The purpose of this book is twofold. Primarily, it aims to provide teachers and students of Aquinas with a convenient selection of some of the best philosophical essays on him published since Aquinas: A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by Anthony Kenny, appeared in 1969. But it is also intended to provide an introduction or guide to Aquinas's thinking in general—one of use to those who know little or nothing about it. For this reason, the essays included range across the main areas of Aquinas's philosophical interests. For this reason also, they come with a substantial introduction to his life and thought, a chronological list of his most significant writings, and a large bibliography.
No collection of essays can fully do justice to the enormous complexity and comprehensiveness of Aquinas's thought. And an enormous number of studies on Aquinas have appeared since the volume edited by Kenny. So selecting the following essays has not been an easy task. In making my selection I have aimed to include material which clearly explains aspects of Aquinas's thinking on all the philosophical topics which chiefly concerned him: logic, metaphysics, natural theology, the relationship between philosophy and theology, anthropology, philosophy of mind and action, ethics, and legal and political philosophy. I have also aimed to include philosophically perspicuous essays which engage with that thinking at a critical level. Most of the material that follows is therefore both expository and evaluative. While intended for a wide audience, it combines historical scholarship with rigorous philosophical discussion and thus should prove useful to professionals as well as to beginners.
For advice in the preparation of this book I am grateful to Gyula Klima, Brian Leftow, Robert Pasnau, Sara Penella, Martin Stone, and Eleonore Stump. For her editorial support, I am indebted to Cynthia Read of Oxford University Press. For her excellent work of copyediting, I am grateful to Pamela Bruton.