LECTURE #5: Chesterton on Aquinas

I. Thomas's philosophy -- defined by a series of contrasts.

A. Neo-Platonism.

The importance of the senses (p. 161), the rejection of an excessive dualism (37, 41), the sharp distinction between God and man (39). Is GKC fair to Plato, to Christian Platonists (Boethius, Roger Bacon, Buridan, da Vinci)? Platonists were largely responsible for the development of mathematical physics.

B. Manichaenism.

The goodness of creation. Evil is privation, twisting. pp. 104, 105.

C. The double truth theory of Siger of Brabant.

(Gilson argues that GKC is wrong about Siger -- but others did propose such a theory.) There is only one truth, revealed by both sound science and sound theology.

D. Pessimism (Buddhism, Nietzsche).

Thomas's optimism (p. 107ff)

E. Evolutionism.

Change presupposes the changeless. p. 173. The cosmological argument.

F. Nominalism.

Thomas is a moderate realist: there are common natures, discovered by abstraction from experience. (p. 174)

II. The Apprehension of Reality (pp. 150-1, 166-7) The concreteness of being (ens)

A. Rejection of doubt as the proper starting-point. (pp. 148-9)

B. Against the transcendentalism of Platonism. Changing things are no less real for being changeable (168-9)

C. The reality, but mysteriousness, of ordinary things (pp. 177-9) All potentiality, dependency point to God.

III. Christian Philosophy

Thomas's philosophy -- development from within Christian faith. (pp. 40-41)