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by Anthony Kenny


Thomas Aquinas  1227 - 1274

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The Cambridge Companion to Aquinas (Cambridge Companions) by Norman Kretzmann (Editor), Eleonore Stump (Editor)
Natural Law and Practical Reason - A Thomist View of Moral Autonomy (Moral Philosophy and Theology Series)Natural Law and Practical Reason - A Thomist View of Moral Autonomy (Moral Philosophy and Theology Series) by Martin Rhonheimer, Gerald Malsbary (Translator)

Natural Law and Practical Reason: A Thomist View of Moral Autonomy seeks to overcome misunderstandings in the traditional neo-thomistic view of natural law as well as unjustified claims of some recent currents in Roman Catholic moral theology in trying to found new, yet problematic understandings of moral autonomy. Working exclusively from a philosophical standpoint, the volume also challenges the same moral theologians on their adoption of consequentialism and proportionalism.

The author systematically explores Aquinas's doctrine on natural law, seeking to put into evidence both its coherency and its connection with other features of Aquinas's teaching on human action. Rejecting a certain neo-Thomistic, rather naturalistic understanding of natural law, the book puts into evidence how natural law should not be called a law of nature as such, but a law of practical reason that is completely natural to humankind because reason is an essential part of human nature. Moreover, the work argues, that the position, which roots in a revisionist reading of Aquinas, leads to a deeply flawed conception of moral autonomy.

Being so tightly bound up with practical reason, any conception of natural law necessarily includes an understanding of moral autonomy. Autonomy roots in reason. Only a reasonable being - i.e. a being acting on reasons, on the ground of personal insight into the good - can be called "autonomous". Curiously enough, currents of Catholic moral theology have opted for autonomy understood as one's capacity of determining good in a "creative" way. According to this conception, natural law is reduced to a person's capacity of rationally "creating" conceptions about the good and the corresponding moral norms. Rhonheimer challenges this view, showing its inner contradictions and shortcomings and its lack of textual faithfulness. He develops an alternative view of moral autonomy that does justice to both human persons' cognitive autonomy in grasping and establishing the fundamental standards of the human good and the dependence of these standards on preconditions that are not at a person's disposal.

About the Author

Martin Rhonheimer, born in 1950 (Zürich, Switzerland), studied History, Philosophy, Political Science and Theology in Zürich and Rome. He holds a Doctorate in Philosophy from the University of Zürich. In 1983 he was ordained a Catholic priest (incardinated in the Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei). Between 1972 and 1978 he was an assistant to Professor Hermann Lübbe, at Zürich University; from 1981 to 1982 he was a Research Assistant with Professor Otfried Höffe at the University of Fribourg. He then worked together with Professor Wolfgang Kluxen from the University of Bonn with a scholarship from the Thyssen Foundation, Cologne. He is currently Professor of Ethics and Political Philosophy at the School of Philosophy of the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome. In addition to his scholarly activity, he is also dedicated to pastoral work in Zürich, especially for university students. Martin Rhonheimer is a member of the Editorial Boards of The American Journal of Jurisprudence (Notre Dame Law School) and of the Fordham Series in Moral Philosophy and Moral Theology (Fordham University).

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Biography of Aquinas

Saint, philosopher, theologian, doctor of the Church (Angelicus Doctor), patron of Catholic universities, colleges, and schools, b. at Rocca Secca in the Kingdom of Naples, 1225 or 1227; d. at Fossa Nuova, 7 March, 1274.


Sociedad Internacional Tomás de Aquino

Juan Pablo Barros S.

La Sociedad Internacional Tomás de Aquino es una asociación cultural autónoma, que intenta promover un diálogo fecundo entre el pensamiento de Santo Tomás y la cultura de nuestro tiempo.


St. Thomas Aquinas and Medieval Philosophy

By D.J. Kennedy, O.P.

Table of Contents:

Chapter I: The Rise of Scholasticism -- St. Anselm (1034-1109)
bulletWhat Scholasticism is not.
bulletWhat is Philosophy?
bulletPeriods in History of Philosophy.
bulletSaint Anselm.
bulletArguments to Prove the Existence of God.
bulletDisputes about Universals.
bulletWilliam of Champeaux.
bulletTraditionalism and Ontologism.
bulletSt. Anselm's Works.

Chapter II: Dangers and Abuses of Scholasticism -- Abelard (1079-1142)
bulletHistory not Feared.
bulletFirst Mistakes.
bulletScholastic Subtleties.
bulletForerunners of Abelard.
bulletAbelard's Career.
bulletAttacks His Masters.
bulletAnselm of Laon.
bulletAbelard Lectures on Theology.
bulletAbelard Condemned.
bulletSt. Bernard Appears.
bulletRepentance and Death.
bulletErrors of Abelard.
bulletGood Resulting from Abelard's Career.

Chapter III: The Experimental Sciences -- Albertus Magnus -- Roger Bacon
bulletCultivation of Experimental Sciences Not the Highest Perfection.
bulletChurch Not Opposed To Science.
bulletPius IX.
bulletLeo XIII.
bulletThirteenth Century.
bulletTime Necessary for Proficiency in the Natural Sciences.
bulletTwo Great Medieval Scientists.
bulletAlbert the Great.
bulletAlbert's Scientific Knowledge.
bulletLegends about Albert.
bulletWritings of Bacon.

Chapter IV: Condition of Philosophy in the Thirteenth Century -- What St. Thomas Found at Paris
bulletSt. Thomas Goes to Paris.
bulletAlbertus Magnus and St. Thomas Practical Men.
bulletThe University of Paris.
bulletWhat St. Thomas Found at Paris.
bulletThe Thirteenth Century.
bulletIntellectual Activity and Progress.
bulletAdvantages of the New System.
bulletUniversity Colleges.
bulletThe Sorbonne.
bulletEvils of the New System.
bulletJohn of Salisbury and the "Cornificians."
bulletRationalism in the Schools.
bulletRaymond Lullus.
bulletDavid of Dinant.
bulletDecree Against Aristotle.
bulletRemedy for Evils.
bulletLight in the Darkness.
bulletAristotle to be Christianized.

Chapter V: Influence of St. Thomas on Philosophy

bulletProvidence Rules the World.
bulletPredecessors and Contemporaries of St. Thomas.
bulletLeo XIII on St. Thomas.
bulletNewman's Definition of a Great Mind.
bulletReconciliation of Faith and Reason in the Thirteenth Century.
bulletChoice of Aristotle as Model.
bulletText of Aristotle Corrected and Purified.
bulletAverroes Annihilated.
bulletSoul is the Form of the Human Body.
bulletPantheism Refuted.
bulletRationalism Rejected
bulletDistinction Between Natural and Supernatural.
bulletNo Opposition Between Faith and Reason.
bulletFaith and Reason United in Harmony.
bulletFaith Protects Reason from Error.
bulletWidens the Field of Investigation.
bulletWhat Reason Should Do For Faith.
bulletReason Proves the Preambles of Faith.
bulletReason Explains and Develops the
bulletDoctrine Revealed.
bulletReason Defends Faith.
bulletSt. Thomas Proves the Preambles.
bulletSt. Thomas Explains and Develops Faith.
bulletSt. Thomas Defends Faith.
Chapter VI: The Summa Theologica of St. Thomas
bulletThe Summa and the Catechism.
bulletLacordair compares the Summa to the Pyramids.
bulletWhen did St. Thomas resolve to write the Summa?
bulletOrigin of the Summa.
bulletInfluence of Albertus Magnus on St. Thomas.
bulletThe Summa written for Beginners.
bulletQuestion I. Sacred Doctrine.
bulletWhat is Scholastic Theology?
bulletPlan of the Summa.
bulletGeneral Outlines.
bulletSubdivision; 1a Pars.
bullet2a Pars.
bullet3a Pars.
bulletThe Style of the Summa.
bulletSound Judgment.
bulletNo Excellence Without Labor.
bulletPopes, Universities and Religious Orders.
bulletCouncil of Trent.
bulletVatican Council.
bulletShould the Summa be Considered a

Chapter VII: Specimen Pages from the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas
bulletThe Cicerone's Humble Declaration.
bulletDifficulty of Choosing Specimens.
bulletDivision of the Summa Recalled.
bulletPrinciples of Pedagogy.
bulletPrologue to the Summa.
bulletHints to Teachers. Avoid Useless
bulletAvoid Repetitions.
bulletTeaching and Learning.
bulletSt. Thomas and the Necessity of
bulletOntologism and Kantism.
bulletSt. Thomas and Interpretation of Scripture.
bulletHuman Acts, Virtues and Vices, Original
bulletSin, Law, Grace.
bulletBest Form of Government.
bulletInfallibilty of the Pope.
bulletInfidels Not to Be Forced to Believe.
bulletChildren of Jews and Infidels.
bulletThe Incarnation.
bulletThe Eucharist.
bulletSt. Thomas and the Encyclicals of Leo XIII.



Summa Contra Gentiles

Online Text


Summa Theologica

Online Text



In a broad sense, Thomism is the name given to the system which follows the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas in philosophical and theological questions. In a restricted sense the term is applied to a group of opinions held by a school called Thomistic, composed principally, but not exclusively, of members of the Order of St. Dominic, these same opinions being attacked by other philosophers or theologians, many of whom profess to be followers of St. Thomas. To Thomism in the first sense are opposed, e.g., the Scotists, who deny that satisfaction is a part of the proximate matter (materia proxima) of the Sacrament of Penance...


Relevant to Aquinas

bulletA Biographical Dictionary of Ancient, Medieval, and Modern Freethinkers (by Joseph McCabe)
bulletScholasticism (by Joseph Rickaby, S.J.)


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