Aquinas: A Very Short Introduction

Overview


Thomas Aquinas is one of the giants of medieval philosophy, a thinker who had--and who still has--a profound influence on Western thought. Aquinas was a controversial figure in his time who was often engaged in fierce theological debates. He was the foremost classical proponent of natural theology, and the father of the Thomistic school of philosophy and theology. This Very Short Introduction will look at Aquinas in a historical context, and explore the Church and culture into which Aquinas was born. It will ...
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Thomas Aquinas: A Very Short Introduction

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Overview


Thomas Aquinas is one of the giants of medieval philosophy, a thinker who had--and who still has--a profound influence on Western thought. Aquinas was a controversial figure in his time who was often engaged in fierce theological debates. He was the foremost classical proponent of natural theology, and the father of the Thomistic school of philosophy and theology. This Very Short Introduction will look at Aquinas in a historical context, and explore the Church and culture into which Aquinas was born. It will consider Aquinas as philosopher and theologian, and will look at the relationship between philosophy and religion in the thirteenth century. Fergus Kerr, in this engaging and informative introduction, makes the Summa Theologiae, Aquinas's greatest single work, accessible to new readers. He also sheds valuable light on the importance of Thomas Aquinas in modern times, showing why Aquinas matters now, illustrating the significant role that the writings of Aquinas play in contemporary debate.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199556649
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 11/30/2009
  • Series: Very Short Introductions Series
  • Pages: 144
  • Sales rank: 421,761
  • Product dimensions: 4.30 (w) x 6.80 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Fergus Kerr is Honorary Fellow of the School of Divinity in the University of Edinburgh. He is widely recognized as a philosopher and theologian of high distinction. He is particularly well known for his work on Ludwig Wittgenstein and Thomas Aquinas. He is also Editor of the journal New Blackfriars.

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Table of Contents

Reference system

List of illustrations

1 Life and times 1

2 Works 20

3 Summa Theologiae: First Part 31

4 Summa Theologiae: Second Part 66

5 Summa Theologiae:Third Part 87

6 Aftermath - Thomism 102

Further reading 121

Index 125

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 29, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Very Accessible Introduction to the "Angelic Doctor"

    St. Thomas Aquinas is one of the greatest Christian thinkers (many would argue THE greatest) of all time, and is considered by the Catholic Church to be one of the Doctors of The Church. He was an extremely prolific writer, and his collected works amount to over eight million words. His magnum opus "Summa Theologica" remains one of the most influential theological works, and has been used as the de facto theological manual for centuries in the education of clergy. Unfortunately, "Summa" itself consists of one and a half million words, organized in many tightly argued logical questions. As such it is largely inaccessible to the general readership. This "Very Short Introduction" aims to introduce St. Thomas to the more general audience, and in particular to present a very concise introduction to "Summa."

    The first couple of chapters of this "Very Short Introduction" deal mostly with St. Thomas's early life and the historical circumstances during which he had lived. They aim to give us a better picture of the intellectual milieu within which did St. Thomas's ideas develop. They recount several interesting anecdotes from his early life, including the one where his family tried unsuccessfully to prevent him from joining the Dominicans by bringing a prostitute to him.

    The middle chapters of this book are entirely dedicated to the "Summa." Each one of the three main parts of the "Summa" gets its own chapter. The presentation inevitably manages only to skim the surface of that monumental work, but it does touch upon all the main topics that were of concern to St. Thomas. For the most part "Summa" is discussed in a very favorable way, with the full appreciation of some of the more subtle points that it elucidated. Nonetheless the author is willing to point out some of the more strange and unacceptable arguments from the point of view of the modern reader.

    Since his death, St. Thomas has suffered ups and downs of popularity. Unfortunately his name had for some time been synonymous with scholasticism, but in recent decades he has witnessed a resurgence of interest as his theology has been influential on several generations of "Neothomists." If you are unwilling to tackle St. Thomas's major works in their entirety, I would strongly suggest a couple more accessible works. Peter Kreeft's "A Shorter Summa: The Essential Philosophical Passages of Saint Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica" is a particularly useful selection of some major questions from the "Summa" as well as an introduction to the form and style of St. Thomas's writing. On the other hand there is also "A Summa of the Summa", St. Thomas's own abridgment. There are also several good Kindle English translations of the entire "Summa," and these a convenient way of browsing that entire work in an accessible electronic format.

    Overall, this is a great time to learn more about St. Thomas Aquinas, and this Very Short Introduction is a wonderful first step in that direction.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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