Encyclopedia of Renaissance Philosophy

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| Editors: Marco Sgarbi

Thomism in Renaissance Philosophy

  • Efrem JindráčekEmail author
Living reference work entry

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-02848-4_329-2


Thomism is a philosophical-theological movement or school essentially inspired by the thought of Thomas Aquinas (d. 1274), a Dominican master, traditionally called Doctor Communis or Doctor Angelicus (Berthier, Sanctus Thomas Aquinas ‘Doctor Communis’ Ecclesiae. Rome, 1914, LV–LXVIII). His doctrine is an original synthesis of Roman Catholic theology and a philosophical system based on Aristotelian, Neoplatonic, Roman, Arabic, and Jewish thought. Thomism in its original and authentic form distinguished very precisely between theological and philosophical knowledge or method. In philosophy, Thomism only used rational arguments, with the aim of providing, if possible, a universal philosophical interpretation of reality, neither relying on religious belief nor contradicting Christian Revelation or Catholic Doctrine (Bonino, Nova vetera 86:91–109, 2011, 92–97; Kristeller 1974, 843–844). With the development of a Thomist presence at the universities, especially in northern Italy, this school also received the designation of the Via Thomae, as opposed to the Via Scoti, a term reserved for those holding the teaching chair reserved for the Scotists (Tavuzzi, Doctor Communis 45:132–152, 1992, 133; Kristeller 1974, 855). Some key characteristics of Thomism’s development in the Renaissance were contact with Italian Aristotelianism, especially in its Averroist form; a highly evolved scholastic terminology; rigorous philosophical logic; polemics against the Albertist and Nominalist schools (influenced by Scotism), and later against Molinism (Luis de Molina d. 1600) and an alternative interpretation of Aquinas’ thought – especially the one proposed by Francisco Suárez (d. 1617). Typical works by Renaissance Thomists include the commentaries on Aquinas’ works and commentaries on the Corpus Aristotelicum in the form of questions, a new type of philosophical work – the Compendium and also the Cursus – and systematic expositions of all philosophical disciplines in the Aristotelian order and following Aquinas’ interpretation. After 1492, with the Spanish colonization of the New World, Thomism made an important contribution to the development of international law and human rights, on the foundation of natural law.

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department for the Study of Ancient and Medieval ThoughtInstitute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of SciencesPragueCzech Republic

Section editors and affiliations

  • Anna Laura Puliafito
    • 1
  1. 1.Universität BaselBaselSwitzerland