On Being, On Man and His Soul, On Cognition, On Ethics...

About Being

Proceeding largely from the teachings of Aristotle, Aquinas viewed God as the root cause and ultimate goal of being, as a "pure form", "pure relevance". The essence of the whole corporeal is the unity of form and matter. It is they who are the real supersensible inner principles, which form all real thing, all bodily in general. According to Aquinas, matter is only the successor of successive forms, "pure potency", for only through form is a thing of a certain kind and kind. In addition, the form acts as the target cause of the formation of things, and the cause of the individual identity of things (the principle of individuation) is the "received impression" matter of an individual. Relying on the late Aristotle, Aquinas canonized the Christian understanding of the relationship between the ideal and the material as the ratio of the original principle of form ("the principle of order") to the vacillating and unsteady principle of matter ("weakest species of being"). The fusion of the first principle of form and matter gives birth, according to Aquinas, a world of individual phenomena. This last provision put a point on і in one of the most acute debatable issues of Christian scholasticism. The emerging Christianity, and hence the scholasticism, could not but be concerned with the interpretation of their attitude to matter, since the third person of the supreme absolute deity, Jesus Christ, was, according to the Bible, manifested in the image of a person, i.e. united in itself both the divine (ideal) and the human (material-bodily) nature. The mere fact of this association did not give the opportunity to completely ignore matter like "nothing" (which was demanded by the dogma of creation from nothing), therefore the qualification of matter by Aquinas with the help of a whole system of refined reasoning as the "weakest species of being" was perceived by the church as a way out of the logical impasse. Matter, therefore, received in the scholasticism a partial "justification". Following Aristotle, the existing Aquinas divided into substances and accidents. The latter are attributes, properties of the substance (quality, quantity, attitude, place, time, etc.) and are the definitions of the substance.

About the man and his soul

In the treatment of Aquinas, the individuality of a person is a personal unity of the soul and body, it is the soul that has the life-giving power of the human body. The soul is immaterial and self-existent: it is a substance that finds its fullness only in unity with the body. But corporeality has an essential significance: it is through it that the soul can only form what is human. The soul always has a unique personality. According to Aquinas, the bodily principle of man organically co-operates in the spiritual-mental activity of the individual. It turns out that he thinks, experiences, aims not the body and the soul themselves, but they are in their merged unity. He expressed a subtle and deeply true idea: since some people have particularly finely arranged bodies, their souls have great powers of understanding. Personality, according to Aquinas, is the "most noble" in all reasonable nature. Thomas adhered to the idea of ​​the immortality of the soul.

About cognition

The fundamental principle of cognition, according to Aquinas, is the real existence of the universal, which exists threefold: to things (in the mind of God as the ideas of future things, as eternal ideal prototypes of being), "in things", after obtaining concrete realization, and "after things" - in human thinking as a result of operations of abstraction and generalization. Man has two cognitive abilities - feeling and intellect. Cognition begins with sensory experience under the influence of external objects. But not all the being of the object is perceived, but only that in it, which is likened to the subject. When a cognizer enters the soul, the cognized loses its materiality and can enter it only as "species". View object is its knowable way. The thing exists simultaneously outside of us in all its being and within us as an image. Thanks to the image representing the element of being of the thing, which at the same time is similar to the soul, the object enters the soul, into the spiritual realm of thoughts. At the same time, sensual images first arise, and from them the intellect abstracts the "intelligible images."


In his ethical views, Aquinas rely on the principle of the free will of man, the doctrine of what exists as a good and about God as an absolute good and evil as a lack of this good. The most important idea in the ethic of Aquinas is the concept that bliss is the ultimate goal of human aspirations. It consists in the most excellent human activity - in the activity of the theoretical mind, in the knowledge of truth for the sake of truth itself and, therefore, primarily in the knowledge of absolute truth, God. According to Aquinas, without divine grace, eternal bliss is unattainable.

About society and the state

In the treatise "On the reign of the princes" Aquinas give a synthesis of Aristotelian ethical ideas and an analysis of the Christian doctrine of the divine management of the universe, as well as the theoretical principles of the Roman church. Following Aristotle, he proceeds from the premise that man by nature is a social being. The main goal of state power is to promote the common good, preserve peace and justice in society, help the subjects to lead a virtuous way of life and have the necessary blessings for this. He preferred the monarchical form of government, but believed that if the monarch turned out to be a tyrant, the people have the right to oppose the tyrant and tyranny as a rule of government.

Thomas Aquinas completed the building of the building of Catholic theology. Since the XIV century. and to this day his teaching is recognized by the Catholic Church as the leading direction of the philosophical world view (in 1323 Thomas Aquinas was ranked among the saints).

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