• Facebook Apostles

  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 10,914 other followers

    • 65,475 Visits
  • Recent Posts

  • Categories

Thomas Aquinas on Wisdom by Robert M. Woods

Thomas Aquinas on Wisdom

by Robert M. Woods

St. Thomas AquinasOn occasion, but it should be with great frequency, within the context of a class discussion or even a lesson at Church, the topic of wisdom is discussed. Frequently, but it should be on occasion, the definition is put forth as practical or applied learning. It is at times like these I desired that Thomas Aquinas’s definition of wisdom had won the day in Western civilization. In truth, the Liberal Arts would have done much better through the ages if his definition had been the one people lived by and taught.

For Thomas, and most Philosophers until the modern world, Philosophy was essentially the “love of wisdom.” To engage in the the practice of philosophy was the faithful pursuit of wisdom wherever it might be found. The primary understanding of truth was saying of a thing what was and not saying of a thing what was not. In a larger sense, wisdom was an understanding of the truth of things. Philosophy was not navel gazing and not ideological manipulation, but it was a diligent quest to understanding the good, the true, and the beautiful.

Thomas asserts (and I paraphrase) in the Summa Contra Gentiles I, 2: While humans are finite, among all the human pursuits, the pursuit of wisdom is the ultimate end, and it is the most noble, and the most useful, and that pursuit that can provide the greatest joy. Through Philosophy, we humans are more like God and can apprehend the truth of things which calls us to a better life.

It is also worth noting that among some of the greatest Philosophers in the Western intellectual tradition, there was no one more committed to prayer. Thomas, as a grand example of this, not only sought wisdom as part of his brilliant, intellectual, and knowledgeable endeavors, also, daily, prayed for wisdom.

This may surprise post-Enlightenment people that prior to the Enlightenment, wisdom was closely connected to reason. For them to reason, reflect, imagine, conjecture, was part of what it meant to act faithfully in accordance with being in the image of God. As it related to the four causes expounded by Aristotle and adhered to by Thomas, wisdom is an understanding of the final cause. Sadly, this has all but been lost in science and philosophy today.

Is it possible that one reason Philosophy is ridiculed by so many today as irrelevant and outdated is because it lost its way a few hundred years ago and has never fully found the way back to the path. If philosophy was still about the blending of the theoretical and the practical, the reflection and the proper moral action, one can imagine that there would be many who would come to love and live wisdom.

 

Advertisements

5 Responses

  1. […] Thomas Aquinas on Wisdom by Robert M. Woods (facebookapostles.org) […]

  2. […] Thomas Aquinas on Wisdom by Robert M. Woods (facebookapostles.org) prior to the Enlightenment, wisdom was closely connected to reason. For them to reason, reflect, imagine, conjecture, was part of what it meant to act faithfully in accordance with being in the image of God. As it related to the four causes expounded by Aristotle and adhered to by Thomas, wisdom is an understanding of the final cause. Sadly, this has all but been lost in science and philosophy today.Is it possible that one reason Philosophy is ridiculed by so many today as irrelevant and outdated is because it lost its way a few hundred years ago and has never fully found the way back to the path. If philosophy was still about the blending of the theoretical and the practical, the reflection and the proper moral action, one can imagine that there would be many who would come to love and live wisdom. […]

  3. In the first half of the 20th century Sophiology was all the rage among some Eastern Christians. Three Russian Orthodox thinkers come to mind: Vladimir Soloviev, Sergei Bulgakov and Pavel Florensky. They speculated about Divine Wisdom. There was also a Ukrainian Catholic, Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky (1865-1944) who was the head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church and a mystic who enjoined his people to pray daily for the gift of Divine Wisdom. Unlike the Russians, his thought did not cross the line into sometimes dangerous speculation, but was faithful to patristic tradition regarding Wisdom as the Second Divine Hypostasis and the underlying blueprint that gives meaning and order to the world. In some ideas Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky is very close to Thomas Aquinas. Sheptytsky tried to trace the continuum between Wisdom as the Pre-incarnate Son, wisdom as a gift of the Holy Spirit, as an infused virtue and a human characteristic. Those who knew the saintly archbishop often described him as supernaturally wise, which surely helped him guide his long-suffering Church through two terrible world wars and other enormous challenges, preparing it for the nearly half-century of dark persecution under the Soviet Russians, when it was the eirld’s largest banned religious body until Dec. 1, 1989. For an introduction to his thought see the book, Pray for God’s Wisdom: The Mystical Sophiology if Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky. Ottawa: Meteopolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute if Eastern Christian Studies, 1992. Available at http://www.sheptytskyinstitute.ca

  4. Reblogged this on Stepping Toes and commented:
    In which way has philosophy blended the theoretical and the practical many may wonder. In the early times there may have been the reflection and the proper moral action people wanted to take, but they were always bounded to their own limited thinking and their understanding of the world at that time.

    ‘Yesteryear’ as today we can find enough people who would love to think about what is going on in the world and how we can find solutions for our living better than today. There are many who would love to see more mutual understanding, love and wisdom.

  5. […] Thomas Aquinas on Wisdom by Robert M. Woods (facebookapostles.org) For Thomas, and most Philosophers until the modern world, Philosophy was essentially the “love of wisdom.” To engage in the the practice of philosophy was the faithful pursuit of wisdom wherever it might be found. The primary understanding of truth was saying of a thing what was and not saying of a thing what was not. In a larger sense, wisdom was an understanding of the truth of things. Philosophy was not navel gazing and not ideological manipulation, but it was a diligent quest to understanding the good, the true, and the beautiful. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: