Academic journal article Theological Studies

Aquinas: On the Beginning and End of Human Life

Academic journal article Theological Studies

Aquinas: On the Beginning and End of Human Life

Article excerpt

Aquinas: On the Beginning and End of Human Life. By Fabrizio Amerini. Translated from the Italian by Mark Henninger. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University, 2013. Pp. xxii + 260. $29.95.

In recent years many philosophers and theologians have attempted to bring Thomas Aquinas into conversation with contemporary bioethics. So much ink has been spilled on this topic that one wonders whether anything of interest remains to be said. Amerini manages to do something new by doing something old: he offers a nuanced and careful examination of Aquinas's own claims about the beginning and end of life. Only after his examination is complete does he attempt to apply Aquinas's position to contemporary debates about the beginning and end of life. Even those who find the latter unconvincing will find much of value in the former.

Although the book is entitled Aquinas on the Beginning and End of Human Life, the vast majority of A.'s account concerns Aquinas's view of the beginning of human life, that is, the embryo. Scholars of Aquinas will find much that is valuable and little that is controversial in A.'s careful and detailed exposition of Aquinas's embryology. He thoroughly canvasses Aquinas's treatment of embryology, notes changes and discrepancies that occur in various texts, and carefully explains the metaphysical underpinnings of Aquinas's claims. …

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