Gentiles, And Galileo Galileo : A Comparison Of The Limition Of Reason

1489 WordsDec 8, 20176 Pages
Aristotle in Nicomachean Ethics, Thomas Aquinas in Summa on Gentiles, and Galileo Galilei in “Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina” all touch upon the notion of reason. Although all three authors have different interpretations of the nature of reason, they all impose limitations on utilizing reason to understand theology. These limitations are ultimately of two natures: a limitation on the ability of human reasoning and whether a non-rational component is necessary, or a limitation of the subject matter. Furthermore, the goals in utilizing reason appear to differ amongst the authors. While Aristotle considers reason as a method of imitating God and a sufficient tool to attain a likeness of God, both Galileo and Aquinas view reason as a…show more content…
The bible “is not chained in every expression to conditions as strict” and “differ[s] from the absolute truth as far as the bare meaning of the words is concerned…to be accommodated to the understanding of every man” (Galileo 162-163). Since the true meaning of the words must be extracted from the Bible, there is an inherent uncertainty that must be illuminated with the truth of science. The only way to ascertain the true meaning of Scripture is through referring to scientific conclusions, “the physical conclusions which manifest sense and necessary demonstrations have previously made certain” (Galileo 246-247). According to Galileo, therefore, “we ought to utilize [any certainties in physics] as the most appropriate aids in the true exposition of the Bible” as “these must be concordant with demonstrated truths” (Galileo 175-177). Demonstrated proofs are not only necessary for reaching scientific conclusions, but are also critical in the interpretation of theological concepts. Galileo’s interpretation of reason, then, is based completely upon demonstrations and is a form of purely rational thought. Aquinas’ evaluation of reason appears similar to that of Galileo at first glance, but is ultimately of a different nature. Aquinas argues that “things that are not perceived by the senses cannot be grasped by the human intellect except in so far as knowledge of them is gathered from the senses” (13-14). As

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