Thomas Aquinas was born in 1224/25 in his family's castle at Roccasecca, Italy. After receiving elementary schooling at the nearby Benedictine abbey of Monte Cassino, in 1239 he began to study liberal arts and philosophy at the newly founded studium generale at Naples. While a student there, he joined the Dominican Order in 1244, much to the chagrin of his family who wanted him to become a Benedictine. At the request of his mother, he was forcibly taken from the Dominicans by soldiers and detained at the family castle for a year or more; but all efforts on the part of his family to persuade him not to become a Dominican failed. In 1245 his family permitted him to rejoin the Dominicans, who promptly sent him to Paris for further studies. There he came into contact with Albert the Great, and after some years in Paris, journeyed to Cologne with Albert, under whom he studied from 1248 until 1252. From 1252 until 1256 he studied theology at the University of Paris and fulfilled the requirements for becoming a magister in theology, including lecturing on the Sentences of Peter Lombard, which resulted in his Commentary on the Sentences. At this time he also published his first two philosophical opuscula: De ente et essentia (On being and essence) and De principiis naturae (On the principles of nature).
For Aquinas metaphysics, first philosophy, and a philosophical science of the divine (scientia divina) are one and the same. Following Aristotle, he is convinced that there is a science that studies being as being. Like other theoretical sciences, metaphysics must have a given subject. According to Aquinas this subject is being in general [ens commune) or being as being. Aquinas describes this science in that way in order to distinguish it from the less extended and more restricted subjects of the other theoretical sciences - natural philosophy (which studies being as subject to change and motion) and mathematics (which studies being as quantified).
By emphasizing that the subject of metaphysics is being as being, Aquinas also establishes his position on an earlier controversy concerning the relationship between the science of being as being described by Aristotle in Metaphysics IV 1-2 and the “first philosophy” or “divine science” developed in Metaphysics VI 1. While the first approach emphasizes the nonparticularity of the subject matter of this science, the second seems rather to focus its study on one particular kind or range of being: separate and immaterial entity, or the divine. If Aristotle clearly attempted to identify these two as one and the same science at the end of Metaphysics VI1, not all interpreters believe that he succeeded.
Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this to your organisation's collection.