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Feast Day of St Thomas Aquinas

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• Is the world eternal? YES
• Do humans have contra-causal free will (i.e., can humans do otherwise)? NO
• Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? YES
• Do humans have souls? YES
• Are there natural rights? YES
• Is it morally permissible to eat meat? NO
• Is the unexamined life worth living? NO
• Is truth subjectivity? YES
• Is virtue necessary for happiness? YES
• Can a computer have a mind? YES
• Can humans know reality as it is in itself? YES
• Is hell other people? YES
• Can art be created accidentally? NO
• Can we change the past? NO
• Are numbers real? NO
• Is it always better to know the truth? YES

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January 28 is the Feast Day of St Thomas Aquinas.  I reflected on a passage to commemorate the day, and came up with this passage that I think sums up much of Aquinas’ basic outlook:

‘To detract from the perfection of creatures is to detract from the perfection of the divine power.  But if no creature has any action in the production of any effect, much is detracted from the perfection of the creature: for it marks the abundance of perfection to be able to communicate to another the perfection which one has oneself.’   ~ Summa Contra Gentiles, III.69

 St Thomas certainly loved God, but he also dearly loved creation (and the study of it).  This is typical of the ‘both/and’ tendency of Catholicism in general.  This both/and love of Creator and creation (of God and man) is the best ground – in fact is the only possible ground for – humanism (and yes, I am intentionally baiting the SHAFT community here).  As Pascal puts it, God gave men the ‘dignity of being causes’.



  1. Jon Adams says:

    You posted this same issue a few months ago nobody took the bait ha ha.

    But I’ll bite this time…after I marshal my thoughts.


  2. Kleiner says:

    Perhaps instead of taking the bait here, we should just organize a SHAFT/Philosophy Club event sometime this semester. A panel discussion on humanism might be interesting, and I would be more than happy to represent the Christian humanism point of view. It need not be a ‘debate’, but could instead be a discussion fleshing out the various arguments and commitments.


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