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Go to the Index of 120 Philosophers Squared

Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274)  is considered the Catholic Church’s greatest theologian and philosopher. For those with faith, no evidence is necessary; for those without it, no evidence will suffice.

Thomas Aquinas

Thomas Aquinas, a key religious philosopher of the Catholic Church


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Thomas Aquinas quotes

Everything I have written seems like straw by comparison with what I have seen and what has been revealed to me.

A man has free choice to the extent that he is rational.

Most men seem to live according to sense rather than reason.

Distinctions drawn by the mind are not necessarily equivalent to distinctions in reality.

Human salvation demands the divine disclosure of truths surpassing reason.

Three things are necessary for the salvation of man: to know what he ought to believe; to know what he ought to desire; and to know what he ought to do.

We can’t have full knowledge all at once. We must start by believing; then afterwards we may be led on to master the evidence for ourselves.

Faith has to do with things that are not seen, and hope with things that are not in hand.

For those with faith, no evidence is necessary; for those without it, no evidence will suffice.

Whatever is received is received according to the nature of the recipient.

Clearly the person who accepts the Church as an infallible guide will believe whatever the Church teaches

If our opponent believes nothing of divine revelation, there is no longer any means of proving the articles of faith by reasoning, but only of answering his objections — if he has any — against faith. Since faith rests upon infallible truth, and since the contrary of a truth can never be demonstrated, it is clear that the arguments brought against faith cannot be demonstrations, but are difficulties that can be answered.

Obedience unites us so closely to God that it in a way transforms us into Him, so that we have no other will but His.

If obedience is lacking, even prayer cannot be pleasing to God.

Three conditions are necessary for Penance: contrition, which is sorrow for sin, together with a purpose of amendment; confession of sins without any omission; and satisfaction by means of good works.

There must be a first mover existing above all – and this we call God.

The truth can be perceived only through thinking, as is proven by Augustine.

The blessed in the kingdom of heaven will see the punishments of the damned, in order that their bliss be more delightful for them.

That the saints may enjoy their beatitude and the grace of God more abundantly they are permitted to see the punishment of the damned in hell.

The Study of philosophy is not that we may know what men have thought, but what the truth of things is.

We must love them both, those whose opinions we share and those whose opinions we reject, for both have labored in the search for truth, and both have helped us in finding it.

The truth of our faith becomes a matter of ridicule among the infidels if any Catholic, not gifted with the necessary scientific learning, presents as dogma what scientific scrutiny shows to be false.

What is natural cannot be changed while nature remains.* But contrary opinions cannot be in the same mind at the same time: therefore no opinion or belief is sent to man from God contrary to natural knowledge. And therefore the Apostle says: The word is near in thy heart and in thy mouth, that is, the word of faith which we preach (Rom. x, 8). But because it surpasses reason it is counted by some as contrary to reason, which cannot be. To the same effect is the authority of Augustine (Gen. ad litt. ii, 18) : ” What truth reveals can nowise be contrary to the holy books either of the Old or of the New Testament.” Hence the conclusion is evident, that any arguments alleged against the teachings of faith do not proceed logically from first principles of nature, principles of themselves known, and so do not amount to a demonstration; but are either probable reasons or sophistical; hence room is left for refuting them.
Those truths are self-evident which are recognised at once, as soon as the terms in which they are expressed are known. Such a truth is the assertion that God exists: for by the name ‘God’ we understand something greater than which nothing can be thought. This notion is formed in the understanding by whoever hears and understands the name ‘God,’ so that God must already exist at least in the mind. Now He cannot exist in the mind only: for what is in the mind and in reality is greater than that which is in the mind only; but nothing is greater than God, as the very meaning of the name shows: it follows that the existence of God is a self-evident truth, being evidenced by the mere meaning of the name.

[…] the believer and the philosopher consider creatures differently. The philosopher considers what belongs to their proper natures, while the believer considers only what is true of creatures insofar as they are related to God, for example, that they are created by God and are subject to him, and the like.

All that is true, by whomsoever it has been said has its origin in the Spirit.

Better to illuminate than merely to shine to deliver to others contemplated truths than merely to contemplate.

THE Divine Wisdom, that knows all things most fully, has deigned to reveal these her secrets to men, and in proof of them has displayed works beyond the competence of all natural powers, in the wonderful cure of diseases, in the raising of the dead, and what is more wonderful still, in such inspiration of human minds as that simple and ignorant persons, filled with the gift of the Holy Ghost, have gained in an instant the height of wisdom and eloquence.* By force of the aforesaid proof, without violence of arms, without promise of pleasures, and, most wonderful thing of all, in the midst of the violence of persecutors, a countless multitude, not only of the uneducated but of the wisest men, flocked to the Christian faith, wherein doctrines are preached that transcend all human understanding, pleasures of sense are restrained, and a contempt is taught of all worldly possessions. That mortal minds should assent to such teaching is the greatest of miracles, and a manifest work of divine inspiration leading men to despise the visible and desire only invisible goods. Nor did this happen suddenly nor by chance, but by a divine disposition, as is manifest from the fact that God foretold by many oracles of His prophets that He intended to do this. The books of those prophets are still venerated amongst us, as bearing testimony to our faith. This argument is touched upon in the text: Which (salvation) having begun to be uttered by the Lord, was confirmed by them that heard him even unto us, God joining in the testimony by signs and portents and various distributions of the Holy Spirit (Heb. ii, 3, 4). This so wonderful conversion of the world to the Christian faith is so certain a sign of past miracles, that they need no further reiteration, since they appear evidently in their effects. It would be more wonderful than all other miracles, if without miraculous signs the world had been induced by simple and low-born men to believe truths so arduous, to do works so difficult, to hope for reward so high. And yet even in our times God ceases not through His saints to work miracles for the confirmation of the faith.

Better to illuminate than merely to shine, to deliver to others contemplated truths than merely to contemplate.

[I]t is to be borne in mind, in regard to the philosophical sciences, that the inferior sciences neither prove their principles nor dispute with those who deny them, but leave this to a higher science; whereas the highest of them, viz. metaphysics, can dispute with one who denies its principles, if only the opponent will make some concession; but if he concede nothing, it can have no dispute with him, though it can answer his objections. Hence Sacred Scripture, since it has no science above itself, can dispute with one who denies its principles only if the opponent admits some at least of the truths obtained through divine revelation; thus we can argue with heretics from texts in Holy Writ, and against those who deny one article of faith, we can argue from another.

It must be said that charity can, in no way, exist along with mortal sin.

I receive Thee ransom of my soul. For love of Thee have I studied and kept vigil toiled preached and taught…

There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.
Grant me, O Lord my God, a mind to know you, a heart to seek you, wisdom to find you, conduct pleasing to you, faithful perseverance in waiting for you, and a hope of finally embracing you. Amen.
The soul is like an uninhabited world that comes to life only when God lays His head against us.

Beware the man of a single book.
Grant me, O Lord my God, a mind to know you, a heart to seek you, wisdom to find you, conduct pleasing to you, faithful perseverance in waiting for you, and a hope of finally embracing you. Amen.

Fear is such a powerful emotion for humans that when we allow it to take us over, it drives compassion right out of our hearts.

Give us, O Lord, a steadfast heart, which no unworthy affection may drag downwards; give us an unconquered heart, which no tribulation can wear out; give us an upright heart, which no unworthy purpose may tempt aside. Bestow upon us also, O Lord our God, understanding to know you, diligence to seek you, wisdom to find you, and a faithfulness that may finally embrace you; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Even as in the blessed in heaven there will be most perfect charity, so in the damned there will be the most perfect hate. Wherefore as the saints will rejoice in all goods, so will the damned grieve for all goods. Consequently the sight of the happiness of the saints will give them very great pain; hence it is written (Isaiah 26:11): “Let the envious people see and be confounded, and let fire devour Thy enemies.” Therefore they will wish all the good were damned.

Nothing which implies contradiction falls under the omnipotence of God.

The existence of a prime mover – nothing can move itself; there must be a first mover. The first mover is called God.

That the saints may enjoy their beatitude and the grace of God more abundantly they are permitted to see the punishment of the damned in hell.

The highest manifestation of life consists in this: that a being governs its own actions. A thing which is always subject to the direction of another is somewhat of a dead thing.

The knowledge of God is the cause of things. For the knowledge of God is to all creatures what the knowledge of the artificer is to things made by his art.

The principal act of courage is to endure and withstand dangers doggedly rather than to attack them.

The test of the artist does not lie in the will with which he goes to work, but in the excellence of the work he produces.

The theologian considers sin mainly as an offence against God; the moral philosopher as contrary to reasonableness.

Reason in man is rather like God in the world.

Reason in man is rather like God in the world.

Charity, by which God and neighbor are loved, is the most perfect friendship.

Concerning perfect blessedness which consists in a vision of God.

To love God is something greater than to know Him.

Grant me, O Lord my God, a mind to know you, a heart to seek you, wisdom to find you, conduct pleasing to you, faithful perseverance in waiting for you, and a hope of finally embracing you.

Grant, O Lord my God, that I may never fall away in success or in failure; that I may not be prideful in prosperity nor dejected in adversity. Let me rejoice only in what unites us and sorrow only in what separates us. May I strive to please no one or fear to displease anyone except Yourself. May I see always the things that are eternal and never those that are only temporal. May I shun any joy that is without You and never seek any that is beside You. O Lord, may I delight in any work I do for You and tire of any rest that is apart from You. My God, let me direct my heart towards You, and in my failings, always repent with a purpose of amendment.

All admit that indulgences have some value; for it would be blasphemy to say that the Church does anything in vain.

Sure, for all our blindness; secure, for all our helplessness; strong, for all our weakness; gaily in love, for all the pressures on our hearts.

In order for a war to be just, three things are necessary. First, the authority of the sovereign. Secondly, a just cause. Thirdly, a rightful intention.

Good can exist without evil, whereas evil cannot exist without good.

Well-ordered self-love is right and natural.

Almighty and Eternal God, behold I come to the Sacrament of Your only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. As one sick, I come to the Physician of life; unclean, to the Fountain of mercy; blind, to the Light of eternal splendor; poor and needy, to the Lord of heaven and earth. Therefore, I beg of You, through Your infinite mercy and generosity, heal my weakness, wash my uncleanness, give light to my blindness, enrich my poverty, and clothe my nakedness. May I thus receive the Bread of Angels, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, with such reverence and humility, contrition and devotion, purity and faith, purpose and intention, as shall aid my soul’s salvation


COMMENTS on Thomas Aquinas

The essence of Thomas Aquinas’ arguments comes to this quote, For those with faith, no evidence is necessary; for those without it, no evidence will suffice. Once an individual is willing, of their own free will, to choose to believe statements their authority figures give them, then it becomes easy for them to be convinced of anything. These people have given up the essence of what it is to be human in this world, because of their accepted hope in the verity of faith, and in their case a supposed certainty, that they will be better off in the imagined heaven.

Those stubborn people who refuse to give up their free will without real-world tests and proofs of benefits will be forevermore denied the delights of believing in the imaginary Heaven and its splendors and the avoiding of a horrible Hell the non-believers will be forced to endure – forever. This is a case of voluntary slavery to the world of the senses versus the world of the mind. The choice determines the belief and thus the future behavior of the person making the choice. The essence of the choice comes between personal liberty in this difficult world or emotional security in a wicked world.