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Selected Writings (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 25 Jun 1998

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Product details

  • Paperback: 880 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (25 Jun 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140436324
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140436327
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 3.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 681,708 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"There are readers of Aquinas's works, but Penguin's surpasses all by its sheer size, the very representative choice of texts, the excellent translations, and scholarly, informative introductions." --Albert E. Gunn

About the Author

Thomas Aquinas (1225-74) was an Italian philosopher and Dominican friar.

Ralph McInerny is Professor of Medieval Studies at the University of Notre Dame. Pre-eminent as a Thomas scholar, his many books include Aquinas Against the Averroists & A First Glance at St Thomas Aquinas.

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First Sentence
The following texts mark milestones in Thomas's academic career, although there is lack of agreement as to when the first sermon was preached. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By D Major on 27 Aug 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm a bit disappointed with this collection. You can see from the "look inside" utility what the contents are, but this is a little misleading. The editor decided to compile the selection from Aquinas' own chronology, so excerpts are grouped according periods in his life. This would be fine, but the excerpts themselves are not always self-contained. For example, the Summa 1 54-8 is included (on angelic knowledge). To explore this field Aquinas draws on arguments and definitions from the the preceding section from the summa which isn't in this collection. If you know how this kind of clause by clause argumentation proceeds then what you have here essentially is a jigsaw with many missing pieces. In order to comprehend the argument properly Aquinas needs to refer back to earlier definitions and conclusions about angelic substance and being etc. all of which is discussed in earlier sections not included here. From the included section you will not get a lot. Aquinas also draws on some of Aristotle's work - but there are no editorial notes explaining the key points of this.

The editor might have introduced the section on angels summarizing the argument from the previous, missing, section and defining terms. Instead he just tells the reader that the selection "provides a sense of Thomas's teaching on the angels". It seems to me that to delve into this kind of work the reader wants more than just 'a sense'. The point is to know what the arguments are and how they work. Surely that's the whole point of engaging with Aquinas. I bought another selection at the same time: Aquinas
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 11 reviews
88 of 92 people found the following review helpful
Great Compilation Work 25 Aug 2000
By T. B. Vick - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is a compilation of works written by Aquinas. The book is edited by Ralph McInerny (Notre Dame) and contains all the important works of Aquinas. For instance, some of the works (or parts of works) included are: On Being and Essence, Theology, Faith, and Reason. On Boethius, The Meanings of Truth, On Creation, On Human Choice, On Law and Natural Law, The Virtues, The Logic of the Incarnation, Exposition of Paul's Epistle to Philemon, and much, much more. Moreover, McInerny includes a nice introduction that discusses Aquinas's life, works, and the impact of Thomism through the centuries. There is also a Chronology that includes important dates and events. This book is 841 pages of total Thomas. It is a great work to have if you are wanting to simply read some of the more important works by Aquinas or if you are wanting to dig a little deeper into the works of Aquinas. ... I highly recommend this book.
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
A Good Anthology of St. Thomas Aquinas' Thought 25 May 2007
By James E. Egolf - Published on
Format: Paperback
Ralph McInerny's edition of St. Thomas Aquinas' thought is a good introduction for anyone who is interesting in one of the great Catholic and Christian thinkers. Mr. McInerny has good comments on Aquinas'life and intellectual foundations. These selections provide good coverage of Aquinas' views on several important issues such as the nature of God and the nature of Man.

Some of McInerny's selections of Aguinas' work includes selections from Aquinas' SUMMA THEOLOGICA and his SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES. These selections give the reader a good introduction before one tackles the entire corpus of these works.

Another useful feature of McInerny's edition are the selections of Aquinas' views on "ultimate values and questions." For example, Aquinas' view on Man as God's creation is representative of Aquinas' concern for the dignity men. This selection is a good antidote to the arguement of predestination. In fact, based on McInerny's selection, Aquinas thought more of men and gave men more dignity than any 19th or 20th pllitical leader ever has. The mass destruction of people during the 20th century may reminder that Aquinas ideas are important.

One question that Aquinas dealt with was the Nature of God. Aquinas handled this issue with precision and care. McInerny's inclusion of this section is good in that it shows Aquinas as a serious thinker who was not arrogant. In other words, Aquinas never claimed more than he could prove,and he was honest enough to admit this.

For those who are devout Catholics, McIreney included a sermon Aquinas delivered a thoughtful sermon on the Ava Maria and the status of the Virgin Mary. Aquinas justifies the Catholic belief and devotion to St. Mary based on his careful knowledge of the Bible. Aquinas informs the reader the saluation given to St. Mary is the most dignified in the Bible. For those who are not Catholic, this reviewer's comments to convince interested readers, but those who are not Catholic can learn why the status of St. Mary (Notre Dame or Our Lady) is so important to Catholicism.

McInerney has other selections of Free Will or choice, the nature of good vs. evil, the Sacraments, etc. McIrenery's use of these materials and Aquinas' work on these topics well defines Catholic beliefs and gives a rational bassis for them.

Bascially, McInerny edited a good introducion to Aquinas' thinking which is a welcome relief in "an age of cheap religion and thin philosophy." Readers would also do well to read Mr. Hunter's review which is very good. A good companion volume is G.K. Chesterton's book re St. Thomas Aquinas. Catholics and non-Catholics can benefit from McInerny's anthology to have a better understanding of Catholicism and Christianity. This book gives good reasons which may replace blind faith.
79 of 92 people found the following review helpful
Theological Godzilla! 9 Nov 2001
By Kendal B. Hunter - Published on
Format: Paperback
First of all, I am not Roman Catholic, but a memeber of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, so I have a bias--in the other direction!
However, my denominational difference does not diminish my burning admiration for this theological Godzilla. Gov. Jesse Ventura once commented that religion was for weak-minded people. I don't think "The Body" could last two rounds against "The Dumb Ox." In fact, I would prefer Aquinas over Socrates, Plato, and Aristoltle . . . combined!
This book is the best survey of this Catholic's corpulent corpus of comentary. Included are ample slices of the Summa Contra Gentile and Summa theologica, including selections from his essays on Law and Happiness. Another gem is a selection from Aquinas's comments on Boethius's "On The Trinity."
The selections cross the time and space of Aquinas's life, but morte importantly you get a cross-secton of his thought on everything.
I would reccomed this book to any good Catholic, or any curious non-Catholic. It is also useful for philosophy students, and honest truth-seekers everywhere.
ONLY ONE MISTAKE: Ralph McInerny left out "The Five Ways" of the proof of God's existence. This is like doing a boigraphy on George Lucas and not mentioning Star Wars! An unforgiveable sin! Hence, I took one star off my rating.
24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Should Have Been Much Better 22 Mar 2011
By S. Schuler - Published on
Format: Paperback
This edition of Thomas Aquinas's works provides an acceptable representation of his whole corpus, from his earliest inaugural sermons to his Summa, and the selections cover the majority of Thomas's dominant concerns--the nature of God, the nature of being, natural law, angels, ethics, among others. The introduction is informative, focusing on placing Thomas within his medieval context and sketching his strong but complicated debt to Aristotle. There are other helpful sections, such as a chronology of Thomas's life and works, as well as a brief glossary of important names, though there is no glossary of philosophical terms used by Thomas. I selected this volume as a textbook for a great-books course, and while I expected my students to struggle with the content, this volume intensified that struggle in ways it should not have.

First, as has been mentioned in other reviews, the selections leave out a few crucial elements of Thomas's corpus. The five proofs of God's existence and the argument on just war are missing. These are arguably some of the most influential questions Aquinas addresses, and to leave them out is a travesty. (The book also omits all of his hymns.) It is in the nature of a "selected works" volume that somebody's favorite passage will be omitted, but the editor/translator might have exercised a bit more prudence in his selections.

Secondly, and I think more importantly, the selections in this volume do not always represent Thomas at his best, and the editor/translator seems to have made selections too much on the basis of demonstrating Thomas's "development" as a thinker. For example, the selection on the freedom of the will is taken from Thomas's collection of "Disputed Questions," in which the first article lists no less than 24 different objections, the whole article taking up nearly 13 closely-printed pages. Essentially the same material is covered in the Summa, but in a fraction of the space. Although it is understandable that the editor/translator would want to include material from all of Thomas's major works, he ends up making Thomas much less accessible than he might have been.

Finally, I should say something about the literary style of the translation. In general, the translation renders Thomas's language in a precise, consistent style that stands up to Thomas's philosophical rigor. That is no mean accomplishment, and the translator is to be congratulated on his clarity. On the other hand, the translation omits much of the standard stylistic framework in which Thomas presents his arguments. While other translations use the stock Scholastic introductions such as "We proceed thus to the N-th article," and "I answer that . . .," this translation omits some (but not all) of these traditional phrases. This omission may seem to be a minor, and even irrelevant point. On the contrary, such phrases are important, first because a writer's content is ultimately inseparable from his or her style, and secondly because these stock phrases quickly become part of the reader's working philosophical vocabulary. We read Thomas not just to learn what is true and rational, but also to learn how to express our ideas in a clear, precise, and ordered manner. And ironically, I have found that translations that omit such formulae in the interests of "readability" end up being less readable than those that maintain them.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Thomas Aquinas=brilliance 13 July 2013
By Mike - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Every time I read Thomas' works, I am amazed by the wisdom. It seems that nothing is too complex for him to explain succinctly.
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