Item description for Saint Thomas of Aquinas by G. K. Chesterton...
Overview The acclaimed British novelist and author of Orthodoxy presents an intriguing portrait of the great Christian philosopher Saint Thomas Aquinas that explores key elements of the saint's theological works. Reprint.
G.K. Chesterton's brilliant sketch of the life and thought of Thomas Aquinas is as relevant today as when it was published in 1933. Then it earned the praise of such distinguished writers as Etienne Gilson, Jacques Martain, and Anton Pegis as the best book ever written on the great thirteenth-century Dominican. Today Chesterton's classic stands poised to reveal Thomas to a new generation. Chesterton's Aquinas is a man of mystery. Born into a noble Neapolitan family, Thomas chose the life of a mendicant friar. Lumbering and shy -- his classmates dubbed him "the Dumb Ox" -- he led a revolution in Christian thought. Possessed of the rarest brilliance, he found the highest truth in the humblest object. Having spent his life amid the vast intricacies of reason, he asked on his deathbed to have read aloud the Song of Songs, the most passionate book in the Bible. As Albert the Great, Thomas's teacher, predicted, the Dumb Ox has bellowed down the ages to our own day. Chesterton's book will enlighten those who would consign Thomas to the obscurity of medieval times. It will confound those who would use Thomas to bolster arid schemes of Christian rationalism. Rather, it will introduce the wondrous mystery of the man who, after a life of unparalleled genius, was seized by a vision of the Unknown and said, "I can write no more. I have seen things which make all my writings like straw."
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.16" Width: 5.58" Height: 0.65" Weight: 0.45 lbs.
Release Date Nov 1, 1992
ISBN 0385090021 ISBN13 9780385090025
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More About G. K. Chesterton
G.K. Chesteron was born in 1874. He attended the Slade School of Art, where he appears to have suffered a nervous breakdown, before turning his hand to journalism. A prolific writer throughout his life, his best-known books include The Napoleon of Notting Hill (1904), The Man Who Knew Too Much(1922), The Man Who Was Thursday (1908) and the Father Brown stories. Chesterton converted to Roman Catholicism in 1922 and died in 1938. Michael D. Hurley is a Lecturer in English at the University of Cambridge, and a Fellow of St Catharine's College. He has written widely on English literature from the nineteenth century to the present day, with an emphasis on poetry and poetics. His book on G. K. Chesterton was published in 2011.
G. K. Chesterton lived in London. G. K. Chesterton was born in 1874 and died in 1936.
G. K. Chesterton has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about Saint Thomas of Aquinas?
Brilliant writer on a magnificant and historical man May 24, 2008
I learned to appreaciate Thomas Aquinas in a completely new way from this book. Chesterton's intellect must have been comparable to that of Aquinas. It is somewhat difficult to read because the author's vocabulary and style are somewhat unfamiliar, being from a different time and place. This, however, is the most readable of the books I have read by Chesterton. I finished it with a tremendous respect for the intellect and the spirituality of Aquinas.
Aquinas Apr 8, 2008
G.K. Chesterton notes Saint Thomas Aquinas' philosophy to be one of "a central common sense that is nourished by the five senses" (p. 13). His "argument for Revelation is not an argument against Reason; but it is an argument for Revelation. The conclusion he draws from it is that men must receive the highest moral truths in a miraculous manner; or most men would not receive them at all" (p. 19).
St. Thomas' philosophy is deeply needed in today's world with its distorted thinking. For St. Thomas, "a man is not a man without his body, just as he is not a man without his soul" (p. 17). Indeed, "a Christian means a man who believes that deity or sanctity has attached to matter or entered the world of the senses" (p. 23). St. Thomas' philosophy is deeply optimisitic: "nobody will begin to understand the Thomist philosophy, or indeed the Catholic philosophy, who does not realize that the primary and fundamental part of it is entirely the praise of Life, the praise of Being, the praise of God as the Creator of the World" (p. 81).
By contrast, Manicheanistic thinking "is always a notion in one way or another that nature is evil; or that evil is at least rooted in nature....Sometimes it was a dualism, which made evil an equal partner with good; so that neither could be a usurper. More often it was a general idea that demons had made the material world, and if there were any good spirits, they were concerned only with the spiritual world" (p. 83). Chesteron tells us that "if we wanted to put in a picturesque and simplified form what he [St. Thomas] wanted for the world, and what was his work in history, apart from the theological and theoretical definitions, we might well say that it really was to strike a blow and settle the Manichees" (p. 79).
Early on, Chesterton notes that "the sixteenth century schism was really a belated revolt of the thirteenth century pessimists" (p. xvi). "Thomas Aquinas had struck his blow, but he had not entirely settled the Manichees" (p. 161). "It was the very life of the Thomist teaching that Reason can be trusted: it was the very life of the Lutheran teaching that Reason is utterly untrustworthy" (p. 14).
Disappointing Feb 16, 2008
G. K. Chesterton is one of my favorite authors; "Orthodoxy" and "The Everlasting Man" are among the most thought-provoking books that I have ever read. Nevertheless, this biography of St. Thomas Aquinas was disappointing. Chesterton is, as usual, not lacking in wit, but his wit often overshadows the content. It is clear that Chesterton thinks very highly of Aquinas, but I often felt that much of his characterization was fanciful. His description of Aquinas didn't seem to contradict many of the facts that he presented, but neither did the facts justify his description. Also, the organization of the book was poor; it is topical not chronological, but its topics are not developed well enough to stand on their own. I cannot recommend this book because after reading it, my knowledge of Aquinas and his impact on philosophy, theology, and the church is still poor.
No empty boast Dec 27, 2007
GKC delivers what he promises: a sketch that may motivate readers to pick up deeper books on the subject. If you knew nothing about Thomas, chances are, you don't know awfully much more after this book, but you get an idea which way it may go. I love Chesterton's writing, except where I disagree with him: I can't buy his basic Catholicism (he warns against that in the introduction!), his acceptance of the concept of the 'saint' and of miracles. That just does not match with his approach of 'common sense'. What I like about him: he likes to challenge paradigms and bust myths. He does this with mighty language and drops plenty of colourful aphorisms. On the negative side: he does remain short on philosophical content (what is this Plato vs Aristotle match all about? should he not at least try to explain the outlines?), but he is a little long on '-isms' and nouns of all kind; he loves name-dropping. And he is a wee bit condescending towards the 'orient' and the 'Chinaman'. Puts me off a little. One more in this direction: he is a little vague in some of his complaints, so I am not sure what he talks about when he mentions the 'age of uncommon reason' and praises the 'level-headed man' early on. It does sound like an anti-Einstein tirade and like the normal anti-scientist's ranting against the disappointing fact that modern science comes up with counter-intuitive hypotheses, more and more. But I love his portrait of Thomas as a liberator of the intellect, the one who reconciled religion with reason. His statement that Thomas was the real reformer, those after him were reactionaries is surprising, but I am willing to keep the idea in mind. And he wins my sympathies completely with his comparison of Thomas and Hegel: Thomas was sane, while Hegel was mad. That needs to be said.
A Thinking Man's View of a Thinking Man Sep 6, 2007
As is evident from other reviews, Chesterton is not everyone's cup of tea. He lived in a day when erudition was registered in extended prose that often lent itself to convolution. To a thinking man, nuance is everything and Chesterton is so intent upon the development of nuance that he may seem opaque to modern readers who do not have the background that he assumes in the reader.
Chesterton is very clear in his introduction. He assumes the reader is acquainted with the major players in his book. He expects us to have a passing familiarity with St. Francis of Assisi so that when Chesterton lumps Aquinas together with him that it is a somewhat surprising strategy. Chesterton assumes that the reader is somewhat aware that the mendicant orders were not revolutionary in that they were introducing new ideas but that their intent was to confront decadence with old ones. This is where Chesterton begins and then he adds his own subtlety to the confusion.
For all that, if you are willing to rise to Chesterton's challenge you will not fail to be edified. Thinking is and should be, often its own reward. A book should not just entertain us but advance us along the pathways of elevated humanity. Chesterton's optimism (of another age) was that such a thing was possible and in that he and Aquinas were of one accord. He may be a bit too easy on the "Dumb Ox" and too ready to paint him more favorably than he warranted in every particular, but Chesterton makes him real and what is more important, leads us to understand how this Medieval mind was really important.
I think that was Chesterton's intent and he does a pretty fair job of accomplishing it. If you find yourself getting confused by the prose let it prod you into doing some background reading before you move on. When you do, you will find the prose is not so confusing as it might first appear.