Christ, the happiest man alive said, “It is happier to give than to receive.”
How true this is! So I have resolved to give the world a short chant in praise of a young man named Thomas, whose wisdom will only continue to flourish with age.

He flew to England to live in the home of CS Lewis and to study medieval philosophy. He loves his wife, and she adores him. He loves smoking his pipe, tending to the dishes, keeping the picture frames straight on the wall. He sweeps the floor for fun. He enjoys writing sonnets, and watching the sun set behind the trees in his backyard. He loved to spend eight-to-ten hours a day at the Bodleian, studying the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas.

He loves wisdom. He does not use wisdom to attain the esteem of men. He does not use wisdom to impress the rich and earn their wealth with which to gratify the desires of the flesh.

His intellectual austerity is that of a man who seeks wisdom and will reject every falsehood in favor of finding it. His eyes are “alive with intellectual torture,” as if burning in a holy fire. (Indeed, the life of the mind is a kind of slow martyrdom, being lead by arguments where we do not want to go, being killed and reborn daily into the image of Truth.) His eyes might as quickly melt an argument that does not accord with the holy Argument as they might melt the hearts of his fellow men in burning love for their Father, the God who is the Truth that the lovers of wisdom have sought for thousands of years, and will continue to seek.

You philosophers! You madman! When will you stop trying to fit the heavens into your head? When will you submit, and be content merely to put your head into heaven? I know you, for you are myself! Yet Thomas has helped to pluck the log from my eye, and I have become his twin, so that I now see clearly enough to pluck the speck from yours. You hypocrites! You are not white-washed tombs…You are empty universities! You are libraries with no books! What use is it to you to discourse learnedly on the Trinity if you displease the Trinity? What use is it to you to know the writings of other men if you do not know yourself? Who will save you if you become on expert on any subject but displease the Subject of your expertise?

Rather, be like Thomas, as he is like Christ. He said, “I can write no more. I have seen things which make all my writings like straw.” If I have a reading knowledge of Greek, Latin, German and French, and yet do not have love, than I have become a broken alarm clock. If I write poetry not like a man but an angel, if I sell millions of copies worldwide, if I am translated into twenty-seven foreign languages, if I am promoted to Proffessor Emeritus at the number-one ranking analytic philosophy departmant in North America, but have not love, then I am worse than the man who dies in his sleep.

Do you despise me because I do not speak in arguments? Because I do not define my terms, state and justify the premise –or premises– from which I infer all of the above necessarily follows?

Let us continue to seek the principle — or principles — of true science. Let us refuse to be dogmatists, and refuse to be skeptics. Let us love wisdom truly, serving it and no other, for a man cannot have two masters, fame and wisdom, pleasure and wisdom. Let us be like Thomas, as he is like Christ.

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Posted by Keith E. Buhler

One Comment

  1. Thomas has indeed been described as a tortured intellectual; he has also been humiliated in academic contexts, so he has at least an etymological relation to intellectual humility; finally, he does enjoy physical nature, perhaps at times immoderately.

    I hope he becomes the best philosopher he can possibly be, without becoming one of the philosophers that K.B. decries.

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