Why does Aquinas write the Summa Theologica?
Aquinas wrote Summa Theologica to find a connection between theology and philosophy by organizing and
combining popular ideas of reason with faith represented in the Bible. He attempted to answer three questions:
what can we know about God, what can we know about humans/creations, and how can we return to God.
Why do we need, besides philosophy, another ‘science’ about God?
Humans require “divine revelation,” which is a message from God that teaches us how to get back to Him.
However, philosophy does not provide divine revelation by itself. First of all, both philosophy and theology lead
towards the same answers about God, so both are necessary even though they are “different” sciences. ( A
physicist and an astronomer both proves the Earth is round, but the physicist uses mathematics while the astronomer uses the object
itsel)Also, philosophy is only studied by a few people and it takes a long time to reach divine conclusions,
which are still prone to errors. So, in order to reach true divine revelation, one must study philosophy AND
theology—also known as sacred doctrine—because God gives it to everyone.
Is the sacred doctrine a science?
There are two types of principles of science: principles of selfevidence and principles of higher science.
Principles of selfevidence are known to us and are understandable by the human mind, whereas principles of
higher science are given to us by a higher force (like God, etc.) because it is not selfevident to us . For example,
principles of higher science are selfevident to people in heaven, but not to us, so we have to accept th. Sacred h faith
doctrine IS a science because it falls under the category of principles of higher science, which is equal to
principles of selfevidence. Also, people claim that science DOES NOT deal with individual facts while sacred
doctrine does. However, these “individual facts” are more of moral examples.
Why is sacred doctrine nobler than other sciences?
Sacred doctrine is nobler than other sciences because it is theoretical, whereas other sciences are practical.
Theoretical sciences have certitude because they are based on the divine, and they are based on God, who is the
highest power and knowledge. It also teaches us how to get to the end goal. Practical sciences are susceptible to
human errors because it is NOT based on God. It also teaches us simpler, less important things, and NOT an end
goal, like getting back to God.
Is the existence of God selfevident?
There are two types of selfevidences: things that are selfevident in itself AND to us (like the fact that a whole
pizza is bigger than a slice of pizza) versus things that are selfevident in itself but NOT to us (like an engine,
which is selfevident in itself, but we don’t understand it and its workings). The phrase “God exists” is self
evident alone in itself, but we don’t understand the essence of God, so it is not selfevident to us. Nevertheless,
it—or God—exists. What does Aquinas mean when he claims that a word in Holy Scripture may have several
Aquinas believes that we shouldn’t take the Bible word by word because it wouldn’t make sense. Rather, we
can interpret it in several different ways, which would give each word a new meaning and message.
o Historical = things represent historical events
o Allegorical = things represent bigger, more complex ideas and concepts (ex. the cave)
o Moral = how we should live out lives (ex. 10 Commandments)
o Anagogical = helps us understand the present in order to have the best future (ex. Book of Job)
o Analogical = comparison between two things
o Parabolic = stories that represent a higher meaning
o Etiological = helps us understand the reasons behind the stories (ex. Moses’ divorce)
Can it be demonstrated that God exists?
There are two types of demonstrations: “a priori” (cause) and “a posteriori” (effect). Through “a priori” we try
to predict effects from a cause, whereas through “a posteriori” we try to understand a cause from the effects. We
can only demonstrate that God exists through “a posteriori” because we have no information about the cause,
and we only have evidence of the effects. We can’t demonstrate the existence of God through “a priori” because
we don’t know the essence of God, thus we cannot know the cause.
How does Aquinas prove the existence of God (five ways)?
1. Motion: A ▯B ▯C ▯D
a. Each object in motion was set in motion from a starting point/object, which is God. We can work
backwards from moving things around us in order to find the starting point, which is God.
2. Efficient Cause
a. An effect MUST stem from a cause, which is God. If the cause didn’t exist, then none of the
effects will exists because they are dependent upon the existence of the cause. Therefore, God
must exist if he is the cause of everything.
3. Possibility and Necessity
a. Everything is contingent—it either CAN be or it CANNOT be. If something “CANNOT be,”
then it is nothing and it does not exist. If this is true, then its roots would be nonexistent as well
because nothing can come out of nothing. So at some point, something HAD to exist. This
“something” was necessary, NOT contingent, and it will always exist. This is God.
a. There are different levels of everything, some are better and some are worse. Everything that
exists, however, is somewhat good, because God is good. Therefore, God is the cause of all
things. For example, fire is a representation of maximum heat, so it created all things that are hot.
a. Every working being in the universe has an end goal or a plan, but WHO designs the plan?
Aquinas argues that “The Planner” must be God because our lives and our plans must be
controlled by a higher intelligence. Why does Descartes write ‘Meditation of first Philosophy’? Explain the main issues of the book. What
kinds of questions is Descartes trying to answer in his book? What does Descartes think his book will
offer the reader?
Descartes wrote his Meditations in response to the uncertainty in Europe during the Renaissance of his time.
Both the scientific revolution (ex. heliocentric model of the universe) and the discovery of America sent Europe
into chaos and confusion. Descartes wanted to find the truth, and then base all knowledge off of that. He tries to
answer questions about existence: how do we know life isn’t a dream, what is the basis behind our existence,
how do we know things exist outside ourselves, does God exist, and why do we make mistakes? He thinks his