Aquinas on the Beginning and End of Human Life [NOOK Book]


Though often invoked by pro-life supporters, Thomas Aquinas in fact held that human life begins after conception, not at the moment of union. But in following the twists and turns of Aquinas’ thinking about the beginning and end of human life, Fabrizio Amerini reaches a nuanced interpretation that will unsettle both sides in the abortion debate.
Read More Show Less
... See more details below
Aquinas on the Beginning and End of Human Life

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$17.97 price
(Save 40%)$29.95 List Price


Though often invoked by pro-life supporters, Thomas Aquinas in fact held that human life begins after conception, not at the moment of union. But in following the twists and turns of Aquinas’ thinking about the beginning and end of human life, Fabrizio Amerini reaches a nuanced interpretation that will unsettle both sides in the abortion debate.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews - John Farrell
What makes the book I think a fascinating read, is Amerini's detailed analysis of texts that Thomas wrote throughout his career, showing how his thoughts on the topic evolved and were refined. In that sense, I think anyone interested in history, especially the history of philosophy and science, would be fascinated at this look inside the world of a medieval philosopher on one very particular topic.
Choice - A. W. Klink
Because Aquinas’s teachings are authoritative for Catholic theology, this volume by Amerini explores Aquinas’s account of life’s beginning and end. The author notes Aquinas’s inconsistency and changing views. He argues that the Thomistic account does not allow one to claim that an embryo is a human being at the moment of conception, since Aquinas believes humans require faculties of will and reason. Still, scholars need to look at contemporary scientific accounts of growth and development to see how they may or may not harmonize with specific teachings. Students of theology and bioethics will find this study elucidating, especially since it shows the promise and pitfalls of attempting to use classical theological sources to construct positions for contemporary Christian ethics. Students interested in Thomistic thought, theological bioethics, and Catholic moral theology will find this closely argued work worthwhile and illuminating reading.
America - Denis J. M. Bradley
Erudite, thoughtful, [and] carefully translated…Amerini exposes the ‘tensions’ and ‘vacillations’ in Aquinas’s abstruse accounts of human embryogenesis. But their main point is clear: the inseminating male initiates a process that, while it leads to the conception of a pre-human uterine animal, does not actually generate another human being.
Brian Davies
This is a first-rate treatment of a complex topic. Fabrizio Amerini carefully and clearly explains how Aquinas deals philosophically with the topic of human generation and how what he says might be connected with certain questions raised today in discussions of bioethics. His treatment of Aquinas is exhaustive and admirably documented. It should serve as an authoritative corrective to ways in which Aquinas has sometimes been invoked in arguments concerning the start of human life. It also amounts to a fine introduction to some of Aquinas's key metaphysical ideas.
Robert Pasnau
Amerini's book is a masterful treatment of the much-discussed discrepancy between the teachings of the Catholic Church on abortion and the teachings of its leading theological champion. Combining philosophical insight with scholarly precision, Amerini carefully works through all aspects of Aquinas's view: metaphysical, biological, and ethical. In a field where previous treatments have often been marred by bias and animus, Amerini offers a model of evenhanded analysis. Neither of the entrenched parties to this ongoing dispute will feel completely satisfied by Amerini's conclusions, but all sides will learn a great deal from his meticulous discussion.
Sergio Filippo Magni
Aquinas on the Beginning and End of Human Life shows how rigorous historical research can be useful in discussing hot topics of current bioethics. Written with great accuracy and attention to historical texts, Amerini's book stresses the mistakes of many contemporary readings of Aquinas and clarifies implications for the current debate on abortion and euthanasia. This book is one of the best attempts to hold together the accurate historical reconstruction of one of the most influential thinkers of Western philosophy with the theoretical implications for the contemporary bioethical discussion on abortion and euthanasia.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674073463
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 1,333,049
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Fabrizio Amerini is Professor in the Department of Classics, Languages, Education, and Philosophy at the University of Parma.

Mark Henninger is Professor of Philosophy and Martin Chair of Medieval Philosophy at Georgetown University.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)