Six Reasons We Should All Read Thomas Aquinas.
What is the significance of Thomism of Aquinas for an intellectual?
Aside from using Thomas as a symbol of intellectualism or scholasticism, or as a culture hero to put on a pedestal, there are six reasons why:
1. Thomism is the perfect introduction to philosophy. Thomas explores all positions ruthlessly and clearly. The result is that we get free from position at all by reading him, and at the same time deepen our insight into reality.
2. Thomism is the most illuminating philosopher precisely because he is the most general and catholic (that is, catholic as in "universal"). Forget multiculturalism; Thomas is the real deal of truth. While respecting only reason, Thomas smashed culture barriers between Jew, Muslim, and pagan and shows only the rigorous search for truth throughout.
3. The perennial philosophy is not of value insofar as it points towards tradition. Such tradition is a dead letter, not worth the paper it's printed on! That's not Aquinas at all!
4. The TRUE perennial philosophy is of value only insofar as it points towards Reality. Thomas is the ultimate realist; even his realism is qualified by a degree of uncertainly which could be called almost quantum.
5. Thomas describes what's real. Thomas has taken our measure, and his stuff is solid.
6. Thomas philosophizes more open-mindedly than anyone else before or after him. No other philosophical Christian begins with trying to show why God doesn't exist, why theology isn't worth studying, and why Christian faith shouldn't be believed. Except Thomas.
By this almost reckless disregard for propriety and faith in reason, Thomas is the exemplary philosopher for study, and should be first on everyone list.