Thomas Aquinas: Summa Theologiae

(1266–1273)

Impact

Recognized as the authoritative expression of conceptualism, the Summa’s system of thought became appropriately known as Thomism. From the early fourteenth century onward, Thomism became one of several competing forms of Christian philosophy, alongside the realist Augustinianism (named after the early theological giant Augustine of Hippo [354–430]), the quasi-nominalism of John Duns Scotus (ca. 1266–1308), and the nominalism of William of Ockham (ca. 1280/88–1348/49). Accordingly, Pope John XXII canonized Aquinas as a saint and gave him the title “Angelic Doctor” in 1323. Because of its meticulous reason and logic, Thomism emerged as a valuable ally against sixteenth-century Protestantism and Anabaptism and secured its place as the leading school of Catholic thought. Thus Pope Pius V declared Aquinas the “Universal Doctor of the [Roman Catholic] Church” in 1567.

With the advent of the Enlightenment in the seventeenth century, many in the West came to embrace a secular...

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Thomas Aquinas holding a copy of the ”Summa theologia“ (Library of Congress)

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