Lecture 1: Introduction


    The present situation on many Catholic campuses. The remedies. ICU aims to make available the best of the Catholic intellectual patrimony to as wide an audience as possible. Courses like the present can be followed simply to get hold of or refresh one's knolwedge of moral philosophy as the Church understands it or taken for credit. Out of the Heart of the Church. Ex corde ecclesiae.

    Some years ago the idea was announced on EWTN and received the enthusiastic endorsement of Mother Angelica. Tapes of the courses have been made available for showing on EWTN.


    The word is of course Greek and it is impossible to have any conception at all of philosophy without thinking of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, 4th century BC. The coming of Xty and the attitudes of the Fathers toward pagan learning. Paul to the Colossians: videte ne quis. Beware lest anyone lead you astray through philosophy. But in Acts he proposes to link the gospel message to the unknown god. Augustine, Boethius, Anselm, Abelard . . . the absence of Aristotle and indeed of Plato too. The pursuit of wisdom -- throughout the Christian ages there is the continuing effort to compare the wisdom that is Christ and the wisdom of the philosophers. Thomas Aquinas.


    Modern philosophy begins with Descartes wanting to rinse his mind clean and start from scratch. Through the modern ages, believers have continued the age-old effort of comparing faith and reason. But some of the assumptions of modernity crept into Christian philosophy. The main difference: classically philosophy began with the assumption that many truths were known prior to the study of philosophy; with Descartes the assumption is made that unless some method is first learned one cannot know anything -- so the study of philosophy confers on one his first certified grasp of truth. Can the faith be accommodated to just any way of doing philosophy? Not if the philosophy calls into questions necessary presupposition of the transmission of the faith.


    Leo XIII in 1879: Aeterni Patris. Thomas as the great realist. GKC's insight that Thomas's central theme is the compatability and complementarity of faith and reason. When this does not occur, it is because reason has become scrambled. Leo thought that modern thought and culture had scrambled man's understanding of himself. The return to Thomas was not a call to tribal loyalty, or to a sectarian way of thought that would characterize believers and set them off from everyone else. Thomism is not one kind of philosophy among others -- wherever philosophy is effectively pursued its results -- truths -- will be compatible with truths already known -- and with truths God has revealed. Philosophia perennis


Thomas Aquinas, Selected Writings, Penguin Classic
Gilbert Keith Chesterton, St Thomas Aquinas
Josef Pieper, Guide to Thomas Aquinas
James Weisheipl, Friar Thomas d'Aquino
Ralph McInerny, A First Glance at Thomas Aquinas


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