The epistemology of St. Thomas Aquinas with special reference to Summa Theologiae 1a q84.
PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
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Attempts by several commentators to map categories from contemporary epistemology onto Aquinas' theory of knowledge, and their attempts to give an account of his theory of perceptual knowledge constitute the background to this thesis.
In the opening chapter we outline Aquinas' theory of knowledge, we see that it is a complex theory, dealing not only with human knowledge, but also with divine and angelic knowledge. We note Aquinas' application of the doctrine of analogy to the concept of knowledge. Despite the radical differences between the Creator's knowledge and that of His creatures there are common elements: the grasp of being as true and the assimilation of the knower to the thing known. In the case of angelic knowledge we note its innateness and immediacy. In our analysis of human knowledge we see the consequences of what Aquinas refers to as the dimness of the human intellect, both in terms of how humans know and what they can know. In particular we highlight the fragmented nature of human knowledge, noting the absence of any mention of perceptual knowledge in Aquinas' account of human knowledge.
In chapter two we sketch the various contemporary epistemological categories that philosophers have sought to map onto Aquinas' epistemology. Pollock's theory of Direct Realism is sketched as an example of internalism. Foundationalism is discussed with reference to Chisholm. Two examples of externalism and reliabilism are given: Nozick's tracking and Goldman's reliabilism. We also discuss the foundationalist externalism of Plantinga. We then outline how these various labels have been applied to Aquinas' theory of knowledge. We begin with MacDonald's foundationalist and internalist interpretation, noting his description of perceptual knowledge as secondary scientia. We then consider Ross' attempt to describe perceptual knowledge in terms of faith. In contrast to these we describe Stump's externalist reading of Aquinas, noting that she finds support in the work of Norman Kretzmann.
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