A Summary of Philosophy

A Summary of Philosophy

A Summary of Philosophy

A Summary of Philosophy

Synopsis

This compact collection of philosophical texts from the Summa Theologica -- on God, creation, the soul, human acts, moral good and evil, love, habits, virtue, and law -- is presented newly translated in abridged form and cast in a modified version of the medieval quaestio. Included are only the most important objections and Aquinas' replies; appeals to scriptural, theological, and philosophical authorities have been omitted. Unlike the ordering of the originals, questions and answers are here presented prior to objections and replies; the result is a sharp, rich, topically organised question-answer presentation of Aquinas' major philosophical arguments within a brief compass. A general Introduction, head notes, a glossary, an index, and a select bibliography offer expert guidance to the work of this major philosopher.

Excerpt

This book bears the title of a work Thomas, called Aquinas (after the town near which he was born), never wrote. But his Summa Theologica contains texts of major philosophical importance, and this book is a compendium of such texts from ST I and I–II. More than a decade ago, I initiated a project to translate the texts in full. That project is now complete. (See Bibliography: God and Creation; The Human Constitution; Virtue: Way to Happiness; Treatise on Law.) In the course of the project, I became aware that nonspecialists were likely to be overwhelmed by Aquinas’ references to Scripture, church fathers, Aristotle, Augustine, and sundry others. On the other hand, I think nonspecialists can readily understand the substance of his views apart from the references, and I have sought to supply that substance in this book.

This book is principally designed for undergraduate introductory courses in philosophy, especially courses in Aquinas. For such courses, this book can provide the substance of Thomas’s positions and arguments on key topics to supplement explanatory texts like those by W. Norris Clarke, Brian Davies, Ralph McInerny, and John Wipple (see Bibliography). For general introductory courses, of course, this book can and should be supplemented by representative works of other important philosophers (e.g., Plato, Descartes, Hume, Kant). The book will also be useful as a reader for nonacademics and a reference book for nonspecialists.

I have followed the question-and-answer format of Thomas. The answers are in his own words, although the texts have been severely edited. For example, almost all references and many comparisons have been omitted, and instructors will need to supply the intellectual context of many questions (e.g., the challenge of a radical Aristotelianism). Only a few objections and replies have been retained, and the numbering of the objections in this anthology is mine, not that of Thomas in the Summa. The objections selected have been placed after the answers and are followed by the replies. Scholars will rightly want to study the complete text and references in the Summa, for which there is no substitute, but beginning students and general readers may benefit more from focusing on Aquinas’ own thought and argument than on the writings of those authorities he cites, comments on, or refutes. The italicized introductory notes to the chapters and to the chapter sections aim to provide the reader with helpful guidance; these are my own and not to be confused with the texts of Aquinas that follow them. In addition, the Glossary explains key terms to . . .

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