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You are all familiar with the "Aristotle, Aquinas, Ayn Rand" quote. I have been reading up on Aquinas, but so far I do not see what would have made Rand recommend him so strongly. Granted that he took many things from Aristotle, but if he did nothing but that, there would have been no reason to recommend him AND Aristotle. His theology has a couple of clever points, but I do not think Rand would have recommended him based on that.

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You are all familiar with the "Aristotle, Aquinas, Ayn Rand" quote. I have been reading up on Aquinas, but so far I do not see what would have made Rand recommend him so strongly. Granted that he took many things from Aristotle, but if he did nothing but that, there would have been no reason to recommend him AND Aristotle. His theology has a couple of clever points, but I do not think Rand would have recommended him based on that.

What sort of 'recommendation' did you have in mind? Rand praised Aquinas in large measure because his philosophy marked a crucial historical turning point: the return of Aristotle to a position of intellectual influence in western civilization. That achievement didn't require crafting crucial new philosophical insights of his own.

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You are all familiar with the "Aristotle, Aquinas, Ayn Rand" quote.

What makes you say that? What quote are you referring to? My recollection of Rand's comments was that she marked him as a turning point, rather than as a significant philosopher in his own right.

There were many of the scholastics that were working with the newly discovered Aristotelian treatises at the time. For additional background, I'd suggest The Aristotle Adventure, which chronicles these.

Edited by KendallJ
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To quickly weigh in, I'd say he also has also gained some signifiance since he championed the necessity of reason in the face of critics who more or less proclaimed God as superior to reason. If memory serves there were a few edicts and such issued against Aquinas by his peers for his "heretical" stance.

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The quote he is referring to is (I think) Peikoff saying something like "...the three A's: Aristotle, Aquinas, and Ayn Rand."

Aquinas was a major philosopher who marked a turning point in Western thought. He can be seen as bringing our intellectual discourse out of the Platonic/Augustine-dominated medieval period. His interpretation of Aristotle provided an opposing perspective to prior interpretations by Averroes and Maimonides, and led to Bacon's New Organon, which is a massively important work in the history of Western science. Moreover, Aquinas wrote extensive commentaries on nearly all of Aristotle's writings, defending his own interpretations of what Aristotle meant (it is interesting and telling to note Aquinas hardly uses Aristotle's name, but instead refers to him with the preeminent title 'The Philosopher'). Crucially notable is Aquinas' commentary on the Metaphysics, a work which is extraordinarily difficult and had been argued over for centuries. In a sense, Aquinas clarified some of Aristotle's writings. Lastly, whereas Aristotle made no explicit or direct remarks concerning free will, Aquinas tackeld the question head on in Quaestiones disputatae de veritate by using Aristotle's texts to conclude with what likely would have been a viewpoint that Aristotle would have shared (and a view on free will very similar to that of Objectivism).

Edited by adrock3215
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The quote he is referring to is (I think) Peikoff saying something like "...the three A's: Aristotle, Aquinas, and Ayn Rand."

Just wanted to add that this is definitely a Rand quote from a question period after one of her talks. I've heard her say it.

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This is why:

St. Thomas Aquinas:

The Existence of God can be proved in five ways.

Argument Analysis of the Five Ways

The First Way: Argument from Motion

Our senses prove that some things are in motion.

Things move when potential motion becomes actual motion.

Only an actual motion can convert a potential motion into an actual motion.

Nothing can be at once in both actuality and potentiality in the same respect (i.e., if both actual and potential, it is actual in one respect and potential in another).

Therefore nothing can move itself.

Therefore each thing in motion is moved by something else.

The sequence of motion cannot extend ad infinitum.

Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be God.

The Second Way: Argument from Efficient Causes

We perceive a series of efficient causes of things in the world.

Nothing exists prior to itself.

Therefore nothing is the efficient cause of itself.

If a previous efficient cause does not exist, neither does the thing that results.

Therefore if the first thing in a series does not exist, nothing in the series exists.

The series of efficient causes cannot extend ad infinitum into the past, for then there would be no things existing now.

Therefore it is necessary to admit a first efficient cause, to which everyone gives the name of God.

The Third Way: Argument from Possibility and Necessity (Reductio argument)

We find in nature things that are possible to be and not to be, that come into being and go out of being i.e., contingent beings.

Assume that every being is a contingent being.

For each contingent being, there is a time it does not exist.

Therefore it is impossible for these always to exist.

Therefore there could have been a time when no things existed.

Therefore at that time there would have been nothing to bring the currently existing contingent beings into existence.

Therefore, nothing would be in existence now.

We have reached an absurd result from assuming that every being is a contingent being.

Therefore not every being is a contingent being.

Therefore some being exists of its own necessity, and does not receive its existence from another being, but rather causes them. This all men speak of as God.

The Fourth Way: Argument from Gradation of Being

There is a gradation to be found in things: some are better or worse than others.

Predications of degree require reference to the “uttermost” case (e.g., a thing is said to be hotter according as it more nearly resembles that which is hottest).

The maximum in any genus is the cause of all in that genus.

Therefore there must also be something which is to all beings the cause of their being, goodness, and every other perfection; and this we call God.

The Fifth Way: Argument from Design

We see that natural bodies work toward some goal, and do not do so by chance.

Most natural things lack knowledge.

But as an arrow reaches its target because it is directed by an archer, what lacks intelligence achieves goals by being directed by something intelligence.

Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God.

Rand was an athiest so obviously she didn't buy into any of these arguments, but she did appreciate Aquinas's use of reason to prove the existance of God, and his work had repurcussions down the road, both for future philosophers, and the church.

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