- AQUINAS, Thomas
- (1224/27-1274)known by his contemporaries as "Doctor Angelicus" he is the most important philosopher and theologian of the ROMAN CATHOLIC TRADITION. Educated by BENEDICTINES and DOMINICANS he studied in Paris and Cologne. Later he taught in Paris 1252-59, 1269-72; and Italy 1259-69, 1272-74. He was responsible for "baptizing" the PHILOSOPHY of ARISTOTLE which he made the basis of Roman Catholic THEOLOGY and APOLOGETICS. His Aristotelianism was opposed by the FRANCISCANS, but his teachings were made the official doctrine of the Dominican Order. He was canonized in 1323 and made a Doctor of the Church in 1567. Finally, the study of Thomas Aquinas was made part of all theological training in 1366. Made patron of all Roman Catholic universities in 1880. His authority as teacher was reaffirmed in 1923. In his thought the relation of REASON to FAITH is one of subalternation, in which the lower (reason) accepts principles of the higher (faith). He rejected ANSELM of CANTERBURY'S ONTOLOGICAL ARGUMENT preferring the COSMOLOGICAL and TELEOLOGICAL ARGUMENTS for the EXISTENCE of GOD. For Aquinas there is a level of knowledge attainable by REASON alone; another attainable by reason for skilled thinkers and by FAITH for unskilled thinkers; the highest level, however, is attainable only by faith. The system Aquinas developed is called "Thomism," his followers "Thomists."
Concise dictionary of Religion. 2012.