Thomas Aquinas: The Conflict, the Harmony and the Saint
During the High Middle Ages, Western Europe underwent rigorous reform. Through the rapidly increasing population and production of intellectual, artistic and spiritual works, thirteenth century philosophers, theologians and Christian thinkers were faced with a quandary. The central question was directed at “the attitude being taken toward Aristotle…by theologians committed to a Christian view of the nature of God, man, and the universe” (“St. Thomas Aquinas”). A clash of science and religion arose and peaked during Western Europe during the majority of the thirteenth century. The collision can be split into separate feuds, Christianity versus the writings of the philosopher Aristotle, faith versus reason, and theology versus philosophy. Christian belief relied on theology and faith without interference from reason, whereas the writings of Aristotle held reason and philosophy above all faith and theology. The constant feud between the two perspectives led to Western European corruption, most profoundly in the Catholic Church.
St. Thomas Aquinas, a man who was capable of appeasing the turmoil, reformed thirteenth century Christianity by fusing theology and philosophy. Born near Aquino Italy in 1227, Aquinas began his education in a monastery at the age of five, thus beginning his career involving religious affairs. In around 1243, Aquinas single handedly decided to join the Dominican Order, a Roman Catholic order of mendicant preachers (“Thomas Aquinas”). However, his family severely opposed his decision, enough for them to “besiege… [him] with prayers, threats, and even sensual temptation to make him relinquish his purpose” (“Thomas Aquinas”). Thomas opposed his family’s strict requests and went to study under Albertus Magnus, resulting in him settling in Paris where he began his teaching career. The multiple years spent with Magnus were a great influence on Thomas’ philosophical development, making him a comprehensive scholar. In addition, during these years, Thomas began writing several of his famous works, such as the Summa Theologica and the Summa Contra Gentiles. The peak of Thomas’ life was when he took up residence in Rome. Here, he expanded upon more of his writings as well as concluding several of them. Furthermore, during his time in Rome, Aquinas created a theological and philosophical system, bringing connections between faith and reason, theology and philosophy, and Christianity and Aristotalienism, reforming thirteenth century Christian thought.
The thirteenth century uprising and peaking conflict of faith versus reason and science versus religion was brought about by the clashing of two belief systems: Christianity, including Augustinians who practice the beliefs of St. Augustus of Hippo, and Aristotlianism. Christian theologians, such as St. Thomas Aquinas, committed to a Christian view of God, man, and the universe. The writings of Aristotle, which Aquinas studied and agreed with thoroughly, instigated Christian theology to appear less necessary as the avenue of truth, causing uproar in the Christian practice. The avenue of truth was the way one unearths or discovers an observation to be true. In Christian belief, faith in God and the spiritual world was the basis of the avenue of truth. Aristotle’s philosophy called for more reason laced into the avenue of truth, conflicting with the traditional principles of Christianity. The avenue of truth was now accessible to man through natural reason, without any necessary revelation from God (“St. Thomas Aquinas”). Augustinians followed the beliefs of Augustine of Hippo, a church father who influenced much of Western Christianity by begetting the involvement of faith in Christian religion. Their belief system was based on theology; they “placed faith in God’s revelation of Christ as the foundation for knowledge” (Garret). During the thirteenth century conflict, nearly all education was through...
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