puts it thus in his
most complete treatment of the sciences, philosophical and revealed, and of their relations, the Super Boetium De Trinitate:
is explicit about this:
Because we are self-moved, Thomas
must treat the world humans make by beginning with human purpose and the single human end, happiness.
tells us "knowledge of the truth, considered in itself, is good.
to argue that the human good consists in the perfect knowing of the highest truth[xlix] and writes: "the study of philosophy for its own sake, is both allowable and praise-worthy, because the truth which the philosophers grasp, is revealed to them by God
, as the Epistle to the Romans 1.19 says."[l] The authority of the same text demands that the existence of God
"is proved by the philosophers with unbreakable reasons."[li] Thomas
understands Aristotle and Plato
to teach this insofar as they maintain that our knowledge of God
is a certain participation in the divine self-knowing.
This doctrine Aquinas finds in Aristotle's Metaphysics as well as in the Nicomachean Ethics and he
takes it to be the condition of metaphysics as knowledge of divinity.[lii]
Many of the structures and the concepts employed by Aquinas in internally ordering and relating religion and philosophy are derived from Neoplatonism and, especially, insofar as he differs from Augustine and embraces Aristotle, from the tradition of Neoplatonism originating with Iamblichus which passed by way of Proclus and Damascius, to its most influential and authoritative Christian propagator, Dionysius.
followed both them and his
Augustinian predecessors by distinguishing between the modalities of faith and reason.
This done, he
turns the tables in respect to both.
For the first time in the Latin Middle Ages, a theologian engaged the philosophers on their own terrain as a separate, limited, and subordinate sphere, and, in opposition both to the Arabs and the Augustinians, Thomas
made a humbled but quasi-autonomous philosophy into the servant of revealed theology.[lxxiv] In the mediaeval university this difference of knowledge and method involved a difference of place.
, creating and ascending the ladder of the sciences is the work of education, a spiritual itinerarium toward deiformity, and an activity necessary for understanding God's
speech to us (ST 1.1.5 ad 2).
Condemnations followed, most importantly those of 1270 and 1277 by the Archbishop of Paris, which included articles held by scholars for whom the Arab Peripatetic tradition defined what reason knows; some of the condemned propositions touched Aquinas
himself.[lxxxii] In 1284, the Franciscan Archbishop of Canterbury, John Pecham, had the Oxford divinity faculty confirm the condemnation in 1277 of a list of propositions issued by his Dominican predecessor.[lxxxiii] Two years later, furious about the "destruction and erosion" of "the whole teaching of Augustine," Pecham, with Thomas
as well as others in his sights, declared heretical a teaching central to Aquinas which derived from Aristotle.[lxxxiv] Scholars group as "Augustinian" this opposition which was reacting both against much of what the new philosophy taught and against the moral stance implied by its independence.[lxxxv] They were generally victorious in the Middle Ages.
Thomas had to wait until the Counter-reformation to become generally authoritative, being named Doctor of the Church in 1567.[lxxxvi] Nonetheless, he was canonized in 1323 and, in 1325, the Archbishop of Paris annulled the condemnation of 1277 so far as it touched him.
[i] On whom (and on the culture of his Sicilian court) see Thomas Curran, "Response to Robert Crouse, Stupor Mundi: Xerxes, Charlemagne, Frederick II," in Iconography: The Use of Art in Christian Worship, edited Susan Harris (Charlottetown: St. Peter Publications, 2004), 89-102 at 97-102.