Thomist epistemology of faith: The road from "scientia" to science

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Abstract

The paper offers a reading of Aquinas' treatise On Faith as a source of inspiration for later developments in the Catholic world of learning. My main argument is that Aquinas' attempt to interpolate his discourse on faith into a clear epistemological context had long-term intellectual and institutional implications. On the intellectual level Aquinas' discourse had the effect of blurring the ancient dichotomy between episteme/knowledge-science, and doxa/opinion-belief, that had presupposed an ontological difference between their objects. On the institutional level Aquinas' discourse on faith allowed for the superposition of intellectual and political authority. The Jesuit educators of the early modern age, who identified themselves as Thomist, elaborated on the potential of the special configuration of knowledge and authority they had found in Aquinas' theology and transformed its principles into social-intellectual mechanisms to organize a framework in which to produce and transmit knowledge in the first global educational system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-421
Number of pages21
JournalScience in Context
Volume20
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2007

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