Saturday, December 22, 2007

Review: Aquinas 101

Aquinas 101, A Basic Introduction to the Thought of Saint Thomas Aquinas, by Francis Selman
Sept 2007, Ave Maria Press, 224 pages, Quality Paperback
ISBN: 0-87061-243-3

Reviewed by Ana Braga-Henebry, M. A.

If you, like me, had very little to no Thomistic Philosophy in high school or college, and would love to know more, this book is for you. What a pleasure for me it has been to read Aquinas 101 in preparation for this review. The book brings forth a surprisingly readable and sometimes funny Saint Thomas!

To begin, I quote from the publisher's site, Ave Maria Press:
A brief, engaging, and readable summary of the influential thought of St. Thomas Aquinas, one of the Catholic Church's greatest minds. In this clear, thoughtful and immensely readable book, Francis Selman offers summaries on some of the most complex topics in the writing of St. Thomas Aquinas. Selman deftly draws on the work of contemporary scholars while situating Aquinas in relation to the thinkers and schools of thought he was both confronting and drawing upon. The result provides an overview that places the thought of Aquinas both in his time and in our own.

The author succeeds indeed in both bringing the thought and philosophy of Saint Thomas Aquinas to students (or the interested reader) and in making it contemporary by referring to recent writings on St. Thomas.

The Prologue is a very nice biography of the saint's life, leaving the reader with admiration for him and interest for his thought. The language is light, down-to-earth, using quotidian anecdotes to shed clarity. Saint Thomas Aquinas comes through the book as a friendly, practical counselor. For instance, on page 114 we read:

For sorrow, St. Thomas Aquinas recommends four remedies: weeping, the company of friends, pleasure, and warm baths.

The paragraph that follows goes into the reasons St. Thomas believes these four remedies will help anyone in sorrow. So true, and so practical! Of course, the book also goes into more meaty philosophy, but it refrains from being too dense for the lay reader.

I also like the fact that Saint Thomas is referred to as Saint Thomas throughout the book.

In the Catholic homeschool, this book would make a very good choice for a High School introductory course on the philosophy of Saint Thomas.

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