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

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kbdunn | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

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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