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Aquinas Study.docx

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Boston College
PHIL 4406

Study guide Aquinas - Why does Aquinas write the Summa Theologica? (What was the main intellectual challenge of his time?) To connect reason and faith.Aquinas claimed that philosophy and theology fit beautifully together and that there is a harmony between them. Furthermore, he wanted to organize everyone’s thoughts. It represents the most complete statement of his philosophical system. It shows his views on the nature of God, including different ways to prove his existence. It also exposes his exposition of natural law.Aquinas wanted to explore these topics through reason. He integrated the Bible andAristotle’s philosophy in a way that it made sense to all. Intellectual challenge: there was a tension between philosophy and theology.Aquinas wanted to make a meaning to the Bible with philosophical ideas and was in favor for a relationship between faith and reason. When Europeans discoveredAristotle, they found themselves upon a big challenge: what should they do with that knowledge? Before they thought everything in life was based off the Bible and now they had another source about God that was not based on the Bible. - Explain why do we need, besides philosophy, another ‘science’about God? Can we have different sciences about the same object? There are things that go beyond human reason. Our goal is to go be reunited with God and reach salvation. However, reason is limited and weak and we do not know how to achieve this goal. We need God’s divine revelation where God himself reveals his nature to us, his will, and desires and tells us what to do and show us the way to go back to him. Reason itself cannot show us the right path. Therefore we need divine revelation. Certain truths exceed human reason and must be explained to us by divine revelation. Philosophers can say something about this path but cannot grasp the whole of it. Using reason you are able to say some meaningful and reasonable things and can explain some things. However this does not happen until a really long time and may be packed with errors. Not everyone can study philosophy but can still reach salvation. Philosophy is not enough and God wants to save us. Different sciences can teach us things about the same objects. They can overlap. Philosophy cannot say everything about God. There are a lot of things and we can only understand them with faith and belief. - Aquinas claims that the sacred doctrine is a science. Explain why he means with this claim. Compare the sacred science to other sciences. What does it make difference? (Make sure that you are familiar with Aquinas’replies to Objections) Aristotle defends that Sacred Doctrine is indeed a science. Sciences are based on two types of principles, self-evident ones (based on the natural light of intelligence), and others based on higher sciences (precede from knowledge of higher sciences). Sacred doctrine is not self evident to us, we must refer to the higher science of heaven, a higher science of God. We do not directly have the access to this science, for heaven it is self-evident. We simply refer to it. Some objections say that sciences is based on faith and faith is not a principle while others also say that sacred doctrine is not considered a science as it is simply a collection of individual facts. It therefore precedes from the light of a higher science: divine revelation and God, therefore it is also superior, as God is perfect whereas human sciences are filled with errors. Aquinas responds that sacred doctrine has its own principles that are self evident to people in heaven and to God but not to us. We accept them in faith even though we cannot prove them as we do in natural science. We refer to the higher science even though we cannot explain them. Aquinas does believe that sacred doctrine is a science based on the higher science of God. He says that the common denominator of all examples is how to relate to God. There are differences but there is something that unites all of them together and it is how God works in their life. They are not individually independent but are in some way united. The science behind that is how to improve and reinforce our faith. Yes it is nobler. Sacred doctrine on one side is theoretical and on the other side it is practical. In both cases sacred doctrine is better than other sciences. Nobler on the theoretical level because it gives us greater certitude (much more certain than other sciences because it’s the science about God, what God knows is perfect and there are no mistakes whereas human sciences are packed with errors) and because the subject of matter is simply much better (God is the subject and there is nothing greater or bigger than God). The science that studies the greatest must therefore be the best science (best subject of matter). On the practical level is also nobler. Every science teaches us something, but sacred doctrine includes everything and teaches us to achieve our final goal. It teaches us how to get to heaven and for this reason it is very practical (do this, do that..). Teaches us what to do in our life and is therefore nobler. On the practical level, the, it is the best because every other science leads to sacred doctrine ultimately thanks to the goal it promotes. Other sciences teach us one particular aspect but sacred science teaches us how to achieve the greatest and most important thing in our life-how to be united with God. Reply to objection 1: sacred doctrine has its own principles that are self evident to people in heaven and to God but not to us. We accept them in faith even though we cannot prove them as we do in natural science. We refer to the higher science even though we cannot explain them. Reply to objection 2: Individual teachings but with common thread and they are all related as they have the same message: how God works in our life. There is a science behind. Objections and Replies to Objections: In faith there is a lot of space for doubt and therefore we cannot be certain. If you doubt it is not nobler. When we talk about our faith we simply do not understand it because our reason and intelligence is weak but that does not mean that it does
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