What Is a Thomist?

A Thomist is clearly a practitioner of Thomism, a branch of philosophy. What is Thomism? Who does it refer to? Is Thomism associated with religion and if so, which one? Are Thomists generally liberals or conservatives?

I just learned about Thomism yesterday. I was familiar of course with the man it is named after, but I did not realize a whole branch of philosophy had sprung up in his name as in Nietzscheans, Marxism, Aristotelians or Platonism.

A rather interesting subfield. So what is it anyway, all of you beyond highbrow types?

5 Comments

Filed under Catholicism, Christianity, Philosophy, Religion

5 responses to “What Is a Thomist?

  1. jeremy wong

    it is the philosophy of St Thomas Aquinas Doctor of the Roman Catholic church. Mainly it is the philisophical and religious teaching namely summa theological by St Thomas aquinas It is now studied by Roman Catholic priest trainee priest and bishops worldwide in the Western church
    source I am Greek Orthodox Catholic

  2. Johnny

    Not religious in the least here, but I do recall his interesting views regarding free will back when I took a History of Christianity class. I kind of agree with Aquinas that free will is a fallacy with a nod towards some form of determinism (minus any “god”). We all end up following some normative path that, if broken away from, can lead to some social ostracization or cause change.

  3. Ed

    St. Thomas Aquinas wrote extensively about everything, but the gist of what he accomplished was to import Aristotle’s philosophy into Christian theology. Thomism is basically Aristotle’s philosophy with a Christian spin.

    St. Thomas would write out arguments that he disagreed with accurately and persuasively, so ironically his writings are the main sources of information we have on heresies that otherwise would have been forgotten.

  4. I always thought of Aquinas as a Catholic Aristotlean. Creating a new philosophical school isn’t a linear process, and even the most original thinkers often end up being credited as forerunners of later schools.

  5. Some of these comments elide what’s involved with spinning or mixing ‘Aristotle’ with ‘Catholicism’. Scotus and Ockham did that too, and their epigonies have been sqabbling for centuries. Then there are ‘analytic Thomists’, ‘Laval Thomists’, and so on.

    Ed Feser’s blog will have some nice posts, and some books. He tends more polemic and conservative, but you get stuff laid out quickly and concisely. James Chastek is good, but an acquired taste. You’ll have to make an effort to get at what he’s talking about sometimes. Bill Vallicella has a few outsider’s takes, often engaging with Feser. David Oberberg has some short books on ethics and metaphysics, if you care to move beyond the blogs. Then there’s old, but not medieval, book-length stuff from the ‘manualists’, but if you’re not going to go hog-wild, leave that to one side.

    Politically, they run conservative to throne-and-altar reactionary (these days), but a lot of early century thomists had socialist sympathies.

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