Is Theology Necessary? Aquinas Sent. Book 1 Question 1 Article 1
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Hello, I’m Dr. Anadale. I teach philosophy at
Mount Saint Mary’s University in Emmitsburg. Maryland. Our text for today is the beginning of Thomas
Aquinas’ Commentary on the Sentences. First, a word about the work’s format. Thomas begins each section of his Commentary,
called an Article, by stating a problem under discussion, usually as a yes or no question. Then he gives arguments, reasons for giving
one answer to the question, either yes or no, usually the obvious or common-sense answer,
the one that would occur to us first when we first heard the question. And then he gives us a section called On the
Contrary, where he gives arguments for the opposite answer. So Thomas begins by stating a question and
then always by stating arguments on both sides of the issue, so we have a full sense of the
different issues involved in answering the question that we’re dealing with. Then Thomas gives his solution. This often will come in the form of some kind
of philosophical distinction or attention to detail which will allow us to uncover Thomas’
answer to the question. After he gives his answer to the question,
drawing on some new distinction, he will then go back, in the Ad sections at the end of
the Article, to refute the arguments which he began with. He shows why we should no longer regard those
arguments as persuasive. The question in Article 1 is: Is another discipline
beyond the natural disciplines necessary for men? Thomas is arguing that philosophy by itself
is not sufficient to give us human happiness, ultimate human happiness. Happiness, he wants to argue, will require
another doctrine, namely theology, which goes beyond what natural human reason is capable of. So the issue with the yes or no answer to
this question is whether the philosophical life is complete and whether it accounts for
the highest happiness that human beings are capable of. This is what Plato and Aristotle thought,
but Thomas as a Christian philosopher will argue that the Greek and pagan view is incomplete,
that the happiness we can get through philosophy, through understanding the truth, is only partial
as a constituent of total human happiness, and that to understand the full reality of
what human flourishing and human happiness consists in, we need to turn to another science,
namely theology, to explain our relationship to God. Thomas then gives five arguments. He gives three arguments for answering no
to this question, no other discipline beyond the natural disciplines of philosophy and
science are required for human beings. And he also gives two On the Contrary arguments
in favor of the yes answer. These are arguments that are fairly easy to
reconstruct in premise-premise-conclusion form, so my first study question for you is
just that: rewrite each of these five arguments in premise and conclusion form. Identify the conclusion that Thomas comes
to. Look for indicator words, and identify the
evidence which he gives as a reason, a good reason, for believing each of the conclusions
that he establishes. Thomas’ solution to the question of whether
another discipline beyond philosophy is required in order to explain human flourishing hinges
on his making a distinction between two types of contemplation. So this is my second study question for you:
what are these two types of contemplation and how are they different from each other? Then we can take a look at how Thomas uses
this distinction, two types of contemplation, type 1 and type 2, to explain the seeming
plausibility of the five arguments that he’s presented previously and to give, in his Ad
responses at the end of the Article, his refutation of those previous arguments, showing why they
no longer hold force. That’s my introduction to Article 1 of Thomas’s
Commentary on the Sentences. Thanks for watching today; goodbye. [Music]

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