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Thomism

by
R.E. Houser

LAST MODIFIED: 29 October 2013


DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396584-0096
Introduction
Thomism has at least three distinct senses. It primarily means the philosophical and theological doctrine of
Br. Thomas of Aquino OP (b. 1224/1225–d. 1274). Born into the minor nobility at Roccasecca near
Naples, he was first educated as a Benedictine oblate at the monastic school of Monte Cassino, then
studied Arts at the newly founded University of Naples, where he encountered the philosophical thought
of Aristotle and two Islamic Aristotelians—Avicenna and Averroes. Against the wishes of his family, he
was drawn to the Dominicans and took the Dominican habit. He proceeded to Paris and then Cologne,
studying under Albertus Magnus. In the midst of conflict between secular masters and the friars, he
became Master of Theology at Paris, teaching there twice (1256–1259 and 1268–1272). The rest of his
teaching career was spent in Italy. The other two senses of Thomism developed as ways of understanding
this first sense of Thomism. The second sense concerns the interpretation and development of his thought
by subsequent philosophers and theologians. It did not start auspiciously. In 1270 and again in 1277 the
Bishop of Paris condemned certain propositions, mainly Aristotelian, some closely connected with
Thomas’s doctrine. There followed attacks on Thomas, mainly by Franciscans, and defense of him, mainly
by Dominicans. On 18 July 1323, Aquinas was canonized by Pope John XXII. From the 15th to the 17th
century, a series of “classic” commentators explained, defended, and developed the thought of Aquinas. In
late medieval universities, the Faculty of Arts usually offered two different ways to study philosophy, the
via antiqua (often Aquinas) and the via moderna (nominalism). Just after the Council of Trent, on 15
April 1567 Aquinas was declared a “doctor of the Church” by the Dominican Pope Pius V, his doctrine
thereby becoming identified with the magisterial teaching of the Roman Church. The French Revolution
spawned “liberalism,” “socialism,” and “positivism” during the 19th century. In reaction, Pope Leo XIII
initiated the third sense of Thomism, often called “neo-Thomism,” in his encyclical Aeterni patris (1879).
Led by Cardinal Mercier of Louvain and Étienne Gilson of the Sorbonne and Toronto, many “subspecies”
of this third sense of Thomism developed in the 20th century. Initially it looked like this third Thomism
ended with Vatican Council II, but Thomism revived again during the pontificates of John Paul II and
Benedict XVI, in reaction to “postmodernism,” “secularism,” “consumerism,” and “Islamism.”

Introductory Works
Chesterton 1943, Pieper 1982, and McInerny 1990 are for beginners and written by first-rate authors.
Weisheipl 1974 is a scholarly biography that concentrates on Aquinas’s doctrine. Though he familiarized
himself with the latest research into Thomas’s life, Weisheipl was not inclined to make definitive
judgments in this area. Torrell 1996 makes use of all the research into Aquinas’s life done since
Weisheipl, especially points uncovered by the Leonine Commission in the process of editing Aquinas’s
works. Torrell devotes much space to the details of Aquinas’s life, but he is careful to give a brief account
of each of Aquinas’s works. Written with great clarity, the book is required reading for novice and master
alike. These two biographies, then, complement each other. One can read Weisheipl for Aquinas’s
doctrine and Torrell for his life. Cessario 2005 gives in brief compass a feel for the vast influence of
Aquinas on Catholic thought over the centuries. It is especially useful for the second sense of Thomism,
that of the “classic commentators.” The last two books are for the more advanced student. Chenu 1964 has
become the classic introduction for the budding scholar of Aquinas. Even though over half a century old, it
covers all the essential resources, except for those now online. It also contains some of Chenu’s most
insightful interpretations of Aquinas and represents the work of the “historical” version of the third sense
of Thomism, begun by Gilson. Dufeil 1972 places the reader in Paris right at the beginning of Aquinas’s
career. Both Aquinas and Bonaventure were denied Chairs of Theology by the secular Masters of the
University of Paris, because the friars refused to go on strike with the rest of the faculty in 1253. They
were finally awarded their Chairs only after the intervention of Pope Alexander IV in 1256, and both
entered into the polemics in support of the friars’ way of life. While not confined to Aquinas, Dufeil draws
the best picture yet of life at the University of Paris during his time there, and during an event in which
Aquinas played a major role.

Cessario, Romanus, OP. A Short History of Thomism. Washington, DC: Catholic University of
America Press, 2005.

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Cessario’s history begins with an overview of the Thomism of Aquinas and continues on with a
history of the Thomism of his major commentators over the centuries.

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Chenu, Marie-Dominique, OP. Toward Understanding Saint Thomas. Translated by A. M. Landry


and D. Hughes. Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1964.

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An introduction to more advanced study of Aquinas, with attention paid to the main scholarly
resources. A reference book that should be on the shelf of every Thomistic scholar. Originally
published as Introduction à l’étude de saint Thomas d’Aquin (Montreal and Paris: l’Institut d’Étude
Médiévales, 1954).

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Chesterton, G. K. St. Thomas Aquinas. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1943.

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Introduction to the life and thought of Aquinas, written for the layman, by one of the most famous
English writers in his time. Originally published in 1933, it is a companion piece to his St. Francis
of Assisi. Filled with insights and much praised by Thomists.

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Dufeil, Michel-Marie. Guillaume de Saint-Amour et la polémique universitaire parisienne 1250–
1259. Paris: J. Picard, 1972.

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A stirring, even exciting, story of the conflict between secular Masters of Theology like William of
St. Amour and their opponents, who included the young friars Thomas and Bonaventure. Gives a
real “feel” for Aquinas’s University of Paris.

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McInerny, Ralph. A First Glance at St. Thomas Aquinas: A Handbook for Peeping Thomists. Notre
Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1990.

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Introduction for beginners by a clever writer, as the subtitle indicates.

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Pieper, Josef. Guide to Thomas Aquinas. Translated by Richard Winston and Clara Winston. New
York: Octagon, 1982.

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Introduction for beginners by an excellent writer. Even better in German. Originally published in
1962.

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Torrell, Jean-Pierre, OP. St. Thomas Aquinas. Vol. 1, The Person and His Work. Translated by
Robert Royal. Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1996.

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This marvelous biography makes use of all the research into Aquinas’s life done since Weisheipl’s
biography. Its attention to detail typifies the scholarly precision of the Fribourg Dominicans.
Originally published as Initiation a Saint Thomas d’Aquin: Sa personne et son oeuvre (Fribourg,
Switzerland: Editions Universitaires, 1993).

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Weisheipl, James A., OP. Friar Thomas d’Aquino: His Life, Thought and Works. New York:
Random House, 1974.

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This biography was commissioned for the seventh centenary of the death of Aquinas. It is an
intellectual biography, with long portions devoted to Thomistic doctrines Weisheipl thought
important.

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Works and Translations


Over the centuries there have been an enormous number of manuscripts, editions, and translations of the
works of Aquinas. The Leonine Edition (1882–) is designed eventually to include all the authentic works
of Aquinas, in the original Latin. These texts have become the standard, surpassing all previous editions.
The Corpus Thomisticum is a marvelous online resource created and maintained by Enrique Alarcon of
the University of Navarre. It includes Latin texts of all the genuine works of Aquinas, as well as doubtful
and spurious works, an extensive Bibliographica Thomistica, and the Index Thomisticus search engine.
The translations included here are limited to Aquinas’s most important work, the Summa theologiae. The
translation by the Fathers of the English Dominican Province was done in a 19th-century English style,
which is indebted to the traditional English philosophical vocabulary begun by Locke and refined over the
centuries. It is still readable and usually accurate. Blackfriars (Gilby and O’Brien 1964–1973) was
designed to accommodate the language of British analytic philosophy in the 1960s, which makes portions
of it quite inaccurate as a translation and difficult for the non–analytically trained philosopher to
understand. In these respects it is already outdated, but its appendices and notes are often quite helpful.
The best translator of Aquinas into English is Armand Maurer, but he chose to translate works other than
the Summa, so his translations are not listed here. By far the best of the translations into other languages is
the French translation in the Revue des jeunes series (Thomas d’Aquin 1925–). Most of these translations
are done by superior French scholars, the notes and explanations are superb, and the Latin text is included.
The translation by Spanish Dominicans in the Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos series is reliable, and it
contains the Latin text. The German translation, Christmann, et al. (1933) , is the standard translation, but
still incomplete. Dondaine 1956 is a fascinating book devoted to how Aquinas’s works were preserved by
his secretaries, often working on more than one book at a time, and the different families of codices,
especially the peciae system of the university stationers, which was discovered by the Leonine editors.

Corpus Thomisticum. University of Navarre.

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Superb. The “point of departure” for all online work on Aquinas.

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Dondaine, Antoine, OP. Secrétaires de saint Thomas. Rome: Editori di S. Tommaso, 1956.

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The story of how the writings of Aquinas have been preserved in the manuscripts created, not by
Thomas himself, but because of his “illegible” handwriting, by his “secretaries” and the university
stationers.

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Thomas Aquinas. Summa theologiae: Die deutsche Thomas-Ausgabe. Tr. Christmann, Heinrich
Maria. Graz and Salzburg, Austria, and Cologne: Pustet, 1933–.
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In German. Accurate translation, but still incomplete.

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Thomas Aquinas. Summa theologica. 3 vols. Translated by Fathers of the English Dominican
Province. New York: Benziger, 1947.

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The older English Dominican translation, done in traditional English philosophical prose. No Latin
text. Originally published in 1920. A. C. Pegis updated this translation in his Introduction to St.
Thomas Aquinas (New York: Modern Library, 1948).

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Thomas Aquinas. Summa theologiae. 70 vols. Edited by T. Gilbey, OP and T. C. O’Brien, OP, gen.
eds. London-New York, Blackfriars, 1964–1973.
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Newer English Dominican Translation, which is affected by the terminology of contemporary


analytic philosophy. Latin on facing page. Notes and appendices are helpful.

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Thomas Aquinatis. Sancti Thomae Aquinatis, doctoris angelici, Opera omnia iussu Leonis XIII:
Cura et studio Fratrum Praedicatorum. Leonine ed. Rome: Ex Typographia Polyglotta S. C. de
Propaganda Fide, 1882–.

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The leaders in textual edition of Aquinas, the Commissio leonina, begun by Pope Leo XIII, has
produced the definitive texts. But the work is slow and earlier volumes, especially the Summa
theologiae, eventually will have to be redone.

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Thomas d’Aquin. Somme théologique. “Revue des jeunes” edition. Numerous Dominican
translators. Paris: Desclée, 1925–.

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In French. Superb translations. Notes and explanations are excellent. Contains Latin text.

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Tomás de Aquino. Summa de Teologia. Translated by Spanish Dominicans. Madrid: Biblioteca de
Autores Cristianos, 1947–.

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In Spanish. Good translation. Contains Latin text.

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Sources of Aquinas’s Thought


The contemporaries of Aquinas understood that his work was deeply influenced by two different sources:
by his fellow scholastic masters and by “the philosophers,” Aristotle, Avicenna, and Averroes. Grabmann
1926–1956 concentrated on the immediate context for Aquinas’s thought provided by the medieval
scholastics. Fitzgerald 1999 presents Augustine, which provides a benchmark for evaluating Aquinas’s
varying interpretations of Augustinian doctrines. Owens 1951–1978 presented Aristotle’s metaphysics in
its relation to Plato, which helps to distinguish Aristotle’s genuine thought from the way Aquinas and
many others have used Aristotle. O’Rourke 2005 focuses on the neo-Platonic influences on Aquinas,
which are considerable. The volume Hasse and Bertolacci 2011 highlights the significant Muslim
influence on Aquinas’s thought, an area just now beginning to be thoroughly researched. These
approaches stand in sharp contrast to the “classical commentators.” By concentrating on the Summa
theologiae and treating it as a stand-alone document, they tended to identify the doctrines of Aquinas with
those of Aristotle, or they were simply unconcerned with his sources. The historical approach to Thomism,
however, has attempted to evaluate Aquinas in light of all his sources, and with considerable success. This
approach has shown that his mind was even more synthetic than previously recognized. It has deepened
our understanding of Aquinas’s genuine doctrine and by so doing have opened the way to using his
thought to deal with contemporary issues. In Pope John Paul II 1998 (cited under Theology and
Philosophy), Pope John Paul II used his phenomenological approach to Aquinas to support the traditional
Catholic teaching that faith and reason should work together. Brague 2008 draws on his wide-ranging
knowledge of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity in treating the conceptions of God that lie under many
contemporary cultural, social, and political issues.

Brague, Rémi. De dieu des chrétiens et d’un ou deux autres. Paris: Flammarion, 2008.

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A popular and wide-ranging book which addresses contemporary problems by looking back at
history. Compares Jewish, Muslim, and Christian conceptions of God.

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Fitzgerald, Allan, gen. ed. Augustine through the Ages: An Encyclopedia. Grand Rapids, MI:
Eerdmans, 1999.

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An excellent example of the contemporary trend toward books with numerous contributors. Covers
virtually every topic in Augustine studies, including his influence on Aquinas.

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Grabmann, Martin. Mittelalterliches Geistesleben: Abhandlungen zur Geschichte der Scholastik und
Mystik. Hildesheim: Olms, 1984.

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A classic study of medieval “scholasticism” by an important Thomist of the early 20th century. Sets
the immediate context within medieval Christianity for Aquinas’s thought. Originally published
1925–1956.

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Hasse, Dag, and Amos Bertolacci, eds. The Arabic, Hebrew and Latin Reception of Avicenna’s
Metaphysics. Berlin and Boston: De Gruyter, 2011.

DOI: 10.1515/9783110215762Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

The essays on how the Latins received Avicenna’s Metaphysics highlight Aquinas, an indication of
how this area of research is presently opening up.

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O’Rourke, Fran. Pseudo-Dionysius and the Metaphysics of Aquinas. Notre Dame, IN: University of
Notre Dame Press, 2005.

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The neo-Platonic influence on Aquinas is now fully recognized, as this book clearly shows.

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Owens, Joseph, CSsR. Doctrine of Being in the Aristotelian Metaphysics: A Study in the Greek
Background of Mediaeval Thought. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1951–1978.

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Making use of a hundred years of German philological research, Owens uncovered an Aristotelian
metaphysics that built on Plato, quite different from the more familiar Aristotle of the medieval and
modern philosophers.

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The Classic Commentatorial Tradition


Little more than a century after Aquinas’s death, in 1386 Pope Urban V ordered his relics sent from Italy
to the Dominicans in Toulouse, which became a center for Thomism. John Capreolus, OP (d. 1444)
studied at the University of Paris. Capreolus 2001 began as a commentary on the Sentences of Peter
Lombard, but grew to enormous length. Its title indicates Capreolus’s polemical stance against nominalists
and Scotists, competing camps in the Arts Faculties at late medieval universities. This work, along with
the equally huge commentary on the Sentences of Dionysius the Carthusian (d. 1471), became favorites of
Catholics during the Protestant Reformation. The Italian Dominican called Cajetan (b. 1469–d. 1534) was
educated in Padua. For his lectures at Pavia from 1497–1499 he innovated and chose the Summa
theologiae as his base text, which became the norm. These lectures became Cajetani 1882–, but were not
published until 1540–1541, after his death and shortly before the Council of Trent (1545–1563). The
reason was because Cajetan had become one of the primary spokesmen for Rome during the Protestant
Reformation, visiting Luther in Augsburg and eventually being made a Cardinal. During the Counter-
Reformation, the most prominent Thomists were Spaniards. Domingo Bañez, OP, (d. 1604) commented at
length on the Summa theologiae (see Bañez 1966). From his post at the University of Salamanca he was
widely influential inside and outside the academy, counselor to both Emperor Philip II and Teresa of
Avila. John Poinsot (d. 1604; see Poinsot 1985) was a Portuguese Dominican who took the religious name
John of St. Thomas. Professor at the University of Alcalá, he heavily influenced the Carmelite theologians
at Salamanca known as the Salmanticenses, because he continued Bañez’s effort to turn Thomism toward
mysticism. Ignatius Loyola (b. 1491–d. 1556) was educated by Dominicans at the University of Paris and
recommended that his Jesuits write new Thomistic works, but ones “more accommodated to our times,”
thereby setting the style of Jesuit Thomism, which attempts to graft contemporary authors onto a
Thomistic stock. Francisco Suarez (d. 1617) codified this style (see Suarez 1965). The last two works
below bring the history of Thomism up to the present. McCool 2001 describes the shape of Thomism from
Leo XIII to Étienne Gilson. Prouvost 1996 is an interpretive study covering the whole range of
contemporary “Thomisms.”

Bañez, Domingo, OP. The Primacy of Existence in Thomas Aquinas: A Commentary in Thomistic
Metaphysics. Translated by B. Llamzon. Chicago: Regnery, 1966.

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In the 20th century, Gilson cited Bañez as the classical commentator most attuned to the doctrine of
existence (esse). The translation by Llamzon of the author’s commentary on Summa theologiae,
question 3, article 4, first published in 1584, concerns this point.

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Cajetani, Thomas de Vio, OP. Commentaria in Summam Theologicam divi Thomae. Printed in
Sancti Thomae Aquinatis, doctoris angelici, Opera omnia iussu Leonis XIII: Cura et studio Fratrum
Praedicatorum. Vols. 4—11. Rome: Commissio leonine; Paris: Vrin, 1882–.

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Printing Cajetan’s commentary in the Leonine edition of the Summa showed the enormous influence
of Cajetan’s interpretation of Aquinas. Cajetan is a primary example of “Roman” Thomism.

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Capreolus, John, OP. On the Virtues. Translated by Kevin White and Romanus Cessario, OP.
Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2001.

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By translating Johannes Capreolus on the virtues, White and Cessario have contributed to the
current interest in virtue ethics, as well as historical interest in Thomism. Latin text originally
published 1900–1907. This work is a partial translation of Defensiones theologiae divi Thomae
Aquinatis.

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McCool, Gerald A. The Neo-Thomists. Milwaukee, WI: Marquette University Press, 2001.

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Covers the period from just before Pope Leo XIII’s call for a revival of Thomism to Étienne Gilson.
Leo emphasized unity of doctrine among Thomists, but the movement he initiated uncovered
differences among the medieval philosophers and among Thomists.

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Poinsot, John, OP. Tractatus de signis: The Semiotic of John Poinsot. Translated by John Deely.
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985.

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Poinsot’s Cursus philosophicus contains three parts: Ars logica, De ente mobili, and De ente mobili
animato. De ente mobili incorruptibili was never published. Deely, in this translation of Ars logica,
5.1–2, has connected Poinsot’s treatment of signs to contemporary semiotics, with considerable
effect. Latin text originally published in 1929.

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Prouvost, Géry. Thomas d’Aquin et les Thomismes: Essai sur l’histoire des thomismes . Paris: Cerf,
1996.

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A highly recommended interpretive essay.

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Suarez, Francisco, SJ. Disputationes metaphysicae. Hildesheim, Germany: Olms, 2009.

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Among the many parts of this work that have been translated into English are On Efficient
Causality: Metaphysical Disputations 17, 18, and 19 (trans. A. J. Freddoso, New Haven, CT: Yale
University Press, 1994) and The Metaphysical Demonstration of the Existence of God: Metaphysical
Disputations 28–9 (trans. J. Doyle, South Bend, IN: St. Augustine’s, 2004). Latin text originally
published in 1866.

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Contemporary Approaches to Aquinas
Pope Leo XIII 1879 set the intellectual direction for his papacy by calling on Catholics “to restore the
golden wisdom of St. Thomas, and to spread it as far as you can, for the safety and glory of the Catholic
Faith, for the good of society, and for the increase of all the sciences.” What resulted was the “neo-
Thomistic” or “neo-scholastic” revival, which lasted until the Vatican II period, where Thomism briefly
went out of favor. Several distinct styles of contemporary Thomism developed. “Roman Thomism” takes
care to be fully faithful to the Catholic magisterium, while keeping up with the latest scholarly
developments. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange OP espoused this kind of Thomism in the early 20th century
and Elders 1987 is a fine contemporary example. Led by Cardinal Desirée Mercier, the Catholic
University of Louvain focused on applying Thomistic philosophy, separated from his theology, to
contemporary philosophical and cultural issues, much as Leo himself had done about the “social problem”
in Rerum novarum (1891). Van Steenberghen 1966 (cited under Histories of Medieval Philosophy)
typifies the “Louvain school.” Arguably the most important philosopher of the neo-Thomistic period was
Jacques Maritain, who primarily functioned as a public intellectual, applying Thomistic principles to the
issues of the day (see Comprehensive Studies of Aquinas’s Thought and Theology and Philosophy.)
Although he had many followers, he did not really leave a “school.” Reflecting the Jesuit tradition, Joseph
Maréchal and Karl Rahner tried to reconcile Aquinas with modern philosophy, especially Kant, creating
the school of “transcendental Thomism,” typified here by Lonergan 1992. At the University of Laval in
Quebec, Charles de Koninck focused on natural philosophy and identified Aquinas’s philosophy with
Aristotle’s, as had the “classical” commentators. “Laval” Thomism is exemplified here by McInerny 2006.
At Oxford, G. E. M. Anscombe and Peter Geach philosophized in the mode of British analytic philosophy,
but their Catholicism also led them to be students of Aquinas, thereby giving rise to “analytical Thomism,”
here represented by Haldane 2004 and Haldane 2010. A contemporary and friend of Maritain was Étienne
Gilson. He thought Aquinas’s philosophy should be presented in historical context. This methodology,
which he learned from his positivist teachers at the Sorbonne and from the interdisciplinary atmosphere at
the University of Strasbourg after World War I, Gilson institutionalized when founding the Pontifical
Institute of Mediaeval Studies in Toronto in 1929. This kind of “historical Thomism” is represented here
by Maurer 1974.

Elders, Leo, SVD. Autour de saint Thomas d’Aquin: Recueil d’études sur sa pensée philosophique
et théologique. 2 vols. Paris and Bruges, Belgium: FAC, 1987.

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A compendium of articles about a wide range of topics that set out Elders’s philosophical and
theological “Roman” Thomism.

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Haldane, John. Faithful Reason: Essays Catholic and Philosophical. London: Routledge, 2004.

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Exhibits Haldane’s charm as an essayist, and his “analytical Thomism,” a term he invented.

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Haldane, John. Reasonable Faith. London: Routledge, 2010.


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A companion volume to Haldane 2004. Both volumes exhibit the Thomistic principle that faith and
reason reinforce each other, when applied to contemporary issues.

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Leo XIII. Aeterni patris. Papal encyclical, 1879.

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The work that began the “neo-Thomistic revival.” Still worth reading.

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Lonergan, Bernard, SJ. Insight: A Study of Human Understanding. In Collected Works of Bernard
Lonergan. Vol. 3, Edited by Frederick E. Crowe, SJ, and Robert M. Doran. Toronto: University of
Toronto Press, 1992.

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An outstanding example of “transcendental Thomism.” Originally published in 1957.

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Maurer, Armand, CSB, ed. St. Thomas Aquinas 1274–1974: Commemorative Studies. Toronto:
Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, 1974.

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This superb volume of “historical Thomism” celebrated the 700th anniversary of Aquinas’s death,
in 1974.

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McInerny, Ralph. Praeambula fidei: Thomism and the God of the Philosophers. Washington, DC:
Catholic University of America Press, 2006.

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McInerny’s last major work; it brings together the most important themes of his “Lavalian
Thomism.”

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Comprehensive Studies of Aquinas’s Thought


Periodically, particularly adept scholars have written books that draw together the whole range of what is
often called the “Thomistic synthesis.” Several such comprehensive studies are worth the attention of the
serious student. The six editions of Gilson 2002 reflect his deepening appreciation of Aquinas’s thought.
Three features of Gilson’s interpretation stand out: Aquinas’s philosophy should be presented in its
historical context; his philosophy cannot be understood apart from his theology; and while Gilson early on
conceived of Aquinas as an “Aristotelian” philosopher, while stuck in Paris during World War II, he
developed his innovative interpretation of Aquinas as an “existentialist” thinker. Jacques Maritain never
wrote a comprehensive study of Aquinas’s philosophy in one book, but Maritain 1939 and Maritain 1968
representate the speculative and practical sides of his interpretation of Aquinas. Aertsen 1988 is the first
major work on Aquinas by the most important living “historical” Thomist. Davies 1992 is based on the
Summa theologiae and offers the novice a wealth of quotations from Aquinas’s work and insightful
commentary from the “analytic” school, heavily influenced by Wittgenstein. Concerning our knowledge
of God, he emphasizes “negative theology,” under the inspiration of fellow Dominican Herbert McCabe.
Stump 2003 covers the full range of Aquinas’s thought, as expressed in the organization of the Summa
theologiae: philosophy of God, human nature, “human excellence,” and ending with “God’s relationship
to human beings.” The fourth section is important, because Stump (following Kretzmann 1997, cited
under God) finds many of Aquinas’s philosophical arguments inadequate and therefore she is happy to
supplement them with truths coming from faith. Her “explicit purpose is to explicate the views of Aquinas
with some historical accuracy and to bring them into dialogue with the corresponding discussions in
contemporary philosophy,” p. ix. Like most “analytic Thomists,” she presents Aquinas as an Aristotelian,
so references in the index to Aristotle and Augustine are numerous, but there are only two references to
Avicenna, none to Gilson or Maritain. Beuchot 2004 provides a valuable general study of Aquinas’s
philosophy, an excellent introduction. Porro 2012 is the first comprehensive study to take seriously recent
work on the influence of Islamic and Jewish philosophers on Aquinas. His determination not to separate
‘history of philosophy’ from ‘philosophy’ is insightful and refreshing.

Aertsen, Jan. Nature and Creature: Thomas Aquinas’s Way of Thought. Leiden, The Netherlands:
Brill, 1988.

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A wide-ranging look at Aquinas’s view of creatures, by the premier living exponent of “historical”
Thomism.

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Beuchot, Mauricio. Introducción a la filosofía de Tomás de Aquino. Salamanca, Spain: Editorial San
Esteban, 2004.

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A fine survey of Aquinas’s philosophy, by the best Spanish-language Thomist writing today.

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Davies, Brian. The Thought of Thomas Aquinas. Oxford: Clarendon, 1992.

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A readable survey that treats God extensively, humans and the Christian life less so, based on the
Summa theologiae. Representative of “analytic Thomism.”
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Gilson, Étienne. Thomism: The Philosophy of Thomas Aquinas. Translated by Laurence K. Shook
and Armand A. Maurer. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 2002.

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Gilson’s masterwork is still the best single book of its kind. Comparison of the editions shows how
much even a master historian will improve over time. Originally published as Le thomisme (Paris:
Vrin) in six French editions between 1919 and 1965.

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Maritain, Jacques. A Preface to Metaphysics. New York: Sheed and Ward, 1939.

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Maritain never wrote a comprehensive study of Aquinas’s philosophy in one book, but this thin
volume gives a good view of his speculative philosophy. First published as Sept leçons sur l’être et
les premiers principles de la raison spéculative (Paris: 1934).

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Maritain, Jacques. Integral Humanism: Temporal and Spiritual Problems of a New Christendom.
Translated by Joseph Evans. New York: Scribner’s, 1968.

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Maritain here sets out his notion of “integral humanism,” which became part of his doctrine of
“Christian democracy” that influenced Christian politicians around the world. Originally published
as Humanisme integral: Problèmes temporels et spirituels d’une nouvelle chrétienté (Paris: 1936).

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Porro, Pasquale. Tomasso d’Aquino: Un profilo storico-filosofico . Rome: Carocci, 2012.

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Organized following the chronology of Aquinas’s writing; but each of his works is presented by
elucidating philosophically important doctrines it contains. A fine combination of historical
sophistication and philosophical rigor.

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Stump, Eleonore. Aquinas. London: Routledge, 2003.

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Covers most of the range of Aquinas’s thought, from the “analytic Thomist” approach. When Stump
finds Aquinas’s philosophical arguments inadequate (and she frequently does), she supplements
them with truths coming from faith.

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Histories of Medieval Philosophy


Historians have often put their best thoughts, not into works devoted only to Aquinas, but into general
histories of medieval philosophy or theology. Maurer 1982 covers the major figures of medieval
philosophy by putting forth their own views in clear, precise, and succinct prose. Maurer’s Thomism led
him to present the historical facts, in this case the doctrines of the philosophers, with the objectivity of a
dispassionate reporter. Gilson 1986 was a monumental achievement by one man and is still useful for the
professional, especially the extensive notes. Very clear on the difference between historical facts and
interpretations of doctrine, Gilson’s way of presenting both makes it easier for the reader to use his
histories. Although the Louvain school initially did not emphasize the history of medieval thought, van
Steenberghen 1966 is a first-rate history. Comparing Gilson and van Steenberghen is a very useful
exercise. Kretzmann, et al. 1982 is uneven; some articles are excellent but others are of lesser quality.
Boyle 1982, his Gilson lecture, shows how much a superb historian can add to our understanding of
Aquinas. De Libera 2009 is a more popular work than the other histories, a fun and insightful read. While
not comprehensive nor set up in historical order, Gracia and Noone 2003 is quite reliable and usually the
latest and best word on a medieval thinker. The bibliographies, though minimal, are quite useful. The
medieval articles in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy are generally very good and can be read by
non-specialists with profit, something that cannot be said for too many of its systematic articles.

Boyle, Leonard E. The Setting of the Summa theologiae of Saint Thomas. Étienne Gilson Series 5.
Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, 1982.

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In his Gilson Lecture of 7 March 1982, Boyle did two things. First, he connected Aquinas’s Summa
with the wider Dominican educational and penitential projects of his time. Second, he announced
the existence of a lost work of Thomas Aquinas, a second commentary on Lombard’s Sentences,
Book 1, now called the Roman Commentary.

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De Libera, Alain. La philosophie médiévale. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 2009.

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A good and entertaining read.

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Gilson, Étienne. History of Christian Philosophy in the Middle Ages. New York: Random House,
1989.

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An incredible achievement, both for Gilson’s insights into core views of medieval thinkers and for
the tremendous range of philosophers covered. Notes are still a treasure-trove. Originally published
in 1955.

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Gracia, Jorge J. E., and Timothy B. Noone, eds. A Companion to Philosophy in the Middle Ages.
Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2003.

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Organized by thinker, the philosophers being arranged alphabetically by name, rather than
chronologically. The most up-to-date history, and the best one since Gilson. The shorter articles are
especially helpful in updating earlier histories.

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Kretzmann, Norman, Anthony Kenny, and Jan Pinborg, eds. The Cambridge History of Later
Medieval Philosophy: From the Rediscovery of Aristotle to the Disintegration of Scholasticism
1100–1600. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1982.

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Organized topically rather than by thinker, so Aquinas turns up in many articles. Emphasis on
medieval philosophy understood from the analytic approach.

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Maurer, Armand. Medieval Philosophy. 2d ed. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies,
1982.

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Start here. Maurer’s prose simplifies without falsifying complicated issues; it is fun to read,
accurate, and leads one to want to move to more detailed treatments. Originally published in 1962.

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The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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An ongoing, online encyclopedia of philosophy. By its nature it contains the most up-to-date
bibliographies and interpretations.

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van Steenberghen, Fernand. La philosophie au XIIIe siècle. Louvain, Belgium: Institut Supérieur de
Philosophie, 1966.

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A careful, insightful history of philosophy in the century of Aquinas. Originally published in 1966.

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Theology and Philosophy


The issue of faith and reason is a perennial one for Thomism. For Aquinas and his contemporaries the
issue took the form of whether theology could be a “science” on the Aristotelian model. Aquinas, like
Bonaventure, said it could; and they organized their theologies accordingly. For both, the “articles of
faith” became the proper “principles” of the “science” of theology. This conception of theology led them
to consider the role of philosophy within theological science, and both friars incorporated philosophy
within their theologies. In later medieval universities, the philosophy of Aquinas became one of the
alternative ways of pursuing philosophy studies in the undergraduate school of Arts, while his theology
became the basis for teaching theology in the Dominican houses of study. Thus began the separation of
Thomistic philosophy from theology. Later the “classic commentators” further separated these two
disciplines when some composed a cursus philosophicus separate from a cursus theologicus, both
“Thomistic.” When seminaries were established during the Counter-Reformation, such university courses
were turned into seminary courses, and textbooks or “manuals” were used for instruction. During the
“neo-Thomistic” revival, the Louvain school walled off philosophy from theology, in order to use a
completely autonomous philosophy in exchanges with secular philosophers; but the “historical” school
saw Aquinas as a theologian, who seemed to integrate philosophy within his theology, even though that
tradition had long since died out. In the neo-scholastic period the issue took the form of a debate over
“Christian philosophy,” ably recounted in Sadler 2011. Chenu 1957 presented the scholastic notion of
“theology as a science” as it came up in the 13th century. Maritain 1959 defended the full range of the
sciences, including theology and mysticism, which depend upon faith. Gilson 1936 began the process of
articulating his concept of “Christian philosophy,” while his last word on the topic is contained in Gilson
1993, where he summed up the issue (and his life’s work) this way: “All these [many] truths [of
metaphysics] depend on a certain notion of being, without which there is no Thomism worthy of the
name,” p. 133. The issue is still very much alive in John Paul II 1998. And De Libera 2003 fills out the
picture by tracing the issue of faith and reason from Albertus Magnus to John Paul II.

Chenu, Marie-Dominique. La théologie comme science au XIIIe siècle. 3d ed. Paris: Bibliothèque
Thomiste, 1957.

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Lays out the position of Aquinas on theology “as a science” and compares it with his
contemporaries. An improvement on earlier editions, which did not give Franciscans enough credit
in this movement.

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De Libera, Alain. Raison et foi: Archéologie d’une crise d’Albert le Grand à Jean-Paul II. Paris: du
Seuil, 2003.

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A wide-ranging history of the relation of faith and reason by the preeminent French scholar of
medieval philosophy. Contextualizes the Thomism of Thomas and of his interpreters.

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Gilson, Étienne. The Spirit of Medieval Philosophy: Gifford Lectures 1931–1932. Translated by A.
Downes. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1992.

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Designed as a survey of medieval thought that would prove through hard historical facts the
existence of philosophy in the period between Plotinus and Descartes, a kind he called “Christian
philosophy.” Originally printed in 1936. Published as L’Esprit de la philosophie mediévale (Paris:
1932).

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Gilson, Étienne. Christian Philosophy. Translated by Armand Maurer. Toronto: Pontifical Institute
of Medieval Studies, 1993.

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In this late work Gilson shows the close connection between his thesis about “Christian philosophy”
and Aquinas’s metaphysics of essence and existence (esse). Originally published as Introduction à
la philosophie chrétienne (Paris: 1960).

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John Paul II. Fides et ratio. Papal encyclical, 1998.

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A call for Catholic thinkers to follow the example of Aquinas in using inspired faith and
philosophical reason, which operate like the “two wings of a dove” to lift the soul to God. Notes that
certain Thomistic doctrines, especially in metaphysics and ethics, cannot be abandoned by the RC
Church.

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Maritain, Jacques. Distinguish to Unite: Or, the Degrees of Knowledge. Translated by Gerald B.
Phelan. New York: Scribner’s, 1959.

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Maritain’s first outstanding and highly influential book. He took on the positivism of his Sorbonne
teachers, using Aquinas and John of the Cross to argue for a hierarchy of disciplines which can
accommodate modern science and premodern natural philosophy and metaphysics, as well as
theology and mysticism that depend upon faith. Originally published as Distinguer pour unir, ou Les
Degrés du Savoir (Paris: 1932).

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Sadler, Gregory. Reason Fulfilled by Revelation: The 1930s Christian Philosophy Debates in
France. Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2011.

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English translations of twelve of the contributions written by the principals involved in the first
phase of the debate over “Christian philosophy.” Excellent bibliography brings the topic up to the
present.

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God
Over the centuries, Thomists have devoted many works to the existence and nature of God, drawing
inspiration especially from Aquinas’s Summa theologiae 1. Included here are especially influential books
published in the 20th century. The French Dominican Garrigou-Lagrange (d. 1964) was a towering figure
among Thomists and within the Roman curia. Equally adept at Thomistic philosophy, theology, and
spirituality, he directed the thesis of Karol Wojtyla on John of the Cross. A controversial figure, he was
called “the sacred monster of Thomism” by opponents. Four books focus on God’s existence. Van
Steenberghen 1980 emphasizes the differences among Aquinas’s many arguments for God’s existence.
Owens 1980 reduces the five ways essentially to one argument, the argument from existence found in the
De ente et essentia . Anthony Kenny, a British former Catholic priest who returned to Oxford and a
prestigious career, approaches Aquinas’s five ways using the tools of analytic philosophy, and finds them
wanting. Martin 1997 is essentially a reply to Kenny 1969, which uses the same tools of analytic
philosophy to support the five ways. Three volumes focus more on the divine essence. Burrell 1986
compares three philosophers: Avicenna, Maimonides, and Aquinas. He thus showed himself to be the first
swallow in the current springtime of research into the Jewish and Muslim influence on Aquinas. Hankey
2000 takes the “historical” approach to Aquinas on God, emphasizing the influence of neo-Platonism.
Kretzmann was the dean of “analytic Thomism” in North America. He explains the major arguments and
conclusions of Summa contra gentiles 1, which he chose because in this work Aquinas separated
philosophy from faith. Kretzmann 1997 concentrates on the second of the five arguments for God’s
existence at SCG 1.13. It is not demonstrative of God’s existence by itself, but is enough to establish an
ultimate explanatory principle Kretzmann calls “Alpha.” The argument from possibility Aquinas uses to
establish that Alpha is eternal at 1.15 really proves that Alpha exists (it became the “third way” in the
Summa theologiae). And it is only when the perfection of Alpha is proven, at SCG 1.28, that Kretzmann
says that Alpha has been proven to be God. Kretzmann’s search for fully rigorous arguments well
illustrates “analytic Thomism,” and somewhat surprisingly it echoes Garrigou-Lagrange 1949.

Burrell, David. Knowing the Unknowable God: Ibn-Sina, Maimonides, Aquinas. Notre Dame, IN:
University of Notre Dame Press, 1986.

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Illuminating comparisons among Avicenna, Maimonides, and Aquinas on God.

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Garrigou-Lagrange, Reginald, OP. God, His Existence and His Nature: A Thomistic Solution of
Certain Agnostic Antinomies. Translated by Bede Rose. Saint Louis, MO: Herder, 1949.

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The rationalist mode of presenting Aquinas’s conception of God is the reason why this book has
been extremely popular, among scholars and amateurs alike. Originally published in French in 1914.

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Hankey, W. J. God in Himself: Aquinas’ Doctrine of God as Expounded in the Summa theologiae.
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

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Emphasizes the neo-Platonic influence on Aquinas’s doctrine of God, especially Dionysius the
pseudo-Areopagite.

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Kenny, Anthony. The Five Ways: St. Thomas Aquinas’ Proofs of God’s Existence. London:
Routledge and Kegan Paul, 2009.

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Analysis of the “five ways” using the tools of analytic philosophy. For Kenny, they come up short.

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Kretzmann, Norman. The Metaphysics of Theism: Aquinas’s Natural Theology in Summa contra
gentiles I. Oxford: Clarendon, 1997.

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Uses the tools of analytic philosophy to explain the major arguments and conclusions of SCG 1.

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Martin, Christopher. Thomas Aquinas: God and Explanations. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University
Press, 1997.

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Should be read as a reply to Kenny. Martin uses the tools of analytic philosophy to defend the “five
ways.”

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Owens, Joseph, CSsR. St. Thomas Aquinas on the Existence of God: Collected Papers of Joseph
Owens C.Ss.R. Edited by John R. Catan. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1980.

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A collection of articles defending Owens’s “existential” interpretation of Aquinas’s arguments for


God’s existence.

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van Steenberghen, Fernand. Le problem de l’existence de Dieu dans les écrits de S. Thomas
d’Aquin. Louvain-La-Neuve: l’Institut Supérieur de Philosophie, 1980.

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An exceedingly careful and thorough presentation of all the texts where Aquinas argues for the
existence of God.

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Metaphysics
At the beginning of neo-Thomism, there was a concerted effort to revive metaphysics, in the face of
critiques by Kant, Nietzsche, and their followers. See Maritain 1959, Gilson 1992, and Gilson 1993, all
cited under Theology and Philosophy, and Gilson 2002, cited under Comprehensive Studies of Aquinas’s
Thought. This section includes more recent contributions. The “classical” commentators by and large
conceived of Thomistic metaphysics as essentially the same as Aristotelian metaphysics, so when Gilson
1952 argued for the uniqueness of Aquinas’s “existential metaphysics,” as against the “essentialism” of
other important metaphysicians, it brought about a revolution in Thomistic studies. Owens 1985 offered a
systematic presentation of “existential Thomism.” Zimmerman 1965 is an absolutely thorough
consideration of the “subject” of metaphysical science which shows how the Aristotelian alternatives
(“being as being” vs. “divine substance”) played out among the scholastic thinkers. Aertsen 1996, a study
of Aquinas on the transcendentals, should be read both for metaphysical content and as an exemplar of
how to write the history of philosophy. It begins with Aquinas’s scholastic predecessors—Philip the
Chancellor, the Summa halesiana, and Albert—moves to Aquinas’s explanation of the nature of the
transcendentals, and culminates in detailed considerations of being, one, true, good, and beautiful. To read
this book is to sit before a master historian explaining the thought of a master philosopher and theologian.
Te Velde 1995 uses participation to return substance to the center point of Thomistic metaphysics. Wippel
2000, which was followed by two more volumes devoted to Thomistic metaphysics, comes from the pen
of the preeminent living historian of Thomistic metaphysics. Blanchette 2003 is more polemical than the
rest. It begins with a critique of Heidegger on being, which opens the way to a Thomistic metaphysics of
being. A lively and argumentative tour of Thomistic metaphysics. Ashley 2006 represents the Thomism of
the “River Forest” Dominicans, who hold that natural philosophy is the necessary route to Thomistic
metaphysics.

Aertsen, Jan. Medieval Philosophy and the Transcendentals: The Case of Thomas Aquinas. Leiden,
The Netherlands: Brill, 1996.

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Aertsen’s masterwork. Read this book to learn not only the doctrine of the transcendentals but how
to proceed as a “historical” Thomist.

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Ashley, Benedict, OP. The Way toward Wisdom: An Interdisciplinary and Intercultural Introduction
to Metaphysics. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2006.

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Natural science is the proper way into a metaphysics that includes an ontology which concentrates
on the transcendentals—being, one, true, good—and rational theology.

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Blanchette, Oliva. Philosophy of Being: A Reconstructive Essay in Metaphysics. Washington, DC:


Catholic University, 2003.

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Begins with a critique of Heidegger on being, then presents a Thomistic metaphysics of being.
Lively and argumentative.

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Gilson, Étienne. Being and Some Philosophers. 2d ed. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Medieval
Studies, 1952.

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Gilson here announced his revolutionary “existential” interpretation of Thomistic metaphysics.

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Owens, Joseph, CSsR. An Elementary Christian Metaphysics. Houston, TX: Center for Thomistic
Studies, 1985.

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Originally composed as an undergraduate textbook, this work is more suitable as a systematic


presentation of “existential Thomism.” Originally published in 1963.

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Te Velde, Rudi. Participation and Substantiality in Thomas Aquinas. Leiden, The Netherlands:
Brill, 1995.
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Traces how Aquinas uses the notion of participation to explain his doctrine of substance. Attempts
to bring substance back to the center of Thomistic metaphysics.

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Wippel, John F. The Metaphysical Thought of Thomas Aquinas: From Finite Being to Uncreated
Being. Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2000.

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Each chapter is a thoroughly text-based, clear-headed treatment of an important topic in Thomistic


metaphysics. Worthy of repeated readings.

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Zimmerman, Albert. Ontologie oder Metaphysik? Die Diskussion über den Gegenstand der
Metaphysik im 13. und 14. Jahrhundert. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1965.

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The issue of the “subject” of metaphysics, when conceived as an Aristotelian science, goes all the
way back to Aristotle himself. A detailed study of how the scholastics dealt with this perplexing
topic.

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Nature and Human Nature


Maritain’s argument that the natural world can be studied as modern science does, using mathematical
principles, but also can be studied using more fundamental ontological principles, led to a small revival in
natural philosophy. In addition, during the “neo-Thomist” period, writers began offering a Thomistic
conception of human nature, as an alternative to the accounts promoted by “modern” philosophy from
Descartes to Nietzsche, as well as by modern science. Blanchette 1992 approaches the physical world in
terms of perfection, a theme that comes up repeatedly in Aquinas, but which he nowhere thematized.
Blanchette begins with perfection at the level of the first actuality of a being, covering the meaning of
perfection, the perfection of the physical universe as a whole, the integrity of its parts in relation to each
other, and the causal relations among those parts. The second half of the book covers the second actuality
of a being, the perfections of physical bodies, generation, and human activity. Well known for his studies
of Galileo, Wallace 1996 began his book in the classroom. His cleverest teaching innovation is to adapt
the Bohr model of the atom, with central nucleus surrounded by a field of circling electrons, as a “model”
for matter and form, and then overlay this basic field with “powers” drawn as Skinner boxes. What results
from the book is a strong argument that philosophy of nature and modern science truly are consistent with
each other. Guerrero 1996 and Weber 1991 are more “historical” works on human nature Kenny 1993,
Braine 1994, and Pasnau 2002 are more “analytical.” Allen 1997–2002 is truly a ground-breaking work. It
will likely be followed by many more studies of women philosophers and of philosophers on women.
Allen brings to our attention a large number of women philosophers, and she ably moves beyond
caricatures of the views of male philosophers about women, especially Aristotle and Aquinas.
Allen, Prudence. The Concept of Woman. 2 vols. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1997–2002.

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Aquinas is only one of the many philosophers studied, but Aristotle and Aquinas are major topics.
Highly recommended.

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Blanchette, Oliva. The Perfection of the Universe according to St. Thomas Aquinas: A Teleological
Cosmology. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1992.

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Approaches the physical world in terms of perfection, a theme that comes up repeatedly in Aquinas,
but which he nowhere treats at length.

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Braine, David. The Human Person: Animal and Spirit. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame
Press, 1994.

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A sustained argument in favor of a traditional Thomistic conception of human nature, but presented
in contemporary and “analytic” categories. Best read as a reply to Kenny.

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Guerrero, Javier Pérez. La creación como asimilación a Dios: Un studio desde Tomás de Aquino.
Pamplona, Spain: EUNSA, 1996.

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A “historical” treatment of Aquinas on creation, concentrating on the “assimilation” of creatures to


God and the kind of causality that involves.

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Kenny, Anthony. Aquinas on Mind. London and New York: Routledge, 1993.

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A presentation of Aquinas on human nature, the human soul, and the human intellect. The title
shows that Kenny is viewing Aquinas through contemporary “analytic” categories.

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Pasnau, Robert. Thomas Aquinas on Human Nature. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

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A thorough and controversial treatment. Well received by analytic philosophers, but criticized by
“historical” Thomists for importing later conceptions where they do not fit.

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Wallace, William A., OP. The Modeling of Nature: Philosophy of Science and Philosophy of Nature
in Synthesis. Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1996.

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A clear-headed and realistic argument for overcoming the antagonism between philosophy of nature
and modern science, by a leading historian and philosopher of science.

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Weber, Édouard-Henri. La personne humaine au XIIIe siècle. Paris: Vrin, 1991.

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A “historical” treatment of Aquinas on human nature, in comparison with other schoolmen of his
era.

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Knowledge
During the neo-Thomistic period (1880–1965), metaphysics and theory of knowledge were the points of
focus for Thomists. Theory of knowledge or epistemology was investigated because it had assumed a
central place among “modern” philosophers since Descartes. Especially important interlocutors of neo-
Thomists were positivists, phenomenologists, and analytic philosophers. In addition, theory of knowledge
was important because Thomists thought the idealism and indirect realism of the “modern”
epistemologists were especially vulnerable to critique from Aristotelian and Thomistic principles. And
they seem to have been correct. The beginning of the postmodern period has witnessed two quite opposing
tendencies: further development along the track of “modern” critique, moving into radical skepticism; and
rejection of skepticism, idealism, and all forms of indirect realism in favor of direct realism, by some
phenomenologists, Aristotelians, and Thomists. While there was a good deal of criticism of “modern”
epistemology from the beginning of the neo-Thomistic revival, starting with Cardinal Mercier’s
Criteriology, the following three books are synthetic works coming later. Schmidt 1966 shapes into a
coherent doctrine many texts from Aquinas about logic. Regis 1959 is an epistemology textbook, the best
of its kind, and still worth consulting. Klubertanz 1952 has become the standard reference work in the
current revival of interest among Thomists on the internal senses, as a response to contemporary
materialist and physicalist theories of cognition. The following are works by leading Thomists of the same
era on epistemological topics. Lonergan 1997 quickly became a classic for “transcendental” Thomists,
Catholic thinkers generally, and more broadly among those interested in the interior dynamics of cognition
and their theological implications, such as those pursuing hermeneutics, like Gadamer. Maurer 1990
collects together important historical articles about Aquinas on knowledge. Owens 1992 on knowledge is
fully the equal of Owens 1985 on metaphysics (cited under Metaphysics), and written in the same style.
Perler 2002 and Nissing 2006 reflect contemporary interests in intentionality and language, written from
the “historical” point of view.

Klubertanz, George. The Discursive Power: Sources and Doctrine of the Vis Cogitativa according
to St. Thomas Aquinas. Saint Louis, MO: Modern Schoolman, 1952.

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A thorough, clear, and insightful treatment. There is now a revival of interest in this work among
Thomists and others interested in physicalist theories of cognition and artificial intelligence.

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Lonergan, Bernard, SJ. Verbum: Word and Idea in Aquinas. In the Collected Works of Bernard
Lonergan. Vol. 2. Edited by Frederick E. Crowe, SJ and Robert M. Doran. Toronto: University of
Toronto Press, 1997.

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A classic by the author of Insight. Still well worth reading by Thomists, theologians generally, and
philosophically and theologically literate readers everywhere. Originally published in 1967.

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Maurer, Armand A., CSB. Being and Knowing: Studies in Thomas Aquinas and Later Medieval
Philosophers. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, 1990.

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A collection of articles devoted to the ontology and epistemology of Aquinas.

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Nissing, Hanns-Gregor. Sprache als Akt bei Thomas von Aquin. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill,
2006.

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Reflecting contemporary interests in language and semiotics, this study treats Aquinas in the
“historical” manner.

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Owens, Joseph. Cognition: An Epistemological Inquiry. Houston, TX: Center for Thomistic Studies,
1992.

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An excellent but less than well-known treatment of the subject, by a Thomist of the first rank.

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Perler, Dominik. Theorien der Intentionalität im Mittelalter. Frankfurt: Klostermann, 2002.

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Devotes to Aquinas the longest section of this fine history of medieval philosophers on
intentionality.

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Regis, Louis Marie. Epistemology. Translated by Imelda Byrne. New York: Macmillan, 1959.

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A textbook, still valuable as a systematic treatment of the topic and as a reference work. Contains
the essential texts of Aquinas, as well as clear presentations of his doctrine.

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Schmidt, Robert William. The Domain of Logic according to Saint Thomas Aquinas. The Hague:
Martinus Nijhoff, 1966.

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A well-organized, synthetic presentation of Aquinas’s conception of logic.

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Thomistic Ethics
The two areas currently most prominent in Thomism are ethics and theology. The six volumes of Lottin
1942–1960 contain a lifetime of work devoted to the ethics and moral psychology of Aquinas, by the
premier historian of medieval ethics during the neo-scholastic period. Pinckaers 1995 has continued
Lottin’s project, in a work that treats Aquinas and continues the history of moral theology up to the
present. Aquinas focused on the virtues (ST 2–2) in an Aristotelian manner, but Counter-Reformation
Catholic moralists turned to a rule-centered morality and later focused on casuistry. In the 19th century,
Kant had a major impact on Catholic moralists, and in the 20th, G. Grisez founded a new school of
Thomism advocating the “new natural law” theory. Grisez 1983–1997 argues that Thomistic ethics does
not fall victim to Hume’s “is-ought problem,” because its very first principles are statements of value
rather than mere matters of fact. For this reason, he rejected the neo-scholastic way of basing Thomistic
ethics on ontology, in favor of an ethics that begins, proceeds, and ends with “ought” statements. Finnis
1998 argues that the “new natural law” is the correct interpretation of Aquinas, while Joseph Boyle and
Patrick Lee (Lee 1996, cited under Natural Law and Applied Ethics) have taken this new and vibrant
“school” of Thomistic ethics into practical applications. MacIntyre 1988 combines “historical” and
“analytic” approaches to the virtues. Beginning in the 1980s, German Thomists, starting from within a
Kantian problematic, focused on universal natural law and then on the virtues. Schockenhoff 2003 lays
out a useful fourfold grid of interpretations. At the extremes are Kantian “formalism” and traditional
natural law based on ontology. The two better options, he argues, form a mean between these extremes.
Both hold that human inclinations are no sure guide to the natural law, but that “practical reason”
constitutes the content of natural law. The one middle position, Schockenhoff’s, is that natural inclinations
only “present an outline of how the substantial regulation by reason will turn out to be”; the other is found
in Rhonheimer 2011 and it argues that the “ends at which nature aims” are “substantial,” so that they
“agree a priori—though as in a slumber—with that which reason recognizes to be good,” pp. 136–138. In a
return to a more traditional Thomistic approach, DeYoung, et al. 2009 tries to reconnect morality with its
“metaphysical foundations.”

DeYoung, Rebecca, Colleen McClusky, and Christine van Dyke. Aquinas’s Ethics: Metaphysical
Foundations, Moral Theory, and Theological Context. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame
Press, 2009.

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An even-handed attempt to reconnect Thomistic ethics with its ontological foundations and its
theological end. A fine introduction to Thomistic ethics.

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Finnis, John. Aquinas: Moral, Political, and Legal Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.

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Concentrates more on Aquinas than does Grisez; and interprets his ethics as a “new natural law.”

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Grisez, Germain. The Way of the Lord Jesus. 3 vols. Chicago: Franciscan Herald, 1983–1997.

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Grisez’s summa ethica; a comprehensive and well-argued effort.

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Lottin, Odon, OSB. Psychologie et morale aux XIIe et XIIIe sièles. 6 vols. Louvain, Belgium:
Abbaye du Mont César, 1942–1960.

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These six volumes contain a lifetime of work devoted to medieval ethics and moral psychology,
especially of Aquinas. Lottin has become the mandatory “point of departure” for subsequent studies
of any topic in Thomistic ethics, and rightly so.

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MacIntyre, Alasdair. Whose Justice? Which Rationality? Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre
Dame Press, 1988.

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Historically based, because ethical life and thought begin with “practices,” which develop into a
“tradition”; but the style of argument is more analytic. Begins with Homer and ends with
MacIntyre’s interpretation of the tradition of Aristotle and Aquinas.

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Pinckaers, Servais. The Sources of Christian Ethics. Washington, DC: Catholic University of
America Press, 1995.

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Traces the history of Catholic moral thought, focusing on Aquinas and post-medieval developments.
Argues for a more faithful version of Thomist ethics than the casuistry or rule morality that have
predominated since the 1750s. Originally published as Les sources de la morale chrétienne (Paris:
Cerf, 1985).

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Rhonheimer, Martin. The Perspective of Morality: Philosophical Foundations of Thomistic Virtue


Ethics. Translated by Gerald Malsbary. Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press,
2011.

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Here Rhonheimer expands his moral theory into the area of the virtues. Originally published as Die
Perspektive der Moral: Philosophische Grundlagen der Tugendethik (Berlin: Akademie Verlag,
2001).

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Schockenhoff, Eberhard. Natural Law and Human Dignity: Universal Ethics in an Historical
World. Translated by Brian McNeil. Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2003.

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Argues for a truly universal natural law which can incorporate significant moral changes over time,
such as changes in Roman Catholic teachings on slavery, torture, and usury. Originally published as
Naturrecht und Menschenwürde: Universale Ethik in einer geschichtlichen Welt (Mainz, Germany:
Matthias-Grünewald-Verlag, 1996).

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Goods: Ultimate and Common


Two Thomistic doctrines about the good have been the focus of scholarship in the 20th century. One
concerns the ultimate end. Scripture records the gradual revelation of a beatific vision as the reward for
the Christian life; and Aristotle had set up his whole moral theory in terms of an ultimate end in the
present life, toward which all acts are directed. When these two authorities came together in the 13th
century, several issues arose. Does knowledge of the ultimate end come exclusively from revelation,
exclusively from human reason, or in some sense from both? Are there two ultimate ends, or is there only
one? And what are the consequences of each answer? Ramirez 1947, written before the de Lubac
controversy arose, reflects the tradition of the “classic” Thomistic commentators. De Lubac 1946 seemed
to many Catholic moralists to undermine the distinction between nature and grace. This is why fifty years
on, Bradley 1997 still argues philosophically for a “twofold” ultimate end, and Feingold 2010 argues
against de Lubac. Rziha 2009 attempts to hit a “mean,” by using the notions of participation and
perfection. The happiness humans can attain at the natural level is best understood as a participation in the
perfected human happiness of the beatific vision, which itself is but a participation in the divine eternal
bliss. The second dispute about the good also shows no signs of dying out: how to understand the relation
between the individual good and the common good. While Aquinas held the classic view that the common
good takes precedence over the good of the individual, in the course of arguing for “integral humanism”
and “Christian democracy,” Maritain 1947 distinguished two ways of looking at a single human. A human
is a “person” with an eternal destiny far surpassing any common good of peoples, states, and societies; but
a human is also an “individual,” part of a larger social whole, whose private good must give way to the
common good of the whole, because the whole is intrinsically more valuable than the part. But de
Koninck 1943 thought the way Maritain put the interest of the single “person” prior to the society was
unfaithful to Aquinas and false in its own right, because it gave in too much to the modern, liberal doctrine
of individual “rights.” The issues of the common good, the personal good, and natural and civil rights are
still being disputed among Thomists and are still being fought out in contemporary politics.

Bradley, Denis. Aquinas on the Twofold Human Good: Reason and Human Happiness in Aquinas’s
Moral Science. Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1997.

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A fine argument for two senses of the ultimate human end.

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de Koninck, Charles. De la primauté du bien commun contre les personalistes. Quebec: Éditiones
de l’Université Laval, 1943.

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The “personalists” are Maritain and his disciples, who have given the good of the person a priority
over the common good of society, thereby undercutting the true priority of the common over the
individual good. The debate between Maritain and de Koninck has shaped Thomist political theory
ever since. English translation in The Writings of Charles De Koninck, vol. 2 (Notre Dame, IN:
University of Notre Dame Press, 2009).

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de Lubac, Henri, SJ. Surnaturel: Études historiques. Paris: Aubier, 1946.

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A controversial and exceedingly influential interpretation of the ultimate end which argues that
desire for the beatific vision is an innate inclination or appetite in human nature, one that precedes
conscious reflection, making for one human end in which grace perfects nature.

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Feingold, Lawrence. The Natural Desire to See God according to St. Thomas Aquinas and His
Interpreters. 2d ed. Naples, FL: Sapientia Press of Ave Maria University, 2010.

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A lengthy historical study of de Lubac and his sources, concluding against de Lubac’s
interpretation: the desire for the beatific vision is an elicited desire that arises consciously as a result
of knowledge, one that proceeds from the natural desire for knowing causes, but cannot happen
without grace.

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Maritain, Jacques. The Person and the Common Good. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame
Press, 1947.

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Once Pope Pius XI intervened against Action française, Maritain was freed to abandon monarchy
and to develop his doctrine of “Christian democracy.” He distinguished the human “person,” whose
eternal destiny gives him a priority over society, from the human “individual,” who is subordinate to
the common good.

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Ramirez, Jacobus M., OP. De hominis beatitudine: Tractatus theologicus. 3 vols. Madrid: Typis
Aldecoa, 1947.

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An outstanding work in the tradition of the “classic” commentators. Not well known because
written in Latin, but always worth consulting.

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Rziha, John. Perfecting Human Actions: St. Thomas Aquinas on Human Participation in Eternal
Law. Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2009.

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Argues that the nature of human happiness is further perfected by the supernatural state of eternal
beatitude; and this end transforms the whole of the present moral life.

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Natural Law and Applied Ethics
Aquinas knew of the natural law from the way Cicero had presented this Stoic doctrine in his De officiis;
and he followed Cicero closely when he presented its fundamental precepts (ST 1–2.94.2). After the
discovery of the New World, Spanish Thomists like Vitoria and de las Casas appealed to natural law to
settle issues concerning the aboriginal peoples of the New World. During this period natural law theory
became separated from virtue ethics, and they would not be reunited until the 20th century. Four works
listed here present different ways that Thomists currently approach natural law. Finnis 1980 presents the
“new natural law” school of Thomistic ethics as the proper interpretation of Aquinas, one that does not
emphasize virtues so much as intending the values enjoined by the natural law. González 1998 takes up
the relations among the natural law, reason, and natural inclinations, giving more credit to reason and
inclinations. Brague 2005 paints on a much broader canvas, including the natural law in his history that
traces the relations between God and law from their beginnings. Levering 2008 argues that natural law is
found in Scripture, and that Aquinas’s way of joining the divine law revealed in Scripture with the natural
law is preferred to other interpretations. The other four works take up particular moral issues. Urbano
1992 considers the early modern debate of the status of New World aboriginal peoples in Vitoria. The
other three works deal with current issues that are of special concern to Catholic moralists. Lee 1996 offers
a rigorous pro-life argument dealing with abortion. Cavanaugh 2006 defends the “double effect” way of
resolving difficult moral cases, an approach whose origins go back to the way Aquinas defended killing in
self-defense by private persons (ST 2–2.64.6). And Kaczor 2005 takes on a whole series of “life” issues in
his usual succinct and revealing way.

Brague, Rémi. La loi de Dieu: Histoire philosophique d’une alliance. Paris: Gallimard, 2005.

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A philosopher looks at the development of the concept of divine law in the three Abrahamic
religions. A tour de force. Translated by Lydia Cochrane as The Law of God (Chicago: University
of Chicago Press, 2007).

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Cavanaugh, Thomas A. Double-Effect Reasoning: Doing Good and Avoiding Evil. Oxford:
Clarendon, 2006.

DOI: 10.1093/0199272190.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

A clear and effective explanation and defense of a controversial theory.

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Finnis, John. Natural Law and Natural Rights. Oxford: Clarendon, 1980.

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Has become the classic and influential presentation of the “new natural law” school of Thomism.

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González, Ana Marta. Moral, razón y naturaleza: Una investigación sobre Tomás de Aquino.
Pamplona, Spain: EUNSA, 1998.

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Tries to achieve a moderate position by finding places for natural law, rational deduction of laws,
and natural inclinations in Thomistic ethics.

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Kaczor, Christopher. The Edge of Life. Philosophy and Medicine Series 85. Dordrecht, The
Netherlands: Springer, 2005.

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A Thomistic consideration of the most significant, currently debated moral issues concerning life
and death.

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Lee, Patrick. Abortion and Unborn Human Life. Washington, DC: Catholic University of America
Press, 1996.

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The best of many books devoted to attacking the arguments of the proponents of abortion and
defending the life of the unborn.

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Levering, Matthew. Biblical Natural Law: A Theocentric and Teleological Approach. Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 2008.

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199535293.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation


»

Following Aquinas’s inspiration, argues that scriptural law and natural law must be understood
together and as aspects of one whole.

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Urbano, Francisco C. El pensamieneto de Francisco de Vitoria: Filosofia politica e indio


americano. Barcelona: Anthropos, 1992.

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Looks at Vitoria’s political thought within its historical context and in relation to other aspects of his
philosophy, particularly his renewal of Thomism at Salamanca (1526–1546).

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Action Theory
For Aquinas, the term “intention” (intentio) has two quite distinct meanings. In his cognitive theory, it is a
translation of the Arabic term maʾna and means “concept,” as when he distinguishes “first intentions” like
“horse” from “second intentions” like “species.” In his action theory, intention is “an act of the will with
regard to an end,” as distinct from wish and enjoyment, which are also directed to ends, and choice,
consent, and use, which are will acts directed toward means. When “intentionality” was rediscovered by
Brentano, it was put to use by phenomenologists in the cognitive realm, as a way the Cartesian mind could
escape from being jailed within itself. It was also adopted by moralists, as a synonym for any will act
whatsoever. This wider sense of “intention” has been adopted by contemporary moralists, with mixed
results. Anscombe 1979 presents “intention” broadly and develops her own understanding of the role of
intention in moral action. She argues that individual intentional actions fall into moral “kinds,” which sets
up objective moral standards. Simon 1969 is the work of a philosopher self-consciously thinking out of the
Thomistic tradition. Comparing these two books shows that writing in very different philosophical styles
does not exclude remarkable doctrinal compatibility. McInerny 1992 presents Aquinas’s “action theory” in
a straightforward manner, with classroom style examples. But don’t be deceived; its content, like
Aquinas’s, is sophisticated. Westberg 1994 looks at Aquinas as developing Aristotle’s doctrine and
presents Aquinas’s “action theory” as prerequisite for understanding how reason must work prudently in
order for us to act morally. Brock 1998 presents Aquinas’s “action theory” in dialogue with analytic
philosophy. Flannery 2001 divides Aquinas’s “moral theory” into “precepts,” which involve Aristotle’s
“practical syllogism” and the fundamental precepts of the natural law, and then “acts,” where Aquinas’s
action theory is presented. Jensen 2010 accomplishes much in one volume, moving through Aquinas’s
action theory to a rather extensive set of conclusions about the morality of certain actions. He does not shy
away from drawing precise conclusions about hard cases. Finally, Enríquez 2011 focuses on just one of
the intellectual acts paired up with the will acts; but her treatment of “command” is so thorough that one
learns much about the whole range of intellectual and will acts that make up Aquinas’s “action theory.”

Anscombe, G. E. M. Intention. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1979.

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An exemplar of writing in the analytic style. A sustained and rigorous argument that seems to come
purely out of Anscombe’s creative mind, as though composed while sitting in her armchair in the
senior common room, in the manner of her mentor Wittgenstein. Originally published in 1957.

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Brock, Stephen L. Action and Conduct: Thomas Aquinas and the Theory of Action. Edinburgh: T.
and T. Clark, 1998.

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A full treatment of Aquinas’s action theory, with extensive citations. Attempts to reach out to
analytic philosophers.

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Enríquez, María Teresa. De la decisión a la acción: Estudio sobre el imperium en Tomás de Aquino.
New York: Georg Olms Verlag, 2011.

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While sympathetic to Aquinas, Alan Donagan had doubted the need for the intellectual act of
“command” (imperium) in his action theory. Enríquez’s reply is detailed and persuasive.

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Flannery, Kevin L. Acts amid Precepts: The Aristotelian Logical Structure of Thomas Aquinas’s
Moral Theory. Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 2001.

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Applies the logic Aquinas learned from Aristotle, including the theory of demonstrative science
from the Posterior Analytics, to Aquinas’s theory of morality, with good results. Very rewarding.

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Jensen, Steven. Good & Evil Actions: A Journey through St. Thomas Aquinas. Washington, DC:
Catholic University of America Press, 2010.

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In order to get to Aquinas’s way of distinguishing good from evil actions, Jensen moves through his
action theory. Clear, rigorously logical, and very effective, because it shows the moral “payoff” of
slogging through the details of the action theory.

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McInerny, Ralph. Aquinas on Human Action: A Theory of Practice. Washington, DC: Catholic
University of America Press, 1992.

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An excellent introduction to Aquinas’s action theory; useful for beginner and advanced student
alike.

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Simon, Yves R. Freedom of Choice. Edited by Peter Wolff. New York: Fordham University Press,
1992.

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Another rigorous argument in the very different style of a Thomist who is master of his tradition.
Originally Traité du libre artibre (Liège, Belgium: Sciences et Lettres, 1951).

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Westberg, Daniel. Right Practical Reason: Aristotle, Action, and Prudence in Aquinas. Oxford:
Clarendon, 1994.

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A historically sophisticated and influential treatment of action theory in Aquinas, showing its basis
in Aristotle and connecting his action theory with the virtue of prudence.

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The Life of Virtue


During the “modern” and neo-Thomist periods, Aquinas was conceived as a natural law ethician or a
eudaimonist ethician. Summa 2–2 and parallel texts were little studied and seldom translated. This is in
stark contrast to the Middle Ages, which left far more manuscripts of 2–2 than any other part of the
Summa. After the revival of “virtue ethics” by MacIntyre, Thomists were among the first scholars to turn
their attention to this area. Translations and studies have proceeded apace, spurred on, no doubt, by
MacIntyre himself embracing Thomism, having started out his writing career as a Marxist. This is an area
of Aquinas’s thought where considerable good work is being done currently. Written long before the
current interest in “virtue ethics,” Pieper 1966 contains four essays, one on each of the cardinal virtues. A
master of the essay form, Pieper is always a pleasure to read. One of the first and most well-known
Thomists to turn to “virtue ethics” is Jean Porter. Porter 1990, her first book, has been followed by several
others. Kent 1995 is a fine “historical” work that includes Aquinas within a wider story: a must-read for
scholars now interested in his “virtue ethics.” If you can pick just one book from this section, choose Pope
2002, a compendium of explanatory essays on all the sections of the second part of the Summa theologiae.
Uniformly fine essays, which avoid eccentric interpretations, guide the reader through the Summa, open
up contemporary scholarship, and engender a desire to return to the text of Aquinas. Houser 2004 contains
translations that situate Aquinas in his immediate intellectual environment and an essay on the history of
the theory of the cardinal virtues that has been well received. Osborne 2005 is not precisely about the
virtues, but considerations of love of God and self necessarily involve the life of virtue: a fine “historical”
contribution. While neo-Thomist philosophers tended to diminish the differences between the life of virtue
for the non-Christian and the Christian, Mattison 2008 focuses on Aquinas the theologian. This
interpretation brings into sharp focus the difference between the virtuous life as lived by the non-Christian
and the life of Christian virtue.

Houser, R. E. The Cardinal Virtues: Aquinas, Albert, and Philip the Chancellor. Toronto: Pontifical
Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 2004.

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Contains translations about the four cardinal virtues from these three medieval authors and a
lengthy introduction which traces the development of the theory of the cardinal virtues from Plato
through Aquinas.

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Kent, Bonnie. Virtues of the Will: The Transformation of Ethics in the Late Thirteenth Century.
Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1995.

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Situates Aquinas’s treatment of the will and virtue in historical context, by looking at later moralists
in Aquinas’s own century. Very worthwhile.

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Mattison, William. Introducing Moral Theology: True Happiness and the Virtues. Grand Rapids,
MI: Brazos, 2008.

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Considers moral theology from the perspective of virtue theory.

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Osborne, Thomas. Love of Self and Love of God in Thirteenth Century Ethics. Notre Dame, IN:
University of Notre Dame Press, 2005.

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Can one love God more than self through purely natural powers? Focuses on the answers of
Aquinas and Scotus.

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Pieper, Josef. The Four Cardinal Virtues: Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, Temperance. Notre Dame,
IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2003.

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Essays that have become classic, written by a famous neo-Thomist. Pieper’s high German culture
shows on every page. While concentrating on Aquinas, his references range from Plato to
Heidegger. Originally published separately as Traktat über die Klugheit, Über die Gerechtigkeit,
Vom Sinn der Tapferkeit, and Zucht und Mass.

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Pope, Stephen J., ed. Aquinas on Ethics. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2002.

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A substantial essay explaining Aquinas’s doctrine is devoted to each major section of the secunda
pars. The contributors are a veritable “who’s who” of Thomistic ethicians. Outstanding.

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Porter, Jean. The Recovery of Virtue: The Relevance of Aquinas for Christian Ethics. Louisville:
Westminster/John Knox, 1990.

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Takes MacIntyre’s rejuvenation of “virtue ethics” into the vast vineyard of Thomism. Historically
sensitive, her presentation is better on Aquinas’s theory than on its contemporary applications.

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Theology
During the neo-Thomist period (1880–1965), emphasis was placed on Aquinas as philosopher. The current
upswing in Thomism, however, is being led by theology. A number of worthy works have been written
since 1990, only a few of which can be listed here. The books mentioned below treat many different
aspects of Aquinas’s theology and they give some idea why over time the Roman Church has so
consistently embraced his theology. Sokolowski 1982 and Dulles 1994 do not confine themselves to the
texts of Aquinas, but his views and spirit animate their own presentations of the nature of theology. The
other works are more directly aimed at Thomistic theology. Wéber 1988 explains Aquinas’s presentation
of Christ in Summa 3. Emery 1995 shows how the doctrine of creation is incomplete until one considers
how the divine persons are involved. Torrell 1999 uncovers what we might call the “narrative” aspect of
the life of Christ as presented by Aquinas in Summa 3. An innovative and insightful interpretation which
uncovers an Aquinas far more attuned to history than heretofore thought. Horst 2001 takes what might
seem like a lifeless parallelism between the virtues and the gifts of the Holy Spirit in Summa 2–2 and
transforms it into a vibrant theological doctrine. With his simple and straightforward prose, Levering 2004
brings together Scripture and metaphysics in sacra doctrina. This way of looking at Scripture, with the aid
of theology, one that incorporates philosophical ideas, has been embraced by John Paul II and Benedict
XVI; but it is very much at odds with the contemporary theological “establishment,” which has separated
Scripture, theology, and metaphysics into their own isolated domains. Finally, van Nieuwenhove and
Wawrykow 2005 brings together a set of essays that cover most of the topics in Aquinas’s theology that
we now consider important. An excellent place to begin one’s tour of the vast range of the secondary
literature on Aquinas’s theology.

Dulles, Avery, SJ. The Assurance of Things Hoped For: A Theology of Christian Faith. New York:
Oxford University Press, 1994.

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While not limited narrowly to the views of Aquinas, a wide-ranging presentation of the nature of
theology and its relation to faith, by one of the premier theologians of the 20th century.

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Emery, Gille, OP. La Trinité créatrice: Trinité et creation dans les commentaires aux Sentences de
Thomas d’Aquin et de ses précurseurs Albert le Grand et Bonaventure. Paris: Bibliothèque
Thomiste, 1995.

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Aquinas says that extrinsic relations of God to creatures are based on the one divine essence, but he
also says that certain relations can be “appropriated” to one or another person of the Trinity. Emery
explains. “Historical” Thomist theology at its best.

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Horst, Ulrich. Die Gaben des Heiligen Geistes nach Thomas von Aquin. Berlin: Akademie Verlag,
2001.

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In Summa 2–2, Aquinas coordinates the gifts of the Holy Spirit with the seven virtues. Horst brings
these connections to life.

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Levering, Matthew. Scripture and Metaphysics: Aquinas and the Renewal of Trinitarian Theology.
London: Blackwell, 2004.

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Argues, following Aquinas, that Trinitarian theology rightly understood requires the conjunction of
scripture and metaphysics. Following his usual style, Levering picks a contemporary theologian as a
foil, then shows how Aquinas has a better answer.

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Sokolowski, Robert. The God of Faith and Reason: Foundations of Christian Theology. Notre
Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1982.

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A masterful consideration of how faith and reason work in harmony in the development of theology.
Not an explication of Aquinas’s texts, but an independent treatise quite in the spirit of Aquinas.

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Torrell, Jean-Pierre, OP. Le Christ en ses mystéres: La vie et l’oeuvre de Jésus selon Saint Thomas
d’Aquin. 2 vols. Paris: Desclée, 1999.

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Shows how the disputed question format does not hinder Aquinas from presenting the life of Christ
in Summa 3. Those who think Aquinas had no sense of history are in for a surprise. Simply superb.

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van Nieuwenhove, Rik, and Joseph Wawrykow, eds. The Theology of Thomas Aquinas. Notre
Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2005.

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The contributors cover much of the range of Thomistic theology with well-crafted essays that bring
the reader up to date on the latest interpretations of the topics covered.

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Wéber, Édouard-Henri. Le Christ selon Saint Thomas d’Aquin. Paris: Desclée, 1988.

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A thorough explication of the Aquinas’s view of Christ, primarily drawn from Summa theologiae 3.

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Collections of Essays

While many collections of essays on Aquinas have appeared since the beginning of the neo-Thomist
revival, here are some of the best. A Festschrift is a volume dedicated to an especially distinguished
author, often by his friends or students. These works generally have no common theme; but they often
contain very important and influential articles. The authors contained in Melanges 1959 were the most
prominent European Thomists and medievalists during the high tide of neo-Thomism, in the period 1935
to 1960. The other six books concentrate on more recent periods, when Thomism was rebounding from
the dip taken immediately after Vatican II. Pinto de Oliveira 1993 includes the main scholars who created
the revival of Thomistic theology in the 1980s. Kretzmann and Stump 1993 is the volume devoted to
Aquinas in the very influential Cambridge Companions series. It is a good place to begin looking at the
enormous secondary literature on Aquinas. Contributors are the most prominent Thomistic philosophers in
the period 1970 to 1990. Vijgen 2003 presents a wide range of articles, mainly on Aquinas. Contributors
include prominent Thomists from around the globe, reflecting the wide range of Elders’ scholarly
influence and connections. Pickavé 2003 contains contributions by many prominent European Thomists in
the 1990s. Houser 2007 offers articles by many prominent North American Thomists active in the 1990s
and the early 2000s. Hütter and Levering 2010 consists in contributions by many prominent North
American Thomist theologians, especially Dominicans, who constitute a second generation of post–
Vatican II Thomist theologians.

Houser, R. E., ed. Laudemus viros gloriosos: Essays in Honor of Armand Maurer, CSB. Notre
Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2007.

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Contributors are students or colleagues of Maurer, each also a prominent historian of medieval
philosophy. Reflects the school of “historical” Thomism.

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Hütter, Reinhard, and Matthew Levering, eds. Ressourcement Thomism: Sacred Doctrine, the
Sacraments, and the Moral Life: Essays in Honor of Romanus Cessario, OP. Washington, DC:
Catholic University of America Press, 2010.

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Contributors are prominent Dominicans and Thomistic theologians.

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Kretzmann, Norman, and Eleonore Stump, eds. The Cambridge Companion to Aquinas. Cambridge,
UK: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

DOI: 10.1017/CCOL0521431956Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

Contributors reflect several of the “schools” of Thomism. Covers many, but not all, of the important
areas of Thomas’s thought.

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Melanges offerts à Étienne Gilson, de l’Academie français. Paris: Vrin, 1959.

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Contributors were a “who’s who” of European Thomists and medievalists reflecting Gilson’s
“historical” approach to scholarship.

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Pinto de Oliveira, Carlos Josaphat, ed. Ordo sapientiae et amoris: Image et message de saint
Thomas d’Aquin à travers les récentes études historiques, herméneutiques et doctrinales; Hommage
au Professeur Jean-Pierre Torrell OP à l’occasion de son 65e anniversaire. Fribourg, Switzerland:
Editions Universitaires, 1993.

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Contributors are mainly theologians at the forefront of the revival of Thomism in the 1980s.
Reflects the views of the Fribourg Dominicans.

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Pickavé, Martin, ed. Die Logik des Transzendentalen: Festschrift für Jan A. Aertsen zum 65.
Geburtstag. Miscellanea Mediaevalia 30. Berlin: Walter De Gruyter, 2003.

DOI: 10.1515/9783110204582Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

Contributors are European historians of philosophy and Thomists. Mainly reflects the “historical”
approach to Thomism.

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Vijgen, Jörgen, ed. Indubitanter ad veritatem: Studies Offered to Leo J. Elders SVD in Honor of the
Golden Jubilee of His Ordination to the Priesthood. Budel, The Netherlands: Damon, 2003.

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Contributors are an international selection of prominent Thomists from various “schools,” and they
also include a future pope.

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Introduction
Introductory
Works
Works
and
Translations
Sources
of
Aquinas’s
Thought
The
Classic
Commentatorial
Tradition
Contemporary
Approaches
to
Aquinas
Comprehensive
Studies
of
Aquinas’s
Thought
Histories
of
Medieval
Philosophy
Theology
and
Philosophy
God
Metaphysics
Nature
and
Human
Nature
Knowledge
Thomistic