Review by Pravin Thevathasan
In the last few years, there have been many excellent works on St. Thomas and his teaching and, to a certain extent,
they have tended to be works written by academics for academics. Morris has done something different by introducing
St. Thomas to readers who have not been previously acquainted either with St Thomas or with philosophy and she
has succeeded admirably in this goal.
The first chapter provides readers with a convincing argument in determining the meaning of things. There is a
useful list of philosophers opposed to the realism of St. Thomas from Ockham to Merleau-Ponty.
The second chapter consists of a well argued study of the metaphysics of St. Thomas — “A philosophy of balance.”
The third chapter is about “physics” as understood
by St. Thomas, that is, the study of the philosophy of things that change. In order for there to be a proper understanding
of physics, there needs to be a prior understanding of metaphysics. Otherwise, we surely end up with one of the
heresies of our age: scientism.
The chapter on ecology begins with a consideration of the four causes of things. Man, for St. Thomas, is expected
to maintain a balance between his rationality and animality. The mistaken belief that man is nothing but rationality
was introduced by Descartes. We are surely living in a age when man is seen as nothing but animal.
In the chapter on a respect for human nature, the author shows how, for St. Thomas, unless reason is allowed to
rule the appetites, man cannot lead a virtuous life. The chapter examines vicious habits that lead to abortion
and virtuous habits that culminate in charity.
In the chapter on marriage, the author shows that, without Thomistic roots, we have no real understanding
of the nature of marriage. Once we discard the natural law, we logically move from contraception to homosexual
The chapters on marriage, morals and ecology are especially lucid and practical. The teaching of St. Thomas is
solidly founded on the natural law and in our desire to flourish as human beings, St. Thomas is our sure guide.
In conclusion, this is an excellent introduction to the sublime teaching of St. Thomas and is written clearly by
an author who cares deeply about Thomistic teaching.
Copyright © N. A. Morris 2005
This Version: 31st August 2010