Is it necessary to read Aristotle's books in order to understand St. Thomas Aquinas's Summa Theologica?

  • 1
    Necessary for whom, or for what purpose? And which books? May 30, 2016 at 13:56
  • @MattGutting I don't think a question can be any more clear than that.
    – mil
    May 30, 2016 at 16:35
  • 1
    @mil: Matt has asked a reasonable question. The fact that your question has received 3 downvotes, and 4 close votes should serve as an indicator that your question has some serious problems. As a newcomer here, you might do well to heed the advice of those who have been here for a while, rather than taking an argumentative stance.
    – Flimzy
    May 30, 2016 at 20:21

1 Answer 1


Although St. Thomas Aquinas is said to have "reconciled" Aristotle with Christian theology, he rejects much of Aristotle (e.g., he rejects that Aristotle thought the world is eternal).
(Interestingly, St. Thomas refers to Aristotle as "Aristotle" when he disagrees with him and as "The Philosopher" when he agrees with him.)

Understand Scholastic terminology.

St. Thomas can be understood without reading any Aristotle; however, it is necessary to understand the Scholastic terminology he uses. To aid with this, see:

Understand the doctrine of actuality and potentiality.

Philosophically, hylemorphism (the doctrine of actuality and potentiality) forms the basis of Thomism. See:

Reading Aristotle not necessary but could be helpful

If you want to read Aristotle (it certainly doesn't hurt in helping one understand St. Thomas), read the following works by Aristotle alongside St. Thomas's commentaries on them:

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