For PHS 611 – Classical Logic and Epistemology
“How does a subject relate to objects according to Aquinas’ cognitive theory?”
Aquinas, Thomas. Summa Contra Gentiles, Vol 2. Translated by James F. Anderson.
London: University of Notre Dame Press, 1956. Volume 2 contains Thomas’ philosophical exploration and elucidation of his cognitive theory. He identifies human intellectual activity as a interaction between the passive (i.e., possible intellect) and active (i.e., agent intellect) elements of the human intellectual soul. The intellect both receives and acts upon the phantasms which it encounters using its bodily senses.
Gallagher, Kenneth. T. The Philosophy of Knowledge. New York: Fordham University
Press, 1986. This book is an excellent overview of the fundamental issues of cognitive theory from a contemporary Thomistic perspective. Gallagher specifically contextualizes Thomistic epistemology within modern epistemological developments, specifically the subject / object dualism derived in part from Descartes’ revolutionary approach to knowledge, doubt and certitude.
Gilson, Etienne. The Philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas. Translated by Edward
Bullough, edited by G. A. Elrington. New York: Dorset Press, 1948. A summary of Thomas’ philosophy which includes how it is that the knower and the thing which is known relate to one another according to Aquinas. As it was published in the mid-20th century, it takes into the Cartesian epistemological revolution.
Gilson, Etienne. The Spirit of Thomism. New York: Kenedy and Sons, 1964. Included
here primarily because of the final chapter of the book which includes an honest and insightful reflection on how it is that Thomism may be revitalized within late-modernity which is defined by a profoundly different anthropological understanding and epistemology.
Kerr, Fergus. After Aquinas. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2002.
A modern Thomistic book which places the issue of epistemology at the forefront. Kerr recognizes the epistemological revolution of Descartes, and begins this book with a chapter focusing upon it.
Torrell, Jean-Pierre. St. Thomas Aquinas – Volume 2, Spiritual Master. Translated by
Robert Royal. Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 2003. Torrell’s work is included here primarily because he clarifies the confusion regarding Thomas’ use of the terms ‘subject’ and ‘object’ and the way these terms are used in a modern and specifically Cartesian sense. It is counter-intuitive for a modern individual to think of Thomas’ definition of ‘subject’ as being ‘that which is outside the mind’ when in our modern Cartesian use of the word ‘subject’ is reduced to our ego.