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Studia Neoaristotelica

Volume 13, Issue 4, 2016

Series Bohemoslovaca

Lukáš Novák
Pages 41-66

Tomáš Akvinský instrumentalistou v matematice?
(Kritika Sousedíkovy a Svobodovy interpretace)

P. Sousedík and D. Svoboda, in their paper “Různá pojetí matematiky u vybraných autorů od antiky po raný novověk: Je matematika teoretická věda nebo pouhá technika?”, proposed an interpretation of Aquinas’s understanding of the nature of mathematics which the author regards as unsatisfactory. The purpose of this review article is to point out its problems and to suggest in its stead an adequate interpretation of Aquinas’s mind, on the basis of a detailed analysis of his texts. The author shows that Aquinas was by no means an instrumentalist in mathematics but considered mathematical truths to be directly applicable to “physical matter”. Such an application takes place in sciences like astronomy, harmonics or optics, which, although sometimes subsumed under mathematics broadly conceived, nevertheless form a special category qua the so-called “middle sciences” (viz. situated between mathematics and physics) and are thus no true species of mathematics. The fact that these sciences are also regarded as “arts” does not preclude their scientific character at all, since the two categories are not mutually exclusive, according to St. Thomas.

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