Thomas Aquinas: Teacher of Humanity
Pope John Paul II bestowed upon St. Thomas Aquinas the accolade of Doctor Humanitatis, or “Doctor of Humanity,” because he was ready to affirm the good or value of culture wherever it is to be found. Thomas is a teacher for our time because of his “assertions on the dignity of the human person and the use of his reason.” (“Inter Munera Academiarum,” 1999). This collection of papers explores the various philosophical and theological aspects of the thought of both Thomas Aquinas and John Paul II pertaining to this theme of “teacher of humanity.” The topics discussed here include the political praxis of Karol Wojtyla; Gadamer on common sense; prudence and subsidiarity; embodied cognition; the knowledge of God; the commandment of love; Pope Francis on the Beatitudes; the new evangelization; Thomism and modern cosmology; and the challenges of transhumanism and gender ideology.
The papers were presented at a conference held in Houston, Texas, USA, in 2013, cosponsored by the Center for Thomistic Studies, the John Paul II Forum, and the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas. This work will help to realize in its small way the hopes of Saint John Paul II concerning St. Thomas Aquinas: “It is to be hoped that now and in the future there will be those who continue to cultivate this great philosophical and theological tradition [of Aquinas] for the good of both the Church and humanity.” (Fides et ratio §74) Additionally, it will undoubtedly be of interest to all participants in the cultivation of the thought of Thomas Aquinas, John Paul II, and the dialogue between Thomism and the modern world.
John P. Hittinger is a Full Professor in the Department of Philosophy and a member of the Center for Thomistic Studies at the University of St Thomas, Houston. He is the founder and director of the Pope John Paul II Forum for the Church in the Modern World (jp2forum.org). He holds degrees in Philosophy from the University of Notre Dame (BA) and the Catholic University of America (MA and PhD). He is a member of the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas (Vatican). Dr Hittinger has published four books, namely The Vocation of the Catholic Philosopher: from Maritain to Wojtyla (2011); Liberty, Wisdom and Grace: Thomism and Modern Democratic Theory (2002); Reassessing the Liberal State: Reading Maritain’s Man and the State (2001); and Liberalism at the Crossroads: An Introduction to Contemporary Liberal Theory and its Critics (1994).
Daniel Wagner has degrees in Philosophy from the University of Montana (BA) and Gonzaga University (MA), and is currently a doctoral candidate, completing his dissertation on the topic of the Aristotelian Foundations of the Human Person, at the Center for Thomistic Studies at the University of St. Thomas, Houston. Daniel has served as Graduate Assistant to the John Paul II Forum for two years, and is currently Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at the University of St. Thomas.
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