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Saint Thomas Aquinas: "The Dumb Ox" Paperback – January 13, 2010
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A new edition of G. K. Chesterton's masterful study of St. Thomas. Visit www.TorodeDesign.com to see other books in this G. K. Chesterton series.
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For a clearer, fairer treatment of that great earthen vessel, I recommend Church History In Plain Language by Bruce L Shelley, chapter 24, “A wild boar in the vineyard.”
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.
So nice to get such Logic and Reason (for once) in a small, concise book on a great Saint and a proven genius. Chesterton is interesting, original, perceptive and brilliant, and he writes about a most interesting, original, perceptive, and brilliant person. Such a combination is exhilarating and delightful.