Thomas Aquinas was a Dominican friar in the 13th century who attained widespread and lasting fame as one of the most pre-eminent scholars of his time. Aquinas penned down a vast body of works on a wide variety of subjects ranging from philosophy to moral law, metaphysics and political theory.
His works elevated him to be considered as one of Catholic Church’s most learned theologians of all time. And from 13th century onwards, his works on philosophy continued to inform both theologians and secular philosophers, eliciting either an approval or opposition. In this capacity, Aquinas has remained relevant and immensely influential throughout the medieval ages down to the modern period.
Thomas Aquinas Brief Biography
Early in his age, Thomas Aquinas studied at the university established by Emperor Frederick II at Naples. It was here that he became acquainted with the major works of philosophy including those of Aristotle and the commentaries of Averroes on Aristotle’s works.
At the age of 19, Thomas resolved to become a part of the Dominican Order, a decision which displeased the powerful Italian family he came from and his family consequently had him imprisoned to dissuade him. The intervention by the family failed and Thomas eventually joined the Order.
From 1245 to 1272, Thomas taught at many prestigious ecclesiastical establishments all over Europe while also penning down many works on theology and philosophy which would earn him lasting fame. He died in 1274.
Works of Thomas Aquinas
Aquinas wrote prodigiously throughout his life and produced a vast body of works which would touch upon many different sciences and subjects. He was primarily a theologian who was immensely influenced by classic philosophers such as Aristotle.
He penned down a number of commentaries of many Aristotelian works. His works also touched upon moral law and ethics, both of which he approached with the morality of a theologian and the prudence of a philosopher.
He also wrote works on political theory and his works related to human soul and body are often seen as relevant in modern-day psychology. In working on these topics and subjects, Aquinas philosophically tackled many practical issues for a theologian, such as the concept of sin, creation, revelation, arguments for the existence of God and the nature of Jesus Christ.
Magnum Opus of Thomas Aquinas
The work for which Thomas Aquinas is best known is ‘Summa Theologica’. Aquinas penned down this work between 1265 and 1274 and intended to be used by students of theology. To this end, he furnished this work with a compendium of all the theological themes of the Catholic Church, effectively aiming to explain the universe from a theological standpoint.
In penning this work, Aquinas drew on philosophers both secular and theological, as well as authors of different religious backgrounds. Summa became one of the most influential texts of Western literature and a major influence on the subsequent Western philosophy. Authors such as Dante drew inspiration from the work and it continued to inform the literary circles of Europe down to the modern period.