3. Brief statement on Rene Descartes' approach to philosophy.
4. Brief statement on Saint Thomas Aquinas' approach to theology.
II. SKEPTICISM--THE APPROACHES OF THOMAS AQUINAS AND RENE DESCARTES
3. Descartes and two proofs of God.
4. Aquinas and the first cause argument.
5. Similarity of Descartes' second proof to that of Aquinas.
6. Descartes' Demon Arguments and how this differentiates Descartes from Aquinas.
8. Descartes' and the certainty of his own thoughts.
Concluding comments on Aquinas and Descartes.
This essay compares and analyzes Rene Descartes and Thomas Aquinas with regard to their treatment of skepticism. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274 A.D.) and Rene Descartes (1596-1650 A.D.) would seem to be coming from different philosophical and theological positions. However, although Aquinas was a priest of the Dominican Order and probably the greatest of the scholastics, he and Descartes, a seventeenth-century rationalist philosopher, do agree on some points. It would seem, nevertheless, that one's first impression of the two would be that they are quite dissimilar. But in both of these great thinkers there are common threads of thought.
From the point of view of epistemology, Aquinas and Descartes share the concept that knowledge is innate and is discovered deductively. This approach is, of course, exactly the opposite of the modern scientific method, which is inductive in its quest for answers about the universe. The method of Aquinas, for instance, could never have brought forth the scientific developments of the twentieth century; but that would not have been his purpose anyway, since his main concern was in building a reasonable theology about the Christian faith. Yet, as a philosopher, Descartes' ultimate objective was not religious, but he was interested particularly in establishing human knowledge on the most sturdy foundation possible. Descartes, however, was quite aware that do...