Where is the truth

Summary of From the truth

The Roman Church in the 13th century

At the beginning of the 13th century, the Roman Church achieved secular political power that was previously unattainable. The popes had since been no longer satisfied with only having the say in religious matters Innocent II, around 100 years earlier, tried to assert their precedence over the Christian kings and finally also over the emperor. In 1220 it was Frederick II crowned Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Unlike his predecessors, during his reign he was mainly concerned with the interests of Italy, especially the pacification of the embattled Kingdom of Sicily. Of course, arguments with the already power-hungry church were preprogrammed on this ground. Friedrich repeatedly interfered in Roman affairs and repeatedly turned against the Pope. Announced at the Council of Lyon in 1245 Innocent IV finally the official removal of Frederick as Emperor and King of Sicily - a drastic display of the church's position of power. Friedrich stubbornly resisted, but died unexpectedly in 1250. This meant that the Pope was no longer confronted with an equal, secular power. Italy quickly lost its cohesion and split up into several small states. But the papacy, too, emerged weakened from the dispute: not only the war against Friedrich, but also the crusades had devoured enormous sums of money. The special levies with which the wars were financed by the Church had weighed heavily on the people and soon aroused critical voices, which questioned the moral authority of the Pope. Outside the church, it was above all the religious movements of the Waldensians and Cathars who called for reform (and were persecuted as heretics for it); within the Church, the Franciscans and Dominicans sought a return to gospel principles.


The 13th century brought a real scientific boom to Europe. The academic world moved closer together and concentrated in the numerous new universities. Scholasticism, a spiritual movement that primarily dealt with the recently rediscovered writings of Aristotle, shaped all scientific activity. This consisted primarily of preoccupation with works from the past that were linked to one another. It was in this atmosphere of scholastic learning that Thomas Aquinas wrote his texts. From the truth is a retrospective summary of parts of his lectures. The work is one of Thomas ’early writings and was written between 1256 and 1259 while teaching in Paris. In its function as a teaching aid, the text naturally makes explicit reference to the most important spiritual authorities of the time. Thomas’s thought leaders include Anselm of Canterbury and Augustine. He relies on her writings in several places. Another typical feature of scholasticism is the almost reverent tracing back of one's own knowledge to Aristotle, who is only called “the philosopher” in the text. In this context, Thomas also appeals to the Muslim commentators of the ancient thinker, above all Avicenna. As was customary at that time, Thomas saw the theses of his predecessors as firm truth and tried to balance the contradictions between them through clever definitions and interpretations.

Impact history

Thomas Aquinas was already highly venerated during his lifetime, received a positive response after his death and canonized in 1323. However, Thomism, which was based on his teachings, remained a moderately important theological school. Today, after more than 700 years, Thomas’s handwriting appears From the truth of no longer having any particular relevance. Nevertheless, the rank of the work should not be underestimated: Thomas and other medieval thinkers made modern philosophy possible in the first place. Scholasticism laid the foundation for dealing with the ancient classics, for the form of philosophical teaching - and last but not least for the Enlightenment project, which placed science on the basis of understanding and eliminated God from epistemology. Even on a small scale, one can understand Thomas ’work as an anticipation of later theories. B. can definitely be seen as the first step in distinguishing between rationalism and empiricism. The correspondence theory of truth, advocated by Thomas but already going back to Aristotle, has later thinkers like Baruch de Spinoza, John Locke and Ludwig Wittgenstein given important impulses. First with Alfred Tarski, Bertrand Russell and Karl Popper In the 20th century the view prevailed that truth is less a property of objects or their relationship to the human mind, but a property of sentences or statements.