Item description for Summa Contra Gentiles: Book Three: Providence: Part I (Summa Contra Gentiles) by Thomas Aquinas...
Overview The Summa Contra Gentiles is not merely the only complete summary of Christian doctrine that St. Thomas has written, but also a creative and even revolutionary work of Christian apologetics composed at the precise moment when Christian thought needed to be intellectually creative in order to master and assimilate the intelligence and wisdom of the Greeks and the Arabs. In the Summa, Aquinas works to save and purify the thought of the Greeks and the Arabs in the higher light of Christian Revelation, confident than all that had been rational in the ancient philosophers and their followers would become more rational within Christianity.
This exposition and defense of divine truth has two main parts: the consideration of that truth which faith professes and reason investigates, and the consideration of the truth which faith professes and reason is not competent to investigate. The exposition of truths accessible to natural reason occupies Aquinas in the first three books of the Summa. His method is to bring forward demonstrative and probable arguments, some of which are drawn from the philosophers to convince skeptics. In the fourth book Aquinas appeals to the authority of Sacred Scripture for those divine truths which surpass the capacity of reason.
Publishers Description The Summa Contra Gentiles is not merely the only complete summary of Christian doctrine that St. Thomas has written, but also a creative and even revolutionary work of Christian apologetics composed at the precise moment when Christian thought needed to be intellectually creative in order to master and assimilate the intelligence and wisdom of the Greeks and the Arabs. In the Summa Aquinas works to save and purify the thought of the Greeks and the Arabs in the higher light of Christian Revelation, confident that all that had been rational in the ancient philosophers and their followers would become more rational within Christianity. This exposition and defense of divine truth has two main parts: the consideration of that truth that faith professes and reason investigates, and the consideration of the truth that faith professes and reason is not competent to investigate. The exposition of truths accessible to natural reason occupies Aquinas in the first three books of the Summa. His method is to bring forward demonstrative and probable arguments, some of which are drawn from the philosophers, to convince the skeptic. In the fourth book of the Summa St.Thomas appeals to the authority of the Sacred Scripture for those divine truths that surpass the capacity of reason. The present volume is the first part of a treatise on the hierarchy of creation, the divine providence over all things, and mana s relation to God. Book 1 of the Summa deals with God; Book 2, Creation; and Book 4, Salvation.
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Studio: University of Notre Dame Press
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.04" Width: 5.56" Height: 0.7" Weight: 0.8 lbs.
Release Date Jan 1, 1975
Publisher University of Notre Dame Press
Series Summa Contra Gentiles
ISBN 0268016860 ISBN13 9780268016869
Availability 0 units.
More About Thomas Aquinas
St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) is a Doctor of the church. He was an Italian Dominican friar and Roman Catholic priest who was an influential philosopher, theologian, and jurist in the tradition of scholasticism. Canonized in 1323 by Pope John XXII, Aquinas was the foremost classical proponent of natural theology and the father of Thomism.
Reviews - What do customers think about Summa Contra Gentiles: Book Three: Providence: Part I?
How a man should live his life Aug 25, 2002
First things first. "Summa Contra Gentiles: Providence" has been published in two volumes: "Summa Contra Gentiles: Providence, Part 1", and "Summa Contra Gentiles: Providence, Part II", which must be purchased separately. The two volumes absolutely go together - the first volume has the introduction for both volumes, and the second volume has the index for both volumes.
With questions of how to get it out of the way, it remains to be said what "Providence" is about and why it is worth reading.
If you are familiar with Aristotle, the easiest way to describe "Providence" is that it covered much the same ground as Aristotle's "Nicomachean Ethics". This is true in the same sense that the first book of "Summa Contra Gentiles", "God" covered the same ground as Aristotle's "Physics" and that the second book, "Creation", covered the same ground as Aristotle's "De Anima". That is, it dealt with the same topics, but from a thoroughly Christian perspective.
Of course, if you are not familiar with Aristotle, the above description of "Providence" is not going to be that helpful. In fact, reading that it is about "ethics" can even be misleading. In ordinary modern usage, "ethics" is taken as some set of rules regarding how to treat other people, implicitly dealing with balancing your interests against the interests of others. In traditional philosophy, however, "ethics" is much broader in scope - it covers the entire subject of how a man should live his life. "Providence" concerned ethics in this much broader, traditional sense.
Within the overall framework of "Summa Contra Gentiles", "Providence" was the bridge between the first two volumes ("God" and "Creation"), which were almost entirely philosophical in character, and the last volume ("Salvation"), which was almost entirely theological.
Thomas began "Providence" with a general discussion of the nature of "end", "good", and "evil". His immediate problem was to explain how evil could exist within God's creation, but in spite of the book's title, "Providence" deals with this problem in only general philosophical terms - there is nothing resembling, for example, Augustine's long exposition in his "City of God Against the Pagans" of God's plan as enacted through specific historical events. Thomas's real purpose was not to attempt to explain or justify God's plan in His creation, but to frame the central topic of the book - the problem of the achievement of human happiness.
To this end, Thomas began by considering the things in which people often attempt to find happiness in this life (fame, power, wealth, the pleasures of the body, virtue), and analyzed the inadequacy of those ends, even to the extent that they could be achieved. In contrast, Thomas held up the contemplation of God as an end worthy of human striving, but also held that - through man's own power at least - that it could not be adequately attained. From this, Thomas concluded that it is only through God's grace - that is, as a gift of God - that it could be had and even then not in this life; but only be in a life to come.
Having dealt with the end towards which human beings should strive, and having said that man unaided could not reach it, Thomas in the middle section of "Providence" considered in more detail the respective parts played by God and man in man's life. This discussion largely revolved around the question of human freedom vs. various concepts of fate and predestination. The major concern was a proper delineation between the divine will and human freedom, one that neither assigned so much power to man as to claim for him the ability to do good without God's help, nor so little as to make God responsible for man's sin.
The final section of "Providence" dealt with the question of how this life should be lived. This section drew on the traditions of classical philosophy scarcely at all; it instead drew almost entirely from scripture and Christian theology. Temperance, Courage, Wisdom, and Justice (the pillars of classical ethics) scarcely put in an appearance, but The Law, God's Grace, and Sin were front and center, each receiving an extended discussion.
Because covered the same ground, but drew on it so little, it might be tempting to read Thomas's "Providence" as a rejection of Aristotle's "Nicomachean Ethics", but this would be an oversimplification. The ethics of Arisotle and classical philosophy were not being rejected per se (Thomas certainly wasn't recommending profilgacy, cowardice, foolishness, and injustice), but instead held as insufficient, both in the end to which they aimed and the means by which they sought to attain that end. Thomas's argument was that while classical ethics were good, Christian ethics were in every way better, indeed that not only better but perfect, in that they aimed at God as the perfect end, and through God had the perfect means for the achievement of that end.
Structure of "Summa Contra Gentiles" Aug 25, 2002
Thomas Aquinas was an extraordinarily systematic thinker and writer. Because of this, one of the best ways to comprehend "Summa Contra Gentiles" is through consideration of its structure. At the highest level, it consists of 4 books, with the third book in two parts, on account of its length.
The titles of the five volumes are as follows:
Summa Contra Gentiles: God
Summa Contra Gentiles: Creation
Summa Contra Gentiles: Providence, Part I
Summa Contra Gentiles: Providence, Part II*
Summa Contra Gentiles: Salvation
Each volume is formally divided into about 100 short chapters. A typical chapter gets its title from some proposition that is to be affirmed, or in some cases refuted. Each paragraph is an argument in support (or denial) of that proposition. The chapters are themselves ordered so that the later chapters build on what the arguments in the earlier chapters have established, and it is this arrangement of chapters that constitutes the real structure of "Summa Contra Gentiles".
Although in his later "Summa Theologica", Thomas formalized the higher-level structure of his writing, he did not do so here, which somewhat complicates any presentation of this structure - the book titles are so high level that they give little feel of the work, and the chapter titles so numerous that the reader is easily overwhelmed by a list of them.
In order to give the reader some sense of the overall work, I've prepared an outline of the work that (hopefully) is short enough to be readily comprehensible and long enough to give the reader an understanding of what topics are covered and in what order. This outline is presented below:
1.0 Summa Contra Gentiles: God
1.1 Intention of the Work (1 - 2)
1.2 Truths of Reason and Revelation (3 - 9)
1.3 That God Exists (10 - 13)
1.4 That God is Eternal (14 - 20)
1.5 God's Essence (21 - 28)
1.6 That God is Known (29 - 36)
1.7 That God is Good, One and Infinite (37 - 44)
1.8 God's Intellect and Knowledge (44 - 71)
1.9 God's Will (72 - 96)
1.10 God's Life and Beatitude (97 - 102)
2.0 Summa Contra Gentiles: Creation
2.1 Purpose of the Work (1 - 5)
2.2 That God is the Creator of All Things (6)
2.3 God's Power Over His Creation (7 - 29)
2.4 For and Against the Eternity of the World (30 - 38)
2.5 The Distinction of Things (39 - 45)
2.6 Intellectual Substances (46 - 55)
2.7 The Intellect, the Soul and the Body (57 - 78)
2.8 Immortality of Man's Soul (79 - 82)
2.9 Origin of Man's Soul (83 - 89)
2.10 On Non-human (Angelic) Intellects (90 - 101)
3.0 Summa Contra Gentiles: Providence (Parts I and II)
3.1 Prologue (1)
3.2 Good, Evil, and God as the End of All Things (2 - 25)
3.3 Human Felicity (26 - 63)
3.4 How God's Providence Works (64 - 94)
3.5 Prayer and Miracles, Magic and Demons (95 - 110)
3.6 Rational Creatures and Divine Law (111 - 130)
3.7 Voluntary Poverty and Continence (131 - 138)
3.9 Rewards and Punishments (139 - 147)
3.10 Sin, Grace, and Predestination (148 - 163)
4.1 Forward (1)
4.2 The Trinity (2 - 16)
4.3 The Incarnation (27 - 55)
4.4 The Sacraments (56 - 78)
4.5 The Resurrection (79 - 97)
* in searching for Part II of "Providence" in this site's book catalog, be sure to search by the full title, or the search results may just return part I.
Excellent translation Nov 16, 2000
Bourke has provided a helpful and elucidating translation of this all-important text of Aquinas. A must for those interested in the thought of this great philosopher.
Excellent translation Nov 16, 2000
Bourke's translation of this important work in medieval philosophy is highly accurate and readable. A key resource for those interested in the thought of Aquinas.