Tommaso (trad. Thomas) of the Counts of Aquino, better known as the Aquinas, was born in Roccasecca in 1225 or 1226; historians do not have an exact account of his year of birth. In 1243 he entered the Dominican order in Naples. In 1252, he moved to Paris and five years later was appointed master in the Parisian university. In 1259, Thomas left Paris and returned to Italy. During his stay in the Bel Paese he wrote his main works: Summa against the Gentiles, the Second Commentary on the Sentences, Parts I and II of the Summa Theologica. In 1269 he returned to Paris to teach Theology. In 1272 he returned to Italy and was given a chair at the University of Naples. In 1274 Pope Gregory X entrusted him with the task of travelling to the Council of Leo, but during the journey Thomas fell ill and on his own will was transported to the Cistercian cloister of Fossanova, near Terracina, where he died in 1274.
Thomistic thought has its basis in the definition of the relationship between faith and reason. It can safely be said that Aquinas worked to leave to posterity the solution to the problem that, for centuries, has entangled many lofty minds, namely, that between revelation and reason, between Theology and Philosophy.
Theology is based on revelation, i.e. on otherworldly truths accepted by faith, and rationally derives from them the consequences that flow from them, which are in no way contrary to reason, but are beyond the specific possibilities of reason.
Philosophy is based on natural knowledge such as experience and reasoning, so it is an entirely autonomous branch, independent of faith and Theology. Philosophy can arrive at knowledge of the preambula fidei, i.e., the preliminaries of faith, provided they are accessible to reason, such as the immortality of the soul, the existence of God. Philosophy cannot pronounce on the revealed mysteries, such as the Incarnation of God and the Trinity, as they are beyond the capacity of reason but not in conflict with it.
In fact, Tommaso states that: “Faith and reason can be reconciled; indeed, reason serves human beings to question even certain enigmas of faith. The purpose of faith and reason is the same…”
For Aquinas, the relationship between Theology and Philosophy is harmonious and of complete independence, and he repeatedly affirmed this against the same believers, who like the Augustinian Franciscans denied the autonomy between the two disciplines, or like the Latin Averroists who denied harmony instead. Aquinas’ main concern was to base this relationship on an argument of faith, affirming that both revelation and reason have God, the creator of reason and author of revelation, as their sole source. Thomas thus comes to the conclusion that faith and reason do not contradict each other because one is the Truth, one and the same is the Divine.
A special quality of this great thinker of the Church is intellectual honesty, which allowed him to say: ‘When faith does not coincide with reason, one must refrain from giving reason to faith’.
Bibliography and Sitography:
Thomas Aquinas, The Disputed Questions
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