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First Glance At Thomas Aquinas (A Handbook for Peeping Thomists) Paperback – December 30, 1989
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However, there are certainly many good aspects of this book. It is divided into 20 short chapters with 1-3 page excerpts from either Aquinas or Aristotle's own writings after each chapter. While this is a great idea, it is difficult to read the masters without being familiar with their language. McInery begins the book by contrasting two worldviews- that of Aquinas and that of Descartes. Broadly defined, this is realism vs a kind of skepticism (though not what we would normally mean by a skeptic today). More specifically, the question centers around whether or not our sense perceptions are reliable. McInery argues that Descartes's skepticism is self refuting in the following sense. That out sense perceptions are not reliable (so it is claimed) is evidenced by a straw in a glass of water. To our eyes, it appears that the straw is bent in the water, when in reality, the straw is actually straight. However, this implicitly assumes the reliability of our sense perception when the straw is outside the water. IN other words, the only reason we are able to say that the straw in not bent in water contra our sense perception is because we are relying on and trusting in our sense perception when the straw is outside the water to say that in reality, the straw is actually not bent. I thought this was a clever insight, and a good way to begin the book which continues to explore the Thomistic worldview.
This is well written book, but as stared above, the main drawback is that it attempts to do too much without building a solid foundation in metaphysics. This is essential to understand the thought of Aquinas and without it, I don't think one can get as much as one would like to out of this book.
I would say however, that there were some passages in which he quickly escalates into somewhat rigorous demonstration for a beginner's book. Also, I would have liked if he had spoken a little less about the relationship of faith and reason, and devoted some more of that space to further explaining natural law theory. His treatment of that subject, as it is, does not get very far past the first precept.
All in all though, this is an introduction worthy of recommendation for any "Peeping Thomist". Prof. McInerny clearly does not try to be part of the class of intentionally confusing philosophers; he cuts jargon usage down to a bare minimum.