But for Thomas, Aristotle would no longer speak to
our intelect, sine Thoma mutus esset Aristoteles-this
could be said at the begining of the Modern Age, which
wa govered more by te hstoric
l relationship in itself.3
Te statement is of more timely concer to us at te present
moment tan may at fst appear. Wo can say whether
we would kow anything about Aristotle today, whether
we would understand him, whether we would be capable
of utig h methods of iluminating reality, i it had not
been for the special way in which the High Middle Ages
received Aistotle, putng primary emphasis upon the trut
to be found in h. "The Middle Ages owes an immeasurable
debt of gatitude to the Greek-veryone speaks of that;
but the Greeks ae lkewise idebted to te Middle Ages­
and no one speaks of that. "4
It is not my intention to gloss over the dubious aspect
of such unstorical dealing with historical phenomena.
But it would be a great mistake to assume that a man like
Thomas was acting out of uncritical, "medieval" naivete
and failed to perceive the special historica quality of Augus­
tine or Aristotle. It was not that; rather, he had taken the
position, on frm principle, that this quality was of less
imporance than the question of truth in what these authors
said. In fact, Thomas had a capacity for historical criticism
to an extent highly unusual among his contemporaies-that
emerges more than once in his work. The Liber de causis,
so famous in the Middle Ages, was long considered a work
of Aristotle's until Tomas, submitting it to literary criticism,
discovered that it was in fact a compendium from Proclus.5
Consider also the mind of a man who in the middle of
the thirteenth century could say of the then current astro­
nomical theories: The fact that the phenomena can be ex­
plained in this way is no proof of the truth of these theories,
for possibly the same phenomena might be explained in
a wholly diferent way, as yet unkown to men: secundum
. alium modum nondum ab hominibus comprehensum. 6
A mind like this can scarcely be called uncritical !
One more brief comment on the subject of "Thomas and
Aristotle" is needed. I have said that in accepting Aistotle's
outlook on the world Thomas was not appropriating some­
thing alien, but recognizing something of his own. This
is also true in the sense of a deep temperamental afity
between the two thinkers. This afnity explains something
that would otherwise be scarcely understandable: that
Thomas had an infallible scent for the real meaning of
Aristotle, even when the text before him was unclear or
distorted.7 Thomas himsel analyzed this phenomenon, seem­
ingly so moder, s in the following manner: There are two
basic forms of kowing; on the one hand knowing on te
basis of kinship of nature, per connaturalitatem, as a man
recognies his beloved or what is his own. The stranger does
not understand, or misunderstands, but one who is allied
with another in love and congeniality knows immediately,
and with absolute certainty, what is meant in a fragment
of a letter or a dimly heard call. And on the other hand,
says Thomas, there is the cognoscere per cognitionem,
a knowing of what is alien, an abstract, conceptional, me­
diate kowing of the mere object.
Nevereless, i spite of his patent connaturalitas with
Aristotle, Thomas does not release himsel from the obliga­
tion to scrutinize the words as they stand with te utmost
exactitude and keenness-in this regard difering considerably
from Albertus Magnus, who took a far more cavalier atitude
toward the text. In fact Albert's condence in his natural
afnity to Aistotle frequently led him to take ipermissible
lberies in his interpretation. Albert would sometimes claim
outright to know what Aristotle would have said about
specic questions if he had dealt with them. He went so
far as to say: "We will even supplement the missing par
of his incomplete books-wheter tese ae missing because
Aristotle did not write them or because they have not come
down to us. "9 Thomas would never have alowed hsel
so rash a statement.
His mind already marked by these two decisions-the en­
trance into the Dominican Order and his study of Aistotle
-Thoma arived in Paris aound 1245, at the age of twent.
At the time he had been compelled to leave Monte Casino
for Naples, be bad already come out of seclusion and into
the hubbub of a zone of battle: into a city and a university.
But Naples had been only a prelude. Paris was not just
any city; it was "the capital of Chistendom."10 And te
University of Paris, though not the earliest, bad long been
te most important of the academies of the Wester world.
It is, of course, ipossible within the framework of
tese lectures even to sketch te general outines of the
phenomenon comprised within the word "
iversity," or
to attempt to tell its history. Nevertheless, certain iportant
points must be recaled.
Point one: The university, in the sense of a corporation,
wa not a hierachical istittion. The name universita
appears for the fst tie in a papal document of 1 208-9.
Its signifcance was at fst sociological, though it very soon
acquired an "intellectual" meaning. In its sociological sense
the word denoted the assemblage, the union, the "guild,"
the totality, the public, legal body of teachers and student.
The second meaning likewise seems to have been in force
very early: universitas litterarum, totality, comprehensive
whole of the sciences, above all
f the four faculties of
theology, philosophy (artes), jurisprudence, and medicine.
Te university, then, was not a herachical instituton.12
The Church had, it is true, assigned plenipotentiay powers
to it. Ad of course the Pope, through his chancellor, exerted
a powerful infuence upon it, especially in the case of the
Universit of Paris. (It is wong to speak of "interference"
in this case; in a sense the Pope was simply chez luila
at the university-in his own house; for the university's
autonomy from local and regional politcal authorities rested
upon papal privieges.) Nevertheless, the university was not
simply an organ itegrated into the hierarchical framework
of the Church, lke a cathedral chapter or a monastic order.
That was someting new in the West, and it was destined
to remai somethng distinctively Occidental, one of the
characterstics of Wester Chistendom. The Chistian East,
the Eater Orthodox Church, knows no such phenomenon.
In the East it was inconceivable that a corporate body should
exst, lie the magistri of te theologcal faculty taken as
a whole, who possessed frm authorit in matters of Chistian
doctrine (though in a way difcult to comprehend and to
describe) without being clearly integated into the eccle­
siastical hierarchy. The situation was pregnant with pos­
sibilties of confict from the start. But the explosive factors
were the same as those already inherent in the movement
known a "scholatcism"-inherent, in fact, in the Western
mnd as such, and distinctively characteristic of it.
Incidentaly, this authority of magistri had existed even
before there were ay universities in the precise sense of
the word. When, for example, King Henry II of England
was unable to come to an agreement with Thomas Becket,
the Achbishop of Canterbury, he proposed to lay the dispute
before the communit of Parisian magistri. That was in
1 169-a generation before the foral establshent of
the Unversit of Paris.
Poit two: The medieval university was by its nature
an istitton for the whole of Christendom. In practice
it was as a rule resticted to the West, but in principle it
was open to the entire Christian world. This is a fact highy
remarkable in itself, especialy in comparison to the present­
day uversity. Whether a man studied or taught at Oxord,
Bologa, Paris, Toulouse, Cologne, or Naples, he always
remained within the intellectual realm of the Christian West
and had no dif culties eiter of language or of communica­
tion. Here was a circumstance whose ramifcations were
more tha merely political or social.
Point thee: The medieval university stood in the curent
of urban life. This at frst glance purely sociological fact
had a great dea to do with its intellectua vitality. Chenu
comments: The "Anselm pupils" were transformed into
"Abelad pupils."14 The pupils of Anselm-although they
too had asked thei prior to wite them a theology in which
not a single agment would be taken from the Bible-were
novices, pupils of the monastic school, living in the seclusion
of the Seine valey, provided for by the Abbey of Le
Bee, which drew its wealth from landed property. Te
pupils of Abelad were an entirely dif erent social tpe.
Tey were the singers of the carmina burana, so to speak;
they were itinerants moving from one urban university
to te next, freely joiing together in "nations," terorizing
the citizens of the city and often thei professors as well­
and so on. The decisive fact about tem was thei urba
stamp, which took the form of a new seculaity, an emphatc
independence of feudal lords, a new sense of freedom.
From the beginng of the thirteenth century on, al
the witings on theology and philosophy no longer cae
out of abbeys and monastic schools-although, of course,
the old monastic orders still existed and now and then pro­
duced a masterfl piece of work. On the whole, however,
scholarly lterature henceforth was created in the uni­
versities. And when te old monastic orders attempted to
raise their studies to te level of the age, they had to leave
the cloisters. 15 I the year in which Thomas arived in
Pais, the Abbot of Citeaux in that city founded a college
for his monks, and te Benedictines soon followed his ex­
ample. . On the other hand, te ealy presence of the
mendicant frias at the universities is obviously directly
connected with the other fact that these young moderns,
as associations of preachers, were desious of living i
cities-and incidental y could only live tere, for there was
not much sense in begging in the wild woods. On the other
hand: "It may even be asserted tat begging aone a  orded
them access to the geat cities."
To these three characteristics of te medieval university
i general-thei mediate position beteen te ecclesiastical
hierarchy and free societies; their chaacter as educational
istitutions for the whole of Wester Christendom; thei
urban stamp-we must add a fou poit which concerns
te Universit of Pais in particuar.
A I have said, the University of Paris became the most
iportant uversity in the West shortly after its establishment
around 1 200. There ae generally a variety of reasons and
causes for such a development, not all of which can be
traced or even naed. But in any case, the University of
Paris became the most representative of the medieval uni­
versities because, aong other things, it was founded in
the purest and most radical way upon those branches of
kowledge which are "universal" by their own nature:
theology and philosophy. No sepaate branch of knowledge
formally poses the question: Wat is the character of reality
as a whole? But theology and philosophy not only cannot
dodge tis question; they spring directly from it. Thus it
is not in the least surprising that the character of the uni­
versita litterarum was originally achieved in its pure form
neither in Bologna, where jurisprudence was the central
subject of studies ad teaching, nor in Salerno, where med­
icine was foremost. Oxord too achieved that character
only within limits, for from the beginning empirical science
and mathematics dominated there. In the case of Paris,
however, we know that the two points aound which the
life of the university crystallied were theology and phil­
osophy. Curiously enough, they so strongly colored the
whole atmosphere of the university that an element which
might be considered inseparable from that city seems to
have been extinguished-the artistic element. Thus, a kind
of student almanac published in 1241 expressly complans
tat the Muses in Paris have fallen silent.17
Te Universit of Paris in the thirteenth century, then,
took te lead in philosophical and theological examination
of the world, thereby achieving a sort of supremacy. There
was, says Deni:e, not a single summa of the Middle Ages,
not a single doctrine of reality that attempted to deal for­
mally with the totalit of the universe, which did not derive
from Paris.1B And it wa, I think, not a case of mere local
patriotism that medieval Paris touted itself as a new Athens.
My feeling is tat this continuity-from Plato to Thomas
Aquias, let us say-is not an unhistorical construction,
and that te notion of the translatio studii, the transplantation
of the Platonic Academy to the city of the paadigmatic
medieval university, is not a mere fction.19
Around 1 245, ten, twenty-year-old Thomas Aquina
cae to te University of Paris, fst of al a a leaner.
Later, as one of it greatest teachers, he would represent
i exemplary fahion the unversalty of ts Academy of
te Chstia West.
The decision in favor of evangelical perfection on the one
hand and of Aristotle on the other hand wa probably taken
by Thoma with utmost deliberation. He no doubt knew
very well what he was doing; his decision was the outcome
of a sigle, unitary view of reality. It still remained for
him, however, to formulate this view with clarity, to prove
te compatibility of the theological and philosophical ways
of considering the world. He had to provide good grounds
for his fusion of an extremely "theological"-that is, Biblical
-theology and a equally exteme "phosophical" phi­
But i this wa te task Toma had to set for himself,
there was no other place in the entire Western world which
ofered the young man of twenty more favorable conditions
for his own development than the University of Paris.
Here te most important teachers were located, the most
militant partners i debate, the most radical opposition;
here was chalenge, creative resistance, and im ediate res­
onance. It is no great exaggeration when Chenu says that
Thomas is iconceivable anywhere but at te University
of Paris: Paris est son lieu natureJ.
The truth of the mater is, however, that te University
of Pais received ver badly indeed its later most celebrated
teacher. It refused to admit him to the faculty; it forbade
attendance at his inaugural lecture-and so on. It must
be added that these difculties did not really have anything
to do with Thomas, with h as an individual or with his
intellectual position. Rather, they were an episode in a
larger quarel which has gone down in histor under the
name of the "Mendicant Controversy."2 As the name sug­
gests, it had to do with the resistance encountered by the
fst generations of the mendicant orders, a resistance from
within Christendom and i fact from with te ecclesiastca
hierarchy. In Paris the disagreement at frst took the form
of a struggle for teaching chairs, but it gradually developed
ito a struggle over doctrines-in which a wide spectrum
of arguments and motives played teir part.
It may virtually be taken for granted that a revolutionay
movement which had risen up out of criticism of the existing
state of a  airs ("things cannot go on this way" more or
less sums up the reaction of Domc to the hopelessly
sterile approach of ofcia ecclesiastical circles to the Catha
and Abigensian movement i souther France), a movement
which aimed at changing the existing state of a  as, would
naturally not be geeted with joy by the powers representative
of the existing order. Ad it might be anticipated that
the antagonsm would grow all the stonger as the revolu­
tionary movement exerted an ever more potent spell upon
the ''younger generation"-which, aazgly, is what the
mendicant orders did. Finally, in the normal course of
events such resistance takes on more stength as the ideal
purity of the founders' frst impulse vanishes or fades,
is overhelmed and distorted by, for exaple, fanaticism,
or by "professional revolutionaries," or by superfcia fellow
tavelers who are impressed by what i faddishly outre.
At any rate, te existing order quite naturaly ranged itself
stongly against te mendicant orders. As Chesterton put
it: We must imagine the shock felt by a aristocratic family
whose son entered a mendicat order a rather equivalent
to their feeligs about a "impossible" marriage ("I have
maried a gypsy"). Nevertheless, as we kow from highly
reliable sources, in umerable sons, particularly of noble
families, did in fact marry this "gysy." Al te more reason
for the existing order in te form of taditional istitutions­
particularly te ecclesiastical hierachy of the secular clerg
-to oppose such a "disgrace." Their position wa well
reasoned and by no means a priori contemptible.
We must recall tat Dominic, immediately after the formal
recogntion of his community, dissolved the convent which
had been formed at Toulouse and sent his preaching fiars
out ito te world in smal groups, lteral y as beggars.
At the sae time, to be sure, his goal, which he consistently
pursued, was to provide them with a pre-mently wel­
founded theological and philosophica education, so that
tey would be capable of holding their own in the intelectua
dsputes of the age. He therefore sent h brother mon
above all to university cities, and to the universities them­
selves. The early days of the Domiican Order in Bologna,
and in Pais also, were so difcult that at times it seemed
as i the plan must die a-boring.
In the case of te Paris group, the Pope himself intervened.
He ted not to te bishop but to the university as such,
ordering that a church or monastery be placed at the dis­
posal of te Preachng Frias. About a year after the ariva
of te frst Domicans, Jean de Barrastre, a professor
of theology, ted over to tem the hospice of St. Jacques,
which he hmself had built
Te smal communit of Preach­
ig Frar in Pais formed a sort of stdent corporation
within te universit, a lega par of the universita magis­
trorum et scholarium. Toward the clergy and the citzenr,
however, it wa a convent, members of whose order lived
under a rule and perfored choir service; in other words,
it was a convent of ''regulated canons." Everhing seemed
to have fallen ito place. But tere wa a temendous vitalit
i ts small and haess-seeming goup of Preaching Friars,
a dynamism that ievitably changed te stucture of te
entie feld of force surrounding them.
Tey devoted temselves energeticaly to theological and
philosophcal stdies; but their chief desire was to operate
publicly-as pators, as preachers, as teachers. And they
wanted to do so outside the framework of the regula
ecclesiatical administation. In concrete terms tat meant
idependently of the parish organization. Tis idepend­
ence had, to be sure, been guaanteed them by te Pope.
From te time of teir foundin
the mendicant orders
were "exempt," that is, they were removed by papal decree
from the jursdiction of te regular local authorities and
placed decty under te authority of te papacy. Such
a specia set-up, however, is by nature a two-edged prop­
ositon; Berad of Clairaux had long ago violently attacked
it as a instittion.s On te one hand, here wa an instment
by whch the supreme authorty of the Church could put
across reforms imporant for the whole of te Church­
aganst te reistance of the istitutionaled bureaucracy,
aganst te nata sluggishess of such a apparatus, and
over its head. On the other hand, to grant such exemption
could not help but unsete the stability of the normal routine.
What was more, the cental autort was far away and
the exemptees were terefore usually "out of range," so
that i practice they could do or not do pret much as
they pleased.
Once legally established, ten, the Preachig Fra, like
te Franciscans, forced thei way into public mistries
wth enorous dynamism; that wa what they had been
founded for, after all. But no one could have predicted the
speed with which tese communities would gow i nuber
ad itellectual importance. I September 1217 te :st
Domnicans arrived in Pais-barely a year after te ofcial
foudig of the order. Agai barely a year later, i August
121 8, St. Jacques wa founded. The followig sprg,
Domnc, making a visitation, found a comuty that
aeady consisted of tirty monks. Five yea later thei
number had quadrupled. And the new members were 8
mater and scholas of the university. Nor did the Dom­
ican community in Paris grow ony numericaly; it also.
became an intellectua center. People focked t Domcan
serons. We lea, from a polemic witten by Toma, one
of te points which wa apparently raised agast te Dom­
icans' work of preaching the faith. Ths new tpe of
preachng, the agument ran, exposed the bishops to the
cntempt of the people because the bishops did not preach
tat way: ergo talis praedicatio religiosorum periculosa
est Ecclesiae Dei, "therefore such preaching by te mendicant
fars is a danger to te Church of God."4 To which Toma
replies: No one should be hindered from doing someting
wel just because others will be held in contempt because
of him; rather, those who make themselves wory of contempt
should be hindered. 5 These are unusualy harsh words. The
stggle between the secular clergy and the mendicant fias
wa in full swing.
Te deepest reaon for the secula clergy's ent-so
said Bonaventura, the Franciscan6-was the fact that the
mendicant orders absorbed some income of the secua clergy.
Ts is not necessarily equated with avarice. We kow that
te icome of the lower parish clerg durig te Mddle
Ages was "literally wretched. "7 They were fghtig for sheer
existence in the economic sense. And I wonder whether we
ought not to fnd this quite understandable; I wonder whether
we may say simply that the secular clergy "opposed a nec­
essar reform of patoral care out of fear for it icome."
Scheebens ascribes this motive to the parish clergy of St.
Benoit ad of the cathedral chapter of Note Dame, in
whose district the Monastery of St. Jacques was situated.
To be sure, the details add up to a rater dismal and pet­
tifogging picture; for example, the parishioners of St.
Benoit were ordered to attend tei own parish church on
fve specied high holidays-that is, not to go to te Dom­
inicans. And the Dominicans were compelled, under threat
of excomunication, to make public announcements of
ts ordiance. I any oferings were nevertheless made
in the Dominican church on tose holidays, the sums had
to be te over to the parish church. The Preaching Friars
were perited to ring only one bel, and this bel must
weigh no more than thee hundred pounds. I could be
rung ony to cal the fiars to prayers. I a member of
te pah wanted to be buried with the Dominicans, the
fneral mass must be held in the parish church. And so
forth ad so on.o A tremendous campaign of slander was
waged; word was spread that the mendicant friars were
guilty of a vaiety of misdeeds not susceptible to defite
proof-above all legacy-hunting. In this way the emotions
of the rabble were roused. By the time Thomas came to
Pais, thgs had reached such a pitch that the Preaching
Friars scarcely daed to venture out on the street for fear
of insult and physical attack. King Lous I-8t. Louis­
found it necessary to have royal toops guard the Monatery
of St. Jacques.
Here, too, of course, right and wrong, sanctity and pro­
fanity, were divided between both parties. In regad t
"violence," for example- we kow that the Domican schol­
ars on occaion asaulted the rector of the university, who
wa a member of the secular clergy. Ad the superiors of
the mendicant orders had repeatedly to remind the frias
to display respect for the praelati Ecclesiae.1o The Master
General of te Dominicans, Humbert of Romans, gives
some dol examples of provocatory behavior in one of
his circula letters. For exaple, the friars should not set
for thei preaching the very same hour at which the bishop
uually gave his sermons. Ad although Bonaventura said,
as I have aleady mentioned, tat the secua clergy's chief
bone of contention was the question of money, he also
said of h own broters in the order: sometimes money was
"avariciously begged for, recklessly accepted, and even
more recklessly consumed
Te mendicant orders, then, faced ill will everywhere,
but in Paris the feeling was all the stronger when the new
faction began to conquer te universit. The batle that
:ared up over this was an extremely involved a a. On
the one had, all te ordinary elements of confict between
the secular clergy and the mendicant monks were icreased
and intensifed by the rivalry for teachg chairs. On
te other hand, a wholly new element also entered i. The
enmty of the universit to the mendicant fia began to
be aed at the Pope-r we may also say, at the chancellor,
who was te Pope's executive organ withi te univer­
sit. Papal privilege had originally founded and garanteed
the feedom of the universit-freedom, tat is, fom the
sperision of local political and ecclesiastical rule ad rulers.
Ts, too, was a kind of exemption
But then te gaantor
of that freedom, the chancellor appointed by the Pope, be­
came a danger to feedom, to the freedom of organation
ad self-determination held by the universita mgistrorum.
Ts body of teacher ver soon came to regard itel
as privileged, one mght aost say, as a kind of "trade
-against the chancellor. The chancellor, æ repre­
sentative of the Pope, had fa-reaching powers. He wa the
magistate who in special caes might even pronounce ex­
communication. Above all, he issued te permt to teach,
the licentia docendi. Te idividual master was i practice
wholly defenseless agaist the chancellor's decisions. But
of course the collectivity of teachers, the universita æ
such, could thow considerable weight into the balance
provided that it wa capable of concerted action æ a
universita and had a advocate who could ga te ear of
the Pope. This lat was soon accomplished; the appointment
of an advocate at the papal Curia was moved and approved
between 1 21 5 and 1220.1 But of course ts was not enough
to safeguad the interests of the universita, a was to become
apparent when te mendicant frias began applyig for
teaching chairs.
The ver frst Dominican professor in Pais, Roland of
Cremona, had been caled to hs chair by a cuous set of
cicumstances-brought in, we may almost say, as a "strike­
breaer." The universita magistrorum et scholarium, te
professors and students, had actally gone "on strike."
Tey had even left the city of Paris, in protest against the
civil guard's killing of one student and ijuring of several
others in the course of riots and brawls at carival time.
The Dominicans, naturally, were not afected; they remained
i Paris i their Monastery of St. Jacques, which again
seems perfectly natural. And at this very time, in the yea
1229, tey acquired their fst teaching chair. Two years
later a professor belonging to the secula clergy asked to
be admitted to the Dominican Order. Thu another academic
chair devolved upon the Dominicans, who, of course, were
determined not to let this second chair which had come
their way slip out of their hands again. During the same
period the Franciscans captured their fst teaching chair
in a simila manner: one of the leading professors of theology
entered te comunity of the fratres minores at the age
of nealy sixty. He was Alexander of Haes, the teacher
of Bonaventura.
And now, in the year 1252, the Dominicans fetched Thoma
Aquinas, now twenty-seven, the "assistant" of Albertus
Magnus, from Cologne to give lectures i Pais on Peter
Lombad's Book of Sentences. These lectures were to be
held at the order's academy in the Monatery of St. Jacques.
This was not the same thing, to be sure, a at the university,
but it was the frst step toward it. The chancellor welcomed
such activities; after all, these men, Alexander of Hales,
Albert, Bonaventura, and Thomas, were te fest minds
of the time. It was simply a fact that the avant-garde
intelligentsia were gathering in the mendicant orders. Va
Steenberghen remarks in his comprehensive survey of the
situation at te universities between 1 250 and 1 275 that
at this time, both in Paris and in Oxford, there was not
a single thelogian of the secular clergy who deserves men­
tion.13 Wen te Cistercians wished to establish the study
of theology in their home monasery of Citeaux, they had
to ask for a magister from the Order of Preachers. 14 Hence
it cannot very well be said that the chancellor was acting
against te interests of the University of Pais (though he
may have enjoyed the sensation of exercisig power) when
he so readily issued the licentia docendi to applicants from
the mendicant orders, for example to Bonaventura and to
Thomas Aquinas-who received hs licentia in 1256. Yet
ts act wa te straw tat broke te cael's back. The
universita magistrorum, that association of professors based
on voluntary membership, refused to accept either Bon­
aventura or Thomas. Ad so these outsiders were bared
fom membership in the universitas magistrorum.
In 1252-the year that Thomas came from Cologne to
Paris-te magistri of the secular clergy had already held
a meeting which was kept secret from the chancellor and
the professors of the monastic orders. 15 Among the decisions
of this meeting was the following: only one professor from
each order should be accepted into the faculty of the un­
versity. This, curiously, was justifed by a pious citation
from the New Testament: nolite plures magistri feri (Jaes
ii. 1-which certainly does not mean: do not desie to
become several magistri. Furthermore, the students were
to be forbidden to attend the lectures of those whom the
magistri had not accepted as members of te faculty, that
is, those whose sole accreditation was the chancellor's
licentia. Those received ito the faculty must subscribe
to this rule under oath.
These new regulations were applied when Tomas received
the licentia docendi fom the chancellor. The faculty forbade
te students to attend his lectures. The Pope now insisted
that the two mendicant fiars be accepted-whereupon the
corporate body of the magistri, which was after all a volun­
tar organization, countered by simply dissolving itelf.
Te Pope refused to permit such mutinies; he issued a
special breve, in which Thomas and Bonaventra were
mentioned by name, orderng that te pair be a owed to
teach publicly. This was done i 1257.
For Bonaventura te new regulation came too late; at
te age of thirty-six he had been called to the ofce of
supreme head of the entire Franciscan Order, and bad thu
cut short his caeer as scholar and professor. For Thomas,
too, of course, that foral edict did not settle everthng;
i 1 259, while he was preaching, someone stood up and
i a loud voice read a verse lampoon against te mendicant
fiars. That someone was a partisan of Professor William
of St. Amour, a member of the Parisian secula clerg who
bad aleady been sent into exile by Louis I, but whose
polemic against the mendicant orders continued to exercise
considerable sway (it was even translated into the vulgar
tongue and its arguments crop up i secua lterature, for
example i the Roman de Ia Rose.).
William of St. Aour's polemic was witen on commission
from the university and wth the encouragement of the French
episcopate. It title was De periculis novissimorum ter­
porum, On the Dangers of the Last Ties. l6 It was a witty
pamphet in which the author brought up all the objections
which the ofcia Church had itself raised against the volun­
ta poverty movement one and two generations beforeP
As one of it principal points it contested the claim of
the mendicant orders that they exemplied a way of life
according to the Gospel. He who does not work shall not
eat; he who wishes to give up everything for Christ's sake
ought to work or enter a monastery, but he ought not
to beg; never was it reported that Christ or the Apostles
begged; the "good shepherd" does not beg from his fock-and
so on. A we see, tese were attacks baed very much on
principle, and were not easy to parry. But the most dangerou
aspect of this pamphlet was its conclusion: that something
must be done against these pseudo-apostes whose appearance
signalized the coming of the Last Days. The novissima tem­
pora were intended eschatologically, and the pamphlet
played upon al the age's anxieties concerning the Last
Days. Steps had to be taken against this sinister crew. Wiliam
of St. Amour formulated, in a highly suggestive manner,
a few terse imperatives. The dangerous ones must be isolated;
their folowers must be weaned from them; new followers
must be prevented from coming to them. Above al , they
must be forbidden to preach and teach.
In te midst of the ferce dispute ragg around hi,
Tomas had aeady written the fst books of his Commentary
on the Sentences and tried his wings at phosophy in De
ente et essentia. Now he drafted hs frst polemic, against
William of St. Aour: Contra impugnantes Dei cultum et
religionem (religio here means "religious order"). Two other
polemcs were to folow thi fst defense of the lie of
evangelcal perfection.
In a public disputation-it was more or less a forum open
to all-a cunning question was put to Tomas: Should not
a member of a religous order, who had after all chosen
to wal the way of perfection, simply sufer the attacks of
enemie without ofering any defense? To this Thomas re­
plied: Yes, insofar a his own person is concerned; the member
of an order must even be prepared to endure far worse than
hoste word.1B But where the attack is leveled agaist te
evangelical way of life itself, which is to say, against divine
teachngs, the answer must be no.
This disti nction governed the tone of these polemics.
They show no tace of personal feel ing; in fact, they are
"polemical" only in the forma sense, for they ae not really
disputatious. Nevertheless, strong personal conviction can
be felt in the freshness and vigor of the diction.
In one of these essays Thomas cites the following objec­
tion: Is it not improbable that the way of life founded by
Christ, the way of spirtual perfection, should have slubered
fom the age of the Apostles right down to the ver foundng
of the mendicant orders?19 His answer is: Of course it
did not slumber-but are not diferent things needful in
diferent times? And there follows a statement exemplifying
te whole intellectual intensity of the era (this last polemic
appeared in the year 1 270, the time of Tomas' second period
of teaching in Paris and the time of his greatest fecundity
and strongest infuence). The statement is:
"What then shall we reply if someone should ask: Has
Chistian doctrine slumbered since the times of the get
masters Athanasius, Basi, Ambrose, Augustine, and their
contemporaries-slumbered down to these times in whch
men are again concerning themselves in geater measue
with Chistian doctne? Shall it then be impermssible, as
tat strange doctrine holds, to take up again somethng good
whch for a time has been neglected? I that were so, then
it would be impermissible for anyone to take mardom up-
on himself.
We cannot here discuss i detail te content of tese
polemical essays. We must, however, speak of the spirit
i which Thomas conducted this discussion. I wa the
spiit of the disciplined debate, a form of agumentation
which, for all its clear militancy, remains a dialoge. We
may also say: it was the spirit of the disputatio. I saying
ts, we touch upon te subject of the next lectue.
There is no evidence that St. Tomas participated in the
rvalries of universit politics during his stay in Paris. From
all we know of Thomas, it is highly improbable that be
entered ths arena at all. But he did intervene in the doctrinal
disputes over the realization of perfectio evangelica, and
contributed several essays on the subject. These writings
are defntely polemics-and, moreover, not the only works
of this te that Thomas produced; during the last fve years
of his life he wote several others, directed against an op­
ponent wth whom everyone is wont to confuse h. But
we shall have more to say of this matter later.
The diction of these essays is, as might be expected, more
spontaneous, more vigorous, and of course more contentious
tan we usually fd i the works of Thomas. "This argument
rather deseres to be laughed at than to be answered"-magis
derisione quam responsione dignum estlthat is not Thomas'
usual langage. Or: "If anyone wants to contest tis, let
him not babble about the matter in front of boys, but let
him rather publicly present a pamphlet on it, so that those
who have isight will be able to judge what is true and to
refute what is false with the authorit of truth. "2 Hs
late polemc, De unitate intelectus, closes on a similar note:
"If anyone who boastfully claims the deceptive name of
science for himsel has anything to say against what we
have written here, let him not do so in privacy and before
boys, who have no judgment on such difcult matters, but
let him hmsel wit against this work, i be dares . • • • "3
Ad so forth.
The tone is belligerent, certainly. However, these works
have another characteristic far more important and also
far more tpical of Thomas. We have already spoken of
the possibility that an unsuspecting reader, rather stunned
and conused, may read whole page contang notng
but opposing aguments formulated i a highly convincing
manner. There will be nothing at all in the phraseology to
idicate that Thomas reject these arguments-not the trace
of a hint at te weaess of te argument, not the slightest
nuance of ionical exaggeration. The opponent himself
speaks, and an opponent who is obviously in splendid form,
calm, objective, moderate. I may read, for example, i
Tomas' frst polemic, written at the age of thir: He who
accepts a gift becomes dependent upon the giver. Member
of a religious order, however, ought properly be fee of
all worldly dependence, sice they are caled to freedom
of the spiit. Hence they may not live on alms.4 Or:
Members of an order profess the estate of perfection. Ac­
cording to the New Testament (Acts x. 35), however,
it is more perfect to gve alms than to receive them. There­
fore they ought to work in order to possess something whch
they can then share with the needy, rather than to receive
and live by als. 5 Or: He who lives at the table of oters
necessaily becomes a fatterer.a Or: The Apostle Paul refused
to accept money for his support from the Corinthians, in
order not to supply a pretext [for defamation] to the apostles
of lies.7 And so on. Al these arguments soud-nota bene,
i the formulation given them by St. Thomas himself-very
plausible and reasonable. Polemic as we know it has not
prepared us for ths sort of thing. We are so little prepared
for it that frequently te opposing arguments have been
ascribed to St. Thomas himself, because he expounds them
so convincingly and apparently (in appearance ony!) i
convinced by tem. s
We have already said that Thomas succeeds not only
i presenting the opponent's divergent or fatly opposed
opinion, together with the underlying line of reasoning, but
also, many times, in presenting it better, more clearly,
and more convincingly than te opponent himself might
be able to do. In this procedure there emerges an element
profoundly characteristic of St. Thomas' itellectual stle:
te spirit of the disputatio, of disciplined opposition; the
spirit of genuine discussion which remains a dialogue even
while it is a dispute. This spiit gover the iner structure
of all St. Thomas' works. And I feel that in this generosit
of spirit, too, the exemplar, the paradigmatic chaacter
of the doctor communis of Christendom is displayed.
Let u give a few moments' thought to daogue ad te
par it plays in mankind's community life. Such conversation
has as its aim not only communication, but also the clarifying
of ideas, the fnding and iluminating of truth-for both
paries to the conversation, of course, do not hold the same
opinions from the start. Plato, it would appear, went so
far as to assert that truth emerges as a human reality in
conversation alone: "By conversing many times, and by
long, familiar intercourse for the matter's sake, a light is
kndled in a fash, a by a fying spark. . ."9 In fact,
Plato calls even solitary thinking and cognition "a soundless
conversation of the soul within itself. "10 Socrates, who repre­
sents for Plato the prototypal seeker after tuth and fnder
of knowledge, was forever engaged in conversation and
i testing himself and his interlocutor in debate.
Augustine, as a Platonist, introduced this fundamenta
attitude into his discussions with theological adversaries.
But even Aristotle, whose style of thinking at fst sight
seems to lean less toward dialogue than toward thesis and
system, remarks that if one wishes to fnd the tuth one
must fst consider the opinions of those who judge diferent­
ly;n and he speaks of the joint labor of disputation where
it is of prime importance to be a good companion and col­
laborator. This remark is to be found in Aristotle's Topics,
in that section of te organon which came to the knowledge
of the schools of the West during the twelft century, as
a kind of second installent; it went by the name of Logica
nova and was instantly understood and seized upon as
an aid to the systematic development of the art of disputa­
tion.13 "Without the Eighth Book of the Topics,
the secular, cosmopolitan witer John of Salisbury, "people
dispute at haard, but not with aristic understanding"-non
disputatur arte, sed casu.
It was in the twelfth century, then, that the rules of
the game of debate were artistically formulated and developed.
"To every disputatio legitima there belong question, answer,
thesis, agreement, negation, argument, proof, and concluding
forulation of te result"-thus states a certain Magister
Radulfus. 15 During the lat decades of the twelfth century
disputation was well entrenched in the academes of the
West. In fact, it became more or less obligatory; it dominated
te whole scene of higher educational activity. Concurently,
to be sure, degeneration and abuse set in, so that thoughtful
men bega to compla about haisplttig ad logomachy,
about puely formalistic wrangling. l6 "This intellectual g·
nastics for display and for amusement"-so it was described
by Hegel17 who somewhat unfairly applied the term to
medieval scholasticism in general (for which reason It
wa ujust and iaccurate). Apparently there was no prevent·
ig such perersions. We fnd evidence for the same sort
of thing in te Platonic dialoge: Socrates makes a strong
plea to Gorgias, hs interlocutor, not to make any "speeches"
but to accept the conversational mode. Whereupon his op·
ponent snaps back: "You will see that nobody surpasses me
i this a of short answers; that too is one of the arts
I can boast of. "1
Which means that the form which Socrates
has proposed solely in order to avoid the formalistic trifig
of sophistic verbal trickery becomes, i a tce, anoter
vaiety of formalistic trifing.
Wen Thomas, aound the middle of te thirteent century,
took up the already well-developed instrument of the scholas·
tic disputatio in order to play his own melody upon it,
the fst thing he had to do was to change it: to omit, to
simplify, to prune. The preface to the Summa theologica
speaks of the "excessive accumulation of needless questions,
aicles, and aguments"; and Thomas, as Grabman observes,
vgorously sweeps under the table a vat number of the
by then customary schoolasterly over-subtleties.lD (Late
scholasticism was to pull them out agai ad display tem
i all their splendor, on the table!)
But for Thomas, too, as we have said, the framework of
te disputation governs the form of his entire writen work.
The articulus, which forms the smallest building block of
te Summa theologica as well as of te Quaestiones disputatae
ad the Quastiones quodlibetales-te articulus frst formu·
lates te question at issue. It then adduces, not the opions
of the author himelf, but rather the voices of the opposition.
Only after this does the author himself take the foor, frst
ofering a systematically developed answer to the queston
ad then replying to each of the opposing argments.
I this manr, for example, the subject of "passion
and moral action" is posed for discussion in the Summa
theologica.2o The question is asked whether the degree of
passion of an action increaes or diminishes the moral value
of this action. And the fst argument declares that passion
clouds rational judgment; hence it diminishes the moral
vaue of the action The second aguent: God ad pue
spiits know no passion; therefore passionlessness adds
to mora value. Third argment: to do wrong out of passion
is obviously less bad than to do wrong with clear premedita­
tion; conversely, to do a good action through passion subtacts
fom the value of the action-and so on. As yet Thomas
himself has not spoken; he himself frst takes the foor in
the corpus of the article, whch develops te question from
the very bottom, and answers it. In this case his answer
runs: that "to act out of passion" diminishes both the value
ad the unworthiness of an action; that on the other hand,
"to act with passion" increases both, the value and te un­
worthiness also.21 And then Thomas proceeds to answer
te arguments formulated at the beginning.
It may be that we are alienated by such a mode of presen­
tation. I should like to propose that we examine this alienation
a little more closely. What exactly is it that puts us of I
think that it is fst of all the schematization, the formalism,
te stereotped nature of the presentation. And secondly,
it is the fact that the content of the arguments advanced
does not afect us, that tey are not our arguments. Both
these elements, however, have little to do with the core
of the matter. Te core is that we are dealing with a dialogue.
At bottom the scholatic articulus is quite close to the Platonic
dialogue. And if we would think of the scholastic articulus
brushed clean of the dust of the past, we would fnd it,
I think, an exciting a a. Let us take a contemporar problem
that concerns us and formulate it as a question. Then, in
the most precise and concise language, the difcultes are
presented-the real, weighty counter-arguments. Then comes
a clear, ordered exposition of the answer. Finally, on the
basis of this systematically developed answer, there follows
an exact reply to the counter-arguments. And al ths is
compressed into one or two printed pages-that being the
tpical length of a scholastic articulus of the geat period.
"No writers have ever said more with a sticter economy
of words," says Gilson.22 It would be difcult to conceive
of any livelier form-and any that makes greater itelectual
demands upon the writer!
Thomas, moreover, did not only write in this form. In
hs own teaching at the University of Pais he cultivated
the oral disputatio to an extent hitherto unkown.2a In
fact, Thomas actually appears to have invented a paticular
form, te disputatio de quolibet, the "free" discussion whose
subject in each case is directly suggested by the audience.
And he poured tremendous energy into this mode of teaching;
probably it was also an enormous pleasure to him. We
know that during the three years from 1256 to 1259 Thomas
regularly held two major disputations a week. Each of
the extended articles of the Quaestiones disputatae-there
are more than fve hundred of them!-is the fruit of a
public disputation.
Te decisive factor, of course, is the spirit tat dominated
and informed these discussions-which, naturally, was not
synonymous with the external form (a, on the other hand,
there can be forms without the spiit). Wat ca be said,
then, about the ethos of the debate?
The fst point is this: Anyone who considers dialogue,
disputation, debate, to be a fundamental method for ariving
at truth must already have concluded and stated that arriving
at tth is an afair that calls for more power than the autar­
chic individual possesses. He must feel that common efort,
perhaps the efort of everybody, is necessary. No one is
sufcient unto himself and no one is completely superfous;
each person needs the other; the teacher even needs the
student, as Socrates always held. In any case, the learner,
the stdent, contributes somethng to te diaoge aong
with the teacher.
If this fundamental conviction is genuine, it must necessar­
ily afect the mode of listening as well as the mode of speak­
ing. Dialogue does not mean only that people talk to
one another, but also that they listen to one another. The
fst requirement, therefore, is: Listen to the interlocutor,
take note of his argument, his contibution to the recherche
collective de Ia verite, in the same way that he himsel
understands his own argument. 25 There was one rule of
the disputatio legitima which made this kind of listening
mandatory: No one was permitted to answer directly to
the interlocutor's objection; rather, he must frst repeat the
opposing objection in his own words, thus explicitly making
sure that he fuly understood what hs opponent had in
mind. Let us for a moment imagine that the same rule
were put into efect again nowadays, with infraction of
it resulting i automatic disqualifcation. How this would
clear the ai in public debate! Icidentally, Socrates had
followed this practice, long ago, even i he had not formulated
it æ a re. I te dalogue on im orat i te Phaedo
Socrates fst reviews the objections which his friends have
reluctantly made. And then he asks: "Is it this, Simias
and Cebes, which we have to examine? Tey both agreed
that these were the questions. " And later he adds that he
i stating Cebes' objection "again and again on purpose,
that nothing may escape us. "
This remark reveals the primary function of such listening.
Socrates is not on the aert to catch his opponent's "weak
spots, " not concerned from the very beginning with how
he is going to refute his opponent's arguments, but is prima­
iy aiming at a deeper grasp of the substance. This is not
principally a question of "decency," and certainly not of
some vague "modest" (which was simply unknown in
either classical or Chistian ethics) ; it is a question of,
precisely, what Paul Valery once formulated as follows:
"The fst thing to be done by a person who wishes to refute
an opinion is this: he must make it his own somewhat better
tan the person who best defends it."
7 We listen in order
to become fully aware of the real strengh of the opposing
argument. Thomas seems actually to assume that we ourselves
cannot recognize or anticipate the possible objections to
a thesis. The concrete elements of a situation which might
put a new face upon the matter cannot be predetermined.
In every serious utterance by an opponent some one of
the many facets of realit is expressed. There is always some­
thing right and truthfl in his words; and although this
something may be mnmal, the refutation must begin there
i it is to be convincing. It is with this idea in mind, I
think, that Thomas-in the Summa Against the Pagans-re­
gets that the statements of the mahumetistae et pagani
ae not available to him in detail, "so that from what they
say we might be able to extract reasons to destroy thei
But of course this listening is not concered solely with
gasping the substance. It is also directed fully at the inter­
locutor as a person; it draws its vitality from respect for the
other's dignity, and even from gratitude toward him-gratitude
for the increase in knowledge which is derived even from
eror. "We must love them both, those whose opinions we
share and those whose opinions we reject. For both have
labored in the seach for tuth and both have helped us
i the fnding of it."29
Te geat doctors of Chistendom completely agee on ths
point; they stand in a common font against the stupidit
of narow-mnded polemic. For the latter usually lack
not only respect for the person of the opponent but aso
full openheatedness to the truth of things. The attitude
formulated by Thomas-which has nothing in common
with sentmentality-i i keeping wit the best, the most
legitimate tadition.
Here, for example, is an extract fom an essay of St
Augustine against the Manichaeans: "Let those rage against
you who do not know with what toil tuth is found • • . ;
let those rage against you who do not know wit what dif­
culty the iner man's eye becomes sound; • • . let those
rage against you who do not know how many groans and
sighs accompany the winning of even a tiny morsel of divine
insight."30 And when John Henry Newman in hs Grammar
of Assent engages in polemic against John Locke, he te
this tone: "I have so great a respect both for the chaacter
and the ability of Locke, for his manly simplicity of mind
and his outspoken candour . • tat I feel no pleasure
in considering h in the light of an opponent to views
whch I myself have ever cherished as tue."31
That is te spiit of genuine disputation, and Thomas also
embodies it. A contemporary remaks that Thomas would
refte hs opponents as one teaches a pupi.32
In line with this, we mut cal attention to one more magn­
fcent statement from the Summa Against the Pagan. Thomas
has just set forth the ideas of A veroes and Aristotle on
man's ultimate felicity; he has shown how i spite of a
corect starting point they could not help missing te essential.
At ths point be says, with sovereign chaity: in quo sati
apparet, quantam angustiam patiebantur hinc inde eorum
praeclara ingenia33_in which is revealed how much these
ilustrious minds must have sufered from such confnement.
Disputatio, however, involves not only listening to another,
but also addressing oneself to him. The interlocutor i
a disputation declares, by his very paticipation, his willingness
to take a position and answer for it. He lays hsel open
to corection.
Fist of a , of course, in order for the whole process
to take place meaningfully, he lets himself be heard. That
is not by any means a matter to be taken for granted-namely,
tat he should speak in such a way that the other can hear
h, that i, that te oter can tae i h agent a
clearly and completely æ possible. Wen a person speaks
in the spirit of genuine disputatio, his prima wish is
to clarify the substance. Hence he must make a point of
speaking comprehensively (which, naturally, does not mean
reducing his subject to simplistic ters). Arbita, eccentric,
and esoteric jargon is contrary to the spirit of genuine debate.
To be sure, debate-and perhaps every conversation­
iplies several voices, polyphony; every voice strikes its
own note-but not simply for the sake of airing itself, any
more than proper listening is undertaken out of some misty
form of modesty. Just as we listen so that the interlocutor
may have the chance to express himself i his own voice,
so we express ourselves when our turn comes-and likewise
for the sake of illuminating the substance, of which we
may have caught some glimpse which has eluded our adver­
sa. Only through this does there take place that mutual
opposition, whch according to Thomas is the very best
way to reveal the trth:34 "Iron sharpens iron" (rov. xxvii.
17). There is no trace in al this of mere sentimental deference
to "what the other fellow thinks. " Rather, this technique
has as its sole purpose the claifcation of the objective sub­
stance. Clarication always means that something is made
clear to someone. Tis someone is the adversary. Clariying
speech in particular is animated by respect for the adversary.
He is respected as a fellow seeker after truth. Disputing,
conducting genuine debate, means expressly granting the
other the right both to understand what we mean and criticaly
to examine our statements for their truth or falsehood.
As soon as we state this defnition, we realize that the
principle is by no means as self-evident as it may seem.
Among Ernst JUnger's aphorisms is the sentence: "He who
provides a commentary on himself is stooping beneath his
leveJ."35 A very fne-sounding epigam. But what is JUnger
actually saying? Suppose he has witten or said something
that we feel we do not understand and may have to challenge.
We therefore say: What do you mean by that obscure state­
ment; is it really true, and bow does it accord with other
propositions which appear to be unassailably right? But
be will not deign to answer us. Instead, he recomends
a portentous silence. We al know how common such porten­
tous silences are. But the really great teachers of the Western
world-from Socrates and Augustine (who spoke on the
hghest tuths to te fshermen of Hippo) to Thomas and
t (in whose Critique of Pure Reason we may read:
''To be refted • • • is no danger, but not to be uderstood
is one"36)-al thee great teachers are marked by a magcen
inner security. They are not afaid of lowerng themelves
or diinishig their superiority by te use of siple langage.
They are perfectly able to manipulate solem and someties
highly emotional phraseology; but they never t temselves
too iportant and they never hesitate for a moment to
"stoop beneat their level," i by so doing they c
the truth more clearly, clarify the matter for "someone else,"
for the interlocutor, the pupils, the peron in eror. In
tue disputation this other person is neiter ignored by
te speaker, nor blufed, nor merely "worked over," spell­
bound, misled or, to put it crdely, "done in. " Men who
want not so much to clarify as to create a sensation ae
unftted for debate-and they will avoid it. Tat point was,
a a matter of fact, made as early as te telfth centuy
in defense of the disputatio. Te disputation, it wa held,
was an excellent means of unmasking empty noise, oratory,
"belletristics," and rhetoric, of keeping such devces from
obstructing the search for truth and of repressig tose
who were not interested in the scire but i te sciri,
not in kowing but in being known. 37
There are numerous tokens by which Toma considered
the spirit of the disputatio equivalent to the spirit of te
university itself. In the medieval university it was no more
possible than it is today to achieve universality of knowledge
and present things in such a way that students, or even
teachers, obtained a tly "integral view." In this sense the
medieval university, just like our own universities, wa not
a place for studium generale. But there was a dference:
the medieval unversity had the disputatio, and though it
universalit was achieved! Hence we may validly ask whether
the disappearance of disciplined debate carried out within
the framework of the university between individuas and
among the faculties may not be the te reason for the much­
lamented loss of even a sketchy integral view. It should be
clear that I am not speaking here of converse among special­
ists and on a subject interesting only to specialist. I mean
converse on the subjects of "man in general. " On tese
subjects, of course, the separate disciplines are constantly
raising new questions and ofering new materia for discussion.
I kow that for a debate of this nature several prerequisites
are needed which were obviously present in the medieval
university and which seem lacking today-for example, the
common language and the relatively unitary philosophica
and theological world view. But perhaps it would not be
altogether utopian to attempt to rebuild our academies on
the basis of those very principles which were the foundation
stones of the Occidental unversity-ne of whch is certainy
the spirit of disputation.
I have aleady mentioned the cleaing of the public mind
which might result from an allegiance to the specifc rules
of disputation. Naturally, one can only postulate such a
thing in modus irrealis. But if anyone should ask how publc
discussion could have so hopelessly degenerated, perhaps
the answer may be that only the paradigm has been lacking,
only the "model," the commanding example of the disputatio
in the very place where it naturally ought to be at home:
the universit.
From the moment that Tomas was ofcially accepted ito
the faculty of the University of Paris in 1257, be set himsel
to his ultiate task, which be was never tereafer to abandon.
In spite of the variety of asigents that were heaped upon
him, and in spite of the moving around be had to do, at
bottom he remained all along and wherever be was, one
thing above all: a teacher. As a sideline he also organized
a number of faculties, founded schools, drew up and approved
curricula. At the chapter-general of the Dominican Order,
held in Valenciennes i 1259, Thoma-then a young profes­
sor-joined his former master Abertus Magnus on a commis­
sion which established a new code on studies for te entire
order; among other points it stipulated that every province
of the order must create a school of the artes liberales, with
philosophie en tete.
Nevertheless, Tomas was not really
an administrator, but a teacher, ad be remained tat
until the end.
Because of their singularity we shal speak briefy of
two assignments whch came to Tomas from outside the
Dominican Order, and which he took on in addition to
his other duties. Te frst of these concered the separation
of the Eastern Church fom Rome. The fnal break had
come in the eleventh century, and thus the separation had
lasted for almost two hundred years. The new Eastern Roman
Emperor, Michael Palaeologus, desired reunifcation. Although
the Emperor was motivated chiefy by political reasons,
Pope Urban IV, who had formerly been Patriarch of Jerusa­
lem, responded to the Emperor's overtures. Naturally, bow­
ever, he insisted upon the resolving of doctina diferences.
This seemed virtualy impossibleall the more so since
foolish polemics had long since so completely beclouded
the common elements of belief that these had almost dropped
out of sight. Here was a situation where an extraordina
arbiter was needed, an unimpassioned, unpolemical, sincere
mind concerned only for the tuth, capable of ipartial
j udgment of disputed points. And this was the role that
Urban IV asiged to St. Thoma. He was given an anti­
Greek polemic with the request that he analyze it caeful y
and pick out the rea points of contoversy.
The task rather exceeded Tomas' powers (for one thig,
Thomas had only an extemely inadequate knowledge of
the Greek language; for another thing, the polemc relied
heavily upon forged documents which simply could not
be detected with te resources of textua criticism available
to te thiteent century-and so on). Nevertheless, St.
Thomas' small essay Against the Errors of the Greeks (1 263)
is important for several reaons. In it, for istance, he for­
mulates and advocates te principle of "benevolent interpreta­
tion," that is to say, an interpretation which endeavors,
as fa a possible, to regard the text in question as understand­
able and acceptable. He also expounds the impossibilit
of intelligbly tanslating an idea from one language to
another by translating "word for word." In spite of his
inadequate knowledge of Greek it appeas that Thomas had
learned by personal experience that tanslation, strictly
speaking, is something altogether impossible; that the many­
faceted idea is expressed diferently, and yet equaly rightly
and truly, in each language after its own fashion. It
is no wonder, non est mirum, as Thomas says in the preface,
and is to be expected, that discordances will arise i tanslation
is done quod verbum sumatur ex verbo, by using the synony­
mous Latin word for each Greek word.2 Rather, the wording
must be altered if the sense is really to be caried over into
the other language.
In spite of the unavoidable inadequacies of this treatise,
reunion of te Greek and Roman Churches actually took
place at the time, although the compact did not last long;
at the Council of Lyons in 1 274 the union was solemnly
sworn, after the Gospel had been sung in Latin and Greek
at a festive divine service. 3 Albertus Magnus was there,
Bonaventura was also present, and Thoma had been invited­
but he died on the way to Lyons.
Around the same time (1 263) this same Pope Urban
I commissioned Thomas to compose or collate the texts
for the liturgical celebration of Corpus Christi day, which
was inaugurated during his papacy. There were to be readigs,
prayers, antiphons, hymns, and sequences. Tomas undertook
the task, and what he produced is certainly unusual. It
i hard to believe that this is the work of the autor of
the sober Quaestiones disputatae and the Summa theologi­
ca. The authorship of the poems may not be entirely hs-this
is te of many thenth-centry poems-but it is aaing
to hear Thomas saying: Lauda, Sion, salvatorem, Lauda ducem
et pastorem, In Hymnis et canticis.
There is another aspect to this matter, however, ad one
which relates to Aquas the theologian rather than Aquinas
the philosopher. I should like to dwell upon it a moment.
It is often said, and rightly, that the Middle Ages were a
time in which an increasingly "subjective" piety dted
frher and frer away fom the major "objective" forms
as the center of the ritual and te religion; and that such
subjective forms of worship even penetrated ito the sphere
of ritual proper. The introduction of the Coru Chist
celebration has been taken, with some jutifcaton, a a
step along this pat, and insofa as Thomas played a
major pa in this innovation, he has been regad�d a
the foremost :gure who helped to found and
a  y
"introduced" those fors of Eucharistic piety sepaate fom
the celebraton of the public sacrifce.
However, anyone who reads the teatise on the Eucharist
in the Summa theologica wl be surprised to :d exactly
the opposite thesis enunciated there. For Thomas says
that the celebration of the sacrifce is the place for the scra­
ment; "this sacrament is simultaneously sacrifce ad sacra­
ment."4 Furtherore, anyone who reads St. Thoma' tx
for Corpus Chisti day to see how far they go in sepaating
subjective and objective fors of worship-to what extent
that is, the Bread of the Sacrifce is presented more for
the sake of being shown and seen than for the sae of
being eaten in the Communion-anyone who does trn
to the texts will :nd that they contain nothing of the sor.
Rather, he will :nd to the contary that Thomas speak
many times of sumere and edere, of manducatio, of esca
and cibus and saturatio, that is of eating, of partakig, of
the meal, of food, of satiet, and last but not least, of the
In the man, then, Thomas lived the life of a teacher,
ad fung his ful energies and talent ito te role. I the
Summa Against the Pagans, te fst great systematic sketch
on which he ventured, there is a modest, oblique allusion
to what he regaded a his life's task, te propositum nostrae
intentionis. By way of efacing himself, he attributes his
ow manifesto to another: "To use the words of Hilary:
'I feel that I owe it to God to make this the foremost dut
of my le: that a  my thought and speech procla
Hi.' "5 These words were witten at the beginning of h
caeer. And in the period shortly before hs death, after ec­
static transport of some duration, he conded to his friend
Regiad that he hoped to God, if hs teaching and wting
were now over, that the end of his lie would come quickly. 6
Augutine said of himself tat he was one of those who
''ite a they grow and grow as they write. " Thomas never
spoke so diectly of himself. Augustine, then, was saying
tat he was by nature a wter. Theodor Haecker considers
this formulation virtualy the defnition of a writer. I
remain open to question, of course, whether we have really
gaped the essence of St. Augustine i we understand him
principa  y as a wter. But I believe that i we substitute
te word "teach" for "write," and if we say of Thomas that
he was one of tose who teach as they grow and grow a
tey teach, then we have fastened upon an extremely essential
tait i S. Thomas. Moreover, Thomas spoke very �plicity
about ts matter, i not about himself; he had a great deal
to say about teachg and the teacher. At this point we
must say somethng about his theor of teaching. 7
Teachg, says Thomas, is one of te highest manifestations
of the life of the mnd, for te reason that in teaching the
vita contemplativa ad the vita activa ae joined-not jut
patched together superfcially, not merely connected "factu­
al y," but unted in a natur
l ad necessary unon. The
te teacher has graspe a truth for itself, by purely receptive
contemplation; he passes it on to others who likewise desie
to pae of this tth. The teacher, ten, looks t the
tth of things; that is the contemplative aspect of teaching.
It is aso the apect of silence, witout which the words
of the teacher would be unoriginal in the priary meaning
of that word, would be empty tak, gesture, chatter, i
not faud. But the teacher simultaneously looks into the
faces of living human beings-and he subjects himsel
t te rigorouly disciplied, wearisome labor of claiig,
of presenting, of communicating. Were this comunication
does not take place, teaching does not take place.
Tus, the more intensively and the more passionately
a man engages in these two activities, the more he is a
teacher. On the one hand, there is his relationship with
tuth, the power of silent listening to realit; on the other
hand, there is his afrmative concer for his audience and
his pupils. And we may say that Thomas personally accom­
plished both these activities with extraordinary intensity.
The conjunction of these two things is by no means the
re. There have been great thinkers and savant who lacked
the capacity to communicate in teaching, and perhaps had
not the desire to do so. Goethe was one of these. I
his attitude of selfess observation of the tth Goethe wa
closely akin to Thomas. "Let the eye be light"; "grasp object
purely"; "complete renunciation of all pretension"-Thomas
would have wholly approved of these magifcent precept
of Goethe's. Nevertheless, Goethe said of himself that
he was more concerned with penetrating ito the nature
of things than in "expressing himself in • • • speakg,
transmitting, teaching." In a letter to Schiller he once wrote
tat the git of teaching had been denied him.
With Thomas, on the other hand-this should rea  y
be clear from what we have already said about hs love
for the disputation-this concentration upon the patner
in discourse, the listener, the reader and pupil, Wæ profoundly
characteristic. He devoted his best energies and te longest
period of his life, not to a work of "scholaship," but to
a textbook for beginners, although it was, to be sure, the
fruit of the deepest absorption with Truth. Te Summa theo­
logica expressly sets out to be a beginner's textbook. I
we did not kow that Thomas had little feelng for irony,
we might in fact take the preface to the Summa theologica
for the sharpest kind of Socratic irony. For what is its general
tenor but the following: there are plenty of leared books
for advanced students, but there is no complete suey for
beginners, ad eruditionem incipientium.
Precisely this characterizes the teacher, it seems to me:
he possesses the art of approaching his subject from the
point of view of the beginner; he is able to enter into the
psychological situation of one encountering a subject for
the fst time. There is a element i ths that goes far beyond
the realm of method, of didacticism, of pedagogica skil.
To put it another way, in this atitude the methodological
skill which can be learned is linked with something else
that probably cannot ever be leaed, really.
A few things are clear about this factor: it is a fuit of
love, of lovg devotion to the learner, of loving identifcation
of the teacher with the begnner. True learning, when al
is as it should be, is more than mere acquisition of material.
It is rather a growing into a spiritual reality which the learner
cannot yet grasp as a purely intellectual matter. His uncritica,
credulous link wit the teacher nevertheless permits him
to enter ad take hold of this reality. In just this same way
the teacher, isofar as he succeeds in lovingly identifying
himself wit the beginner, partakes of something that in
the ordinary course of nature is denied to mature men:
he sees the reality just a the beginner can se it, with all
the innocence of a fst encounter, and yet at the same time
with the matured powers of comprehension and penetration
that the cultivated mind possesses. Thomas possessed this
gift in bountiful measure; and I think that the freshness
of statement and te classical simplicity of diction that
mark his textbook for beginners must be explained by that
It must be added that Thomas combined the true teacher's
love of hs task with a masterly command of the didactic
craft. He makes some interesting observations on the princi­
ples of that craft in te above-mentioned preface t the Sum­
ma theologica.s He points out, for example, tat it is essenta
to avoid te aversion which is engendered by overfamiliarity
and constant repetition of the same thng. Tis does not
imply that the teacher should make the subject "interesting"
by hook or crook, in order to facilitate the learner's task.
On the contrary, it means this: a  knowledge of any depth,
not only philosophizing, begis with amazement. I that
is true, then everthing depends upon leading the leaner
to recognize te aaing qualities, the mirandum, the "novel­
ty" of the subject under discussion. I the teacher succeeds
in doing this, he has done something more important tha
and quite diferent from makng knowledge entertaning and
interesting. He has, rather, put the learner on the road
to genuine questioning.
And it is genuine questioning that ispires all true leaing.
In other words, it has dawned on the learner that what
really counts
s never to be tken for granted,
s stange,
amazing, deeper than it seems to be to comon sense. That
then, is what Thomas aimed at. Ad i that sense, I beleve,
we must understand the repors of his contemporarie who
testify that Thomas captivated the stdents of the Unversit
of Paris by the newness of his teaching ("new articuli,"
"a new way of answering," "new aguments"-uch ae
some of the phrases in the fst biography of Thomas. 9)
Tis does not mean that Thomas' appea was a faddsh one.
Rather the geat teacher was demonstating his thesis that
the tth can only be kept alive and present in a livig lan­
guage which continuously grasps and puts a new stap upon
what has long been known and thought
In the mdst of the tremendous demands made upon h
by his teachig, and challenged by questions shot at him
from every side-in the midst of all this intellecta como­
tion, Tomas wrote his geat systematic works. Some of
them ae the more or less direct fruit of his teaching itself.
But his geatest systematic works, the Summa theologica
and the Summa Against the Pagans, were not. His work-the
sheer physica labor they represent is in itself imposing-an
probably be explained in only one way: that Thomas wa
present in the body amid the fret and fever of those tes,
especially of the Parisian disputes, but that all the whie
he dwelt in an iner cloister of his own, that his hea wa
wholly untouched and untoubled, concentrated upon the
totality of reality; that wrapped in the silence that fled
the innermost cell of his soul he simply did not hea the
din of polemcs in the foreground; that he listened t some­
thing beyond it, somethng entrely dif erent, which wa te
vital thing for him.
Perhaps we may say that several elements contbuted
to his iperturbabilit: a mystc (in te narower sense)
rapture; the capacit to give himself entirely to a subject
(once, dictating at night, he siply did not notice that
the candle i his hand had burned down and was siging
hs fngers) ; and fnally a concentration, acquired by schoolng
of the wil, which made it possible for him to dictte to
three or four scrbes simultaneously-iferent texts, of
course. In this way and under such conditions he produced,
in a lifetime of not quite ffty years, that vast body of work
which in printed editions flls thi folio volumes.
Which are his "major works" is a question not easy to
answer; it depends on what we mean by major work. Our
tendency would be to relegate the opuscula to the background;
but if by major works we mean those which had the strong­
est infuence upon Thomas' own times, then of course the
polemcs belong in that category, both those written for
the voluntary poverty movement and those directed against
the "Averoists." In any case, some important pronouncement
are to be found among the opuscula, for example the essay
on political rule and De ente et essentia.
With more justifcation we might look for St. Thomas'
"major works" among his great commentaries. Foremost
among them are the tweve commentaries on Aristotle,
all written in the last eight years of Thomas' life. These
commentaries are the single principal document in the recep­
tion of Aistotle which transformed the intellectual outlook
of the West.
Incidentally, Thomas also wote commentares on Scrip­
tre-on the Book of Job, on the Psalms, on Isaiah, on
Jeremiah, on Matthew and John, on the Epistles of Paul.
Although these commentaries contain such superlative bits
as the exegesis of the prologue to the Gospel of John ("In
the beginning was the Word")-an exegesis which can wel
be called the most magnifcent of all formulations of the
doctrine of the Logos to be found in Occidental theology­
nevertheless I am compelled to say that these are works
in which the weaknes of scholastic di alectic is revealed.
The Biblical texts are for the most part historical utterances
and not systematic logical treatises. They cannot be reduced
to the form of a syllogism. We do not take kindly to fnding
te fourteen epistles of St. Paul presented as a clearly arranged
nexus of theses which are linked to one another logicaly
rather than historically.
I have already spoken briefy of the Quaestiones disputatae
and the Quaestiones quodlibetales. They constitute no small
portion of St. Thomas' complete works; in the Latin editions
they amount to sixteen hundred closely printed pages. And
i by "major work" we mean a work in which the subjects
of a thinker's investigations are set forth in the greatest
detail, then the Quaestiones disputatae with their twenty
to thirty arguments in each articulus must certainly be
called major. For a time, indeed, the attention of scholars
was fxed too narowly upon the Summa theologica-which
led to what may be called a classicistic picture of Toma.
I the Quaestiones disputatae, on the other hand, we encoun­
ter Tomas the "poser of problems."10 There the quastione9
are realy questons, dilemmas, dubieties. Te Quastione9
disputatae fequently come to an end like the Platonc dia­
logues; tey mae no claim to ofering comprehensive a­
swers, but throw open the gates to a itude of fer
Thus, the ft article of Quaestiones disputatae de ver­
tate, which examines the question: "Wat is tuth?" i a
good sample of this approach. Thomas does not a  ive
at a defnition of tuth; rather, he names several distingishing
characteristics which, however, by no means ft smoothly
together; none of these characteristics is acknowledged a
solely valid; none is fatly excluded. Te road opens up
into a boundless unknown; or more precisely, into te uath­
omable, into the mysterium. Chenu says that the subsequent
Disputationes metaphysicae by the later Jesuit Suarez have
only the name in common with the Questiones disputata
of the thirteenth century.U Later scholastics so pererted
the origina signifcance of quaestio- uestion-that Descar­
tes, say, i te title of his Meditation, felt called upon to
disclai any intention of writing quaestiones.
Aong the most interesting and indeed most a,muing
of St. Tomas' writings are the Quaestiones quodlibetales,
the fruit of the free discussions which Thomas was so fond
of launchig at the universit, wherei those questions are
raised which stirred his age: questions of the stucte of
the universe,l2 of the extent to which one should obey a
erring conscience, 13 of the permissibiit of holding severa
benefces simultaneously, 14 of the right of public criticism,u>
dow to te poser, probably asked by students out of sheer
high spits (and incidentally of Biblical origin: 3 Eda
4), which is stonger: wine, the king, woman, or tuth.16
Finaly a word on the two summa, the Summa Againt the
Pagans and te Summa theologica. Both are total accounts,
and on that score alone may be cled "major works."
The Summa Aganst the Pagans i despite te title ayhing
but a polemcal work. That is the novelt of it; we ae no
longer dealing wit a "crsade," but with an "encounter."17
Naturally Thomas is concered with demonstrating Chistia
tth, and therefore with refuting the mahumetistae et
pagani to whom hs words are directed. But he intends a
refutation in the mode of the disputation, in which the oppos­
ing position is stated in terms of its strongest arguments-
precisely i those terms.
Anoter characteristic must be noted of this, St. Thomas'
frst summa, written between the thirty-fourth and the thirty­
eighth yeas of his life. Because this is directed to pagans,
I cannot, he says, appeal to Holy Scriptures, neither to
te Old Testament, as I would do in converse with Jews,
nor to the New Testament, as in converse with heretics.
It is therefore necessary "to go back to natural reason, to
which all are obliged to assent, but which fails us in divine
tbings."1B And then be speaks, as if warning himself, of
the praesumptio comprehendendi et demonstrandi, of the
presumption of attempting to understand and to prove. Never­
theless, he attacks the mammoth task with an attitude tat
may perhaps be called courageous resignation of ratio.
The Summa theologica, fnally, is the work on which Thomas
labored for seven years, right down to his last year (though
not to the time of his death), and which nevertheless was
left unnished. It is his opus magnum; the torso we have
contains thee thousand articles. The comparison with Gothic
cathedras has been cited so often that it would seem as
i nothing more of value could be extracted from it. Yet
anyone who understands Charres, not merely a a piece
of architecture, but as the attempt to give architectural form
to the Myster of Christ as the liberator of Creation,19
will perceive deeper meaning in the comparison of the
ma with the cathedr
l. In its bold and, incidentally, wholly
original architecture St. Thomas' Summa is also attempting
to give embodiment to an idea. Its structure attempts to
express the structure of reality a a Whole. "Reality" is
at bottom not a static state, but happening, dynamics-in
more precise language, histor, which means event permeated
by spiit ad fowing out of freedom. Every systematic exam­
ination of the Whole has its dubious aspects, of course;
there is the danger that this historical nature of reality wil
be reduced to the vanishing point by the formalistic stucture
of concepts and theses. But the brilliance of St. Tomas'
Summa theologica, the quality which makes it a work of
genius, is precisely that it avoids this danger. It succeeds
in linkng history and system, in projecting the nature of
reality as happening within the orderly structure of ideas.
I we wish to reproduce adequately the structure of the
Summa, we canot, a i a outlne, write the title of its
three pas one under the other. We must rater arange them
in a circular diagam, in a ring returg back upon itself:
the outpouing of reality out of the divine Source, whch
by necessit contains within its itia stages the state of
being on the way back to the same Source, wit te Creator
Wo in Chst ha become one with te Creation reveag
Hmself as te Way of tis retur. Early i his le's work,
in the frst book of his Commenta on the Sentences,
Thomas himself declared (at te age of twenty-eight): "I
the emergence of creatres fom their fst Source i
reveaed a kind of circulation, quadam circulatio vel re­
giratio, in which all things ret, a to thei end, back
to the very place from which tey had their origi i te
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the Humanists passed upon this Latin at the beginnig of
the Modern Age. Language, in fact, was the basis on whch
the division of eras into Antiquit, Middle Ages, and Modem
Times was originally made. The Middle Ages were regaded
as the interval which lacked independent signifcace, te
"pause," a it were, between the era of classical atquit
and the renovation and rebirth of that era among the phol­
ogists of Humanim.
Laurentius Va a, the conscientous ffteenth-centu pro
fessor of rhetoric and author of the fundament work of
Humanist Latinity, De elegantiis Latinae linguae, decreed
that the "frst scholastic," Boethius, was the fst man to
have spoken and written that "babaous" Latin.l Even
for Hegel the language was still the great blight tat lay
upon medieval philosophy. It would be, he says, "aking
too much of anyone" to read these works, for they ae
prolix as they ae palty, terribly written and voluminou."2
In recent decades philolog has to some extent aended
this verdict-although present opinions ae greaty vaied
indeed. Tus, for example, we are told that medieva Lat
continued to grow "just as, in popular belief, the ha and
nails of the dead go on growing";3 or that it is in some ways
lke a water nymph "who through secret union wit a chosen
man obtais real, viable children";4 or that it is like an aal
i a cage, lackig freedom, having no real opportunt for
development, but still capable of rearing up and dsplayg
its native strength. 5 But it has also been said that te dignit,
the importance, and the vitality of Lati lie precisely in
its being "the language of a community of ideas,"
mother tongue of the Occident,"7 "the langage of tradi­
The most competent, intelligent, and well-founded word
on this subject have recently been said by the Dutch philol­
ogist Christine Mohrmann in her teatise on the dualism
of medieval Latin.9 By dualism she means that medeva
Latin did not only live on the heritage of classical antiquit;
that it derived its vitality chiefy-and this, modem phlology
inclines to overlook or underestimate-ut of te active
life of the Christian comunity, especially its lturgy.
Te conclusion Christine Mohrmann arives at is that Latin
was une langue vivante sans etre Ia langue d' une communaute
ethniquella lving language in spite of not being the laguage
of an etnic comunity. In other words, a language tat
went on developing in a livig manner. Medieval men were
not concered with the restoration but with the utilization
of te classica heritage,12 Latin became a dead language
ony ater classicism had won out and had instal ed Cicero's
Latin as a venerated museum piec "guaded by worhipful
conservators, the Humansts and te classica phologst."13
The Humaists fancied tat they were doing someting
wholly aristocratic i brigng back classica Lati. I
reaity tey were engaged i a slavish itation, a "servie
reproduction" of te Lat of the past.14 Te worst of it
was tat precisely ts proedure seaed te death of te
Lati language. After al , French, like all the other moder
Romance languages, aose out of a kind of pidgi Latin,
out of the most on-Ccerona everday Latin of merchants
ad soldiers-which did not keep French fom becomng
an extemely vital, cultivated, and highly dif erentiated lan­
guage. Te trouble wit Humast Latin was that it separated
speech fom lie, and fom te life of the mnd asowhereas
the Lati of scholasticism remained always a living laguage,
Ia langue vivante de I' Universite.15
Tese matters are of great iportance for a corect under­
standing of St. Thomas. Quite uke contemporay neoscho­
lasticism, which refers back to h and claims to brig his
doctrine up to date, Tomas was not writing a dead and
atifcia language, but a natural and living language. We
may also say: Toma spoke a langage; he did not "employ
a terminology"!
To be sure, ths language of S. Tomas cannot be described
siply as "medieva Latin." Tat ter is fa too sweeping;
it taes i poetry fom te time of Venantius Fornatus
trough the compositons of Alcuin, Roswitha von Gander­
sheim, and Hildegad von Bingen to Francis of Assisi's
Hymn to Brother Sun; it encompasses phlosophica and
theologcal prose from Boetus to Anselm to Bonaventura
ad Duns Scotus. Moreover, it also embraces the spoken
word-spoken not only i divie serices, but also in solem
judicial or political decrees, in sermons, in internationa dip­
lomacy, ad incidenta  y in song also (the carmina burana
were, after al, not meant to be read!). Witi this vast
rea the phae Ia langue vivante de l' Universite marks
of a considerably smaler circle.
Tomas speaks the Latin of the university, of the schools,
of scholasticism at its apogee. His was te language of
teaching, and hence a language directed primaily toward
clarfcation, toward lucidty, toward preventing msunder­
standigs. In sayng this, of course, we ae natura  y defng
a limit, a limitaton i purely linguistic ter. One huded
yeas before St. Thomas tat cosmopolita gentlema John
of Salisbury wote a fa more elegat Lat, with stylstc
fourishes ad occasional salies of ionc wt By Thomas'
tme all that has disappeared, as has te laguage shaped
by mystic emotion of the geat canon of S. Victor. In
its stead there appears a language ag totally at statement
of the substance, renouncing al musicat. Ts i te lingua
Parisiensiswhich, incidentaly, aother geat Humanist,
Pico della Miadola, comended i te following terms:
"It is possible," he said, "tat your somewhat d laguage
is ofensive to the ear; but the itellect accept it because
it i closer to reality."
Closer than the musica elegance
cultivated in Florence, he probably means.
Along wit this atibute of the laguage of te schools-te
concer with clarity and notg but clarity-there i
another tendency and a faily dangrou one: te inclination
ts language ha to become "technca," that is to say,
a kind of jargon wherein words are staped with specia
meanings. "Heat" is of course a word in use in te ordina,
genera laguage; but when physics texbooks spea of
"heat" they are using a word which ha a place in a fed
terminology. They mean something that the ordina user
of the word may not even undertnd. Werever people
attempt to speak with the greatest possible uabigut,
they ae inclined to abandon the natua language ad to
substitute a "ternology." I scholastic Latin the case
was no diferent. But it can be said, I believe, tat Toma­
perhaps alone among the geat scholatcs-saw the dager
of this tendency and as far a possible opposed it. Tere
is no doubt about h absolute resolve to avoid abiguity;
he was not seekng mellifuousness, not "poety." But he
greatly mistrusted aicial, contved language; he mstusted
mere terminology.
There is a third statement which must be made about
the language of the medieva universites, scholastc La:
it wa to a large extent a tanslating language, ad therefore
wa necessaily an unorignal language. In the realm of
philosophy and theology Latin had aways been a dependent
language; the geat writers among te Romans used to
demonstate their linguistic talent by dint of tanslatng
from the Greek. Cicero, for example, translated te Greek
word atom, idividual particle, by the Latin word individuum.
Contemplatio was found a te equivalent for theoria.
Seneca, also a great tanslator, complained that to fnd
adequate forulations for philosophica subject matter a Ro
man had constantly to maltreat and twst words; he was wor­
ried tat there existed no Latin word to express what Plato and
Aristotle had called to on, that which is.17 It is therefore
an old complaint tat Latin, a soon a it deals prcipally
with phiosophy, becomes a tanslating language. Te Roman
Boetius, who had completed his studies i Athens and con­
ceived the plan of making all of Plato and al of Aristotle
available to te Latin West by tanslaton and commentary,
continued ths time-hallowed efort. Principium, actus, univer­
sale, subjectum, defnitio, and many other words now com­
pletely familiar to us were frst given their special senses
and co-ordinated with Greek prototypes by Boethus.
But Boethus had succeeded in tanslating only a very
small part of te works of Aristotle. Now, at the end of
the twelft century, the whole of Aristote fell within the
purview of the Latin West. Astotelian metaphysics, ethcs,
psychology became available. All this now had to be translat­
ed. The frst task was the simple one of "caring across,"
conveying the substance, so tat readers of Lati could have
some idea of what Aistotle had said and what he meant.
In the course of this enterprise scholastic Lati, te language
of the unversity, asumed its fal form.
Te sealing took place i an inevitably violent manner.
Tere simply wa not time enough for organic gowh. And
we must consider that it wa not Plato, say, who had to
be translated, not the poetical Plato who in hs dialogues
had taken up and given a sovereign polish to the ordiar
langage of simple men. It was te austere, sober school­
master Aistotle. And the naturaly unphiosophca language
of the Romans was the medium through which tese works
had to be mastered and assimilated. Much is said about the
"penetration" of Aristotelian wting-as though this were
a process which took place of its own accord, with the aler
minds of the era merely lookng on. The process was hadly
so passive. Rather, these ver mids were engaged in tremen­
dous activit; there was no "penetation," but active appro­
priation. The act of tanslating meant tat te best thinkers
of the time were taking possession of a most highly diferen­
tiated instrument, and were leaning to manipulate it. lB
St. Thomas, then, worked within te area of this medieval,
and more specially, scholastic Latin whose outlnes we have
sketched. Nevertheless, as speaker and writer he remaned
a unique fgure ad i no way to be confouded with any
of his contemporaries. It is forever strng, when one ts
abruptly from St. Augustine to St. Thomas-from the one
to the other of these two great doctors of Chrstendom-to
see how far removed Thomas is from Augustine.
"Too late I loved Thee, 0 Thou Beaut of ancient days,
yet ever new! Too late I loved Thee! And behold, Thou
wert within, and I abroad, and there I searched for Tee;
deformed I, plungig amid those fair forms which Tou
hadst made. Thou wert with me, but I was not with Thee.
Things held me far from Thee, whch, unes they were
in Thee, were not at a . Thou calledst, and shoutedst, and
burstest my deaness. • • . Thou touchedst me, ad I burned
for Thy peace. "19 That is Augustine. There is notng of
this sort in the whole of St. Thomas' works. Thomas does
not have that briliance of style, that verbal grace, tat
music; neither does he have that personal tone. We have
no difculty sensing the living human being behind the words
of Augustine, the ma who speaks "now," out of a particula
state of mind. Thomas, on the other hand, canot be recog­
nized behid his words; his words are like crystal formations,
and the thought does not leap to our mnds tat they, too,
have sprung fom a mother liquor.
No one would wish to asser that Augstie's phraseolog
is unclear; it often possesses an isurpassable exactness.
But at bottom Thomas wshes to comunicate something
else entirely, and that alone; he wishes to make plan, not
his own inner state, but hs insight into a given subject. Such
an aim does not, of course, exclude grandeur of form; it
does not exclude beauty. And that austere kd of beauty
is certainly found i the witings of Thomas. There ae
numerous indications, moreover, that Thomas stove for
such beauty. Take the following sentence from the Summa
Against the Pagans: "They bold a plainly false opinion who
say that in regad to the truth of religon it doe not matter
what a man thins about the Creation so long as he has
the corect opion concerning God. . . An eror concern­
ig the Creation ends as false thinking about God"-sic
ergo patet falsam esse quorundam sententiam, qui dicebant
nihil interesse a fdei veritatem, quid de creaturis quisque
sentiret, dummodo circa Deum recte sentiatur • • .: nam
error circa creatura redundat in falsam de Deo senten­
tiam.20 This sentence, it seems to me, has a distinct kinship
to the last bars of a Bach organ fgue. Beauty of language,
then, certainly exists in the work of Thomas. But it is
not really the beauty of a work of a. T language is
beautil as a perfect tool is beautil.
Nevertheless, Toma never regarded language as a mere
tool. Ths is, I t, a point of some importance, and of
some topical importance as well. In the rea of philosophiz­
ing, govered as it is by logic and deduction, we fequently
come up against the opinion that huma laguage is a tool le
a ha  er or a dO , a tool of comuncation; and i ts
tool should not quite meet one's needs, it is simply repaied
or exchanged for aother. I principle tat does not sound
lke a bad idea. But I must put the matter somewhat more
plainly: in some quaters te opinion prevails tat te natural,
historical language, the product of nora growth, ha largely
proved to b a unsuitable tool-for philosophical uses,
at any rate. Hence this unsuitable tool must be exchanged
for a more suitable one, in order t rescue meaning in
general; it mut be replaced, that is, by a artifcial language
based on convention, one which employs symbols istead
of natural words.
I think it higy important to show tat on tis point Thom­
8 held a dif erent opinion, ad tat his position involved
a principle of te highest importance. The queston hangs
upon the relationship between the natural, historical laguge
and a synthetic technical jargon based on convention-te
relationship, as I have said ealier, between language and
terinology. A a matter of fact it i ofen denied tat
there is any df erence in prciple between language and
terminology. A  speech, it is argued, deals with arbitarily
alterable, exchangeable "tools" which may b used at discre­
ton, ad placitum. A fa as te concept of "tool" is concerned,
incidentally, we must distingish between the intrumentum
coniunctum and the instrumentum separatum, between the
tool diectly conected with the user and te tool apa from
hi. The hand i an instrumentum coniunctum, the ha er
an instrumentum separatum.
Tomas himself, to be sure, did not bring up ts matter
when he discussed the relationship between natural language
and artifcial terminology; but it is tue to his spirit to say
that the natural, historical, normally developed language is,
like the hand, an instrumentum coniunctum. 21 And from
this three conclusions spring. First, we obviously cannot
ourselves make it, like a ha  er. Second, we cannot arbitrar­
ily change it,
hich means that we are dependent upon
it and that its inherent qualities are binding upon us. And
third, we can use (and understand) even an artifcial termin­
ology only with the aid and on the basis of the natural lan­
guage, just as we need the band in order to handle a hammer.
All this leads to the following conclusion: terminology draws
its life from te natural, historical language; this language
remains the obligatory foundation for all communcation,
wherea a terminology is not binding in the same way.
I do not say tat terminology cannot be something highly
meaningful and practical, and even inevitable-above all
in the realms of science. When the physician says exitus
be is referring, very precisely, to a clearly defed physiological
process-"precise" in the sense of cut of, cut out, artifcially
separated from the fulness of reality. The word i te natural
language co-ordinate with the technical term exitu is "death."
This word does not mean something precise; it takes in
the total process, including the physiological fact, but including
also many things beyond that; it embraces the wide reality
of what really takes place when someone des: the end of
the status viatoris, for good or ill ; the loss of father, child,
wife-and a number of other things that perhaps are scarcely
defable. All this, i other words the Whole, is present i
the word "deatb"-including the incomprehensibility of
it; and all these thngs ae audible only to one who paici­
pates, bearng and speaking, in the living language. The
word "death" will not lend itself to being contacted and
abridged to a partial meanng. Because it i not "precise"
(cut of)-for that very reason it is more to te point, more
accurate, than the technical term. And pre-eminently in
the realm of phlosophy we are dealing with fundamental
matters which refect the Whole of the unverse and of
existence: happiness, death, love, truth, reality, life, and so
In regard to St. Thomas' position, there are two points
to be made, one negative and one positive. To take the nega­
tive fst: depite fst appearances, Thomas ba no rea
terinology. A extremely detailed investigation has been
made, which demonstates this with complete claity.22
Thomas did not establish any defte, fed terms which
he planned to use in a consistent manner. On the contary,
he was fond of employing several synonymous expressions
side by side.23 We fnd that he employs no less than ten
diferent phases to express the concept of relation.24 Contra­
riwise, the word forma has ten dif erent meanings as Thomas
used it.25 Causa efciens is at one time causa efectiva,
another time causa agens or activa or movens.26 Not only
is this his practice, but it is intentionally so. Tomas wanted
it that way. It was, as Blanche says, not a mere chance matter
of temperament, but the product of defte, clealy formulated
prnciples. Thomas was caeful to avoid makng exact, "pre­
cise" defnitions of such fundamental concepts as "cognition"
or "tuth."27 For Thoma was convinced that an absolutely
adequate name, completely and exhaustively defning a
given subject or sitation so tat a  ateratives are excluded
and that name alone can b employed, simply cannot exist.
Chenu formulated his vew in these words: La clarte des
mots ne lui dissimule pa le mystere des choses-the clearness
of te terms does not disguise from him the mystery i
the things. 2
Secondly, and this on the positive side, we must comment:
the decisive factor for Thomas was never the defnition as
some one thnker had gven it, even i the thinker was
himself. Rather, the decisive factor was linguistic usage,
usus, which is to say, te living speech of human beings.
He propounded this view many times-usually, icidentally,
linking it with a reference to Aistotle. Aristotle, too, followed
the same procedure, and he too put it in so many words,
"I the namng of things one must go with the crowd."29
Of course it is not easy to describe usage, the living speech
of men. Obvously the category does not iclude defective,
trivial, ipoverished, careless, slang speech of the streets
(although it has been observed that Thomas does not always
reject even an incorect colloquial use of a word).SO When
we say "usage," we mean the speech of men who are "culti­
vated" in the best sense and who draw sustenance from
the living roots of the language. This no doubt includes the
language of poets, and even a poet's linguistic innovations,
so long as these ae consonant with the spirit of the language.
On the other hand ts defition of usage rules out cut-and-
dred jargon severed from the roots of the language. (owadays
such jagon is beginning more and more to invade all
forms of public utterance-a dangerous development which
not only poisons the purit of language but cripples the
human capacit to approach and express the deeper dimensions
of the universe i general, or even to observe tem.)
Tus Tomas says: nominibus utendum est ut plures utun­
tur-we must ue names as they ae genera  y used. 31
Tat is to say, we should not arbitarily coin new names,
or employ existing names in abitary new meanings. More­
over, in investigating the meaning of such fundaental
words as "justice" we ought to look into te livng usage
of the language. (he usage-not the etmolog! I think
that Heidegger's procedure of determining the meaing of
fndamental words from their etolog is demonstably
fruitless, i not misleading.) This is the maxim that Thomas
hself obeys.
He asks, for example: Wat do people mea when they
say "simlar"? It would seem at frst sight that we might
rest content wit the deftion to be found i phosophical
dictionaies. Does it not sound perfecty obvious to say tat
two things are "like" one another when they age in a 
characteristics, and "similar" to one another when a porion
of teir chaacteristics ae in agreement? Such a statement
seems to cover the matter. But Thomas i not satisfed wt
He examines usage, which manifests itself i the mutiplicit
of actual possibilties for the employment of a word, or
in the impossibilit of employing it in a paticula context.
Thus, Thoma point out, it is impossible to say that te
father is similar to his son-from which it become clea
that the concept of similarit contains something diferent
from what we would be led to supect by tat apparently
so exact defnition, namely, an element of derivation, descent,
Now we may ask what law prevents us from saying never­
teless that the father is similar to his son? That is difcult
to say. Yet a kind of law is there. Ad Thomas acknowledges
it. In so doing he concedes that i natural, historical human
speech there is something which we canot manipuate at
will a we ca things and tools which we have madesome­
thing which we have no rght to deal with arbitrarly.
We have stll to comment on Thomas' special, personal
stle of language and speech. Thoma seems to agree wt
Goethe in that, faced with the choice, he will always prefer
the less "iated" expression.33 He avoids unusual and osten­
tatious phraseology. That has its disadvantages, of course.
Unadorned, dry clarity can be tedious. In the case of St.
Tomas we must imagine that this danger was alleviated
not only by the tempo of delivery, but also by the gesticula­
tions that no doubt accompanied his speech. We must think
of both, gesticulations and tempo, as souther Italan i
chaacter. But perhaps that is not especialy important.
A outstandig trait of St. Thomas' style is, it seems to
me, its sobriet. By that, o course, I do not mean dullness
or lack of anmation, incapacity for enthusiasm or want
of energy. Rater, I mean the f rejection and avoidance
of everything that might conceal, obscure, or distort reality.
I mean extreme receptivity to reality, unencumbered by
any sort of subjectivity; I mean the concern to frame every­
thing, and only those things, which can stand up to a regard
wholly without illusions.
Ernst J  nger has spoken of a kind of courage which he
calls "two-o'clock-in-the-morning bravery." There is also
something like a two-o'clock-in-the-morning sensitivity to
"dicta," especially to "pious dicta." It seems to me that
even in such a mood we can stll read an articulus by St.
Thomas. Ad I have a notion tat he rather intended his
wtten words to stand up to such a disilusioned gaze. That
accounts for his dogged resistance to everything that is
merely well said, to all pretentious ars about himself and
his work-and even t specifcally "religious" terminology.
Te word "religious" must be put in quotation maks here,
for i realit this very abstinence from a "religious" vocabu­
lary has its origin in a religious point of view. St. Thomas'
language is devoid of unctio, unctiousness. Bonaventura,
undoubtedly with a glance at his colleague Thomas, remarked
that among the Franciscans unctio came frst and only then
speculatio, but that with the Dominicans it was the reverse.34
Unctio is lacking, I have said. Strictly speaking, this cannot
really be stated so defitely; what is "lacking" is the visible
ad audible, perhaps only the customary, expression of
religious emotion.
But who can say whether this lack is not founded upon
an equanimity which springs from a reverence all the deeper?
Thomas' characteristic distaste for "religious short-circuits,"
hs rational sobriet, undoubtedly has religious i not mythical
roots. We defne a thing, he once said, not by its ultimate
priciple, but by the proxiate one;a5 and therefore the
anwer to the question, "What is the essence of vitue?"
is not "Virtue is that which God desires," but "Virtue means
to do what is consonant with insight and appropriate to
te situation."
Out of that same unshakable sobriety Thomas-although
i reality he wa so "modem" that it made many of his
brethen and coleages diz to behold his fights-refused
to become ivolved i the topical "religious" concer whch
agtated h own era. For example, he completely igored
te talk, so general at the time, about his cent's eschato
logical chaacter-ths although the generals of both te Fran­
ciscan and the Dominican Orders had issued (in 1256) a
joint circula letter concerning the apocalyptic meanig
of the two mendicant orders. They, the mendicants, te
letter asserted, were the two witnesses of Christ clothed
in sackcloth, the to stars of the Sibyls, and so on.36 A
year later Thoma made the matter-of-fact statement: "No
one span of time can be named, neither a small nor a geat
one, after which te end of the world is to be expected."37
We have said that Tomas' sobriet arose from hs tota
preoccupation wit the tuth of reality. There was something
else connected with it, something characteristic of Thomas
and of hs way of speakg and writing, namely, his remak­
able inner independence. Sometimes tis independence amount­
ed to a boldness tat stopped at nothng. Thus he once
asks hiself, in his commentary on the Book of Job, whether
Job's candd speech to God did not occasionally depar from
the respect due to the To which he counters: "Truth
does not change because of the high dignity of hi to whom
it is addressed; he who speaks the tth cannot be overcome,
no matter with whom he disputes."
To epitomize the intellectual task confronting Thomas, and
which he set for hmself, I must use the iage of Odysseu'
bow, which was so difcult to bend that it took amost super­
human stength to draw the ends closer together. I have
said that amost a soon as Thomas awoke to critical con­
sciousness he recogned that it was his lfe's task to join
these two extemes whch seemed inevitably to be pulling
away from one another. And I have labeled te extemes,
in a highly inadequate simplifcation, "Aristotle" on the
one hand and the "Bible" on the other band. The name "Aris­
totle" was meant to sere a a crptic word for natural reality
as a whole, for the visible, sense-perceived word of physical,
material things and-withn man hiself-for sensuouness,
for nature and naturalness, and also for the natural cognitive
powers of reason, the lumen naturale. The other cue word,
"Bible," was meant to include the whole realm of the super­
natural: te supraationality of divine revelation; the realty
of unverse, man, and God which is accessible only in
faith; the Gospel's doctine of salvation a the nor of
human lie.
But the man who undertook this task of joining the to
was Thomas Aquinas. This means that it wa undertaken
by a man of almost unparalleled power of md, a man whose
scope, precision, and vigor in clarcation of idea are seldom
to be met with in te history of human thougt. He approached
tis tak with penetating insight into te substance of te
questions. And for this ver reason it bad to become apparent
from the start-ould not, at least, remain bidden fom
Thomas hiself-that his endeavor wa faught with a
multitde of potential conficts; that it would be a source
of valy incalculable difculties and discords whch could
scarcely ever be brought to a fnal "harony."
Thomas coud no longer possess te magnicent naivete
of Boethus, who had frst formulated the principle fdem
rationemque coniunge. T Roman, wholly at home in
Greek cosmology, hei to te fl rchness of te classical
heritge, sharing the belief of Plotinu that he could vente
a syntesis of Platonic and Aistotelia tought, considered
it possible to discuss te Triita God without resortig
to the revealed word of Holy Scripture. His book on te
Trnity contais not a sige quotation fom te Bible.
Sialy, te siplcation practiced by Aselm of Canter­
bury, two hundred years before Thomas, had by te th­
teent cent become ipossible. That mystica theologia,
completely absorbed i meditation upon reveaed tth,
could maitai tat Chstia belief so completely concurred
with natural reason tat it could be proved on compellg
rationa gounds, by rationes necessariae.
These two potentia siplifcations were closed to Thoma.
He could not be so "naive." Severa thgs had happened
wti Wester Chstendom itsel whch rued out any
rapid, premature haonation. Most of a , te dager
of seculaation i doctine had made its appeaace i
unstaable for. Tat i to say, reason was teatening
t sepaate itsel fom fait, to declae its idependence,
and to reject a  supraational ad superhuma stadards.
Tis teat, moreove, wa arisi wt Chrstendom itsel­
for example, i te circle aound the Hohenstaufen Emperor,
Frederck I, wt whose members Thoma was personally
acquaited. Peter of Hibea, who had intoduced Tomas
to Aristote whle Toma was a student at the imperia
universit of Naples, wa aoter representative of this
tendency. Trends such as tese-and Thomas had opened
his mid to tem wit complete lack of bias-would not
alow h to sipl te problem at hand i an ujustiably
"naive" man er.
On the oter hand, his knowledge of these things and
his exposure to t school of tought made h awae of
the truly deadly per which was brewing for te itellectual
lie of the Christia world, te peri of a split i conscious­
ness, a it were. And perhaps there could be discered, very
fa of on the horon, te danger of a complete de-Chistia­
iation, of a seculaation which would sweep forad un­
checked by any psychologica bar iers. At any rate, the danger
of a division of intellectua le into what men "kew,"
o� the one hand, ad what tey "beleved," on the oter-a
division so sha tat it would no longer be possible to
mantan a bridge fom the one realm to the oter-had a­
ready become acute. Perhaps we can cal ths te catchword:
the danger of "double tut." And Toma could not possibly
overlook it.
The task presented by te age itsel, ten, wa ths:
to efect a legitiate unon between the to reams that
treatened to brea apa by tei own mutua repulsion.
A "legitimate uon" would mea to tng. First, it
would mean joing te to reas so that thei dstctive­
ness and irreducibity, their relative autonomy, tei itsic
justifcation, were seen and recoged. Second, it would
mean mag thei unty, thei compatibity, ad te necessity
for thei conjunction appaent not fom te point of view
of either of te to members of te unon-neiter simply
from te point of view of fait nor simply fom tat of
reason-but by going back to a deeper root of bot.
In oter words, te generation of the md-trteent century
could no longer abide by ealier answers to te problem of
fdem rationemque coniunge. The rea dichotomy had come
to the fore in all it urgncy; tey had to come to terms
wit it. And Thoma undertook tis task.
From the point of view of tirteenth-entury "orthodox"­
by whch I mean the inevitably "moderate" climate of
"prevailing" philosophca and theologica ideas-te attitude
of St. Thomas wa aggessively unusua ad disturbing.
For he accepted te opposing positions, bot of them, in
al their radicality. More tan unusual, his afmaton of
the ideal of "evangelica perfection" was revolutiona-the
more so since tat ideal had aisen wtn te heretical Wa­
densian voluntay povert movement, whch a  bien-pen­
sants regarded wit exteme suspicion.
Even more ofensive was his resolute appeal to "Ais­
totle"; despite a  ofcia wangs ad bans his fdelity
to Aristote was open ad unbroken. Ad what did ths
mean but that he was intepidly afrmig te whole of
nata realty, not only with regad to objective existence,
but also within man himself-afg, therefore, what
Chistendom's taditiona sense of values subsumed under
the ter "the world." "They a  ogated to temselves divine
wisdom, although worldliness is fa more native to thei
minds"-we have aeady referred to ths chage whch wa
soon raised against Albert and Thomas. Thomas attack
the kernel of this charge by analyzing the Biblcal concept
of "the world." Tere are, he says i his commenta on
the Gospel of John, tree dif erent meanings of the word
"world" a it is used in Holy Scriptre, two of which ae
entirely positve.l "World" means, frst of all, the equivalent
of "creation," te whole of the tings ad beings created
by God. Secondly, "world" can be ued to mean creation
newly created and liberated by Chist. However, Biblica
usage may also ue the phase "the world" with pejoratve
overtones: in this sense "the world" stands for the iverion
of the order of creaton which has come about wth te
passage of time. Tomas speaks out against the equtig
of this negatve concept of "world" with te fst meag
(world as te whole of created tgs ad beigs). I
would be understating the case t asser that Tomas "de
fends" natural realit; to his mind it would be utterly ridicu­
lous for man to undertae to defend the creation. Creation
needs no justcation. The order of creation is, on the con­
tra, precisely te stadad which mut govern man's every
judgment of things and of himsel.
It is not by chance that Thomas poses to himself the fol­
lowing objection: Sice God is an incorporeal Beig and
since our goal mut be "likeness to God," surely it must
be said that the soul sepaated from the body is more lie
God than the soul united with the body. Here is a agent
that is based upon a very sublime thought with which, so
it would seem, nobody can disagree. But Thomas is tat
nobody. He boldly contends: "The soul uted wth the body
is more like God than the soul sepaated fom te body
because it (te soul in the body) possesses its natre i
more complete fahion."2 Corporealit, therefore, is good.
Icluded withi this statement is a frther premise: Sen­
sualty is good (so much so that Thomas cals "unsensuality"
not merely a defect, but a vitium, a mora defciency) ;3
ager is good;4 sexalit i good.5 We mght cite hudreds
of such sentences. Onc Thomas refers to several Fathers
of the Church who held that the reproduction of the human
race i Paadise must have taken place i some nonsexua
maner. With utter calmness, objectivity, but also absolute
frness, St. Thoma reples: Hoc non dicitur rationabiliter,
''his cannot be said reasonably; for what belongs to te
nature of man is neither taen from h nor given to hi
by reason of sin."6
Naturaly such a statement has enormous consequences,
above all for our fundamental conceptions of ethical conduct.
I there are certain reams of objective reality which are
i themselves "bad," "bae," and "tainting," ten it is an
easy matter to deterne what is good and what is bad.
Virtue, for instance, would consist in avoiding such "impure"
aspects of realty, such as sex. But i tere are no such
taintng aspects of reat, what, we may ask, is unchastit?
The teatise on chastity and temperance in te Summa theo­
logica strikes us a a breath of fresh a. Here is not the
slightest trace of the narowness, pettiness, and unnaturalness
so comon to moralistic tracts. This can only be explained
by Thomas' utter fdelity to his thesis of te goodness of
al created things.
Thomas' personal le, too, was marked by te sae knd
of tolerance and absence of prejudice. Teodor Haecker
i his Journal in the Night7 (July 3, 1942) has remarked:
"Thomas had no thor in the fesh."B Apparenty Haecker
did not mean this remark as sheer praise, for he added:
"that explains why he is so stange and foreign to modem
9 I think that tis strangeness, this alien qualit, is
i fact connected with the deepest secret of Thomas as a
human being.
Perhaps one aspect of that secret is contained in te curious
episode which ha come down to us under the name of
"the angel's girdlig." Thomas himself told the story to
hs friend Regiald during the last period of his life. Mter
be bad been imprsoned, at the age of nneteen or twent,
hs brothers sent a bejeweled courtesan to visit Thomas in
hs cell, to lure h fom his resolve to become a mendicant
fria. Mter he had rather roughly shown ths damsel the
door, Toma fell ito a deep, exhausted sleep, from which
he awakened wit a cry. He had cried out because i his
dream an angel had girdled him in an extemely painful
manner, in order to make him hencefort ivlnerable to
al temptations toward impurity. Whatever interpretation
we may put upon ths story, it is certain that Thomas-like
Goethe, incidentally-always maintained tat purit was
a necessary condition for recognizing trut, for seeing realty.
More than that, he fulfl ed this condition in his own person.
He was, it appears, a person of such unusual "simplicit,
and ths "singleness of eye" gives hi such "light" that
we ae no doubt jutifed in speaking of chaisma.
In ths attitude of hs, two elements were combied which
are usully i contadiction. On the one hand, his vision
remained unclouded, hs judgent unconfused, above al
not confed by the interpolations of h own desis. But
he never assumed the mantle of the ascetc who forces his
nate to renounce the world. Rater (ad here comes te
"on the other hand"), he wa kown for his hearty a ation
of all reality, especially of the world of the senses ad its
beauties. Tis union of wholeheated af ation, on the
one hand, and utterly unclouded, utterly cool clait of vision
on the other had-ths conjunction wt the mind of
a man who moreover lived undemadigly i evagelical
poverty was, so I believe, the fuit of a unusua, we may
aso say, a saitly purity.
We may wel asume that such vgorou acceptance of
the natual world would i some way color Thomas' approach
a theologian. Two examples may serve to point up the
originality of his approach to teological matters.
Albert the Great and Bonaventra had contived, by
employig a appaatus of somewhat forced symbolisms,
to co-ordinate the seven Sacraments with the seven deadly
sins, so that each of the seven Sacraments could be considered
a cure for a speifc sin. Thoma, however, agued tat
the establishment ad the gowth of the New Lie taes
place after the image of the le of the body: Baptism core­
sponds to begetting and birth, Confation to te atent
of puberty; Holy Communion is the nourishment of the
New Life; the Sacrament of Penance is te cure for injuries
and diseaseand so on.u
Second example: the inner style of the Scriptural com­
mentaies. The commentay on the Book of Job i considered
most typica of Thoma. I order to understand its importace
we must know that the theology of the time wa domated
by the comentar on Job witen by Gregory te Great,
which indeed is magicent in its practical wisdom. But
as an interpretation of the book itelf, this older comenta
is pue allegoration, constantly doing violence to the text.
(e seven sons of Job are fst equated with te seven ve;
secondly, they "mean" te twelve Apostes. How can seven
sons mean telve Apostles? The aswer is siple: seven
is 3 plus 4, and telve i 3 tmes 4! 12 Ad so on.) Thoma,
on the other hand, approaches te Book of Job i terms
of the diect meag of te text, as a lesson on the destiny
of man and on Divie Povidence.
Aoter feate of Thomas' must be noted here. In
order to clarify Holy Scripture, he brings to bear, with
superb condence, te whole of his itellectal stock; i
this commenta on the Book of Job he quotes Averroes,
Avicenna, Porphyry, Ply, Cicero, Plato, and of course,
above all, Aistotle. Acceptance of all natra realit necessar­
ily involves te acceptance of valuable isights wherever
they may be found-and, terefore, also in te pre-Chistian
and exta-Chstian worlds.
From the ealy decades of the thiteent century on, as
I have said, things had begun to diverge, to move vgorously
apar: the Biblical and evangelica impulses on the one hand,
ad the exclusively philosophical and secula impulses on
the other hand. It must be admitted that the work of Thomas
seemed at frst to feed this tendency. Thomas' very eforts
to demonstrate that a more deeply grounded union was both
meaningful and necessar appeared to intensify the danger
of mutal isolation, to push things to extemes, and lay
.the groundwork for confict. For Thoma granted the right­
ness of both directions, after all; each one, it would seem,
could appeal to his sanction. Most of all, exteme Aristotelian­
ism was encouraged and reinforced by the fact that St.
Thoma ted so resolutely to the same Aistotle. We
ae told that Siger of Brabant, who was one of Thomas' most
vigorous opponent durng the later's lat yeas of teaching
i Paris, had drawn may of his idea from Thomas.1a
The name Siger of Brabant conjues up one of those dra­
matic biographies wit which the history of medieval philos­
ophy is studded. A Walloon by birth, ffteen to twenty years
younger than Thomas, he ealy became a canon of St. Matin's
in Liege and then, still extemely young, a magister in the
Facuty of Ats in Pars. Siger was not yet thirty when he
stepped into the public arena in a tremendous dispute that
threatened to split the faculty. Va Steenberghen, who ha
written an imposing monogaph upon Siger of Brabant, sum­
maizes his caeer as follows: "A young ringleader without
scrples, resolved to put his poit of view across with all the
means at his commad"; fer of temperament, vehement, in­
cled to go to extremes.14 Ts man, then, wa teaching at the
1 12
Unversity of Paris and witing a considerable number of
books, above al commentares on Aristotle. He was constantly
ivolved i doctal disputes; when sumoned to appea
before an Inquisitiona tibunal he fed from Frac and
appealed directy to the Pope. In Orvieto, te cit which
was then the seat of the Ca he was stabbed to death by
h ow secretary, h caeer thus cut shor at te age of
Siger of Brabant became the spokesman for a school
of thought which had become established i Paris around
1265 and whch is usually refered to i the lterature as
"Latin A veroism. "15 The special docties that Siger and
hs circle advocated ae not te important mater for us.
Wat is important is that these men understoo ad pro­
pounded Aristotle in such a manner tat from te sta tey
felt themselves exempt fom any concern wt the tuth
of te Christian revelation. Gilson has caled this basic atitude
The word means two tgs: fst, the
thesis tat philosophizing is in principle idependent of
and sepaate from theology and faith. For te fst time
i te hstory of Chistendom te principle of unitig ratio
and fdes, which had been established since te days of
Augustine and Boethus, was formally abrogated-abrogated,
moreover, by clerical teachers at the most imporant academy
of Chstendom itself. Secondly, ths newly autonomous ph­
osophy-in defance of the defition of its nae ("seach
for wisdom") whch had been held valid since Pagoras-was
considered to be wisdom itself, a doctrine of salvation. "There
is no state superior to the practice of philosophy"-uch
was one of its tenets.l7
This radical view was received wit open ars at te
Unversit of Paris. Ad none of the geat men who mght
efectively have opposed it was on the scene. Alber te Great
was tdging al over the Western world as superior of
the order and emissary of the Pope. Bonaventura had aleady
left the university in 1257, having been called to the post
of general of the Franciscan Order. Thomas had been i
Italy since 1 259. A English historian ha chaacterized
the situation at the University of Pais around 1268 as
folows: If the goup aound Siger of Brabant had continued
to hold the intellectual leaderhip unhindered, without meeting
resistance, the authorties would have been compeled to
1 1 3
close the university.
Perhaps that is putting the matter
somewhat too stongly; but obviouly te situation i Paris
wa speedily moving toward a crisis.
Tat ver year of 1268 Tomas, contar to a  custom,
was sent to the University of Paris for the second time.
He found there not ony the goup of heterodox Astotelans
aound Siger of Brabat, athough they were his most dager­
ou opponents-most dangerous for him personally, too,
and the opponent with whom he was forever being con­
founded. Confounded by whom? We mut not forget that
a taditional theolog stil existed. I was inherited from
te previous century and was to a degee stil dominant,
still contolng te "bureaucracy" ad largely determing
the attitdes of the Chistian world, against which Thomas
tied to w recogtion for his "worldliness" which, a
we have said, had been inspied by his acquaintance with
Arstotle ad which refered back to Aistote.
Ts taditiona mode of seeing and interpreting te world,
which ha been roughly labeled wit the imprecise name
of "medieval Augutinsm," had always harbored suspicions
of everhing connected wit the name of Aristote-and
therefore of Toma. These suspicions were confmed by
the kind of Aistotelianism advocated by Siger of Brabat
and by his fellow polemicists, some of whom went even
further tha he did. For teir Aristotelianism certainly verged
on heresy, i it was not heresy outright.
Bonaventura, who, i his ealy works, had likewise been
enamored of Aistotle, was disturbed. Alaned for te ut
of the Christian world view, he once more interened i
te doctnal disputes, liewise issuing wangs. To be
exact, his wang was directed against the ver ideas tat
Thomas, undetered, wa proclaing t be te tue solution
to the dif cult. And the theology of these taditionalists,
wholly reverting back as it did to an interpretaton of te
universe which could no longer satisfy te demands of
te century-this crabbedness of the taditionalst i it
t exacerbated te extemism of te men aound Siger
of Brabat.
Ths was the situation Thomas came ito. Of course he
wa compelled to defend his position fom to sides-and
lewise compelled, by the stugge on two fronts, to foruate
ths position more precisely, to clari it. He had stil some
fve yeas to live, and was to be i Paris for a good three
1 14
of them. Wen he lef Paris after Easter i 1272, aged
forty-seven, he was an exhausted man. Even i we pass
over the great disputations and h regula teaching work,
even if we consider ony the literary output of those tree
yeas, it is well-nigh unbelievable that a sigle huma beig
could have produced so much: twelve major commentaies
on Aristotle, the comentary on John, the elucidaton of
the Epistes of Paul, the voluminous Quaestions disputata
on evil, on the vires, on the Incaation, fnal y the Second
Part of the Summa theologia; in addition to polemic, and
not only against Siger of Brabant, but also i defense of
the voluntary poverty movement, the ver principles of
which were under attack.
What chiefy interests u here is that Tomas wa compelled
to defend and clarify his position, based a it was on the
joit a ation of both the ''Bible" and "Astotle." And,
simpliing somewhat, he was fghting a battle aganst the
absolutizing of Aristotle, on the one hand, and against the
exclusiveness of a supranaturalistic Biblicism, on the other
had. Ths clacation and defense, which forms the thread
of al the above-mentioned works, can b reduced to a
few basic lines of agent.
Fist, Thomas demonstated that afmative acceptance
of the natural reaity of the world and of the natra reaity
i man hself can be ultimately established ad justifed
only in theological ters. The natural tngs of the world
have a real, self-contaed intrinsic being precisely by reason
of having been created, precisely because the creative wil
of God is by its natue being-giving. That is to say that
the wil of God dos not keep being for itsel alone but
tly communicates it (this, and this alone, i the meaing
of "to create": to comunicate beig). Precisely because
there is a creation, there ae independent entities and tings
which not only "exist" for themselves, but aso, of their
own accord, can efect and afect.
This agument was addessed to bot opposing sides. The
chief objection of the anxious traditonalists i theology
was that Thoma al owed creation too geat idependence
of God, and that by defending the rights of natal thigs
he inringed upon the rights of God.19 To tem Thomas
cried: The very autonomy and intrinsic efectiveness of
created things proves the tuly creative powers of God. And
to the extremist Aristotelians he sad, to set the record straight:
1 1 5
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a profoundly theological one. Not only did Tomas justify
the right to af, but he even insisted on the duty of such
afrmation. To sum up, then, Thomas' resolute worldliness
set him apart from the spiritualistic, symbolistic unworldliness
of the age's traditional theology. At the same te he dif ered
with the radical, secularistic worldliness of heterodox Ais­
totelianism by the determinedly theologcal foundation he
gave to his ideas; he justifed his worldliness by the theology
of creation and by the strictly "theologca" theology of
the Incarnation.
In the frst of these lectures I spoke of how "unhaonious"
an era the thirteenth century was, although i ters of
the history of thought it might be said that it attained to
something like harmony and "classical fllness" for a brief
moment. Now it is my opinion that this brief moment was
constituted precisely by what I have just been discussing.
In this synthesis of a theologically founded worldliness and
a theology open to the world, a synthesis Tomas forged
with the fl energies of his inner being, a culmnation was
reached. Here was the stcture toward which the whole
intellectual efort of Christian thinking about the world-from
Justin through Augustine and Boethius and Asel-had
been aiming and toward which this whole era of Chistendom
was directed: the coniunctio rationis et fdei, the conjunction
of reason with faith. This intellectual structure was, to
be sure, not only very highly diferentiated; it was also
fearfully imperiled and fragile. It had no sooner been erected
than it was beset by the forces of disintegration.
I have likewise said earlier that ths paicula moment
has continued to live in the memory of Western Chistendom
as something exemplary, a paradigm and model, a stadad
which "realy ought" to be met. Ts is no abitay settig
up of an ideal. Te geatest ideas, those that comprehensively
reveal the truth of things, possess some of the obligatory
quality of reality itself; they ipose an actua coercion.
And it can in fact be shown that we-that is to say, Western
Christendom and the secular Europeans of the twentieth
century who inhabit the soil and live upon the heritage of
this Western Christendom-still actualy respond to the
coercion of that giding principle which wa forulated
by Thomas. Thus we simply cannot succeed i lving,
without uneasiness, in terms of a worldliness wholly divorced
from al supramundane cals. It is lewise ipossible for
1 17
us to live, witout uneasiness, in ters of a "religionistic"
religiousness wholly divorced from all obligations toward
the world. We cannot manage, that is, to live consistently
against the principle which expresses the essence of the
Christian West. Ad the person who for the frst time clearly
enunciated that principle was none oter than Tomas
1 1 8
The guiding principle of a theologically founded worldliness
on the one hand and a theology receptve to the world on
the other hand established, as I have said, the itelect
stucture of the Chstan West. There are to fther remark
that must be made on this subject. First, that that statement
takes cogniance of the fact that a non-Wester Chstiat
exists: for example, the Easter Chuch, whose theology
is emphatically unwordly-though we mut aso obsere
tat the most thoroughgoing form of pricipal secuarism
i history has arisen precisely within the sphere of iuence
of this form of Christianit.
Non-Wester for of Christianit ae, then, conceivable.
Nevertheless they remain for us, Wester Euopeans of
the tentieth century, a purely abstact matter. I concrete
cases we do not succeed, at any rate not wholy and not
consistently, in thinkng and lving at variance with that
Wester principle.
Secondly: "The West" is therefore somethig entiely
diferent fom a specic stock of achievements or itittions.
The West is a historical design, and one that fom te star
was laden with explosive potentialities, with the gnpowder
of conct. But, we must realie, this very circumstce-and
Thoma obviously had no illusions about it- ver poten­
tialit for conict, this inescapabilit of stggle i achieving
the design, was accepted and taken into the baga by
all those who a  rmed te principle of "theologicaly founded
worldliness." For this principle patenty includes te accept­
ance, for example, of all the fndings of natura reaon i
astonomy, evoluton, biology, atomic physics, and science
in general. It includes the welcoming of all these fndngs
from the star-in fact, literally, a priori. It includes acceptance
of the natural realities of the human condition itsel: politcs,
Eros, technolog, and so on. All tat, on the one hand; and
1 19
on te other hand, te principle calls for an allegiance to
te stadards of a superhuman and superatural truth wit
which te temporal tts must be made to square, bot
on te teoretic plane ad in real le,l
Now, however, we must spea of a frther insight which
made St. Toma' a -embracing reverence for a  exsting
things not ony valid, but absolutely compelng and inescap­
able. I is difcult t say wheter te insight in question
is a phosophica or a teological one. It concers the concept
of beig, or more precisely, the concept of exsting. Ts
very phraseology reveas te inherent dif culty of the matter:
the pecuaty of exsting is just this, that it-xistig, ex­
istence-an ot be grasped in a "concept."
I should le to ty to elucidate my meaning by the use
of a thoroughly concrete istance. Tere before my eyes
stands a tee, an oak. Before my eyes-but I also know tat
many aspects of this tee are not at a  visible t the eye,
ae not accessible to any of the senses. Many aspects of
te tee, te essental qualit of it, are accessible only to
te md; ts essence is only "tkable," conceivable. I
can ot see te vita fctioning of te tee as such, not even
uder te microscope. I now ask about te "essence" of
the tee-and ts question at fst does not involve anythg
"metaphysica" or philosophical; I a simply seeking a
answer t te queston: What is a tee? Everyone asks ts
question, after al, and answers it t his own satisfaction;
everyone knows "what" a tree is as distinct from a river,
a rock, gass, a aal. Let us assume tat it is possible
to lst every sigle "quality" of te tg caled "tee"
and terefore that
we can say exhaustively what a tee
is-leavig out no characteristic, no conceptual element.
Hence, te question, What is a tee? would presumably be
aswered in ful.
Cononted with such an answer, someone might suggest
that perhaps the description ought to include a statement
a to wheter ts tee really "exsts" or not. At fst I
would reply tat i answering the question, "What is a
tee?" the actal exstence or nonexstence i of no interest;
tat I do not look at te matter tat way. Whereupon the
other may respond tat ths is precisely what seems to h
of crcial importance, that he does not want to know ony
"what" a tree is, but aso whether it realy is; he i intereted
in the essentia, the "inwardness," to be sure, but also i
the existentia, the "thereness. " Perhaps we would then consider
and discuss this element of "existence. " And it wil soon
turn out that it is not just another conceptual element whch
can be listed along with the other characteristics-as if
we could add to the description of size, shape, knd of
foliage, and fuit the additional and fnal tait of exsting.
This factor is not co-ordinal with the others ; it is sometng
fundamentally dif erent. It has something of the quaity
of doing. The tree, deteined by all those contentual
peculiarities, also "does" something: it grows, tur green,
bears fruit. And in addition it "does" something else before
all these other indivdual acts: it exists. This act of exstig
is not only something "of the nature of doing"; it is "doig"
in a distinctive and wholly unique sense. The ancient caled
it "doing" without restriction or further specifcatons; they
simply termed it actu.
"The most maellous of all the things a being can do
is: to be.
In these words Gilson most clearly and convincingly
elucidates that insight of St. Thoma which I am discussing
This, then, is the frst matter to be considered: that
existence is not one among other substantial characteristics
by which an existing thing is determined; existence occupies
a position outside this series of characteristics; it is perpen­
dicular to them. Nor is it that a real tee is comp1sed, so
to speak, of it essence and its existence; to defne the matter
thus would be to de-existentialize existence and understand
it, or rather misunderstad it, as having to do with the ''what
is it" of a thing.
But above all, secondly, there is this consideration:
in the case of the tree I can in many ways defne more closely
what "green" means, what "fruitful" or "wood" is, and so
on. The substantial characteristics can perhaps not be ex­
haustively defned, but they can be described and accounted
for in greater detail. On the other hand, it is completely
impossible to give a more specifc explanation of what "exist­
ing" means. Anyone who wishes to underline the df erence
between a real tee and an imaginary one can do no better
than to repeat the same phrases: that the real tree exists,
that it "actually is," that it is "something real. " Existence
cannot be defned: actus defniri non potest-so says
Thomas in his commentary on Aristotle's Metaphysics.s
This means that at this point in our considerations-without
the slightest exaggeration of the actua facts-ur thinkng
has encountered te riddle of being, perhaps for te fst
tie. Perhaps, to put it more shaply, our tg meets
te mysterium of being.
Furhermore (oint tree): after we have a  ved at a
relatively adequate answer to the question, "Wat is a
tee?"-by studying ad descrbing really existing trees-we
still do not have to make the actal existence of tese trees
a part of our concept. To exist is not part of thei essence;
they do not have to exist. There is only One Being of whom
it may be said not only that existence is part of His nature,
but that His natue consists in existing-so that no appellation
more pungently and accurately expresses the nature of
this unique Being, namely, God, than the name "He Wo
Is," te Existing One. "I am Who Am"-so it is put in
Holy Scripture (Exodus iii. 14). According to the words of
Sripture God Himself calls Himself He Wo simply is.
Wen we innocently hear this phrase, "God is," it at
fst seems to us that it can be taken to mean only one of
two things. Either it is an answer to the question of wheter
there is a God: "God is," that is to say, God does exist.
Or else it is an incomplete sentence, the beginning of a
sentence: "God is. . ." And now the sentence must be
rounded out with various statements of what He is: the Creator
of a  things, mercil, omnipotent, wise . . • and so on.
But Tomas takes this phase neither in te fst nor the
second meaning, neither as an answer to te question of
whether God exists, nor as an incomplete sentence. To
his mind the phrase exresses this: God is that Being Whose
whole nature it is to exist, that is to say, to be the actus.
God i existence in itself, actus purus. Where God i con­
cred, it is not possible to say, or even merely to thin,
tat a certain being exists, deterined by a certain sum of
chaacteristics, and that in addition there is-perhaps neces­
saiy-His existence, the actuality of this being whose nature
is such and such. No, i we wish to speak in the most precise
possible terms, without being fgrative, without bending
our langage to meet the ordinar needs of conversation,
then we must say: God's essentia natre itself is actalit;
He is His actuality. In Deo non est aliud essentia vel quiddita
quam suum esse; in God essence and existence are not tain.4
To say this is to make a "revolution" in te history of
metaphysics; and te revolutionay was Tomas.5 However,
this revolution became possible only a the result of frer
developig the Aristotelan distinction between potential
being and actual being, between dynmi and energeia. 6
Perhaps we must also say that it was made possible by an
itellectual lin between the Aristotelian concept of energeia
and te Biblica name of Go, "I a Wo A." Gison
has pointed out that another geat phosopher-theologian
who endeavored to tnk Aistotle trough, and to integrate
te problems posed by Aristotle with a teology based on
revelaton, naely, te Jewish genus Moses Maimonides,
had formulated ths concept of being ad of God amost
one hundred year before te time of Tomas, and for te
frst time. 7 Thomas, however-Gilson continues-was the
frst to pursue ths path consistently and to te end.
No such interretation of the concept of Being could con·
ceivably have aisen out of Platonic thinkng; Plato ad
his folowers had been facinated, in thei philosophizing,
by the idea of archetyes, that is to say, of pure essences
remote fom a  exstential realization. I specifcaly hstorcal
terms this meat that Chistian phlosophy and teology
before Toma Aquinas wa simply incapable of conceiving
of Being in this exstential manner. Etienne Gilson, Jacques
Maitain, ad other French scholars have expressly termed
St. Thomas' metaphysics an "existentia philosophy." "I
a convinced that Thomas is the most existential of te
phiosophers," le plus existentiel des philosophes.s "As phi­
osophy of the act-of-being Thomism is not another existentia
philosophy, it is te only one."9 Above all, says Gilson,
Augustine's and Ansel's thinking about the problem of
Being was, i comparison with Tomas', completely "essen­
tiaistic. "
In his exegesis of the Gospel of Joh, Augustine ak
hmsel the meaning of the divine name, "I am Wo A."
We might also put it: he faces up to this question; for
Augustine recognized very wel te weight and the mystery
iplcit in those words. "The Lord then said to Moses:
I am Who Am . • . . He did not say: I am God, or I
am the Author of the world, or I a the Creator of al
things, or I am the guardian of this people who must be
lberated. Rather, be said only this: I am Who Am! But
0 Lord, our God, what then is not of al that You have
created? Is the sky not? Is the earth not also? And the ma
t whom you speak, is he not? Mut we then undertad t
1 am Who Am as i everthing else were not?" Wereupon
Augustine answers himself, speaking in the manner of
prayer: "Let then Beig itself, the ipsum esse, say what it
is; let it say ts t the heat. • . . Let the inner man, let
hs thikg mind understand that 'tuly to be' means:
to be aways in the same way"; vere esse est enim semper
eodem modo esse.u
In his maturest ad most speculative work, the books
on the Trinity, Augtine summed the matter up once more:
"Perhaps it should be said that God aone is essentia.
For he alone tly i because he is im utable-and it
is ths he declaed to Moses, h servant, when he declared:
'I a Who Am.' "12 Ths is a clearly "essentialistic" inter­
pretation of the concept of Being; Being at its most intense
is to b found i im utable essence. The concepts of realit
foud i Boetus, Asel, and Bonaventura spring from
ths sae basic idea of Augstine. And then along comes
Toma and says: "I a Who A" means: I am He Wose
essence it is to exist. When Augustine read the divine name
he uderstood it to mean: "I am He Wo never changes."
When Toma read the same words he understood them
to say: "I a the pure act-of-being."13
I have said that ths isight of St. Thomas, this particula
vew of the concept of Being and of God, made afation
of everything that is inevitable and compelling to him. In
order to see why this is so, we must do a bit of reasoning.
First: What makes thgs truly "real" is the act of existing.
Tat is, the substantia fl ess of being is not primaily
decisive; what is decisive is te simple but unfathomable
fact whch distingishes a possible human being fom an
actua human being. Natually there is a hierarchy of existing
beings according to the substantial richness of the being,
accordg to the perfection of te essentia. But the question
must fst be asked: Wat is the meaning of "geater fullness
of being?" Could it not consist in deeper intensity of exsting?
But frst and foremost the step from nonexstence to actal
existenc is incompaably more crucia than the step from
plant to animal or from anima to man. Te crcial factor
i the "actus," doing a such, the actual realization of the
state of being: esse est illud quod est intimum cuilibet et
quod profundius omnibus inest, to be, the act-of-being,
is the innermost thing for every being and that whch is
most deeply of a  embodied in each. 14
Secondly: None of the beings we ae acquainted with
can bring about this actus, this simple state of being, of
its own accord. Above all we ourselves-that is perfectly
obvious to everyone-ae absolutely incapable of making
something existent out of something nonexistent. Nothig
of the sort has ever been done, and there is every idication
that it canot ever be done. Nothig is more udenable
than this. We can, to be sure, make somethig out of somethng
that already exists; but we cannot make this or ay other
something exist. We cannot create anyting.
If, on the other hand, creatng means bringing things forth
into being, productio rerum in esse, then creation is above
a  bringg into existence. Augustine, in explainng the
concept of creatio, declaes that it is the act by which He
Who is what IIe is makes things be what they ae: stone,
tee, animal, man, angel. Gilson ha remaked tat "one
of the frst consequences of this doctine is to de-xistentialie
completely the noton of creation. "
5 Thoma, on te other
hand, had already formulated his answer to this problem
in his fst book, De ente et essentia. (Ad these latest con­
siderations of ours throw an entirely new lght upon the
fact that the young man of tenty-seven itantly came
to gips with this most sublme of a  metaphysica problems.)
In the very frst chapter of ts ealy opusculum Tomas
says: essentia means that the thing which is i it has
existence. l6 Thigs are not tuly and ultiately "in existnce"
by what they are, but by the actus essendi. And ths, the
communcation of te actus essendi, that is to say, of sheer
existence-precisely this is creation in te fl sense of
the word: Primu efectus Dei in rebus est ipsm esse,
quod omnes alii efectus praesupponunt, "the ft ft
of God's activity in things is exstence itsel; al other efect
presuppose it-xistence."17 And here are two more sentences
from the Summa theologica's doctne of the Creation: "Be­
cause God by vte of His essence is existence itsel, terefore
the existence of what he has created is necessarily a producig
peculia to His essence; just as faming up is the efect peculiar
to the essence of fre."1B Ad: "Therefore God must be
in all things, and in the most intimate maner"; oportet
quod Deus sit in omnibus rebus et intime. 19
Reduced to the briefest forula, the sum tot of al
this amounts to te following: Wherever we encounter anything
real, anything existent i any way whatsover, we encounter
something that has "famed up" directly from God. We
ae dealing with something that is similar to the Existent-in­
itsel-and not on the basis of an "added" perfection, but
on te basis of exstence itsel: in quantum habet esse,
est Ei simile.
Platonic thinking makes much of the conception of an
ascent to God by way of the hierarchic ladder of essences,
of a gadual approximation to the immutable Being of
God. Tomas, on the other hand, says: Every existing thing
-whether alive or not, whether material or spirital, wheter
perfected or wretched, and in fact whether good or evil­
everyhing that has existence, confronts us in the most diect
way with the primal reality of God. If we regard what exists,
whatever it may be, a something existent ("of course we
cannot see existence, but we know it is there and we can
at least locate it, by an act of judgment, as te hidden root
of what we can see and of what we can attempt to de
-if we deterinedly seek to fathom what it is that "acts"
before our eyes, which can see a grain of matter, a birch
tig, or a human countenance, then the thought is inevitably
borne upon us: this is something that has :amed up out
of the actus purus. And therefore, strictly speaking, it
is too lttle to say: everthing that is, is good because it
is; "for every thing, to be and to be good, is te same,"
idem est unicuique rei esse et bonum esse.
Ts, i fact,
falls short of the total afmation which fows out of the
concept of being formulated by Thomas. Rather, it should
be put tis way: because te being of the world paicipates
in the divine being which pervades it to its innermost core,
the world is not only a good world; it is in a very precise
sense holy. 23
It would lead us too far afeld to attempt to show in
detail that this statement by no means draws all the sting
from reality. I have said: we cannot make anythg exist.
But beings to whom freedom has been given can itensify
their own existence by thei afrmation as wel as weaken
it by teir negation. We can, on the basis of ou ow freedom,
even resist te complete actualization of ourselves. Precisely
this is the concept of evil; understood in these terms, evi,
like the concept of existence itsel, likewise possesses "abso­
lute" character. I existing is not only good but also holy,
then the rejection of existence is not only evi but also
sacrilegious, anti-godly.
This is the point at which to pose a new and extremely
basic question: whether al this has not long since dted
of-i it were there from the very sta-into te real
of theolog; whether ths sort of thing has not ceased to
be philosophy or even metaphysics. This question reaches
fa beyond the subject last discussed. It concer the whole
Thomas. It also concers what we ourselves ae engaged
in here. In what sense ae these lectres in philosophy?
Thomas was obviously both phiosopher and theologia.
An explicitly theological lecture on St. Tomas would discuss
quite other matters, with which we have not forally dealt
here: the doctrine of the Triit, the doctrine of the Icaa­
tion, the Sacraents. Te question is whether we ca wholy
isolate the theological fom the philosophical elements i
the works of Toma, and can consider the one apart fom
the other. Gilson says that the teology of St. Toma i
a philosopher's theology and his philosophy is a theologian's.
I propose to atack this problem in the folowing manner�
To consider the queston whether theology can exist at
all, and what it is, and how theology relates to, say, the
sciences and to philosophy-such considerations are, at
any rate, not yet theology. Tese are themes, we say, for
a philosophcal theory of knowledge. And we now have
to see what Tomas thought of the relationship of theology
and philosophy. I it is true that Tomas attacked the task
of reconcilg "Aristotle" and the "Bible" wit te utmost
critical refectiveness, well knowing what he was undertaing,
then he was also undertaking to clarify the relationship be
teen teology ad philosophy.
To regad fe as fre is philosophy; to regard fre not
as itself but as a symbol of te divine lfe is teology-!
have already cited this statement fom the Summa Against
the Pagans, not so much to show what Thomas meant by
theology as to show what he meant by philosophy. These
words do not yet pinpoint what theology really is. "Not
yet"-that is something we can rarely say of Toma; for
we are forever astonished by the sureness with which, at
his fst attack, he can go to the heat of a matter.
5 What
he says concering theology in the above statement is an
accurate rendering of the viewoint widely held in hs day:
that theology was realit in symbolic guise. But ths particula
defnition of theolog is found, it appear, only in Thomas'
ealy writgs, in the Commentar on the Sentences26
1 27
or in the Summa Against the Pagans.21 Later, he expresses
hself dif erently. But is not theolog simply te "doctine
of God?" No, that is not its decisive featue, Thoma says;
tere is a doctine of God whch i not at a  theology, but
Teology in the stict sense is, in its logica stctre,
something fa more "derivative," more complicated, and
more dif cult than philosophy. To philosophize means to
direct ou gae into te world ad at ourselves and, thu
holding ou eyes fxed upon reality, to ask about te ultiate
meaning of the whole whch embrace the universe and
man ad God (insofar a God appeas before our gaze
i ou contemplation of the world, or in our inner experience
-within our own consciences, say). But t pusue theology
is someting else again. Teology does not presuppose only
the appearance of a world before ou eyes, and behind it,
deducible or intuitable, God, while we ouselves stand con­
fonting this objective reality, experiencing, thinking, question­
ing. No, theolog assumes more than this, and diferent things.
Theolog exists only on the basis of the fact that men have
received certain tidings out of te sphere of the supramundae
God, a message which is not aready contained i the world
itsel, which cannot be read by querying reality and listening
to its answers. What is meant by these "tidings" is that
God has spoken anew and unforeseeably, ad i a manner
audible to man. Theolog, then, exists only if revelation
exists. That is one prerequisite of teology, and the most
iportant. The second prerequisite is that man not only
hears these tidgs, but also accepts them-that is, that
he believes. Teology, ten, is te efort by the believer and
for the believer to reach an interpretation of revelation;
it is the attempt to understand as
lly a possible the audible
speech of God contained i the documents of revelation.
Theology is doctrina secundum revelationem divinam, says
Thoma i the fst articulus of the Summa theologica.2
Sacra doctrina considerat aliqua secundum quod sunt divinitus
Without revelation, then, and witout its being accepted
with fait, teology is not possible. But given those pre­
requisites, theolog is possible and as a rle comes into
being. This statement may sound theoretic, but it connotations
are concrete, even forcefly so, and have a direct bearng
on the practitioner of phosophy. Plato undoubtedly under-
stood the sacred tadition of the myths a lore descended
from a divine source,31 that is to say, as revelation; and he
believed this lore ("You think it a story, I th it tuth"3
From which it folows that the efort undertaken in the Pla­
tonic dialogues to extact the te meaning fom the symbolic
language of te myths is teolog i te strct sense of te
Now te tly exciting thing is that Tomas, too, would
term this Platonic interpretation of the myths theology in
the strict sense. For he, along with most theologans of
the Christian West was ready to alow tat revelation, te
veritable speech of God, had been vouchsafed to men outside
Holy Scripture. Multis gentilium facta fuit revelatio; "revela­
ton has been made to many pagans"-this wa an opion
that Thomas pronounced many times. 33 In le with this,
he saw no difculty in assuming that the Sibyls, say, had
spoken under an inspiratio divina. There is no need for u
to compile further instances. But it is important for u
to grasp the full implications of this concept of "God's speech"
sounding and resounding throughout the mythica tradition
of many nations. 34 It means that theology a the interpretation
of that divine speech (about the meanig of te universe
and about human salvation) is a perfectly sel-evident matter
spread over the whole breadth of man's mental life!
Before we go more deeply into the relationship of theolog
and philosophy which is founded in the natre of both,
we must frst issue this waning: There is not te sligtest
sense in anyone's investigating this question who does not
accept the existence of theology at all; that is to say, someone
who neither acknowledges the fact of revelation nor accepts
the content of revelation as the tuth. I say that without this
prerequisite any investigation of the relationship between
philosophy and theology remains a purely hypothetical and
abstract business. Indeed, I go furher; I venture to assert
that this investigation is not even possible as an intellectua
"sport. " Certain things cannot be underaken sportively-not
so much because to do so is improper as because it will
not work, it simply canot be done. Tu, it is simply not
possible to say: Let us assume that the Christians are right
and let us see where this assumption ca  ies us. For one
can only "see" it, that is, one catches sight of the light that
falls from the trth of religion upon reality, only if one iden­
tifes oneself existentially with what is believed. The question,
then, of how theology and philosophy may be related in
thei essences to one another-both being taken as vital
acts of the mind-an be meaningfully ivestigated only
i bot acts ae actaly caried out.
Most discusions on ths subject are sham discussions.
In reality they deal wit an entiely diferent subject, namely,
whether theology is possible at all, whether anything like
revelation exists and, i so, how do we recognize it, what
grounds are there for faith-and so on. Tese subjects are,
of course, extremely important; they are absolutely funda­
mental; it is essential that they be discussed. But they are
diferent subjects; they have nothing to do with the questio
of the mutual relationship of teolog and phiosophy.
To philosophize means, we have said, to concentrate our
gae upon the totaity of encountered phenomena and
methodically to ivestigate the coherency of them all and
the ultiate meanig of the Whole; to examie what "some­
thing real" acually i, what man himsel is, mnd, the com­
plete total of tng. To pursue theology means endeavoring
to discover what realy was said in the dive revelation.
I we direct our gae not so much upon the stucture
of these two acts a upon their object, that is to say, upon
the thing that the to acts dea with, we wil frst of 8
note the folowing: The philosophical act deals, by defition,
with everythng that is-insofar as what is can be seen
by a gae directed at the encountered phenomena.l The
philosophical thinker observes reality, whatever it may be.
Ad he observes things as themselves, fre a fre, and so
on. The practitioner of theology, on the other hand, deals
with the utterances of the theios logos,· he deals with all
those things with which divine revelation is concered. But
with what is revelation concered?
This much is clear at once: to one who is engaged in
theology it is ipossible to delit a specifc realm of subject
matter. For that would mean presuming to lit the speech
of God to specifc subjects. We need only express ths to
expose the absurdity of any such undertaking: it is obviously
not for us to determine what God may speak of ad what
not. This means that it is likewise impossible to say that
theology ought to deal with those thigs that le beyond the
range of natura knowledge. The documents of revelation
contain many things that "in themselves" are also compre­
hensible to the natral cognitive powers of man and attainable
by those powers. Thomas went out of his way to show the
signifcance of that.
But what in fact is the content of revelation? I we were
to pose this question to Plato, we would receive an answer
along the following lines: Sacred tradition declares that
the world emerged from the unenvying goodness of it
Founder;3 that God holds in His hands the beginning, the
middle, and the end of all things;4 that the spirit holds domin­
ion over the Whole of the universe;5 that after death the
good may expect something far better than the bad;
that the
soul is imperishable7-and so on. The astonishing thing
is that these propositions of Plato are in fundamental agree­
ment with certain propositions of Christian revelation, although
in a way all their own. The common theme is the divine
guarantee of the world and of human savation. But this
means that theology likewise has to deal with the world a
a whole, and above all wit human existence as a whole.
Both the philosopher and the theologian, therefore, seek
to discover how the world as a whole is constituted and,
above all, what man's ultimate situation is. It is this univer­
sality of their questions which marks of both philosophy and
theology from all other disciplines. Every other discipline
establishes itself by adopting a selective viewpoint; no other
discipline asks about the universe as a whole. Philosophy
and theology are diferent. They can aford to ignore the
problem of purity and untai ntedness of method. To put
this negatively, the problem of overstepping limits-that is,
the given frontiers of a discipline-is virtually meaningless
for both philosophy and theology; it is almost nonexistent.
The philosopher, then, is not really characterized by
the practice of a specifc discipline of clearly delineated
methods. We might almost say that the person seriously
engaged in philosophizing is not at all interested in "philos­
ophy." He wants to know how the universe and man a
a whole are constituted-but, to be sure, insofar a these
can be seen by a completely open and unprejudiced gaze
directed at the encountered phenomena. Wat is the meaning
of "can be seen"
If something that we cannot actually
discern nevertheless is forced upon us as an unavoidable
conclusion; if in encountered phenomena themselves something
is suggested to us, something we can guess at or possibly
intuit-is this something that "can be seen"? At any rate,
insofar a we philosophize when we look upon man we
become "unphilosophical" if we say that since we are inves­
tigating the "metaphysical essence of man" we cannot be
bothered by what biology, psychology, or the general science
of human behavior has to say about him. Nor is this the
only manner in which we can sin against philosophy. We
are also sinning against it i we say we are not interested
in the assertion of teologians that some gave misfortune
fraught with consequences for all tme to come happened
to man in primordial times. Plato, at any rate, thought the
question wor his whie when he examined the ultimate nature
of Eros in the Symposium; he gave close attention to the
myth of primordial man's fall. Apud philosophos, says
Toma, Philosophia Prima utitur omnium scientiarum docu­
mentis; the philosophia prima, the most philosophical philos­
ophy, makes use of te fndings of a  the sciences.s
The theologia proceeds in very similar fashion, casting
his line far beyond the borders of a methodologica y delimited
special discipline. I order to carry out his specifcally
theologcal task-isclosing the real meaning of divine
utterance-the theologian may not confne himself to what
we may call a purely "Biblicistic" approach to revelation
Rather, keeping his eye fxed upon h own goal, he must
additionally take into consideration everything else that
he kows about the subject under discussion, no matter
what its source. How, for example, in interpreting the Biblical
account of Creation, could he stdiolly ignore all that
evolutionary reseach, paleontology, or biology has already
uncovered, or is stil bringing to light? I practicing his
own profession, ten, the theologian's fst concern is not
with "methodologically pure" theology-although that is ­
also one of his themes. Far more impornt questions confront
h. Thus, for example, he may try to exlain what is
meant by the sentence: "God formed man of dust fom
the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of
life," takng into account all we know of geology, of man
as a living being, ad of man's prehistory. Thomas seems
to have anticipated this task, for in Thomas we may read:
"The knowledge of religion presupposes natural knowledge";9
"evidently those who teach Holy Scripture [that is, the theo­
logians] must also make ue of worldy wisdom";10 "errors
about Creation occasionally lead men atray from the tt
of faith too."
In sum, neither the philosopher nor the theologian can
presume to exclude any available information on the subject
at hand. The moment there is such an exclusion, philosophy
or theology is not truly being practiced. Naturally it is
1 33
unrealistic to demand that the philosopher and the theologian
explicitly include, or in fact even be informed, about all
that there is to be known. On the other hand, ts is precisely
why both philosophy and theology are fundamentally "impos­
sible. " Dilthey has described te task of the philosopher
thus: "The demands upon the person engaged in philosophizing
cannot be met. A physicist is a pleasant reality, useful t
himself and others; the philosopher, like te saint, exist
only as an ideal.
Taking this proposition as our starting point, let us consider
te question of the mutual co-ordination of philosophy and
teology. For the teologian the question runs this way:
I one is convinced that God has spoken, and seeks to deter­
mine what a particular teaching of revelation means, taking
into consideration everything he already kows and everyting
that is reveaed elsewhere-what does philosophy mean
to such a person and his endeavors? By philosophy, of course,
we do not mean any given set of theses and arguments pro­
pounded by a philosopher, but rather the philosophical act
And for the philosopher the question rns this way: I
one who fxes his gaze upon the world and himself should
ask the ultimate meaning of the encountered phenomena,
what does theology-that is, the interpretation of the divine
speech-mean to him? What value can he fnd in it, when
to the believer i its tut tis divine speech so piercingly
iluminates realit? What pat does tis co-ordinate relation­
ship play in, say, Thomas' "existential" iterpretation of
the concept of Being? "Is it St. Thomas the theologian who,
reading in Exodus the identity of essence and existence in
God, taught St. Thomas the philosopher te distinction
between essence and existence in creatures? Or is it St.
Tomas te philosopher who, pushing his analysis of the
metaphysical structure of te concrete even as fa as the
distinction between essence and existence, taught St. Thoma
the theologian that He Who Is i Exodu means the Act-of­
I Thomas' theological interpretation of this divine name
is a whole dimension deeper than St. Augustine's interpretation,
is Thomas indebted to philosophy (or even to Aristotle)?
Or is it the philosophical conception of Being which here
profts by the experience of theology? Must we not say that
what takes place is a unitary act, or a compound ·of act
which is no longer separable into its philosophical and theo­
logical "components"? Of course the philosophical element
can still be distinguished theoreticaly fom the theologica
element. But concretely the situation is that a living man,
confronted with the Whole of reality-ne Thoma Aquina
-a believer and thinker (and experiencer of sense percep­
tions), as a man refecting upon his belefs and at the same
time observing man and the universe with all his powers
of natural cognition, asks hiself: What is al this about?
We cannot extract a system of philosophy out of the work
of St. Thomas and present it in isolation, for itself; i we
did that, the result would be, as Gilson says, rather a philos­
ophy "ad mentem Cartesii" than one "ad mentem santi
To be sure, Thomas himsel made a point of distinguishing
between philosophy and theology. But he made the distinction
in order to join, not to part. By thei nature philosophy and
theology belong together in a unity of for. To be sure,
this unit is achieved only in the living thought of the philos­
opher who believes in the divine revelation and undertakes,
i his refections, to consider and to comprehend the revealed
material (which, a a questioner investigating te coherency
of the Whole, the philosopher cannot omit to do) ; and only
i the living thought of the theologian who i convinced that
man's natural powers of cognition are also capable of tuly
gasping reality, and who liewise cannot omit considering
a  available information on the universe and man.
Anyone who accepts this line of reasoning must see
at once how dubious an afai is the dispute and the indigna­
tion which are generaly kindled by the proposition that
philosophy is the "handaiden" of theolog, the ancilla
theologiae. This argument has long since ceased to be even
dubious; it ha simply become boring.
Historically, the phrase "handmaiden of theology" appears
to have been employed for the fst time by the Jewish religious
philosopher Philo (died circa A.D. 50). Aong the Faters
of the Church similar terms are quite common.
Far more interesting is the circumstance that Thoma is
representing two sources which mingle when he speaks of
this matter. And these two sources are, once again, Aistotle
ad the Bible. Aistotle asks, at the beginnng of his
1 35
Metaphysics, What ae the characteristics which everyone
attributes to real, tue wisdom?1
And discussing this matter,
he makes the point that wsdom is a govering, not a serile
principle. The wise man does not serve, but is served;
sapientum non decet ordinari ab alio, sed ipsum potius
alios ordinare-thus Thomas in his commentary on the
passage.l7 Thomas then takes occasion to mention the other
source, Holy Scripture: "[Divine] wisdom sends out her
handmaidens to invite men to her castle" (Prov.
3). 1
But, of course, those who ae concered for philosophy's
independence of theology ae not entiely in the wong. Philos­
ophy does not "sere" for anything, because it is concerned
with wisdom. Tis is just what distinguishes philosophy from
the sepaate sciences. It is not "subordinate" to any adventi­
tious purpose. No one has ever waxed indignant because
medical science is obviously the "handmaiden" of practica
healing and is constantly receiving orders ad suggestions
from the practitioners of medicine. Everyone takes it for
granted that physics and chemisty ae felds of practical
endeavor serving technological, economic, or military ends.
The distinctive feature of philosophy is that by its nature
it cannot be taken into serice in any such fashion. Doe
that mean that• it serces may also not be enlisted by the­
I would answer tis tricky question as follows: Teology's
way of "enlisting the services" of philosophy is something
quite diferent. In its very essence, this process is dif erent
from and not to be compared with the way practicalit
draws upon the serices of the sciences. Philosophing aims
at wisdom, we have said, and moreover, at wisdom for its
own sake. But theology, which comes forwad with claims
to "dominance," is a higher form of wisdom itself! To
enlist philosophy i the serices of theology, then, dos
not mean to subordinate it to any alien, adventitious end.
Rather, te end inherent in the act of philosophizing itself­
namely, wisdom itself, "knowledge of te highest causes"-is
the very same goal that is attainable ad achievable i
religion and in theology on a hgher plane than in philosophy.
Naturaly, this agument will appeal only to one who has
aleady accepted theology itself as a meaingul thing; and
indeed, the whole problem of the co-ordination of philosophy
and theology exists for h alone. But for h it is a clea
self-evident axiom that what all philosophizing truly seeks
is divine wisdom, and that God's speech stands higher than
human speech.
Unforunately, however, the mater is still somewhat more
complicated. For after all theology i not siply identical
with "God's speech" and "divine wisdom." Theology involves
human speech; it involves the human efor to interpret revela­
tion. And understood in these term, theology natrally
stands within the fully charged feld of human existencewith
a  its possible contingencies, including tat of degeneration.
It is, for example, eminently conceivable that theology may
misunderstand its relationship to phiosophy and come forth
with a wongful claim to dominance. And this is not just
"conceivable. " In fact, Thomas had to defend the independence
of philosophy against such overeening claims by the
teology of his times. For other theologians of his time-and
the tendency is an eternal one-held that the subjects of
philosophy should be limted to theologically important
matters, to the things theology needed; or at least the theo­
logian must limit his own incursions into philosophy to
such subjects. Tat was, for example, the opinion which
Bonaventura set forth in his famous essay, De reductione
artium ad theologiam.l9 Thomas was directly opposed to
ths, and not only in the name of phiosophy, but also in
the name of theology itself, which needed the li wit
a free and independent philosophy.
St. Thomas' thesis, as it is expresed in his actual procedure,
can be formulated approximately as follows: First, on the
basis of the mere defnition of theology and philosophy no
theologan can say in advance what phosophical insights,
or in general what natral insights, ae or may be of import­
ance to him. It may be tat the theologan "needs" everthing,
just as, on the other hand, each eror concerning the universe
or man may possibly become a stumbling block to him,
or even fatally underine his work. 20 Therefore, as Thomas
says, it is praiseworthy to study the secula sciences for
their own sake.21 In this connection he quotes St. Jerome
who speaks of sancta rusticita, of sacred ignorance, which
is at most useful to itself.
Second: The theologian too, in spite of revelation, is
dealing with a hdden, by no means obvious truth into
which he must probe ever more deeply.2a But no one can
state beforehand the manner or the direction in which he
ought to probe. The clue may well come to light only on
te basis of certain philosophical or scientifc insight which
could never have been foreseen by theologians; whch, in
fact, would be unwelcome to theologians because of the
ievitable uneasiness they engender. Theology is a human
enterprise and therefore shares the limit, the possibilities
of degeneracy, and therefore the need for corection ierent
i all things human-and does so in a specifc manner corre­
sponding to its nature.
Yes, theology has its own failings. On this subject we
are indebted to the realistic viewpoint of the Anglo-Saxon
mind for a number of remarks, as aggessive as they are
sound, which are wholly within the spirit of St. Tomas.
We are thinking of certain things said by John Henry Newman
and Friedrich von Huegel. Newman has observed that
the typical degenerative symptoms of theology are "system­
atization, phantasticality, dogmatism and bigotry. " By bigotry
he means a kind of self-imposed limitation of religion to
itself, a fearful shutting itself away from the fresh wind
of experience and knowledge of reality. By this, he says,
theology itself corrupts its best and most intrinsic potentialities;
and the ultimate result is sectarianism, sophistry, and tale­
Friedrich von Huegel, one of the greatest intellects of
modern Christendom, has said time and again that theology,
for the sake of its own health, needs the resistance of science
and philosophy; that theology must brave "ths savage cur­
rent. " "All genuine mystics have a sort of aura which shows
that they really passed through fre and water. Nicholas
of Cues, Pascal, and Malebranche are only three among many
for whom mysticism and mathematico-physical science mutu­
ally stimulated one another and together gave the soul
its depth. "
In St. Thomas' opinion theology is, to be sure, the higher
form of wisdom, being the interpretation of revelation. But
in order to practice its own trade it needs the tools of science
and philosophy. Propter defectum intellectus nostri, because
of the failings of our own intellect-and the theologian must
also fall back upon human intellect when he engages in
theology-because of this weakness, theology requies the
independently obtained information of natural knowledge;
theology "makes use
of it, "presupposes it,
listens to
it, takes note of it, and learns from it. Seen in this light
does not this somewhat tasteless business of asking which
"serves" what become meanigless?
I may, then, b said with complete accuacy that this
forma unity of philosophy and theology is the structural
principle of St. Thomas' summas, especially hs Summa theo­
logica. But we must quicky interpose a word, to avert a
almost inevitable misunderstanding. It is te msunderstanding
of assuming that te summa are the most pretentious form
of closed system-the closed system in the sense of Hegel,
who says: "The tue for in which truth exst can ony
be the scientifc system of truth. "2
7 By this msunderstanding,
the Summa theologica would pretend to be a system in
which every question is teated ad answered in it place,
a adequate refection of the essen�ial reality of the unverse­
a total solution wherein even those problems which natura
reason alone cannot settle would be given their fal clarica­
tion in the answers of faith and theology.
We must fst consider the purely exteral fact that St.
Thomas' Summa theologica remained unfshed. Incidentally,
it is not quite proper to call this an "exteral fact." For
it wa not that early death snatched the pen from St.
Thomas' hand. This point is apt to be msrepresented in
the notes to be found in various editions of the Summa.
The real story is this: that on a precisely noted day, December
6, 1 273, returning to his cell from the celebration of Mass,
Thomas declared that writing had become repugnat to
him. "All that I have written seems to me notng but straw­
compared with what I have seen and what ha been revealed
to me. " And he abided by this decision. Tis means that
the fragmentary character of the Summa theologica is an
inerent pat of its statement.
That act of falling silent, however, wa ony the most
superfcial exstential embodiment of an attitude which Thomas
had already expounded, and whose theoretical basis he
made clearer and cleaer with the passing of the yeas. This
atitde is revealed not ony in the fagmentary character
of the work; not only in what is missing, but also in what
he explicitly says. For he explicitly says that all our knowl­
edge, including the knowledge of theologians, is fragmentary
in character. The clarit of St. Thomas' diction is deceptive.
Chenu speaks of argumentation "withi the mystery. "
Thomas was so litle a classicist of systematic thought tat,
on the contrary, we become aware that he cherished "an
extreme suspicion of systems," une extreme defance des
If we cannot make Thomas into a "classicist," we certainly
canot make him an advocate of any "ism." If "Tomists"
claim that they can reduce the doctrine of St. Thomas to
a system of propositions that can be transmited by the tadi­
tion of a school, then their ''Thomism" must be called a
falsifcation. For they wil have suppressed the ver feature
i which, so it seems to me, lies the greatness of St. Thoma
as a philosophical and teological thinker: his attitude of
veneration toward everhing that is-which veneration
is revealed above all in his falling silent before the inefability
and incomprehensibiity of Being. Thomas goes even furter
tan to say, as he does in a manner which is most unsettling,
that we do not know what God is. This statement may be
found at the very beginning of the Summa theologica,
where it may be read by all, even by the rankest of "beginners":
De Deo scire non possumus quid sit, sed quid non sit;
"We cannot know what God is, but rather only what He
is not."30 What is more, Thomas elaborates on this matter,
and actually calls ignorance the best part of knowledge itself:
"This is the extreme of human knowledge of God: to know
tat we do not know God," quod homo sciat se Deum
But, as I have said, Thomas goes even further, for he
not only asserts that we cannot know the nature of God,
but also that we are incapable of getting to the bottom of
created things-and for the reason that things, all things
aside from God, are creature. To be creature means, in
the fst place: to be the image of a divine design, a design
that is necessarily inaccessible to us. And to be creature means,
the second place: as an existent thing to have famed up
by the actus purus; but since existence itsel is so incom­
prehensible, we canot even properly say it "exists. " "Just
as we cannot say tat running itself runs, so we also cannot
say that being itself is, quod ipsum esse sit. "32
Once we have been alerted to this motif, we wiii see
how central it is to the thinking of Thomas. Again and again
we wil encounter sentences for which the "Thomism" of
the schools has not prepared us, and which in fact burst
te bounds of every "system"-such as, for example, the
sentence: Rerum essentiae sunt nobis ignotae: "The essence
of thigs is unkown to us."
A  ths ha nothing whatsoever to do with "agnosticism."
St. Thomas does not hold the thesis that neither God nor
tings ae kowable. On the contary, they are so utterly
kowable that we can never come to the end of our endeavors
to know them. It i precisely their kowability that is inex­
haustible.34 Tis means in the fst place that we must be
extemely wary whenever someone comes forad with a
claim to have found the ultimate formula for the universe; it
means that we must be on guard against every sort of "ism,"
be it exstentialism or Marism or even Thomism. But guad­
edness and wariness ae only one side of the coi, only half the
conclusion to be drawn from te thesis tat tigs are siu­
taneously kowable and icomprehensible. The other side
i a itepid frankess of afrmation, a enthusiasm for
ever new explorations into the wonders of reality. Along
wt that, of course, there come ever new difculties i
incororating the new data into our totl view of the universe,
and hence ever new conicts, compelling us constantly
to rethink our previous positions, to revise a  our set ideas,
even in theology. This attitde, which neither permits us
t cast away an insight aleady won nor allows us t rest
on our laurels with a false sense of fnalit, is not easy to
achieve. It is a highly demanding a  air. But it is perhaps
the best lesson among the many tat can be leaed i
the school of the "unversal teacher" of Chistendom.
The quotations fom the Summa theologica ae identifed
in the following notes ony by numerals. For example, II,
II, 123, 2 ad 4 means: Second Pa of te Second Pa,
quaestio 123, ariculus 2, reply to Objection 4. The same
code is used for references to the comentary on the Sentences
of Peter Lombard. For example, 3, d, 3 1 , 2, 5 means: Book
Thee, distinctio 3 1 , quaestio 2, articulus 5. The titles of
the other works of St. Thomas cited in the text are abbreviated
a folows:
e. G.
Spir. creat.
Quo I.
Substant. sepa.
Un. int.
Reg. princ.
Comp. theol.
Perf. vit. spir.
Contra impugn.
Conta retrah.
In John.
Summa Against the Pagans
(Summa contra Gentiles)
Quaestiones disputatae de vertitate
Quaestiones disputatae de malo
Quaestiones disputatae de potentia
Quaestio disputata de spiritualibus
Quaestiones quodlibetales
De substantiis separatis
De unitate intellectus contra
A verroistas
On the Governance of Princes
Compendium theologiae
De perfectione vitae spiritualis
Contra impugnantes Dei cultum et
Contra retrahentes homines a
religionis ingressu
Commentary on the Gospel of John
1 42
In Met
I A.
In Phys.
Contra er. Graec.
I De caelo et mundo
In Tr
I Heb
Vi. cad.
Commenta on Aistotle's
Commenta on Astotle's
On the Soul
Commenta on Astotle's Physics
Against the Errors of the Greeks
Comenta on Astote's On the
Comenta on Boethius' On the
Comenta on Boethius' Essay on
Axioms (De hebdomadibus)
Quaestio disputata de virtutibus
1 Ferand van Steenberghen, Le Xlle siecle. In Forest, van
Steenberghen, and de Gandillac, Le Mouvement doctrinal
du Xle au XIVe siecle. Fliche-Ma Histoire de l'Eglise,
vol. 1 3 (Paris, 1951), p. 303.
2 Etienne Gilson, Histor of Christian Philosophy in the Middle
Ages (London and New York, 1955), p. 325.
s Friedrich Heer, Europiische Geistesgeschichte (Stuttgart 1953),
p. 147.
4 Marie-Dominique Chenu, Introduction a /'etude de St. Thomas
d'Aquin (Paris-Montreal, 1950), p. 13.
5 Gustav Schnlrer, Kirche und Kultur im Mittelalter (Fader­
born, 1926), n, p. 441.
6 Liber primus Posteriorum Analyticorum, tact. 1, cap. 1 Opera
Omnia. Ed. A. Borgnet (Paris, 1890), tom. 2, p. 3.
7 C. G. 1, 2.
Gilson, Histor, p. 325.
9 Joseph Lor, Die Reformation in Deutschland (reibug i
Breisgau, 1939), I, p. 352.
Heidelberg, 1956.
Maisie Ward, Gilbert Keith Chesterton (New York, 1943),
p. 620.
The latest (eighth) edition was published in 1949 by Kosel
Verlag, Munch.
3 Paris, 1950.
14 Te ffth French edition was published in Paris in 1948;
the English edition, fro
which we quote i the following
pages, appeared in 1957 in London.
15 Cf. "Les poesies de Rinaldo d'Aquino" (ed. 0. Tallgren), in
Memoires de Ia Societe Neophilologique de Helsingfors,
vol. 6 (1917).
Contra retrah. 9; No. 803.
17 Martin Grabmann, Mittelalterliches Geistesleben (Muich,
1926), I, p. 261.
Reg. princ. I, 8-10.
1 Martin Grabmann, "Die Kanonisation des heigen Tomas."
Divus Thomas, Jahrgang I (1923), pp. 241 f.
2 Contra impugn. I, I; No. 11.
Vita S. Thomae 6, 3 1. Ed. D. Primmer (St. Ma, 1924).
4 Oratio ad vitam sapienter instituendam. Opuscula Theologica.
Ed. R. M. Spiazz (Turin-Rome, 1954), vol. 2, p. 285.
I Tus te Toma encyclical of Pius X, "Stdiorm ducem"
(Freiburg i Breisgau 1 923), p. 16.
6 Cf. Codex Juris Canonici, can. 589 and ca. 1 366.
' Likewise in te Tomas encyclical "Studor ducem," p.
1 8. On the position of St. Thoma with Christian philosophy
cf. Fidel G. Martinez, "e Place of St. Tomas i Catholic
Phosophy," Cross Currents, vol. 8 (New York, 1958),
pp. 43 f.
8 Abert Mitterer, Die Entwicklungslehre Augustins im Vergleich
mit dem Weltbild des hi. Thomas von Aquin und dem der
Gegenwart (ienna-Freiberg i Breisgau, 1956), p. 15.
Sialy, on p. 327 i s te statement: ''The Church has • • •
prescribed Thomism."
9 C. Etienne Gison, The Christian Philosophy of St. Thomas
Aquinas (London, 1957), p. 174; van Steenberghen, Le
Xlle siecle, p. 261.
Christian Philosophy, p. 174.
Ansel Stolz, "Das Elend der Tomasiterretation." Bene­
diktinische Monatsschrift, Jahrgang 13 (193 1). In te same
annual volue of this magazine: Stephen Schmut ''Nach
der Lehre de h. Tomas" (on interpretatons of Tomas).
Shaw on Music. Ed. by Eric Bentley (New York 1955),
pp. 74 f.
Cf. Josef Pieper, ''The Timelines of Tomism," i The
Silence of St. Thomas (New York: Panteon, 1957).
14 Andre Hayen, Thomas gestern und heute (ra 1954),
p. 62.
5 L. B. Geiger, La Participation dans la philosophie de St.
Thomas d'Aquin (Paris, 1942), p. 3 1.
Chenu, Introduction, pp. 38 f.
7 H. C. Scheeben, Der heilige Dominikus (Freiburg i Breisgau,
1937), p. 53.
uoted from Joseph Berart Sinn der Geschichte (reiburg
im Breisgau, 193 1), p. 53.
Cf. Schnircr, Kirche und Kultur im Mittelalter, I, p. 442.
Scheeben, Dominikus, p. 229.
Joseph Berart, Der Vatikan als Weltmacht (Leipzig, 1930),
p. 177.
22 Scheeben, Dominikus, p. 43.
3 Ibid., p. 57.
24 Ibid., p. 143.
25 Ibid., p. 135.
26 Ibid., p. 377.
Ibid. , p. 164.
Cf. Franz Xaver Seppelt, Der Kampf der Bettelorden an
der Universitit Paris in der Mitte des 13. Jahrhunderts
(to part), in Kirchengeschichtliche Abhandlungen, vol.
3 (Breslau, 1905) and vol. 6 (Breslau, 1908).
29 Scheeben, Dominikus, p. 279.
Cf. Schnirer, Kirche und Kultur im Mittelalter, I, p. 365.
C. G. 1, 2.
For example: Contra impugn. 2, 5; Nos. 203, 204, 205, 206.
Contra impugn. 2, 4; No. 205.
4 I, 65-74 (account of Creation); I, I, 98-105 (books of
the Law i the Old Testament) ; Il, 27-59 (life of Jesus).
5 Contra impugn. 3 ; No. 121.
1 Processus inquisitionis, cap. 7, 66. Acta Sanctorum Martii
(Venice, 1735), tom. I, pp. 707 f.
2 Cf. Schnirer, Kirche und Kultur im Mittelalter, I, p. 434.
4 II, I, 1 1, 3.
5 Ibid.
6 De secreta 3.
7 Ibid.
Mittelalterliches Geistesleben, I, p. 67.
9 Cf. Gilson, Histor, p. 244.
Mittelalterliches Geistesleben, I, p. 71.
Ibid., I, p. 259. Cf. also Clemens Baeumker, Petrus von Hi­
bernia, der Jugendlehrer des Thomas von Aquino, Si tung­
sberchte der Bayer. Aademie der Wissenschaften (Ph­
losoph. Kasse), Munich, 1920.
13 Grabmann, Mittelalterliches Geistesleben, I, p. 261.
1 The reference is to the textbook by Joseph Gredt, the frst
Latin edition of which wa published in 1899-1901, the
German edition in 1935 (both at Freiburg im Breisgau).
2 Hans Meyer, Thomas von Aquin (Bonn, 1938), p. 32.
3 Marie-Dominique Chenu, "L'equilibre de Ia scolastique me­
dievale." Revue des sciences philosophiques et theologi­
ques, vol. 29 (1940), p. 3 12.
4 In Met. 3, I; No. 471.
I In An. I, 8; No. 107. Simiarly In De Caelo et mundo, I,
22; 3, 6.
6 Etiene Gison, "Le christianisme et Ia tadition philoso­
phique." Revue des sciences philosophiques et theolo
giques, vol. 30 (1941-2), p. 254.
7 Ibid.
Ibid., p. 249 f.
9 ", • • A sensibilibus recedere nolens • • ." Substant. separ.
3 ; No. 1 8. " . . • quae sunt manifesta secundum sensum
• • . " Ibid., 2; No. 1 1 . "Proprium eius philosophiae fuit,
a manifestis non discedere." Spir. creat. 5.
Letter to Schiler of Apri 28, 1797.
Idea of a Universit (London, 1921), V, 5, pp. 109 f.
Wilhel von Hert, Gesammelte Aufsatze. Ed. by Fr. von
der Leyen (Stuttgart, 1905), p. 161 .
3 Grabman, Mittelalterliches Geistesleben, I, p. 68.
4 Ibid., I, 84.
5 Hans Naumann, Der staufsche Ritter (eipzg, 1936), p. 56.
Ibid., p. 92.
7 Chenu, Introduction, p, 29.
uoted in ibid.
9 C. G. 2, 4 (1).
Etienne Gilson, La philosophie au moyen-age (aris, 1947),
p. 343.
C. G. 2, 4 ().
22 C. G. 2, 3; similarly, C. G. 2, 2 at the end
3 Cf. Chenu, Introduction, p. 36.
4 Ibid., p. 6.
5 Ibid. , pp. 108, 1 13.
In Phys. 8, 2.
7 I, 1, 8 ad 2.
uol. 3, 31 ad 1.
9 I, 1, 8 ad 2.
Cf. on ths Josef Pieper
Uber den Begrif der Tradition
(Cologne-Opladen, 1958), pp. 24 f.
In Trin. 2, 3 ad 8.
Chenu, Introduction, p. 177.
33 In De caelo et mundo 1, 22.
4 Ibid.
85 In Hexaemeron I, 3, 1, 5 (Quaracch, 1934), p. 92.
Resp. ad Mag. John, 42.
7 De anima intellectiva, cap. 6.
Etiene Gison, Der Geist der mittelalterlichen Philosophie
(Viena, 1 950), p. 460.
Quol. 4, 1 8.
Spi. creat. 10, obj. 8, ad . 8.
8 Tus Pico della Miadola; cf. Grabmann, Mittelalterliches
Geistesleben, I, p. 85. Similarly, Erasmus of Rotterdam
(quoted in Chenu, Introduction, p. 43).
4 Gilson, Geist der mittelalterlichen Philosophie, p. 459.
l Cf. I. T. Eschann, "A catalogue of St. Thomas's works,"
in Gilson, Christian Philosophy, p. 407.
6 In De caelo et mundo 2, 17; No. 45 1.
7 I the Latin tanslation of Aristotle's Metaphysics available
to Tomas, for exaple, tere is a phase: hoc manifestum
est-where the Greek text on the contrar says that it
is not evident; Metaphysics 1, 3; 1029a). Nevertheless, Thomas
iterrets this as i te Latin text also read: hoc non mani­
fest est (In Met. 7, 2; No. 1280.) Other examples of tis
sort in Chenu, Introduction, p. 1 87, Note 3.
8 I
, 1 , 6 ad 3; I, I, 45, 2.
9 Chenu, Introduction, p. 18.
At the beginng of his elucidations of Aristotle's Physics.
Opera Omnia. E. A. Borgnet (Paris, 1890), tom. 3, 1 f.
C. Seppelt, Kampf der Bettelorden, I, p. 208.
Chenu, Introduction, pp. 18 f.
3 Ibid., p. 17.
4 Ibid., p. 1 5.
5 Ibid., p. 16.
Scheeben, Dominikus, p. 1 51 .
7 Va Steenberghen, Le XIIIe siecle, p. 325.
Die Entstehung der Universititen . des Mittelalters (Berlin,
1 885), p. 46.
On this point I cannot agree with Herbert Grndmann (V om
Ursprung der Universitit im Mittelalter. Berichte tber die
Verhandlungen der Sichsischen Akademie der Wissenschaf­
ten z Leipzig. Philosophisch-hstorische Kasse. Vol. 103,
Hef 2 [Berl, 1957], pp. 62 f.).
1 Chenu, Introduction, p. 22.
2 More detai in Seppelt, Kampf der Bettelorden, and in Max
Bierbau, Bettelorden und Weltgeistlichkeit an der Uni­
versitit Paris (Munster, 1 920).
8 Cf. Seppelt, Kampf der Bettelorden, Introduction.
4 Conta ipugn., No. 407.
5 Ibid., No. 41 8.
6 Det�rminationes quaestionum 1, 27 (Opera omnia 8, 355);
quoted in Bierbaum, Bettelorden, p. 244.
7 Seppelt, Kampf der Bettelorden, I, p. 82.
8 Scheeben, Dominikus, p. 269.
9 Ibid., p. 288.
Seppelt, Kampf der Bettelorden, I, p. 209.
Bierbaum, Bettelorden, p. 245.
Seppelt, Kampf der Bettelorden, I, p. 209.
13 Van Steenberghen, Le XIIIe siecle, pp. 289, 291.
14 Seppelt, Kampf der Bettelorden, I, p. 21 6.
15 Ibid., II, pp. 88 f.
The complete Lati text is to be found i Bierbau, Beitel­
Herbert Grundmann, Religiose Bewegungen im Mittelalter
(Berlin, 1935), p. 156.
Quo!. 5, 26.
1 9 Contra retrah. 1 4, No. 833 (5).
Ibid., 1 6; No. 854.
Contra retrah. 1 6; No. 856.
2 Ibid., fnal sentences.
Un. int., at end.
4 Contra impugn., No. 260 (2).
5 Ibid., No. 260 (3).
Ibid., No. 260 (6).
Ibid., No. 260 (1 1).
This has been done, for example, in Carl Prantl's Geschichte
der Logik im Abendlande, still considered a standard text.
More detail on this matter in Josef Pieper, Wahrheit der
Dinge (3rd ed. ; Munich, 1 957), pp. 35 f; pp. 122 f.
9 Seventh letter, 341 c.
Sophistes 263 e.
etaphysics 3, 1 ; 995 a.
Topics 8, 1 1 ; 1 61 a.
13 Martin Grabmann, Die Geschichte der scholastischen Meth-
ode (Freiburg i Breisgau 1909-1 1 ), I, p. 1 8.
1 4 Metalogicus 3, 10.
15 Quoted in Grabmann, Scholastische Methode, I, p. 20.
Ibid., II, pp. 1 20 f.
17 Phi/osophie der Weltgeschichte (Leipzg, 1 923), I, p. 859.
Plato, Gorgias 449.
19 Thomas von Aquin, p. 41 ; Einfihrung in die Summa theo
logiae des hl. Thomas von Aquin (Freiburg im Breisgau
1 91 9), pp. 53 f.
I, I, 24, 3.
Cf. also Ver. 26, 7 ad 1 .
Gilson, Histor, p. 325.
23 Chenu, Introduction, p. 241 .
4 Ibid., p. 245. Pierre Mandonnet, "St. Thomas createur de
Ia dispute quodlibetique," Revue des sciences philosophiques
et theologiques, vols. 15-16 (1926-27).
25 Chenu, Introduction, p. 291 .
Plato, Phaedo 91 ; 95.
27 Quoted in Chenu, Introduction, p. 164.
C. G. 1, 2.
9 In Met. 12, 9; No. 2566.
Augustine, Contra epistolam Manichaei quam vacant funda­
menti, 2.
John Henry Cardinal Newman, An Essa in Aid of a Gram­
mar of Assent (5t ed. ; London: Burns & Oates, 1 88 1),
p. 162.
William of Tocco, Vita, 5, 27. On St. Thomas' polemical
style cf. P. Glorieux, "Un maitre polemiste: Thomas
d'Aquin," Melanges de science religieuse, vol. 5 (Lille,
1 948).
3 C. G. 3, 48.
34 Per. vit. spir. 26; No. 734.
85 Blatter und Steine (Haburg, 1 934), p. 226.
Preface to the second edition of 1787 (edition of the Phi­
losophische Bibliothek ed. by R. Schmidt [Leipzig, 1930],
p. 36.
Grabmann, Scholastische Methode, I, pp. 349 f.
Chenu, Introduction, p. 1 75.
Contra err. Graec., proemium; No. 1030.
Cf. Franz Xaver Seppelt, Geschichte der Pipste (2nd ed.;
Munich, 1954 f.), i , pp. 523 f.
4 II, 79, 5. Cf. also Josef Pieper, "Randbemerkungen zum
Herrenahl-Traktat der Summa theologica," in Weistum,
Dichtung, Sakrament (Munich, 1954), pp. 286 f.
5 C. G. 1, 2.
William of Tocco, Vita, 8, 48.
7 Cf. Josef Pieper, "Thomas von Aquin als Lehrer," in Weistum,
Dichtung, Sakrament. A section of the following pages
is taken verbatim from this treatise.
8 Grabmann has arranged his already cited Einfihrung in
die Summa theologiae as an elucidation of this preface.
9 William of Tocco, Vita, 3, 15.
Erich Przywara entitled a highly interesting essay (Stimmen
der Zeit, Jahrgang 1925): "Thomas als Problematiker."
In his subsequently published collection of essays, Ringen
der Gegenwart, this apparently somewhat ofensive title
was changed to a more neutral one: "Thomas von Aquin."
Chenu, Introduction, p. 81 .
Quo!. 6, 19.
3 Quo!. 3, 27.
14 Quo!. 8, 13; 9, 15.
5 Quo!. 1 1, 12.
1 6
Quo!. 12, 20.
17 Chenu, Introduction, p. 254.
C. G. 1 , 2.
9 Cf. Chenu, Introduction, p. 273.
1 d. 14, 2, 2; cf. also 1 d. 2, divisio textus.
Chenu, Introduction, p. 88.
Hegel, V orlesungen iber die Geschichte der Philosophie.
Jubilaumsausgabe, ed. by H. Glockner (Stuttgart 1928),
vol. 19, p. 99.
8 Ludwig Traube, Einleitung in die lateinische Philologie des
Mittelalters (Munich, 191 1), p. 44.
4 Karl Vossler, Geist und Kultur in der Sprache (Heidelberg,
1 925), p. 57.
5 P. Lehmann, Erforshung des Mittelalters (Leipzig, 1941),
p. 64.
6 Ludwig Bieler, "Das Mittellatein als Sprachproblem." Lexis
(Heidegger Festschrift), vol. 2, p. 104.
7 Ibid.
8 Richard Meister, "Mittellatein als Traditionssprache." In
Liber Floridus (P. Lehmann Festschrift), (St. Ottilien,
Christine Mohran, "L dualisme de Ia Latte medievale."
Revue des Etudes Latines, vol. 29 (Pars, 1951). Cf. also
M. Hubert, "Quelques aspects du Latin pbosopbque aux
Xl e et Xle siecles," Revue des Etudes La tines, vol.
27 (Paris, 1949).
Ibid., pp. 33 8-1.
Ibid., p. 338.
Ibid., p. 339.
3 Ibid., p. 348.
4 Chenu, Introduction, p. 90.
5 Ibid., p. 97.
Quoted ibid., p. 98.
7 Senea, Letters to Lucilius, 1 17, S.
Chenu, Introduction, p. 97.
9 Augustine, Confessions, 10, 27. (The Confessions of St.
Augustine. Translated by Edward B. Pusey, D.D. [ew
York: Pocket Books, Ic., 195 1], pp. 195-96.)
C. G. 2, 3.
II, 64, 5 ad 2.
22 F. A. Blanche, "Sur Ia langue technique de Saint Tomas
d'Aquin." Revue de Philosophie, vol. 30 (Paris, 1930).
3 Ibid., p. 13 f.
4 Ibid., p. 15 f.
5 Ibid., p. 16 f.
Ibid., p. 15.
Alfons Hufnagel, Studien zur Entwicklung des thomistischen
Erkenntnisbegrifes im Anschluss an das Correctorium
"Quare" (MUnster, 1935), p. 105.
Chenu, Introduction, p. 102.
9 Topics, 1, 2; l l Oa; quoted by Tomas, for example, i te
fst chapter of te Summa Against the Pagans.
Blanche, "Langue technique," p. 25.
31 Ver. 4, 2.
I, 4, 3 ad 4; 1 d. 28, 2, 2.
33 Goethe in a letter to Schiller dated July 9, 1796.
4 In Hexaemeron 22, 21 (Opera Omnia, 5, 440).
35- Virt. card. 1 ad 10.
Alois Dempf. Sacrum Imperium (Munich, 1929), p. 303.
37 Contra ipugn., No. 531.
13, 2.
In John, 1, 5.
Pot. 5, 10 ad 5.
I, II, 142, 1 ; 152, 2 ad 2; 153, 3 ad 3.
4 I, II, 23, 1 ad 1 ; 23, 3; I, 81, 2.
5 II, II, 23, 1 ad 1 ; 23, 3 ; I, 81, 2.
I, 98, 2.
New York: Pantheon, 1950.
Ibid., p. 178.
9 Ibid., p. 179.
"If ty eye is single (simplex), the whole of thy body wil
be lit up." Matthew 6, 22.
C. G. 4, 58; simiarly, II, 65.
2 Cf. B. Ataner, Patrologie (Freiburg i Breisgau, 1 955), p.
3 Van Steenberghen, Le Xlle siecle, p. 275.
14 Ibid., pp. 266, 272.
5 Van Steenberghen has shown (ibid., pp. 278 f.), with sound
argents, that this statement is inapplicable. Te philosophy
of Siger of Brabant, he says, might just as well be called
Platinic as Avicennistic or Thomistic or Averroistic. "Latin
Averroism," he points out, exsted only i the iagination
of Ernest Renan (p. 280).
Gilson, Histor, p. 408.
7 Ibid., p. 407.
A. G. Little, The Platonic Heritage of Thomism (Dublin
1949), p. 12.
9 Cf. Gison, Histor, p. 382.
C. G. 3, 69.
G. M. Manser, Das Wesen des Thomismus (3rd ed. ; Freiburg,
Switzerland, 1949), p. 21 3.
In John 1, 17.
3 C. G. 4, 56.
1 Cf. Josef Pieper, ''as heisst 'christliches Abendland'?"
In Uberliejerung und Neubeginn (Ratingen,
1 957). Aso:
Pieper, "Die Frage nach dem christlichen Abendand,"
i Europa: Vermichtnis und Verpfichtung, ed. by Hageorg
Loebel (Frankurt, 1 957).
2 Christian Philosophy, p. 83.
8 In Met. 9, 5; No. 1 826.
4 C. G. , 1 , 22.
5 Gilson, Histor, p. 365.
Aristote, Metaphysics, 1948 a.
Etienne Gilson, "Maimonide et Ia philosophie de I'Exode."
Mediaeval Studies, vol. 13 (Toronto, 195 1).
8 Jacques Maritain, "L'humanisme de St. Toma d'Aqui."
Mediaeval Studies, vol. 3 (Toronto, 1941).
9 Gilson, Christian Philosophy, p. 3 68. Cf. also on ti s subjec
Benoit Pruche, "Le thomisme, peut-il se presenter comme
'philosophie existentielle'?" Revue philosophique de Lou­
vain, tom. 48 (1950).
Gison, Christian Philosophy, pp. 48 f.
Augustine, Tractatus in Joannis Evangelium, 28, 8, 8-10;
Migne, Patrologia Latina 35, 1 678 f.
De trinitate 7, 5, 10; Migne, Patrologia Latina, 42, 942.
3 Gilson, Christian Philosophy, p. 93.
4 I, 8, 1 .
15 Gilson, Christian Philosophy, p . 1 39.
Essentia dicitur secundum quod per ear et in ea ens habet
esse." De ente et essentia, cap. 1, 3.
7 Comp. teol. 1, 68; No. 1 19.
I, 8, 1.
19 Ibid.
C. G. 2, 22.
Gilson, Christian Philosophy, p. 374.
n Hebd. 3 ; No. 50.
3 Gilson, Christian Philosophy, p. 374.
4 Ibid., p. 8.
5 Cf. J. de Guibert, Les doublets de St. Thomas d'Aquin. Leur
etude methodique (Paris, 1926).
1 Sent., prolog. 1, 1 ad 1 ; 2 Sent., prolog.
C. G. , 2, 4.
I, 1, 1 ad 2.
9 I, 1, 1 ad 2.
I, 1, 3.
8 1
Philebus 1 6 c.
Gorgias 523 a; 527 a.
II. II, 2, 7 ad 3; 3 d. 25, 2, 2, 2 ad 3 ; Ver. 14, 1 1 ad 5.
34 Cf. on this, Pieper, Uber den Begrif der Tradition, pp. 29 f.
1 "Philosophi • • • creatures considerant, secundum quod in
propria natura consistunt." 2 Sent. prolog.-"Philosophia
determinat de existentibus secundum rationes a creaturis
sumptas." 1 Sent. prolog., 1 ad 1.-" • • . creaturas secun­
dum se considerat." C. G. 2, 4.
2 C. G. 1, 4.
s Timaeus 29-30.
4 Nomoi 715 e.
5 Philebus 30 d.
6 Phaedo 63 c.
7 Menon 81 f.
C. G. 2, 4.
o Ver. 14, 9 ad 8.
Contra impugn. 3, 5; No. 411.
C. G. 2, 3.
1 Briefwechsel mit dem Grafen Yorck von Wartenburg (Ha  e,
1923), p. 39.
3 Glson, Christian Philosophy, p. 94.
4 Ibid., p. 443.
5 Marn Grabmann, Theologische Erkenntnisund Einlei­
tungslehre des heiligen Thomas von Aquin (reiburg,
Switzerland, 1948), p. 183.
Metaphysics 1, 2; 982 a 18.
7 In Met. 1, 2; No. 42.
I, 1, 5, sed conta.
9 C. Grabmann, Theologische Erkenntnislehre, p. 1 83.
Cf. C. G. 2, 4.
Contra impugn. 3, 4; No. 400.
22 Ibid., 3, 4; No. 399.
23 Cf. Vatican Counci, Constitutio de fde catholica, cap.
4 (Deninger No. 1796). As: M. J. Scheeben, Die Mys­
terien des Christentums, ed. by J. Hofer (reiberg i Breisgau,
1941), pp. 8 f.
4 Oxford University Serons 4 (June 1, 1 841).
25 Friedrich von Huegel, Andacht zur Wirklichkeit. Schriften
i Auswa; ed. by M. Schliter-Hermes (Munich, 1952),
pp. 223, 225.
26 " • •

Utitur." 1 Sent., prolog. I, 1.- " . . . supponit." In
Trin. 2, 3.
7 Phinomenologie des Geistes, Vorede. Ed. by J. Hofmeister
(Hamburg, 1952), p. 1 2.
Chenu, Introduction, p. 158.
Ayme Forest in his review of Geiger's book, La participation
dans Ia philosophie de St. Thomas d'Aquin. Revue des
sciences philosophiques et theologiques, vol. 30 (1941-2),
p. 47 1 .
so I, 3, prolog.
31 Pot. 7, 5 ad 14.
32 In Hebd. 2; No. 23.
33 Ver. 1 0, 1.
34 Cf. Josef Pieper, "The Negative Element in te Philosophy
of St. Thomas Aquinas, " i The Silence of St. Thoma
(ew York: Panteon, 1957).
Abelard, Peter, 59
Actus, 1 21 -22, 1 25
Actus purus, 122, 1 26, 1 40
Against the Errors of the
Greeks, 84
Abertus Magnus (Alber the
Great), 1 1, 1 2- 1 3, 1 8, 35,
46, 48, 57, 83, 84, 1 1 1 , 1 1 3
Albigensian War, 29-30
Albigensians, 28, 30, 36, 37-38,
Alexander of Hales, 68
Altaner, B. , 1 52
Anselm, Saint, 59, 1 07, 123-24
Arabic, tanslations from, 1 2,
"Aristotelianism," 3 3, 43-44, 48,
1 1 2- 14, 1 1 7
Aristotle, 12, 17, 1 8, 1 9, 27, 33,
34, 40-57, 62, 74, 90, 98,
1 02, 106-7, 1 08, 1 1 2- 1 3, 122-
23, 135-36; commentaries on
20, 33, 90, 1 21-22
Articulus, 75-76
Augustine, Saint, 4, 54-56, 74,
79, 80, 86, 99, 123-24, 125,
Averroes, 40
Averroism, 1 13
Bach, Johann Sebastian, 100
Baeumker, Clemens, 146
Becket, Thomas, 58
Benedictine Order, 3 1, 59
Bernard of Clairaux, Saint 29,
Bernhart, Joseph, 29
Bible, 27, 30, 32-33, 54, 59, 90,
106-7, 1 09, 1 1 1- 12, 1 1 5, 1 1 6,
1 35-36
Bieler, Ludwig, 1 51
Bierbaum, Max, 1 48
Blanche, F. A., 1 02, 1 52
Boethus, 1 6, 95, 98, 1 07, 1 24
Bologna, 3 1 , 60, 64
Bonaventura, Saint, 1 9, 52, 65,
66, 69, 84, 104, 1 1 1, 1 13,
1 14, 1 24, 137
Caesarus of Heisterbach 29
Canonization of Thomas, 23-24
Catharism, 28
Chenu, Marie-Dominique, 1 5,
27, 47, 59, 62, 91 , 1 02, 1 39
Chesteron, G. K., 14- 1 5, 63
Cicero, 94, 98
Cistercian Order, 3 1, 68
Clement I, 20
Codex Juris Canonici, 24
Cologne, 1 8
Commentaries: on Aristote, 21,
33, 90; on the Sentences, 70,
93, 1 27; Scriptura, 90, 1 12
Conradin of Hohenstaufen, 20
Contra impugnantes Dei cultum
et religionem, 70
Corpus Christi day, 85
Creation 48, 108-9, 1 1 5, 125,
1 33
De ente et essentia, 42, 70, 90,
1 25
De unitate intellectus, 72
Dempf, Alois, 152
Denife, H. S. , 60
Descares, Rene, 91 , 135
Diego, Bishop, 29, 30
Dilthey, W., 134
Dionysius Areopagita, 1 8, 44,
45, 54
Biblcism, 1 15, 133
Disputatio, 11 , 73, 74-82
Doctor communis, Thomas as,
24, 26, 27, 38, 44, 73
Doctor of the Church, Thomas
a, 24
Domnic, Saint, 1 8, 28, 29-32,
36, 63
Dominican Order (Order of
Preachers), 13, 18, 28, 30-32,
36-38, 63-68
Eastern Orthodox Church, 58,
83, 1 19
Elementa philosophiae Aristotel1
co-Thomisticae, 44, 94
Erasmus of Rotterdam, 148
Eschan, I. T., 148
Essence, 120-21, 124-25, 134,
"Evangelical perfection," 32, 62,
72, 108
Existence, 1 20-26, 1 34, 140
Existential philosophy, 123
Forest, Ayme, 154
Foulques, Bishop of Toulouse,
Francis of Assisi, Saint, 28, 3 1
Franciscan Order, 28, 3 1 , 68
Frederick I of Hohenstaufen
1 6, 17, 37, 40, 47, 107
Geiger, L. B. , 27
Gilson, Etienne, 1 1, 14-16, 25,
45, 76, 1 1 3, 121, 123, 125,
127, 135
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von,
46, 87, 104, 1 10
Goodness of created things, 1 1 6
Grabmann, Martin, 15, 18, 23,
41, 42, 46, 75
Gredt, Joseph, 146
Gregory I, 37
Gregory the Great, 1 1 1
Grundmann, Herbert, 149
Guibert J. de, 153
Haecker, Theodor, 86, 1 10
Hayen, Adre, 145
Heer, Friedich, 144
Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich
75, 95, 139
Henry I of England, 58
"Hohenstaufen spirit," 46, 48
Holy Cross, Monastery of the,
1 1
Honorius il, 29
Huegel, Friedrich von, 138
Hufnagel, Afons, 151
Humbert of Romans, 66
Incarnation, 1 1 6, 1 17
Innocent Ill, 28, 30
Inquisition, 36-40
Jean de Barrastre, 64
Jerome, Saint, 137
John of Monte Corino, 13
John of St. Giles, 32
John of Salisbury, 74, 97
Jordan of Saxony, 32
JUnger, Ernst, 80, 104
Kant, Immanuel, 8 1
Language and terminolog, 100·
Latin, medieval, 94-98
Lehmann, P., 1 51
Liber de causis, 56
Little, A. G. , 152
Locke, John, 79
Lortz, Joseph, 144
Louis IX, 66
Luther, Martin, 14, 43
Maimonides, Moses, 1 23
Mandonnet, Pierre, 149
Manichaeanism, 28, 79, 1 1 6
Manser, G. M. , 152
Maritain, Jacques, 123
Martinez, Fidel G. , 145
Marx, Karl, 24, 49-50
Meister, Richard, 1 51
Mendicant Controversy, 20, 62-
Mendicant orders, 13, 18, 19,
20, 27, 32, 59, 62-69, 105
Meyer, Hans, 146
Michael Palaeologus VIII, 83
Mitterer, Abert, 25
Mohrmann, Christine, 95
Monte Cassino, Abbey of, 1 7,
27, 28, 57
Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus, 26
Myth interpretation, 129
Naples, 17, 21 , 27, 34, 40, 42,
48, 57, 107
Nauann, Hans, 1 47
Neo-Platonism, 1 8
Neoscholasticism, 94, 96
Newman, John Heny, 46, 79,
1 38
"Occidentality," 1 1 , 20
On Secrec, 39
On the Governance of Princes,
Opuscula, 19, 39, 90, 1 25
Oxford, 1 3, 60, 68
Palero, 40
Paris, 12, 19, 20, 21 , 29, 31 , 32,
42, 43, 57, 58, 60-63, 64-
71 , 89, 1 12-1 5
Peter of Hibernia, 41 , 43 , 107
Philo, 135
"Phiosophism," 1 1 3
Philosophy and theology, 47, 60
64, 1 1 3, 127-40
Pico della Mirandola, 97
Pius X, 25
Plato, 44-45, 52, 60, 74, 91,
98, 1 23, 126, 128-29, 1 31-
32, 133
Polemics of Thomas, 70-71, 72-
Prantl, Carl, 149
Przywaa, Erich, 150
Quaestiones disputatae, 75,
77, 91, 1 1 5
Quaestiones quodlibetales, 75,
Reginald of Pipero, 21 , 86,
1 1 0
Revelation, 128-34, 1 37-39
Rnaldo of Aquino, 16
Roland of Cremona, 32, 67
Sacraments, 1 1 1, 1 1 6
St. Jacques, Monastery of, 19,
32, 33, 64-66
Salero, 60
Scheeben, H. C. , 66
Schnirer, Gustav, 1 44
Science and Phiosophy, 1 33,
136, 138
Scot, Michael, 40
Scriptural commentaries, 90,
1 1 1
Seculaism, 107, 1 17
Seneca 98
Sentences, comentaries on
70, 93, 1 27
Seppelt, Fra Xaver, 146
Shaw, George Berard, 26
Siger of Brabant, 52, 1 1 2- 1 5
Socrates, 74, 75, 77-78, 80
Steenberghen, Fernand va, 1 1,
68, 1 1 2
Stolz, Aselm, 25
Suaez F., 9 1
Summa Against the Pagans, 32,
47, 78, 79, 86, 89, 91 , 94,
99, 1 28
Summa theologica, 33, 38, 85,
87-89, 90, 91 , 92, 1 1 0, 1 1 5,
1 25, 1 39-0
Terminology and langage, 96-
98, 1 00-1, 1 04
Teology and philosophy, 47-
48, 49, 60, 64, 1 1 3- 1 4, 1 1 7,
1 27-41
Trteenth centy, 1 1-14, 34,
108, 1 17
Tomas encyclical, 145
Thomas of Chantimpre, 29
"homism," 25, 26, 1 40-41
Toulouse, 42
Tradition, sacred 51 , 132
Traube, Ludwig, 1 51
Translatio studii, 60
Treatise on the Faith, 38
University, medieval, 13, 17,
57-59, 8 1 -82
Urban I, 19, 83-84
Valery, Paul, 78
Valla, Laurentius, 95
Voluntary povert movement
27-32, 34-35
Vossler, Karl, 1 51
Waldensianism, 28, 30, 37, 108
Waldo, Peter, 28, 32
Ward, Masie, 1 4
Western Christendom, 58, 1 17-
Willia of Moerbecke, 20
Willia of St. Aour, 70
Wilia of Tocco, 24
"World, " Biblca concept of,
Worldliness, 48; and
teology, 1 1 6-19

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