Current Concurrent MAPh/MATh - Thomistic Studies Student
When asked why one has decided to study philosophy and theology the answer is usually quite simple: for its own sake. However, what this means is not quite so simple. Such a pursuit does not generally yield the rewards that can be enjoyed immediately. The fruits of contemplation seem to be enjoyable only in light of the fruits that are promised. Any intellectual pursuit only informs us that our pursuits cannot yield fruit on their own. Though the goal of philosophy is to discover truth, when considered in light of the ultimate and unchanging truth—the truth that lies infinitely beyond our grasp, anything to be reached seems to be, as it were, straw.
The question then becomes, why continue studying philosophy? If there is no end in sight, why not simply agree that there are fruits beyond our gaze and then busy ourselves with those temporary rewards that can at least be enjoyed for a moment? Surely there cannot be anything wrong in such a conclusion. The danger, however, is that our pursuits begin to become governed simply by these changing and fleeting rewards—to the point where the final sight of our gaze is not only obscured, but it is truly forgotten.
Indeed this is the state we find ourselves in now. Any and all pursuits seem to be content with what can be seen and enjoyed today. Removing truth itself from the world can certainly lead a world astray. I believe this is the answer to our question. Though the absolute fruits may be promised, this does not abolish the possibility of sharing the fruits of our contemplation with others. There seems to be a certain urgency that we restore our gaze upon something that does not change—such a sentiment is certainly flourishing at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology.
Though I can speak of the school's situatedness blocks from UCB, or the school's academic schedule that allows students to find time for work amid the books to be read and the papers to be written—I could even mention the intellectual rigor imparted by study that allows students to find work not just in academia, but in counseling, sales, communications, or even politics and law—this is not my goal. Quite the contrary, following the tradition established by Saint Dominic and his heirs, The Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology is carried on the backs of men and women who clearly see why truth must be pursued. Even more so, in the fashion of Saint Thomas Aquinas, for these men and women, “it is indeed better to share the fruits of one's contemplation than merely to contemplate.”
The many works of Saint Thomas, though intellectually rigorous—both philosophically and theologically, speculatively and practically—have surely been given by someone, “wholly consumed by love of the absolute.” Only someone wholly consumed by the absolute could provide something as inspiring and beautiful as Saint Thomas has. Though he himself would never take credit—as truth is beautiful enough on its own it requires no argument—Saint Thomas is indeed responsible for the conversion of many from the dark. Using the light carried by his brother Dominic, Saint Thomas now finds his way to the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology. Where, indeed, his fellow brothers consumed by love of the absolute, wish only to share the fruits with we students.
If ever one pursues the truth for some reason other than truth itself, he runs the risk of obscuring that truth with his own desires—such opaqueness, when shared with others only leads to hatred of the truth. Thankfully, the philosophy and theology pursued at the DSPT is pursued only for itself, so that it might be pleasing when shared with others.