Thursday, October 26, 2006

Wolfson Notes IV


Readings: St. Th. I Q2; Maimo II Intro, Ch 1.

St. Thomas

Cf Q1, article 3: Is Sacred Doctrine a single science?

Are the things true of secular science also true of sacred doctrine?

Classification of science: (Aristotelian)


Speculative, practical, productive

Problem: is there a parallel subdivision of revealed science?

The rational is divided by faculty:


Theoretic area

Subject matter



Immovable (immaterial) objects



Movable material objects

Memory – imagination


Movable immaterial objects

Thus, theoretical science is divided accordgin to object, that is, its subject matter.

Revealed science:

Angels – immaterial

Corporeal creatures – material

Human behavior – practical

No division! Because

1) revealed science involves only one faculty, since all knowledge here comes from revelation.

2) All subject matters are studied only in their relation to God. Therefore, there is only one subject matter.

There is no subdivision between practical and speculative philosophy, but is it one or the other or both? Both are combined in Revealed Science.

Plato & Aristotle: the speculative life is better than the practical life.

Stoics: practical life is more important than the speculative.

But religious commands, unlike philosophy, were categorical. Therefore, each good is intrinsic, and therefore both speculative and practical life are necessary.

[Philosophic scholastics still thought of the speculative life as higher, though not exclusive of practical life.]

Nobility of science:

Speculative higher than Practical. Within speculative science:

Metaphyscis – noblest


Physics - least noble.

Distributed according to

1) measure of certainty;

2) “nobility” of science.

Problem: since faith applies only where an idea will never be proven by reason, articles of revealed science can be doubted, therefore sacred doctrine is less noble.

No! “certainty” = 1) certain to us;

2) certain in themselves

demonstrability implies that it is certain to us but this is only relative to the prover.

Revelation may not be certain to us, but is objectively certain (and can never be overthrown).

Therefore, Sacred Doctrine is most certain and therefore most noble.

Note phrase: other sciences are “handmaidens” of sacred doctrine. It began with Philo as a religious term, though it was defined by the Stoics

Stoics: Science is

1) encyclical (school), grammar, etc.

2) Philosophy: dialectics, logic, ethics, Physics.

Encyclical studies (liberal arts) are the handmaidens of Philosophy.

Philo added revealed science as “wisdom”, “just as encyclical studies are the handmaidens of philosophy, so is philosophy the handmaiden of religion.”

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