Aquinas on Mind
Kenny (Anthony)
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Author’s Introductory Paragraphs (from Chapter 1: Why read Aquinas?)

  1. Why should anyone wish to study the philosophy or psychology of St Thomas Aquinas? He was an Italian friar of the thirteenth century, writing in low Latin encumbered with antiquated jargon, subservient to the teaching authority of the medieval church. Why should a secular English reader in the twentieth century expect to learn anything of philosophical value as a reward for the labour of working through the text of the Summa Theologiae? Surely, one may think, the progress of psychology in the centuries that have passed will have rendered obsolete everything Aquinas wrote about the nature of the mind.
  2. The answer that one gives to questions such as these will depend, in the first place, on one’s conception of the nature of philosophy. Philosophy is an unusual, indeed unique, discipline. Some people would claim that it was the most attractive of all disciplines, for the following reason. On the one hand, philosophy seems to resemble a science in that the philosopher, like the scientist, is in pursuit of truth. In philosophy, as in science, there are discoveries to be made. There are certain things which philosophers of the present day understand which even the greatest philosophers of earlier generations failed to understand. The philosopher, therefore, has the excitement of belonging to a continuing, cooperative, cumulative endeavour, in the way that a scientist does. Each practitioner may nourish the hope of adding a stone to the cairn: one may make one’s tiny contribution to the building of the great edifice. And thus philosophy has some of the attractions of the natural sciences.
  3. On the other hand, philosophy seems to have the attraction of the arts and of the humanistic disciplines, in the following way. Unlike works of science, classic works of philosophy do not date. If we want to learn physics or chemistry, as opposed to their history, we do not nowadays read Newton or Faraday. Matters are different in the case of literature: when we read Homer and Shakespeare it is not merely in order to learn about the quaint things that passed through people’s minds in those far off days. The same seems to be true of philosophy. We read Plato and Aristotle not simply in a spirit of antiquarian curiosity, but because we want to share their philosophical insights. Philosophy, then, seems uniquely attractive in that it combines being a discipline in pursuit of truth in which, as in science, discoveries are made, with being, like literature, a humane discipline in which great works do not become obsolete with age.

    Preface – vii
    Abbreviations – viii
  1. Why read Aquinas? – 1
  2. Mind and metaphysics – 15
  3. Perception and imagination – 31
  4. The nature of the intellect – 41
  5. Appetite and will – 59
  6. The freedom of the will – 75
  7. Sense, imagination and intellect – 89
  8. Universals of thought – 101
  9. Knowledge of particulars – 111
  10. Self-knowledge – 119
  11. The nature of the soul – 129
  12. Mind and body – 145
    Notes – 161
    Further reading – 177
    Index – 179


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