Thomas Aquinas Essays

Thomas Aquinas Essays-38
We do not get the scale until we come to the few men in history who can be his rivals.Thus, to begin with, we may compare him with the common life of his time; and tell the story of his adventures among his contemporaries.He was one of the two or three giants; one of the two or three greatest men who ever lived; and I should never be surprised if he turned out, quite apart from sanctity, to be the greatest of all.

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His experiences included well-attested cases of levitation in ecstasy; and the Blessed Virgin appeared to him, comforting him with the welcome news that he would never be a Bishop.

Similarly, we might compare the Thomist scheme with others, touching on the points in which Scotus or Bonaventura differed from it.

He had “religious experience” all right; but he did not, in the modern manner, ask other people to reason from his experience.

He only asked them to reason from their own experience.

Then he could be compared with other saints or theologians, as mystic rather than dogmatic.

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For he was, like a sensible man, a mystic in private and a philosopher in public.

His mind was so broad, and its balance so beautiful, that to suggest it would be to discuss a million things. The supernatural order is the supreme good, as for any Eastern mystic; but the natural order is good; as solidly good as it is for any man in the street.

That is what”settles the Manichees.” Faith is higher than reason; but reason is higher than anything else, and has supreme rights in its own domain.

In this alone he shed a light on history, apart from the light he shed on philosophy.

He was born in high station, related to the Imperial house, the son of a great noble of Aquino, not far from Naples, and when he expressed a wish to be a monk, it is typical of the time that everything was made smooth for him – up to a point.


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