Rosmini: Thomist or Neo-Thomist? The Debate Continues

  •  Nico P. Swartz    


Neo-Thomism alludes to the aspect of renewal within the context of continuity.  Thomas Aquinas himself effectuated expansion and renewal of the works of Aristotle.  By virtue of this the neo-Thomist may not allow his thinking to become staid and stagnant in respect of the views of Thomas Aquinas.  He should progress and make adjustments in keeping with the dynamics of the current period of time and should not merely relate the words of Thomas Aquinas.  The neo-Thomist should carry into effect the spiritual thinking of Aquinas and where possible expound on this.  On this basis neo-Thomism is indicative of expansion, renewal, originality and application.  According to this premise Rosmini may be considered a neo-Thomist.  On the question, whether he will also be considered a Thomist, the answer can be found in the opinions of Rosmini’s advocates and opponents.  Rosmini’s advocate’s, on the one hand, argue that he attempted to introduce innovative thinking to the Thomistic tradition that emphasized him as a neo-Thomist.  His opponents, on the other hand, uphold traditional Thomism and were adamant that Rosmini could not be classified in terms of this grouping.  This paper underpins a via media by emphasizing, on the one hand, that Rosmini’s views of theology and philosophy fall within the ambit of traditional or classical Thomism.  His theological and philosophical views would eventually replace Thomism as the official philosophy of the Catholic Church.  According to Rosmini’s advocates, his ideas were interpreted out of context by his opponents.  They believe that Rosmini upheld traditional Thomism and that hostile political influences should be left out of the picture.  It is evident in this paper that Rosmini’s viewpoints uphold the fundamental truths of traditional Thomism while expanding on it in the light of the prevailing social and political context of the era.  He applied the points of departure of Thomism in such a way that they gained a new and dynamic actuality.  In this respect Rosmini’s views fall into the category of neo-Thomism, in addition to the traditional or classical Thomism.  

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