The "24 Theses" of Thomas Aquinas have always bothered me.

These theses, promulgated by the Sacred Congregation of Studies in 1914 during the pontificate of Pius X have traditionally (of course, in a neo-traditional sense) been given as the central theses of the philosophical teaching of Aquinas, especially in the metaphysical realm.

I can of course not fault the intention of The Church: "We admonish professors to bear well in mind that they cannot set aside St. Thomas, especially in metaphysical questions, without grave disadvantage". --Pope St. Pius X, Pascendi Dominici Gregis

(Please excuse the non-linearity of the following. I am past my bedtime.)

What I don't yet understand (though I do not deny) is this statement:
"eas (dictis thesibus) plane continere sancti Doctoris principia et pronuntiata maiora"

Quite a statement. My question is, what is the value or importance of attempting to identify 'eas'? (Also how are assured are we to know that the above is right? And are we bound to believe them?)

A philosophical objection: Philosophy is of reason. Metaphysics is the most difficult and highest attainment of such acts of reason. Therefore it is unfitting most of all to assert metaphysical principles as statements and self-evident.

...I found this comment on a post on "Moreover, the tradition to express his thought by way of formulating principles and building on them like for instance Antonin Réginald (+ 1676) or more recently Norberto del Prado is an effective way to master Aquinas's thought and to receive an intellectual framework. Manuals like Gredt and others did precisely that."

My problem with this is that maxim-memorizing is that it neither follows the order of learning in coming-to-know a science, nor does it follow the order of being whereby those things known in science are intrinsically governed. Hence it seem to me memorizing metaphysical tenants would not be a "an effective way to master Aquinas's thought," but a sign of a lack of mastery-- especially if one were to think that by knowing the tenants one had mastered the thought of Thomas!! Therefore, it seems especially unfitting that the theses be promulgated amongst the "professors" which Pius X was above admonishing (who, by professing, claim at least some real mastery).

I've grown to really dislike the manual tradition because it seems to destroy the order which Thomas proceeds from himself (and therefore something quite central to the thought of Thomas). If it's a concession, it's conceding too much.

So, if I need to be a manualist in order to be a Thomist, I am not a Thomist.

Your comments and clarification are most welcome.

Though it is tardy, where Our Lady is concerned, it is better to honor her later, rather than never. In light of this, I attach a homily that John Paul II gave on the feast of the annunciation in the Great Jubilee in the year of Our Lord 2000 at the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth. May God bless you all, and Our Lady keep you! Theotokos, Save Us!

“Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to your word” (Angelus Prayer).

Your Beatitude,
Brother Bishops,
Father Custos,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. 25th March in the year 2000, the Solemnity of the Annunciation in the Year of the Great Jubilee: on this day the eyes of the whole Church turn to Nazareth. I have longed to come back to the town of Jesus, to feel once again, in contact with this place, the presence of the woman of whom Saint Augustine wrote: “He chose the mother he had created; he created the mother he had chosen” (Sermo 69, 3, 4). Here it is especially easy to understand why all generations call Mary blessed (cf. Lk 2:48).

I warmly greet Your Beatitude Patriarch Michel Sabbah, and thank you for your kind words of presentation. With Archbishop Boutros Mouallem and all of you – Bishops, priests, religious women and men, and members of the laity – I rejoice in the grace of this solemn celebration. I am happy to have this opportunity to greet the Franciscan Minister General, Father Giacomo Bini, who welcomed me on my arrival, and to express to the Custos, Father Giovanni Battistelli, and the Friars of the Custody the admiration of the whole Church for the devotion with which you carry out your unique vocation. With gratitude I pay tribute to your faithfulness to the charge given to you by Saint Francis himself and confirmed by the Popes down the centuries.

2. We are gathered to celebrate the great mystery accomplished here two thousand years ago. The Evangelist Luke situates the event clearly in time and place: “In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph. . . The virgin’s name was Mary” (1:26-27). But in order to understand what took place in Nazareth two thousand years ago, we must return to the Reading from the Letter to the Hebrews. That text enables us, as it were, to listen to a conversation between the Father and the Son concerning God’s purpose from all eternity. “You who wanted no sacrifice or oblation prepared a body for me. You took no pleasure in holocausts or sacrifices for sin. Then I said. . . ?God, here I am! I am coming to obey your will’” (10:5-7). The Letter to the Hebrews is telling us that, in obedience to the Father’s will, the Eternal Word comes among us to offer the sacrifice which surpasses all the sacrifices offered under the former Covenant. His is the eternal and perfect sacrifice which redeems the world.

The divine plan is gradually revealed in the Old Testament, particularly in the words of the Prophet Isaiah which we have just heard: “The Lord himself will give you a sign. It is this: the virgin is with child and will soon give birth to a child whom she will call Emmanuel” (7:14). Emmanuel - God with us. In these words, the unique event that was to take place in Nazareth in the fullness of time is foretold, and it is this event that we are celebrating here with intense joy and happiness.

3. Our Jubilee Pilgrimage has been a journey in spirit, which began in the footsteps of Abraham, “our father in faith” (Roman Canon; cf. Rom 4:11-12). That journey has brought us today to Nazareth, where we meet Mary, the truest daughter of Abraham. It is Mary above all others who can teach us what it means to live the faith of “our father”. In many ways, Mary is clearly different from Abraham; but in deeper ways “the friend of God” (cf. Is 41:8) and the young woman of Nazareth are very alike.

Both receive a wonderful promise from God. Abraham was to be the father of a son, from whom there would come a great nation. Mary is to be the Mother of a Son who would be the Messiah, the Anointed One. “Listen!”, Gabriel says, “ You are to conceive and bear a son. . . The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. . . and his reign will have no end” (Lk 1:31-33).

For both Abraham and Mary, the divine promise comes as something completely unexpected. God disrupts the daily course of their lives, overturning its settled rhythms and conventional expectations. For both Abraham and Mary, the promise seems impossible. Abraham’s wife Sarah was barren, and Mary is not yet married: “How can this come about”, she asks, “since I am a virgin?” (Lk 1:34).

4. Like Abraham, Mary is asked to say yes to something that has never happened before. Sarah is the first in the line of barren wives in the Bible who conceive by God’s power, just as Elizabeth will be the last. Gabriel speaks of Elizabeth to reassure Mary: “Know this too: your kinswoman Elizabeth has, in her old age, herself conceived a son” (Lk 1:36).

Like Abraham, Mary must walk through darkness, in which she must simply trust the One who called her. Yet even her question, “How can this come about?”, suggests that Mary is ready to say yes, despite her fears and uncertainties. Mary asks not whether the promise is possible, but only how it will be fulfilled. It comes as no surprise, therefore, when finally she utters her fiat: “I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let what you have said be done to me” (Lk 1:38). With these words, Mary shows herself the true daughter of Abraham, and she becomes the Mother of Christ and Mother of all believers.

5. In order to penetrate further into the mystery, let us look back to the moment of Abraham’s journey when he received the promise. It was when he welcomed to his home three mysterious guests (cf. Gen 18:1-15), and offered them the adoration due to God: tres vidit et unum adoravit. That mysterious encounter foreshadows the Annunciation, when Mary is powerfully drawn into communion with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Through the fiat that Mary uttered in Nazareth, the Incarnation became the wondrous fulfilment of Abraham’s encounter with God. So, following in the footsteps of Abraham, we have come to Nazareth to sing the praises of the woman “through whom the light rose over the earth” (Hymn Ave Regina Caelorum).

6. But we have also come to plead with her. What do we, pilgrims on our way into the Third Christian Millennium, ask of the Mother of God? Here in the town which Pope Paul VI, when he visited Nazareth, called “the school of the Gospel”, where “we learn to look at and to listen to, to ponder and to penetrate the deep and mysterious meaning of the very simple, very humble and very beautiful appearing of the Son of God” (Address in Nazareth, 5 January 1964), I pray, first, for a great renewal of faith in all the children of the Church. A deep renewal of faith: not just as a general attitude of life, but as a conscious and courageous profession of the Creed: “Et incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto ex Maria Virgine, et homo factus est.”

In Nazareth, where Jesus “grew in wisdom and age and grace before God and men” (Lk 2:52), I ask the Holy Family to inspire all Christians to defend the family against so many present-day threats to its nature, its stability and its mission. To the Holy Family I entrust the efforts of Christians and of all people of good will to defend life and to promote respect for the dignity of every human being.

To Mary, the Theotókos, the great Mother of God, I consecrate the families of the Holy Land, the families of the world.

In Nazareth where Jesus began his public ministry, I ask Mary to help the Church everywhere to preach the “good news” to the poor, as he did (cf. Lk 4:18). In this “year of the Lord’s favour”, I ask her to teach us the way of humble and joyful obedience to the Gospel in the service of our brothers and sisters, without preferences and without prejudices.

“O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in your mercy hear and answer me. Amen” (Memorare).

I found this quote in a combox on the Leiter philosophy blog; it seems right to me.

"I think pragmatism is very important to success at publication. Know which journals publish what kinds of articles. Master the style of a philosophy article. Understand which topics are current. Know what literature you'll be expected to discuss if you write on a given topic. Don't try to say everything in one place -- learn how to break your work into article-sized chunks. Don't wait for a paper to be perfect (it never will be) before submitting it to a journal."

Does anyone have any particular suggestion about where to find more information related to the italicized section of the quote with regard to our ancient and medieval studies? It seems like interminable labor finding relevant conferences and calls for papers sometimes. Has anyone found a particular blog or site which list topics of interest to us? Etc.? Much thanks. -HM

For anyone who might be interested, there is a primitive inquiry into the notion of right and its place in the Natural Law found here. Of course all thought and discourse would be appreciated. Pax.

De Veritate: Q. 1, a. 8

Below is a summary that I quickly wrote up for a class I am taking on St. Thomas' De Veritate. This article can be found at the following web address: As will be seen in my summary, St. Thomas concludes this article in way that is surprising to me. Since I do not understand it I thought I would post my summary and raise the question for your consideration, my venerable brethren. Any assistance you can offer would be greatly appreciated.

In the eighth article St. Thomas is seeking whether every truth is from the first truth. St. Thomas will argue that all truths are from the first truth. As is clear from the context of the article, what is meant by "from the first truth" means, from it as an effect is from a cause. First truth, according to the previous articles, refers to God. Therefore, the objections that arise concerning this article involve knowledge of sins, deficiencies and evils. The basic argument being the following: there are evil things in truth, both in things and in the adequation of things to an intellect. Therefore if God is going to be the cause of the truth of these things, then God is the cause of evil. This, however, is impossible. Therefore, every truth is not from the first truth.
St. Thomas begins his response by bringing forth conclusions from the previous articles. He brings up the point that just as the human intellect measures artifacts, so the divine intellect measures things, and these same things measure the human intellect. He then adds something that we have not seen. St. Thomas argues that all things exist through their forms, thus the forms of things have in their account esse. The form, however, is that by which we know things. Therefore, the truth of existing things includes the account of the being of the things. Further, this form, as known, also has the account of adequation to the human intellect.
It is important to note that in the above argument St. Thomas qualifies what he is saying by speaking only of existing things. The remainder of the article will concern itself with the existence of privations (i.e. evils, deficiencies and sins). However, since we only know privations through existing things St. Thomas will compare the privation of blindness with a stone.
All negations and privations which exist outside the soul do not have a form through which they exist, and therefore, no form through which they can be known to exist. The truth of a stone has within it the account of the being of the thing with the superadded account of being in the intellect, as is clear from what has been said. The truth about blindness, however, does not include in it the privation. That is to say, we do not have some privative form. Non-being does not have a form. Blindness does have some existence in the intellect, however, as known. That is to say, we truly know that someone is blind. The blindness in the person is not caused by God, but the truth that we know is caused by God.
At this point it seems that St. Thomas could conclude thus: It is therefore clear that every truth has some existence, insofar as every truth must in someway be in a soul. All existing things, however, come from God. God is therefore the cause of every truth. Therefore every truth is from the first truth. However, St. Thomas instead brings in the account of the good. He argues that it is a good of the human intellect to know things and that insofar as the things are good they come from God. Therefore, every truth is from God. It seems strange that St. Thomas would argue through the good, because the good is a narrower notion than that of being. Consequently, it seems that one could object and say that perhaps it is not good to know a certain truth. For instance, were a layman to know some individual's sins, or faults that he was not well acquainted with would not seem to benefit him at all. Rather, such things are often considered malicious gossip or slander. Therefore, to my mind, this is left as a puzzle that I have not worked out and is worth further inquiry.

Newer Posts Older Posts Home