Guest lecture. Robert Sweetman: “What's in a Life: The Hierarchy of Forms and the Vita Christi Section of the Summa Theologiae of Thomas Aquinas.”
H. Evan Runner Chair in the History of Philosophy, Institute for Christian Studies and Visiting Research Fellow, PIMS
Aquinas put his hand to thinking through the shapes that human life can and ought to take in a number of places within his oeuvre. One of the most important of these is in the context of the section of Tertia Pars of the Summa Theologiae in which he takes up the earthly life of Christ as reported in the Scriptures for reflection. In it, one sees that he is not primarily interested in the life as story, although he takes the narrative character of Christ's life as presented in the Scriptures for granted. Rather, Aquinas is here interested to account for why the story is told as it is; why each element or event finds its place in the story. His accounting centres upon three intentions:demonstratio, admiratio and imitatio. These intentions forge a link to contemporary hagiographical practices and assumptions as well as to his work in the Secunda secundae and elsewhere in his corpus. What emerges is an implicit formal hierarchy of vitae in which higher vitae include all the operations associated with lower vitae, while adding to such operations their own defining one. The life of Christ can be seen as the apex of the hierarchy and this fits well with the place and purpose of the vita as subject of theological reflection with theSumma theologiae as a whole.
This event is free and open to the public. Registration is not required. For further information, please contact thePontifical Institute for Mediaeval Studies at (416) 926-7142.
Please note that the date of this lecture has been rescheduled from April 9 to April 8.
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