Destiny of Body and Soul: Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas on Human Finitude

Topics: Soul, Life, Thomas Aquinas Pages: 22 (6967 words) Published: March 14, 2013
The Destiny of Body and Soul: St. Thomas Aquinas and Aristotle On Human Finitude

A Term Paper
Presented to the
Faculty of Arts and Letters AB Philosophy
University of Santo Tomas


In Partial Fulfillment of
The Requirements in the
History of Western Philosophy


Submitted By:
Sem. Ariel Joseph A. Batondo
March 2013

Table of Contents

Title Page

Chapter I

A. Introduction

B. Review of Related Literature
Chapter II

A. Human Person: A Union of Material and Immaterial, His Nature and His Perfection

B. Death revealed in Science
I. What is Death in Science?
II. Fear of Death
III. Death as Punishment
IV. Life after Death

B. Annihilation: Possible or Impossible?

D. Death as Bridge for a Continued Existence

Chapter III

A. Summary and Conclusion

B. Ideogram



A. Introduction

Death brings man’s life to fulfillment.[1]
-Romano Guardini

The most vital question in any study of the nature of death is this: in what sense can death be said to be the destiny of Man? This will help us to answer further questions about the natural character of death and help us to understand Christ’s death and our own. Another question is about death, whether expressed or not, is at the heart of human existence. It gives us questions such as, why do people die? Were we born to die? Is there something in us that persist after our life passes forth the portals of inexistence? These questions are manifestations of an instinctive preference to life. But an examination of death which this paper embarks would hopefully bring us to an alternative standpoint of viewing, not death, but life. One who takes death seriously appreciates life more, while one who understands death cannot hate life.[2] Because death is a landmark that escapes no one[3], it is a reality that everyone must face with courage and joy though veiled at first with fear and anxiety. There is this feeling of fear, anxiety and anguish because one does not know what to expect. There is no certainty of what happens to us after this life. St. Thomas gives us his insinuation as he commented on when Aristotle says that, “Death is the worst of evils, and happiness is the greatest of perfections.”[4] Now, happiness is a kind of activity, and a dead man does not seem to have any activity, the dead therefore cannot be called happy.[5] It is clear that Aristotle, just like many of us, also, considers death as something that is negative or something that implies evil, the lost of happiness. This is explicable on the part of Aristotle since his inquiry focuses on the “now,” and that concept of the “after-life” was not convenient at the time, or more precisely, he was a pagan. Nevertheless, St. Thomas then answers why we think this way when he says that, “The Philosopher is not here speaking about happiness in the future life, but of happiness in the present life.”[6] With this in mind, the study attempts to associate Aristotle’s concept of death with Aquinas’ concept of the after-life, which should help us understand death as to how it should be understood. I will try to extend Aristotle’s discussion on death and happiness in this world through Aquinas’ inquiry on the after-life. It is as though Aristotle says that, the soul separates from the body. Other way around, Aquinas says that the soul separates from the body and proceeds to where it should go. This I will explain as we progress in our inquiry. The first part of this paper therefore focuses on Aristotle’s and Aquinas’ concepts of death. Aristotle begins his discussion with the argument that...
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