[Eighth, and] finally, St. Thomas is important for us today precisely because of our lack.  Timeless truth is always timely, of course, but some aspects of truth are especially needed at some times, and it seems that our times badly need seven Thomistic syntheses: (1) of faith and reason; (2) of the biblical and the classical, the Judeo-Christian and the Greco-Roman heritages; (3) of the ideals of clarity and profundity; (4) of common sense and technical sophistication; (5) of theory and practice; (6) of an understanding, intuitive vision and a demanding, accurate logic; and (7) of the one and the many, a cosmic unity or “big picture” and carefully sorted out distinctions.  I think it a safe judgment that no one, in the entire history of human thought, has ever succeeded better than St. Thomas in making not just one but all seven of these marriages which are essential to mental health and happiness.

For some reason, many people seem so threatened by St. Thomas that they instantly label any admiration for, use of, or learning from him as slavish, unoriginal, and authoritarian – something they do with no other thinker.  Of course, St. Thomas cannot be the be-all and end-all of our thought.  He cannot be an end, but he can be a beginning, like Socrates.  Of course, we must go beyond him and not slavishly confine our thought to his.  But there is no better bottom story to our edifice of thought.

From: A Summa of the “Summa”: The Essential Philosophical Passages of St. Thomas Aquinas’ “Summa Theologica” Edited and Explained for Beginners by Peter Kreeft (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1990), pp. 13-14.


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