Summa Contra Gentiles v. 2; Creation: Creation v. 2 Paperback – 30 Nov 1976
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About the Author
St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) is a Doctor of the church. He was an Italian Dominican friar and Roman Catholic priest who was an influential philosopher, theologian, and jurist in the tradition of scholasticism. Canonized in 1323 by Pope John XXII, Aquinas was the foremost classical proponent of natural theology and the father of Thomism.
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This volume, the second volume in the work, "Creation", is more demanding. When the reader reaches the chapters concerning the intellect, the reader may well feel in reading it that he has come in on the middle of a long and complex argument. The reason that he may feel this way is because that is what he has done.
The center of the controversy is Aristotle's analysis of the intellect. His exposition on that point was not successful if we measure success by the ability of intelligent careful readers to come to a shared understanding of what he thought. Thomas's part in these controversies are the heart of this, the second volume of "Summa Contra Gentiles".
While the best thing that the reader could do to prepare himself to read this book would be to be well-read in Aristotle in general (and his "De Anima" in particular), that may not be possible for all readers. Therefore, as an aid to readers, this review will present the key terms in the controversy and what they meant (at least what they meant to Thomas)*:
Sensible - objects of sense - things that can be seen, heard, felt, tasted or smelled. Individual houses would be sensible. Contrast with "intelligible".
Intelligible - objects of reason - things that can be understood, but not sensed. The concept of "house" would be intelligible. Contrast with "sensible".
Phantasm - a sensation, whether the immediate result of the sight, hearing, touch, smell or taste of a sensible object, or a recollection of one of those sensations, or an imagined sensation. Contrast with "knowledge".
Knowledge - a correctly understood intelligible object; remembered sensations are not themselves knowledge. Contrast with "phantasm".
Memory - the repository where phantasms can be kept for later recall. Images of houses could be kept here so as to enable later recognition of them. Contrast with "possible intellect".
Possible intellect - the repository where knowledge is kept. Knowledge of what "house" means would be kept here. Contrast with "memory".
Cognitive power - sometimes used to refer to the intellect, sometimes more narrowly to the power that responds to phantasms - for example the ability to see a house, recall the image from memory, and recognize that house. Contrast with "agent intellect".
Agent intellect - the power that deals with knowledge - both in creating new knowledge from phantasms and from previously existing knowledge. Contrast with "cognitive power".
Soul - when classical philosophers debated what "the soul" was, what they were debating was what differentiated living things from non-living things. While Thomas followed Aristotle in the view that the soul was the form of the body (i.e. - what differentiated living things from non-living was not what they were made of, but how they were put together)
Nutritive soul - that most general power of the soul by which life is present in anything: its operations being reproduction and the use of nutriment. All living things have a nutritive soul.
Sensitive soul - that power of the soul through which a living thing is aware of its environment, as through touch, smell, taste, hearing and sight. The difference between animals and plants is that animals have a sensitive soul while plants do not.
Intellectual soul - that power of the soul that gives the ability to reason. According to Thomas, the intellectual soul differs from the nutritive and sensitive soul in that it is not just a form, but a substance as well, and so can exist without the body. Much of "Summa Contra Gentiles: Creation" is devoted to establishing this doctrine against competing doctrines of Plato, Alexander, Avicenna, and Averroes, among others.
Separate substances - intellectual beings without bodies, such as angels.
* In my review of "Summa Contra Gentiles: God", I included definitions for more basic Aristotelian terms than these, such as form, matter, substance, etc. Readers unfamiliar with these more basic terms might want to read that review.
The titles of the five volumes are as follows:
Summa Contra Gentiles: God
Summa Contra Gentiles: Creation
Summa Contra Gentiles: Providence, Part I
Summa Contra Gentiles: Providence, Part II*
Summa Contra Gentiles: Salvation
Each volume is formally divided into about 100 short chapters. A typical chapter gets its title from some proposition that is to be affirmed, or in some cases refuted. Each paragraph is an argument in support (or denial) of that proposition. The chapters are themselves ordered so that the later chapters build on what the arguments in the earlier chapters have established, and it is this arrangement of chapters that constitutes the real structure of "Summa Contra Gentiles".
Although in his later "Summa Theologica", Thomas formalized the higher-level structure of his writing, he did not do so here, which somewhat complicates any presentation of this structure - the book titles are so high level that they give little feel of the work, and the chapter titles so numerous that the reader is easily overwhelmed by a list of them.
In order to give the reader some sense of the overall work, I've prepared an outline of the work that (hopefully) is short enough to be readily comprehensible and long enough to give the reader an understanding of what topics are covered and in what order. This outline is presented below:
1.0 Summa Contra Gentiles: God
1.1 Intention of the Work (1 - 2)
1.2 Truths of Reason and Revelation (3 - 9)
1.3 That God Exists (10 - 13)
1.4 That God is Eternal (14 - 20)
1.5 God's Essence (21 - 28)
1.6 That God is Known (29 - 36)
1.7 That God is Good, One and Infinite (37 - 44)
1.8 God's Intellect and Knowledge (44 - 71)
1.9 God's Will (72 - 96)
1.10 God's Life and Beatitude (97 - 102)
2.0 Summa Contra Gentiles: Creation
2.1 Purpose of the Work (1 - 5)
2.2 That God is the Creator of All Things (6)
2.3 God's Power Over His Creation (7 - 29)
2.4 For and Against the Eternity of the World (30 - 38)
2.5 The Distinction of Things (39 - 45)
2.6 Intellectual Substances (46 - 55)
2.7 The Intellect, the Soul and the Body (57 - 78)
2.8 Immortality of Man's Soul (79 - 82)
2.9 Origin of Man's Soul (83 - 89)
2.10 On Non-human (Angelic) Intellects (90 - 101)
3.0 Summa Contra Gentiles: Providence (Parts I and II)
3.1 Prologue (1)
3.2 Good, Evil, and God as the End of All Things (2 - 25)
3.3 Human Felicity (26 - 63)
3.4 How God's Providence Works (64 - 94)
3.5 Prayer and Miracles, Magic and Demons (95 - 110)
3.6 Rational Creatures and Divine Law (111 - 130)
3.7 Voluntary Poverty and Continence (131 - 138)
3.9 Rewards and Punishments (139 - 147)
3.10 Sin, Grace, and Predestination (148 - 163)
4.1 Forward (1)
4.2 The Trinity (2 - 16)
4.3 The Incarnation (27 - 55)
4.4 The Sacraments (56 - 78)
4.5 The Resurrection (79 - 97)
* in searching for Part II of "Providence" in Amazon's book catalog, be sure to search by the full title, or the search results may just return part I.
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