Once I found a secondhand copy of The Pocket Aquinas, a little book, but dense with words. Somebody was throwing it away. As the pages and spine were still pristine, it seemed the first owner had found no use for it, but I knew that Aquinas was one of the revered theologians of Catholicism, and I thought that one day I would find time to investigate. This was back in the days when I had room in my heart and home for almost any book, provided only that it promised some serious purpose.
Years went by, and The Pocket Aquinas remained unopened. There was always something more compelling to read. As I have commented elsewhere, the impossibility of reading everything that deserves some attention eventually forced its way into my consciousness. I began to throw books out: books I felt sure I would never read again, or books that did not promise enough to read even once.
I came to Aquinas. I told myself that the great scholar deserved a hearing, so I opened the book. It was unreadable: dull beyond imagining, pointless beyond belief, possessing no insight into God or Humanity, and doing a lot to confirm our worst prejudices about medievalism.
One can look at almost any page and find something unhelpful: I will quote at random:
- As a result, Aristotle in the Metaphysics says that “element’ means the primary component of a thing, immanent in it, and indivisible into other kinds of stuff. The meaning of the first phrase, “the primary component of a thing” is clear from what we have just said. The second phrase “immanent in it” is included to differentiate “element” from matter that is wholly corrupted by generation. For example, food is matter for blood, but blood is not produced unles the food is used up; hence, the food does not remain in the blood, and so, food cannot be called an element of blood. [p69]
- We can understand “complete substantial entity” [hoc aliquid] in two ways: first, as anything that subsists; second, as a complete subsistent within the nature of any species. [p111]
- A judment, of course, ought to be proportional to the matters judged. And because the last judgment will be about the reward or punishment of visible bodies, it is suitable that it be carried out visibly. [p355]
Dismantling the book, I constructed the Thomas Aquinas chocolate box, lined inside and out with his words, aesthetically arranged. The text has been tinted a lovely scarlet and trimmed with a touch of gold. The Thomas Aquinas chocolate box, in the nature of things, is empty.
© 2020 Craig Bingham
Read something similar:
Read something different:
Ficus macrophylla [one life may be squeezed into another — fiction]
How Tobin found the iron statuette [and lost a girlfriend — fiction]
Climate change and other small/large problems [or, why CO2 can’t affect the climate just like aspirin can’t affect your pain — opinion]
Sculpture by the Sea [see the beautiful and weird — review]