- Paperback: 128 pages
- Publisher: St. Augustines Press; 3rd edition (July 1, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1890318787
- ISBN-13: 978-1890318789
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.4 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #633,489 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Silence Of St Thomas 3rd Edition
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Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German
About the Author
John Murray trained as a doctor and is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where he was a teaching-writing fellow. "The Hill Station" won the Prairie Lights Short Fiction Award, and the title story was selected by Joyce Carol Oates for the "Best New American Voices 2002 fiction anthology. John Murray currently lives in Iowa.
DANIEL O'CONNOR is affiliated with the School of International Service, American University.
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Top Customer Reviews
For me, this book ended a long struggle to discover what St. Thomas Aquinas really taught about our knowledge of things. Pieper succeeds in reconciling Thomas's frequent statements that we cannot know the essence of any created thing with his repeated claims elsewhere that our minds are receptive of the forms (i.e., essences) of things.
While my attitude toward Pieper's understanding of St. Thomas's thought is not uncritical, I must concede that he is one of the best and most original (the two are not the same) of twentieth century Thomist philosophers. Unfortunately, he is sometimes (unjustly) put down by scholars as a mere popularizer. Let them read this book and be disabused; Pieper has much to teach them.
My ratings of other books by Josef Pieper: Guide to Thomas Aquinas ****; Leisure the Basis of Culture *****; Scholasticism *****
This book is an excellent addition to reading Etienne Gilson's "Unity of the Philosophical Experience" as Pieper gives further explanantions as to the behavior of the Augastinians and Latin Averroists. It could explain also why modern Muslims are so singularly textually dogmatic - it is in reaction to Averroist's attempting to rid religion of faith altogether - and thus the violent reaction in nixing reason and rationalism. It tells how Aquinas circumvented this problem. The last essay also compliments Gilson's book in that it shows what Existentialism has in common with Aquinas, some interesting things, despite some gapping fundimental differences at their very root and conclusion.
The first essay vividly descibes what an attitude of accademic pursuit and teaching should look like. Too many teachers are dogmatic and are only interested in pursuing and supporting an idea that is presently clear in their minds and propogating it, rather than treating the moment as an active pursuit of truth. Thomas was a model teacher and the book is an active discripition of his method.
The book also argues, with supporting evidence and reason, that Thomas' main work The "Summa Theologica" was intentionally left unfinished. Why it was left unfinished is at the root of what Aquinas was all about concerning philosophy and metaphysics - it is a process not a conclusion. Gilson's book describes what a conclusion is, as sometimes philosophers have rejected the idea that they have reached a conclusion, when in fact they have. Gilson effectively defines what a conclusion looks like.
Both are highly recommended books for Teachers, Historians, and Philosophers.
Pieper begins with an overview of Thomistic realism and shows the link between anthropology and cosmology and faith and reason. For St. Thomas, human beings are created to love and know the creator. Creation is capable of being known through reason, and leads one to knowledge of the Creator. But, here lies the paradox as it pertains to silence. Pieper shows that while Thomas believes that the human mind can grasp the existence of many things, and since they have an existence they must also possess an essence, the essence of things in themselves cannot be known. Creation is a gift from God, yet, in itself remains a mystery. Why? Because even though the human mind can know a great deal about nature, it seems to know even less about creation. How much more does the mind fail to grasp the utter incomprehensibility of God? Reason is speechless before the infinite gap between God and the human mind. In the silence, Pieper shows that God allows us to gaze into the depth of the mystery of creation and divinity. God creates or speaks creation into being, and it is this Word that holds creation in existence. Via reason, the mind "knows" through a participation in the Word, Jesus. Per St. Thomas, Pieper demonstrates the necessity of faith to truly gaze and contemplate God, a place where reason alone cannot go.
In the second essay, Pieper again refers to the theme of creation. He shows the necessary correlation between existence and truth because if a thing exists, it exists first as an idea in the mind of God. Contra Kant, the mind does not form nature, but is instead informed because nature illumines the mind because God holds it in being. Truth and existence reside primarily in God, but are not separated out but continually in creation. For St. Thomas, creation and nature are divine gifts, which are knowable yet, unknowable. Again, divine speech and silence are shown to be part of the mystery of God and creation.
In the last section, Pieper speaks to the timeliness or untimliness of Thomism. Thomism is timely because of its ability to be placed within a tradition and be adapted. Is this true? Yes! One can look at some of the forms of Thomism: Lublin, Analytic, Existential, and see how they have aided and aid the Church in spreading the Gospel. Because of this, Thomism is timely and untimely. The early Wittgenstein stated, "That what cannot be said should be passed over in silence." Pieper shows in the thought of St. Thomas one should not be silent because one cannot speak, but one does not have much to say when he ponders God and creation. I think it is ironic that Pieper does not mention Thomas' vision of Christ at the end of his life. Tradition teaches that Jesus appeared to Thomas near the end of his life and told him, "Thomas, you have written well of me." In fact, Thomas wrote more than several million words on the topic. After the vision, Thomas stopped writing except when told to do so by his superiors. When asked by a fellow Dominican brother why he stopped writing Thomas responded, "What I have written seems much like straw to what I have seen." The vision forced him to near silence in his writing. If you read Pieper's book, it will give you the reasons why Thomas was so silent.