I have two shelves of books by and on Aquinas, and when I bought this I expected to learn nothing new but to get a different insight into him. I was not disappointed on either score. Turner shocked me a bit when, early on, he deemed Aquinas a materialist. What he means by this is not the current philosophy of materialism born of logical positivism (the scientific method), which holds as foundational that the only reality is material reality, that there is no such dimension as the spiritual, or if there is, we cannot know about it. Aquinas' materialism is not that kind of materialism. Dr Turner explains that Aquinas' materialism is based on the reality of matter and that it is knowable, knowable because of abstraction which is per se nonmaterial in essence. He also maintains that Aquinas does not denigrate matter, as do the Platonists and such. Matter is good, matter has its own value. Humans are body and soul, matter and spirit, and the body has its value and meaning. Aquinas never maintains, as do many philosophers of bygone ages, and a lot of "spiritualities" of the present, that the body is wretched and of no count, that the soul is entrapped in the body like a bird in a cage, and yearns to be free. No, for Aquinas, and for Aristotle whose philosophy he uses and builds upon, the body is an essential part of what it is to be humans. We do not shed our bodies at death and "become angels." We are not angels entrapped in a body. More, while the nonmaterial soul (spirit) of a person survives death--defined as separation of body and soul, matter and spirit, material cause and formal cause--that surviving soul, spiritual and therefore incapable of decomposing, continues to exist as an immortal substance but is not a person. The reason? Aquinas says that a human person is matter, the body, "informed" by the soul, which defines man's nature as a rational animal. Upon death, the soul continues to exist, but not as a person. Only at the general resurrection when God reunites the souls of all those who ever lived with their bodies in some fashion known only to Him, is the person that we are reconstituted.
Dr Turner offers a fresh insight into the principles upon which Aquinas constructed his philosophy, a philosophy which he clearly states is handmaiden to revealed truth of the Judaeo-Christian tradition. It is delightful to see a small but brilliant number of philosophers returning to Aquinas; as G.K. Chesterton said, Aquinas is the philosopher of common sense, appealing to the common man. For Aquinas, matter is reality, the spiritual world is reality and knowable through the material world around us as detected by the five senses and processed through the material brain by the immortal substance that is our soul, or in the words of Aquinas, what "forms" the matter of our bodies to be human.
The price is extremely reasonable. The field of Aquinas is populated with books, most of them of specialist nature and expensive to boot. This one is not. I highly recommend it and in the future I intend to re-read it, for this book is a mine of insights that one reading alone will not exhaust.