Contemplation, according to Thomas Aquinas, is the central goal of our life. This study considers the epistemological and metaphysical foundations of the contemplative act; the nature of the active and contemplative lives in light of Aquinas's Dominican calling; the role of faith, charity, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit in contemplation; and contemplation and the beatific vision. Rik Van Nieuwenhove argues that Aquinas espouses a profoundly intellective notion of contemplation in the strictly speculative sense, which culminates in a non-discursive moment of insight (intuitus simplex). In marked contrast to his contemporaries Aquinas therefore rejects a sapiential or affective brand of theology. He also employs a broader notion of contemplation, which can be enjoyed by all Christians, in which the gifts of the Holy Spirit are of central importance. Thomas Aquinas and Contemplation will appeal to readers interested in this key aspect of Aquinas's thought. Van Nieuwenhove provides a lucid account of central aspects of Aquinas's metaphysics, epistemology, theology, and spirituality. He also offers new insights into the nature of the theological discipline as Aquinas sees it, and how theology relates to philosophy.
The work is remarkably accessible, given the many technical nuances involved with many of the subthemes, not to mention the breadth of topics treated. For these and many other reasons, Van Nieuwenhove's monograph should restart and move forward important debates among philosophers, dogmaticians, moralists, historians, and scholars of spirituality on medieval and Thomistic theories of contemplation. * Bernhard Blankenhorn, O.P, The Thomist * As one would hope to find given its title, the book is mostly exegetical in character, and Van Nieuwenhove charts, very beautifully and lucidly, not only the various strands of Aquinas's understanding of notions such as contemplation and wisdom, but also, in a number of cases, the evolution in his perspective and the relationship between his views and those of various of his contemporaries.....No one who is interested in the question of what Aquinas might have to
teach us about human life, and the conditions of our flourishing, could fail to be excited by this wide-ranging, rigorous, and judicious study - one that inspires as well as instructs * Mark Wynn, New Blackfriars * Much of this book is aimed at Thomist scholars and debates, but for anyone who thinks that contemplation is valuable, van Nieuwenhove convincingly raises the question of how contemplation is to be understood as more than a narrowly religious activity. * Edward Howells, The Way *