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Saint Thomas Aquinas: The Dumb Ox Paperback – Unabridged, January 15, 1974
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So how has he accomplished this feat? By simplifying, as his editor says, without oversimplifying. He turns his own lack of intimate knowledge to his advantage by concentrating on the core elements of Aquinas' thinking: his affirmation of the goodness of creation; his defense of common sense; and "the primacy of the doctrine of being." In this way he grasps--and helps us grasp--the importance of Aquinas for us today. As Raymond Dennehy has written, it's as if Chesterton is saying to us "the truths [Aquinas] was getting at--the basic principles of reality and reason--are in themselves really quite simple. Your basic intuitions were right all along." --Doug Thorpe
Top Customer Reviews
Two or three times Chesterton penned a sentence in this book that literally made me wince in pain; not because I disliked what he wrote, but because the sentence overwhelmed me with the truth it conveyed so powerfully (and perhaps also because I knew I would never in my life write such a magnificent sentence).
A Southern Baptist by upbringing, I had long before college decided that Christianity was useful in keeping the stupid masses in line, but we smart folks had science and didn't need such myths. After two years of reading in the "Great Books" at college, this arrogance had faded, and I began to toy with the idea that Christianity was far more reasonable and even noble than I had thought. But I wasn't sure whether it was in fact true.
Then in this book Chesterton reiterated Aristotle's classic philosophical argument that reason tells us there must be a First Mover which set the world in motion. Chesterton added that it is reasonable to deduce that a First Mover must have willed to make that first move, and a being with a will is a person; so the First Mover is a personal God.
That logical point hit me hard, and changed my life. After a few more years of intense reading (and almost as intense procrastinating), I was received into the Roman Catholic Church--the same Church into which Chesterton's prodigious, joyful intellect impelled him. (He had been raised in the Church of England.Read more ›
All of the usual caveats about Chesterton's writing apply here: he cannot resist a digression, he cannot resist an alliterative allusion, he cannot resist a pun. He is so full of life that he is constantly threatening to spin out of control. He is not a scholar, he is not writing a sober appraisal, he is probably not sure of most of the biographical details of his subject (in his own autobiography, which has much the same candid dearth of dates and details, he commented that if he had denied such careful treatment to St. Thomas and St. Francis how could he justify it for himself?).
In spite of these defects, the book is a triumph. Toast it with your best wine. Chesterton, for me, is the embodiment of "A Man in Full"; he is the polar opposite of C.S. Lewis' "Men without Chests". He is so full of good sense, penetrating insight, sound moral judgement, and the joy of life that it is all spilling out in every direction. Anyone who has read his book of literary criticism on Dickens will understand what I mean: this is criticism in an old key; it is appreciative criticism; it is an encounter with a writer by an entire man, and not just by a theory. It is wonderfully refreshing. I don't know of anyone writing today in a similar vein.Read more ›
It's amazing that Chesterton was able to pack so much into so little of a book. This brilliant introduction to Aquinas should be required reading on all college campuses.
Chesterton admits that the book is a biography. His hope is that it will introduce readers to Aquinas' philosophy and therefore lead them into his theology. The theology, Chesterton also admits, is the one thing that he has left out of the book.
Instead, Chesterton spends a great deal of time comparing Aquinas to St. Francis of Assisi - a comparison which at first might seem quite odd. In classic Chesterton style, he demonstrates that the two friars were perhaps more similar than they were different.
Each generation, Chesterton writes, is converted by the saint who contradicts it most. Therefore, argues Chesterton, the 20th century is clutching at Thomism because it has neglected reason.
"...as the eighteenth century thought itself the age of reason, and the nineteenth century thought itself the age of common sense, the twentieth century cannot as yet even manage to think itself anything but the age of uncommon nonsense," writes G.K.
I was particularly intrigued by Chesterton's introduction of Martin Luther late in the book and his argument that the quarrel between the Augustinians and the Dominicans led, in part, to the Protestant Reformation.
The brilliance of this book is both its simplicity and the Chestertonian gems discovered within. Modern readers, familiar with Pope John Paul II's "Theology of the Body", will note the connections between Aquinas' Incarnational theology, Chesterton's common sense, and the work of John Paul II.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The author spends too much time being clever in his own mind with word games and forgets the rationale for the book, the life and philosophy of Saint ThomasPublished 5 months ago by Matthew Ward
How can anything written by Chesterton not we wonderful and so full of humor and enlightenment? A must read for all interested in understanding the works of Thomas Aquinas and... Read morePublished 5 months ago by mdamon
A very good book for people just starting to understand Saint Thomas Aquinas. It is the beginning of a wonderful journey.Published 6 months ago by Frank G. Grieco
It is a notable experience to read G.K. Chesterton for the first time. He first wrote and published this book the same year that FDR was first inaugurated. Read morePublished on July 21, 2014 by theHarrietAnn