The Mediaeval Mind: A History of the Development of Thought and Emotion in the Middle Ages - Vol. 2

By Henry Osborn Taylor | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XLI
THOMAS AQUINAS
I. THOMAS'S CONCEPTION OF HUMAN BEATITUDE.
II. MAN'S CAPACITY TO KNOW GOD.
III. How GOD KNOWS.
IV. HOW THE ANGELS KNOW.
V. How MEN KNOW.
VI. KNOWLEDGE THROUGH FAITH PERFECTED IN LOVE.

I

WITH Albert it seemed most illuminating to outline the masses of his work of Aristotelian purveyorship and inchoate reconstruction of the Christian encyclopaedia in conformity with the new philosophy. Such a treatment will not avail for Thomas. His achievement, even measured by its bulk, was as great as Albert's. But its size and encyclopaedic inclusiveness do not represent its integral excellences. The intellectual qualities of Thomas evinced in his work are of a higher order than those included in intelligent diligence, however exceptional. They must be disengaged from out of the vast product of their energies, in order that they may be brought together, and made to appear in the organic correlation which they held in the mind of the most potent genius of scholasticism.

We are pleased to find some clue to a man's genius in the race and place from which he draws his origin. So, for whatever may be its explanatory value as to Thomas, one may note that he came of Teutonic stocks, which for some generations had been domiciled in the form-giving Italian land. The mingled blood of princely Suabian and Norman lines flowed in him; the nobility of his father's house, the Counts of Aquinum, was equalled by his mother's lineage. Probably in 1225 he was born, in Southern Italy, not far from Monte Cassino. Thither, as a child, he was sent to school to the monks, and stayed with them through child-

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