During 2012, in a series of Saturday classes, Brother Brian Dybowski introduced students to Saint Thomas Aquinas, providing an understanding of his great contributions to civilization, including development of the discipline of philosophy, still unsurpassed today. Pope Leo XIII, in his Encyclical of 1879 called Aeterni Patris: on the Restoration of Christian Philosophy, wrote: “We exhort you, venerable brethren, in all earnestness to restore the golden wisdom of St. Thomas, and to spread it far and wide for the defense and beauty of the Catholic faith, for the good of society, and for the advantage of all the sciences.” From St. Thomas Aquinas Class Summary #5: Thomas fit speculation and revelation together into unified knowledge, the Thomistic Synthesis. It is an integral whole, each part mutually enlightening each other part. Thomas was a theologian on his knees, a contemplative whose prayer-life infused his writings. When asked how he learned all this, Thomas acknowledged: “at the foot of the cross”. Thomas did not share his prayer with us, but he did share the results of his prayer in his writings, both philosophical (commentaries on Aristotle’s books), and theological (commentaries on Scripture, and his summaries of conclusions from revealed truths).
See below for a complete list of class notes and the link to the full document.
From St. Thomas Aquinas Class Summary #6: Once Thomas recognized that the core of Aristotle’s synthesis, the integrating point, was Pure Act, he realized that everything in that synthesis relates to that point. All changes are variations of act overcoming the limits of not-yet. All parts of the synthesis reinforce each other by interacting. Thomas saw the same dynamic in revelation. From Abraham through the prophets God leads His people through a mass of confusing events… These accounts of faith-development through covenants with God puzzle us until Christ “explains the Scriptures”, Lk 24:27; 24:32, 24;45.ST THOMAS AQUINAS’ SYNTHESIS (Please click this link to reach the Class Notes listed below.)
Class Notes by Title1. General Introduction: Situate His Thought in Our World 2. A Sketch of How We Think 3. Our Spiritual Activities 4. How St. Thomas Uses This Act-Potency Distinction 5. Advantages of Aristotle’s Synthesis for St. Thomas, and for Us 6. A Synthesis Unifies Everything, in General 7. A Synthesis Unites Our Familiar Acts 8. A Synthesis Is Necessarily Logical 9. From Logic to Science 10. Science a la Thomas 11. Science Shows Nature’s Organization & Logical Structure 12. Reality Is As It Is: We Know It: How to Express Our Knowledge: Virtual Distinctions 13. Visual and Auditory Examples of Invisible and Inaudible Virtual Distinctions: All We Have Read 14. Review of Motion In Light of the Mechanical Model of the Dancing String 15. How Motion Shows the Necessity of an Unmoved Mover 16. Some of the Meaning of God’s Necessity 17. Other Ways to God’s Necessity 18. Some Ways to God’s Necessity Get There, Others Don’t 19. God’s Integrity Ensures Truth’s Unity 20. Minor Details Concerning Proofs of God’s Necessity 21. Why did Powerful Authorities of His Time Oppose Thomas? 22. Shining Examples of Synthesizing Speculation & Revelation 23. Ongoing Revelation in the Flesh 24. Certitude: Being Sure 25. Sources of our Knowledge of God 26. Revelation Fosters Our Most Complete Understanding 27. Rational Basis For Living Well (Ethics), and God’s Revealed Way to Live: Rational, or Speculative 28. Thomas’ Speculative Development in Summa Contra Gentiles: Philosophical Development of Ethics 29. Philosophical Development of Ethics in Summa Contra Gentiles 30. Ultimate Understanding of Evil: Summa Contra Gentiles 31. Evil Requires Good: Summa Contra Gentiles 32. The Act Which Deprives the Good, Spawning Evil : Summa Contra Gentiles 33. Evil Does Not Entirely Destroy Good : Summa Contra Gentiles 34. There is No Supreme Evil; All Beings Advance to Good: Summa Contra Gentiles