Thomas Aquinas

Thomas Aquinas - 1 THOMAS AQUINAS (1225-74) Summa contra...

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1 THOMAS AQUINAS (1225-74) Summa contra Gentiles Book I: Of God. Chapters ii – ix Ch. ii. THE AUTHOR'S INTENTION IN THE PRESENT WORK AMONG all human pursuits, the pursuit of wisdom is more perfect, more noble, more useful, and more full of joy. It is more perfect because, in so far as a man gives himself to the pursuit of wisdom, so far does he even now have some share in true beatitude. And so a wise man has said: "Blessed is the man that shall continue in wisdom" (Ecclus. 14:22). It is more noble because through this pursuit man especially approaches to a likeness to God Who "made all things in wisdom" (Ps. 103:24). And since likeness is the cause of love, the pursuit of wisdom especially joins man to God in friendship. That is why it is said of wisdom that "she is an infinite treasure to men, which they that use become the friends of God" (Wis. 7:14). It is more useful because through wisdom we arrive at the kingdom of immortality. For "the desire of wisdom bringeth to the everlasting kingdom" (Wis. 6:21). It is more full of joy because "her conversation hath no bitterness, nor her company any tediousness, but joy and gladness" (Wis. 7:16). And so, in the name of the divine Mercy, I have the confidence to embark upon the work of a wise man, even though this may surpass my powers, and I have set myself the task of making known, as far as my limited powers will allow, the truth that the Catholic faith professes, and of setting aside the errors that are opposed to it. To use the words of Hilary: "I am aware that I owe this to God as the chief duty of my life, that my every word and sense may speak of him."1 Ch. iii. ON THE WAY IN WHICH DIVINE TRUTH IS TO BE MADE KNOWN The way of making truth known is not always the same, and, as the Philosopher has very well said, "it belongs to an
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educated man to seek such certitude in each thing as the nature of that thing allows."2 The remark is also introduced by Boethius.3 But, since such is the case, we must first show what way is open to us in order that we may make known the truth which is our object. There is a twofold mode of truth in what we profess about God. Some truths about God exceed all the ability of the human reason. Such is the truth that God is triune. But there are some truths which the natural reason also is able to reach. Such are that God exists, that He is one, and the like. In fact, such truths about God have been proved demonstratively by the philosophers, guided by the light of the natural reason. That there are certain truths about God that totally surpass man's ability appears with the greatest evidence. Since, indeed, the principle of all knowledge that the reason perceives about some thing is the understanding of the very substance of that being (for according to Aristotle 'what a thing is' is the principle of demonstration),4 it is necessary that the way in which we understand the substance of a thing determines the way in which we know what belongs to it. Hence, if the human intellect comprehends the substance of some thing ― for example, that of a
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This note was uploaded on 04/17/2008 for the course HUMA 11600 taught by Professor Vessey during the Spring '08 term at UChicago.

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Thomas Aquinas - 1 THOMAS AQUINAS (1225-74) Summa contra...

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