Thomistic Seminar

The Witherspoon Institute
July 28-August 3, 2024

Aquinas understands human beings as the highest of animals and the lowest of intellects. We are the highest of animals because we are the intellectual animal. But ours is the lowest of intellects. Intellectually, angels occupy a space between God and humans. Angels are immaterial intellectual creatures, higher than humans, lower than God. Thinking about the human being alongside angels opens philosophical questions about mind and body, knowledge, thought, and will. Considering humans alongside angels likewise opens theological questions about creation and sin—humans are not the only creatures who fell. And while angelology has not been a central topic for mainstream Anglophone contemporary philosophy, the character of more perfect intellectual activity and how it is or ought to be ordered has.

Does embodiment limit our intellectual lives? Can we understand the growth of human knowledge and wisdom as bringing us closer to (some kind of) an ideal? What is the relation between omniscience and perfect human understanding?

In this seminar we will think about angels, demons, human beings, and our ideas about what more perfect minds might be to explore these questions.

Stephen Brock, University of Chicago
Dhananjay Jagannathan, Columbia University
Anselm Mueller, University of Chicago
Candace Vogler, University of Chicago

This seminar is open to graduate students in philosophy and related fields.

Application Deadline: February 2, 2024