What is thomism?
A school of philosophy taken from the thought and the writings of St.
Yes, but it is more than that.
An understanding of thomism as a philosophy would entail not only the
scientific knowledge of the thought and work of Aquinas in and of
themselves, but also a grasp of the philosophical influences both in
antiquity and in medieval times, and an understanding as well of the
history of thomism and the various branches that brought about the
philosophical developments in thomism from about 1285 to 2003.
We have earlier called these various offshoots of thomism, or branches
of thomism, divided into three historical epochs, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd thomism.
Thomism, is, as such, a philosophy. It is also an enterprise.
It is the ongoing purpose or task of this philosophy to take Aquinas at
his word, VERBATIM, in his proper historical context, and to hold fast
to the principles he bequeathed to his successors, to those scholars who
come after him, and to those philosophers who must answer later
philosophical and scientific questions that realistically bring the
valid philosophy of thomism forward into the contemporary intellectual
This, of course, is not an easy program for the thomistic enterprise to
bring into being, especially when we consider the desuetude into which
thomism has fallen since the time of the Second Vatican Council, a
waning of fortune, if you will, but a famine that is not without its
positive results, such as the purifying of the basic principles of
thomism seen in the historical light of the students of thomism versus
the master himself, St. Thomas Aquinas
In particular the divine and angelic foundations of Aquinas' philosophy
have been laid bare, it's throughly existential character of
intellectualism emphasized, the efficient cause of creation brought
forth: and all of this stemming from the fecund God who is IPSUM ESSE
PER SE SUBSISTENS, and in whom the existence of everything participates,
so that the truth of all things is found primarily in God, the first
cause of causes and of creation, secondarily, in the thing created by
way of the fiat of ESSE, and thirdly in the intellect of man who comes
to knowledge via the "adequatio rei intellectui sui".
But how do we put it all together?
This is a good question.
Simply put, the first step in understanding the philosophy of thomism is
to understand as a student understands his master, that is, to begin
with the basic thought of Aquinas, to take up his principles of
philosophy, and to trace how indeed those principles came to be
formulated, and by what historical process.
To do this one has to consider the Greek, Latin and Arabian influences
on Aquinas, as well as understand how he surpassed them, and the
resulting complex synthesis he shaped and originated from the various parts.