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Silence Of St Thomas 3rd Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1890318789
ISBN-10: 1890318787
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Language Notes

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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Product Details

  • 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: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #108,678 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Mark Amorose on July 31, 2001
Format: Paperback
The unifying theme of the three essays composing this book is the paradox that the intelligibilty of things and their incomprehensibility both derive from their being creatures, that is, from their possessing natures that are communications of the ideas in the mind of God. Things can be known only because they are created, but at the same time, things are unfathomable because they are created: "one and the same factor explains both why things cannot be entirely grasped and why they can be known" (pp.95-6). Why is this so? I'll not deprive the reader of the pleasure of reading Pieper's book to find out.
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 *****
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Pieper, in these three essays, describes what we have to learn from the works and life of Aquinas. The essays detail the scholastic arguements of the day and how Thomas, in the true spirit of open mindedness (his life and method are the definition of this oft abused term) brought some peace ond understanding to the various sides, a very serious matter in his day. The book explains how much of an Aristotilian Aquinas was, and more importantly how much he was not. Mainly by showing how the charactoristics of the Latin Averroists have been unjustly attributed to Aquinas by his detractors - the Latin Averoists (Averoes was an Arab) were whole hearted Aristotilians.
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.
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Format: Paperback
If you want to find a succinct compendium of Thomistic Epistemology then this is a must read. While some of other reviews do a good job describing the details of the book, I will focus on what I believe to be Pieper's true intent. The book should be read once to grow in knowledge and another time as spiritual reading.
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.
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