I heard a good definition of "modernism" on the radio yesterday that goes something like this: it is the belief that the new or the latest thing is always better than the old. Old ideas, old thinking, old ways of doing things should be discarded in favor of new ideas, new thinking, and new ways of doing things. Therefore, the assumption is that humanity will continue to advance in knowledge as time passes.
While I'm the first to admit that we know some things today that were not known 50, 100, 500, or 1000 years ago, I think it is also possible we have forgotten important things that people knew back then. I am not suggesting that we somehow go back to the past. It is neither possible or desirable to do so. However, it is a mistake to think that progress means we must forget what came before. Instead, we should recognize that the great minds of the past still have something to teach us, and their perspective may be just what we need to help us solve the problems we face today.
Last January 28th, the feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas, I attended the annual Aquinas Lecture sponsored by the Philosophy Department at University of Dallas. Thomas Aquinas is one of the greatest minds of the Middle Ages, and arguably of all human history. The talk inspired me to begin studying his Summa Theologiae again. I had taken a course on it a few years ago, but I want to go deeper into it. After going through a few articles of the Summa, I thought I should write some posts about what I'm studying in order to share some of the pearls I'm finding there as well as deepen my own understanding through writing. My hope is that this will work into a blogging series that is beneficial to myself and others.