IMC 2018: Sessions

Session 347: Memory in Thomas Aquinas

Monday 2 July 2018, 16.30-18.00

Moderator/Chair:Mark Wynn, School of Philosophy, Religion & History of Science, University of Leeds
Paper 347-aAquinas: Is There Salvation for People with Bad Memory?
(Language: English)
Mariella Annika Asikanius, Senter for misjon og globale studier, VID vitenskapelige høgskole, Stavanger
Index terms: Canon Law, Medicine, Philosophy, Theology
Paper 347-bThe Importance of the Exercise of Memory for Progressing in Science according to Thomas Aquinas
(Language: English)
Inês Bolinhas, Faculdade de Ciências Humanas, Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Lisboa
Index terms: Education, Philosophy, Sermons and Preaching
Paper 347-cThe Theological and Mnemonic Structure of Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae
(Language: English)
Anton ten Klooster, Thomas Instituut, Utrecht / Department of Systematic Theology & Philosophy, Tilburg University
Index terms: Education, Philosophy, Theology

Paper -a:
According to Aquinas, people with a melancholic temperament type have a poor ability to recall. For those suffering from melancholia as a mental disorder the situation is even worse – they have no use of reason (including the ability to recall) at all. Everyone who has committed a mortal sin needs the sacrament of penance in order to reach salvation. In this sacrament, the penitent has to recall and list his or her sins to be free from them. Can those who either naturally or through a mental disorder are not able to recall the sins they have committed be saved?

Paper -b:
In the thomistic perspective, memory is indispensable for progressing in science, whether speculative or practical. We know today that the letter De modo studendi, dedicated to a certain Brother John, is spurious. However, in his university sermon, entitled Puer Iesus, the Dominican Master, evoking the example of the meditation of the Virgin Mary, addresses students pointing out the importance of memory for progressing in science. He also refers the importance of exercising memory to progress in moral science. Relying on Cicero, Thomas states that memory is a part of that virtue which, according to him, is the very queen of cardinal virtues: prudence. This perspective is already present at the beginning of his academic career, as a baccalaureus sententiarius, and is once more affirmed in his maturity, both in Summa Theologiae and in the commentary to Aristotle’s De memoria et reminiscentia. We intend, with this study, to provide a comprehensive understanding of the subject of memory in Thomas by resorting, whenever necessary, to insights from philosophical anthropology as well as from the philosophy of knowledge.

Paper -c:
In the secunda pars of his Summa Theologiae, Aquinas makes a number of alignments. These connections of virtues, gifts of the Holy Spirit, beatitudes, and fruits of the Spirit, serve to memorize septenaries. But the mnemonic structure also reflects a theological structure: one septenary is the cause of the other. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are the habitus that cause the actus of the beatitudes, for example. By exploring the mnemonic structures theologically, we can read the Summa in a new way, and uncover more fully its theology of human happiness.