July 15, 2014
Are Thomism and Personalism compatible?
Peter Kreeft (Boston College) delivers an engaging and winsome affirmative answer in his presentation at the Center for Thomistic Studies, University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas:
At one point in the lecture, Kreeft provides ten objections to the synthesis, among which I want to highlight is his response to the first objection (at the 50′ mark):
Objection 1: There is no need for a further synthesis. Thomism is complete.
The reply is that no philosophical system in this world is complete and that Thomism does not claim to be a complete system. It is a system, but it is an open system — not a closed one, like that of modern rationalists. It is essentially a dialogue with all philosophies. That is manifested in the very form of the summa article, which is a systematized dialog, and in the fact that Aquinas almost always answers objections — not by simple denials but by distinctions and tries to affirm and preserve the true aspect of every objection.
Second, Thomism is not incompatible with further synthesis, because Thomism is itself a synthesis: of Plato and Aristotle, of theology and philosophy. In fact, Thomas is history’s greatest synthesizer — rivaled only by Hegel….
There are many gems in this lecture, and I highly recommend it to one and all. By the way, Professor Kreeft’s annotated edition of Pascal’s Pensées — Christianity for Modern Pagans — was one of the most formative books I read as an undergraduate student.