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Pioneers of Critical Thinking (Socrates, Plato Aristotle) / Thomas Aquinas and Critical Thinking. Objectives: To trace the intellectual legacy of the pioneers of critical thinking, namely, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle

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pioneers of critical thinking socrates plato aristotle thomas aquinas and critical thinking
Pioneers of Critical Thinking (Socrates, Plato Aristotle) / Thomas Aquinas and Critical Thinking

Objectives:

  • To trace the intellectual legacy of the pioneers of critical thinking, namely, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle
  • To introduce the students to the thought of Thomas Aquinas as a critical thinker
socrates 469 399
Socrates (469 -399)
  • Entelechus (Socratic questioning)
  • Midwife
  • Against the Sophists
  • Condemned to die by drinking hemlock
  • “The more I know, the more I know that I do not know.”
plato 429 347
Plato (429 – 347)
  • Famous student of Socrates
  • Immortalized Socrates in his “Dialogues”
  • Founder of the “Academy”
  • Known for his theory of knowledge called anamnesis
  • Theory of “forms” or “ideas”
  • Allegory of the Cave (Republic, Book VII)
  • “An unexamined life is not worth living.”
aristotle 384 322
Aristotle (384 – 322)
  • Famous student of Plato; famous teacher of Alexander the Great
  • Founder of the “Lyceum”
  • Author of Logic (Organon – Categories, Prior Analytics, Posterior Analytics, On Interpretation, Sophistical Refutations, Topics)
  • Virtue ethics
  • Happiness
  • We are what repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act but a habit.
thomas aquinas 1225 1274
Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274)
  • Author of Summa Theologiae among others
  • Reconciled reason and faith; systematized Catholic faith
  • Christianized Aristotle
  • Famous for the so-called “five ways”
  • “Better to illuminate than merely to shine, to deliver to others contemplated truths than merely to contemplate. “
five ways of thomas aquinas
Five Ways of Thomas Aquinas

1) The Argument of the Unmoved Mover

The argument of the unmoved mover, or ex motu, tries to explain that God must be the cause of motion in the universe. It is therefore a form of the cosmological argument. It goes thus:

  • Some things are moved.
  • Everything that is moving is moved by a mover.
  • An infinite regress of movers is impossible.
  • Therefore, there is an unmoved mover from whom all motion proceeds.
  • This mover is what we call God.
five ways of thomas aquinas1
Five Ways of Thomas Aquinas

2) The Argument of the First Cause

The argument of the first cause (ex causa), tries, unlike the argument of the Unmoved Mover, to prove that God must have been the cause, or the creator of the universe. It is therefore another form of the cosmological argument. It goes thus :

  • Some things are caused.
  • Everything that is caused is caused by something else.
  • An infinite regress of causation is impossible.
  • Therefore, there must be an uncaused cause of all that is caused.
  • This cause is what we call God.
five ways of thomas aquinas2
Five Ways of Thomas Aquinas

3) The Argument from Contingency

  • Many things in the universe may either exist or not exist. Such things are called contingent beings.
  • It is impossible for everything in the universe to be contingent, for then there would be a time when nothing existed, and so nothing would exist now, since there would be nothing to bring anything into existence, which is clearly false.
  • Therefore, there must be a necessary being whose existence is not contingent on any other being or beings.
  • This being is whom we call God.
five ways of thomas aquinas3
Five Ways of Thomas Aquinas

4) The Argument from Degree

The argument from degree or gradation (ex gradu). It is heavily based upon the teachings of the ancient Greek philosopher Plato. It goes thus :

  • Varying perfections of varying degrees may be found throughout the universe.
  • These degrees assume the existence of an ultimate standard of perfection.
  • Therefore perfection must have a pinnacle.
  • This pinnacle is whom we call God.
five ways of thomas aquinas4
Five Ways of Thomas Aquinas

5) The Teleological Argument

The teleological argument or argument of "design" (ex fine), which claims that everything in the Universe has a purpose, which must have been caused by God :

  • All natural bodies in the world act towards ends.
  • These objects are in themselves unintelligent.
  • Acting towards an end is characteristic of intelligence.
  • Therefore, there exists an intelligent being that guides all natural bodies towards their ends.
  • This being is whom we call God.