Aquinas's Philosophy of Religion by Paul O'Grady
By Paul O'Grady
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And this is not a matter of differing existential commitment or affective attitude to the belief – it is a matter of the logical content of the propositional belief itself. So, Kerr contends that the five ways are theological not philosophical arguments, they can only be properly understood in a religious context and a consideration of them unhooked from that religious environment would yield the wrong result anyway – whatever the conclusion might be, it is not the God referred to in Christian discourse.
This later Greek (Hellenistic) school of philosophy sought to systematize and unify the work of Plato and Aristotle, with a definitely Platonic emphasis. Among the reasons for its dominance was the fact that most of the works of Aristotle were not available in Western Europe up to the twelfth century. Plato’s school, the Academy in Athens, was closed by the Christian Emperor Justinian in 529, and the scholars took the Aristotelian texts eastwards with them, eventually to Persia, where they were later absorbed into the new Islamic culture of the seventh century.
Aquinas returned to Paris in 1252 to study for the Mastership in Theology, which was the highest award of the university. He lectured on biblical texts and on Peter Lombard’s Sentences, the main textbook of medieval theology. He was made Master Aquinas’s Contexts 37 of Theology in 1256, in acrimonious circumstances. This degree was, in effect, a license to be a teacher, and the Dominicans were anxious to train as many of their members as possible in this fashion. There were a limited number of places for masters available in the university, and the new mendicant (begging) orders – Franciscan and Dominicans – operated a closed shop on the teaching positions they controlled.