Volume 90, 2016
Justice: Then and Now
Then and Now—A Thomistic Account of History
Thomists do not have a standard account of history as a discipline or of historical knowledge in general. Since Thomism is a tradition of thought derived in part from historical figures and their works, it is necessary for Thomists to be able to say how we know what we know about those figures and their works. In this paper, I analyze the notion of history both in its key contemporary senses and in how it was used by Aristotle and Aquinas. I show briefly how intellectual knowledge of the past is possible. Then, I argue that the Thomistic tradition implies a far wider notion of history than is generally recognized, history as study of the past in general, not a science in itself, but an aspect of other sciences. Finally, I indicate how this wider notion of history relates to the ordinary sense of history as an inquiry into the specifically human past and then how such an account fits within contemporary Thomism.