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The Philosophical Thought of Thomas Aquinas

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Thursday, September 23, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET
Code: 1M2157
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"Saint Thomas Aquinas" by Carlo Crivelli, 1476 (The National Gallery, London)

The thought of Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274) presents one of the most comprehensive philosophical systems in the history of Western civilization. Although a theologian by profession, this man of faith dedicated much of his vast writings to discerning what the human mind can learn independently of faith. Well before any modern debates between science and religion, Aquinas addressed the distinction between reason and revelation—the former being the province of philosophy, the latter of theology. Although Aquinas saw philosophy as the handmaiden of theology, he was careful to acknowledge its significance as a system of thought distinct from theology—one with its own methodologies and goals. As a philosopher, Aquinas drew inspiration not only from Christian predecessors, but also from the philosophical writings of pagan, Jewish, and Muslim authors. Aquinas read their works sympathetically for truths that he refashioned into an original philosophical synthesis. As a result, he was an innovative and controversial thinker in his time.

Aquinas scholar Gregory T. Doolan explores Aquinas’s philosophical thought by first looking at its historical significance from his own time to today. He discusses Aquinas’s understanding of philosophy as a scientific approach to knowledge; his view of nature in general and of human nature in particular; and his account of reality taken as a whole.  He also examines Aquinas’s accounts of causality, of the immortality of the human soul, and of the existence of God as ultimate source of being.

Doolan is associate professor of philosophy at The Catholic University of America.

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