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What are the similarities and differences between Augustine and Aquinas when it comes...

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kbdunn | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted December 5, 2011 at 12:35 PM via web

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What are the similarities and differences between Augustine and Aquinas when it comes to faith and reason?

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readerofbooks | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted December 5, 2011 at 12:50 PM (Answer #1)

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One of the fundamental points of Augustine is that people are fallen due to sin. We can say that he has a very strong view of original sin. This includes the thinking abilities of people. So, according to Augustine, no one can reason their way to God. We can say that Augustine has a rather bleak view of humanity. In light of this, the relation between faith and reason is: "faith seeking reason." Or we can say, Augustine believes in order to understand.

When it comes to Aquinas, he, too, believed that humanity was fallen, but he had a much higher view of the mind. In other words, he believed that through careful reasoning and intellectual effort, a person could reach the conclusion of a Christian God. In fact, one of the reasons for his magnum opus, Summa Theologica, was to prove the existence of God. From this perspective, we can say that reason can lead to faith, just the opposite of Augustine.

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thetall | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted April 21, 2015 at 9:30 AM (Answer #2)

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Saint Augustus and Aquinas are both renowned for their input in the field of philosophy and theology with Augustus coming some centuries before Aquinas. They both had similarities and differences in their inferences with regards to different topics. Their similarities in this regard are:

  • Both explored the dichotomy of faith and reason and how they relate to each other.
  • They both agree on the contradiction presented by reason versus scripture.
  • They both believe in the attainment of higher truths through faith.
  • They both consider faith as trust in the scriptures and the belief in the existence of God, while reason is an attempt at understanding God.

Their differences include:

  • St. Augustine was more inclined to the Platonist way of inference while St. Aquinas was more inclined to the Aristotelian way of thinking.
  • St. Augustine believed that logic or reason would only be applicable to a non-Christian but not applicable to a Christian who has developed their faith which he considered superior. St. Aquinas on the other hand believed faith and reason are interrelated.

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