Thomas Aquinas

Thomas Aquinas was born in Aquino in the year 1225. Like most medieval philosophers (which were either Christian or Islamic), he was devoutly religious and practiced as a Dominician priest of the Catholic Church.

Like his great inspiration Aristotle, Aquinas is a divisive philosopher – and much of the subsequent philosophy (including our own modern era) is an effort to build on his impressive achievements or to refute them. Aquinas wrote extensively on a broad series of topics including ethics, natural law and politics. Generally speaking, his writings are unified by his Aristotelian metaphysics.

As with Aristotle, Thomas was an empiricist and a moderate realist. Universals are real and inhere in substances, and are known after experience through sensation. His writings follow from this – for example, knowledge of natural law is possible because the forms and final causes that are intrinsic to all natural substances determine what is good for them.

Thomas’ most famous arguments are his Five Ways. The Five Ways consists of five separate and cohesive arguments for the existence of God (specifically the God of classical theism). Over the next five posts I will examine each of the Five Ways individually.


15 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Rosie on 10/07/2012 at 8:17 pm

    Very much looking forward to you next posts 🙂


  2. […] About « Thomas Aquinas […]


  3. […] An introduction to Thomas Aquinas and a brief outline of his First Way. […]


  4. […] are links to an introduction on Thomas Aquinas, and brief outlines of the First Way and Second […]


  5. […] posts on Aquinas include: introduction, the First Way, the Second Way, the Third Way (and some common objections to the classical […]


  6. […] his Five Ways, Aquinas sets out to establish the existence of a being that is “pure actuality“. The […]


  7. […] doctrine. This trend was continued in late medieval times by Scholastic philosophers such as Thomas Aquinas and Duns […]


  8. […] re-discovery and synthesis of Platonic and Aristotelian ideas with the new religions of Islam and Christianity – with the most important thinker of this time being Thomas […]


  9. […] medieval principle of causality, as discussed by Scholastic thinkers such as Aquinas, was that whenever potency is actualised it can only be made so by something that is already […]


  10. […] criticisms focus on John Locke, rather than on other empiricists such as Aristotle or Aquinas who arguably present much stronger cases for abstraction. Berkley’s criticism is […]


  11. […] Hume stands in stark contrast to the natural law theorists of the medieval times. For thinkers like Aquinas, it is possible through an empirical analysis of a substance to come to an understanding of its […]


  12. […] hand in the modern periods discounting of natural theology. For scholastic writers, such as Aquinas, an effect is necessarily conjoined to its cause and thus knowledge of God can be reasoned from the […]


  13. […] thinkers called the “German Idealists”. Hegel, like greats such as Aristotle and Aquinas before him, was a systematic thinker. In his works, he constructs a framework that accounts for […]


  14. […] stage. By metaphysics, Comte is not referring to the philosophical systems of say Plato or Aquinas, but rather to  France prior the revolution when thinkers like Rousseau and Voltaire began to […]


  15. […] one reads Aquinas’s Five Ways or Anselm’s ontological argument, it becomes apparent that classically understood God is […]


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