Thomas of York

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Franciscan philosopher and theologian; d. c. 1260. First mentioned in a letter written by adam marsh, dated 1245, Thomas was at that time already a member of the English province. In 1253 he became a master of theology at Oxford, although he apparently had not obtained the customary degree in arts prior to his inception. He seems to have held his post at Oxford until 1256. He was then transferred to Cambridge where he became the sixth master of the Franciscan studium, succeeding william of melitona.

Thomas of York's only major work is the Sapientiale, an encyclopedic philosophical treatise in seven books. A shorter work, Comparatio sensibilium, may represent a first draft of the Sapientiale. Of the other writings attributed to Thomas, Manus quae contra omnipotentem is of particular interest. This is a defense of the mendicant orders in their controversy with the seculars and, in particular, with william of saint-amour.

A characteristic feature of Thomas's method in the Sapientiale is his extensive and accurate citation of sources, whether they be Greek, Latin, Arabian, Jewish, or Christian. He attempts to reconcile various traditions and teachings and to present unified solutions to problems. The Sapientiale itself aims to be a concordance between the exponents of natural wisdom, the sapientes mundi, and the exponents of Christian wisdom, the sapientes Dei. Thomas utilizes the contributions of the former, particularly aristotle, but only when they conform with Christian wisdom. Thus he accepts the Aristotelian doctrine of nature, but rejects Aristotle in favor of St. augustine when treating of the origins of human knowledge. Like St. bonaventure, but unlike St. thomas aquinas (for whom an autonomous philosophy is possible), Thomas of York was convinced that philosophy requires completion, in its own order, from the truths of revelation; without this special aid, in his view, it inevitably falls into error.

Bibliography: m. wilks, "Thomas Arundel of York: the Appellant Archbishop," in Life and Thought in the Northern Church 11001700. d. wood, ed. (Woodbridge, England 1999) 5786. j. a. merino, "Tomas de York," in Historia de la Filosofia Franciscana (Madrid 1993) 37375. b. tierney, "From Thomas of York to William of Ockham: The Franciscans and the Papal Sollicitudo Ominium Ecclesiarum," in Comunione Interecclesiale Collegialita-Primato Ecumenismo (Rome 1972) 60758. e. scully, "The Power of Physical Bodies According to Thomas of York: Potency and Act," Sciences Ecclesiastiques 14, no. 1 (1962), 109134.

[j. p. reilly]