DSPT Events

Aquinas Symposium 2007: "St. Albert the Great, Teacher"

Symposium, “St. Albert the Great, Teacher”

November 27, 2007

DSPT 75th Anniversary Symposium- St. Albert the Great, TeacherThree scholars were invited to DSPT to present papers relating to the theme of "St. Albert the Great, Teacher" in celebration of the 75th anniversary of the founding of The College of Saint Albert the Great.

"The Studium at Cologne and Its Role Within Early Dominican Education," M. Michèle Mulchahey

Very few facts regarding the early history of the Dominican Order's Cologne studium survive to us: we have a foundation date and know that Albert the Great was a driving force in the creation of this new German studium; we know the names of some of his students there, which include Thomas Aquinas; and it is fairly clear what Albert was expected to teach them at this school that was originally conceived by the leaders of the Order as a St-Jacques for the provinces. We know, too, that Albert soon introduced a curriculum at variance with what was normally taught at Paris in this period, or in Dominican schools elsewhere, when he commented upon Aristotle's Ethica, as newly translated by Robert Grosseteste. But Albert was only in Cologne for five years before taking up other duties within the Order, and it not clear that innovative teaching long survived him at Heilige Kreuz itself. The altogether more significant, if not to say revolutionary, contribution of the Cologne studium to Dominican education came in the impetus it gave to the men who left Cologne with new ideas about the teaching of theology and the training of the friars. It is those ideas born in Cologne – and played out by Thomas Aquinas in the studium at Santa Sabina, and in Albert's own project for introducing natural philosophy formally into the Dominican curriculum – that are the subject of this paper. From Albert the Great to Meister Eckhart and Beyond: the Rhineland Dominican School.

About the Speaker

M. Michèle MulchaheyM. Michèle Mulchahey has recently been appointed the first recipient of the Leonard E. Boyle Chair in Manuscript Studies at the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies in Toronto. She holds a double B.A. in Biology andMedieval and Renaissance Studies from Rice University. She earned M.A. and Ph.D. graduate degreesin Medieval Studies from the University of Toronto, and theM.S.L. from the Pontifical Institute. She is only oneof twelve persons ever to be granted the M.S.D., a special pontificaldoctorate in Mediaeval Studies, and has held fellowships at the American Academy (Rome), and the Villa I Tatti (Florence) – theHarvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies –where she pursued research into the DominicanOrder, its schools, and the techniques used by the Dominican friars tocommunicate their learning. Her landmark book, First the Bow is Bent in Study...." Dominican Education Before1350, was published in 1999. Current research projects include a book-length study of the Dominican friar Remigio de' Girolami, teacher of Dante Aleghieri, as revealed throughsome newly discovered manuscripts; and another on JacopoPassavanti, a popular preacher in late-medieval Florence who was responsible for bringing the church of Santa Maria Novella and its cloister to completion.

“St. Albert as founder of a theological school of thought”, Walter Senner, OP (Rome)

St Albert the Great - Founder of the Dominican Studium in CologneIn 1248, Albert the Great (Albertus Magnus), famous master of theology at Paris, was called to organize the new Dominican Studium generale at Cologne. Thomas Aquinas became his pupil and assistant there. While Albert has been seen mostly as the philosopher who amalgamated Neo-Platonic and Aristotelian doctrines, and the “scientist” who studied both nature and political science – and no doubt he was all those –he is less well known for his theology and his contribution to the forming of Rhineland mystics.

The school developed by Albert was continued by those who followed: Ulrich of Strasburg, Dietrich of Freiberg, and most especially, Meister Eckhart, who has been interpreted controversially as either a mystic or a philosopher.

Whereas Berthold of Moosburg sets a final intellectual highlight of this Rhineland school, we see e.g. with John of Sterngassen that science and spirituality diverge.

Beyond the controversies about a correct view of this historical development there is the question: is an integration of faith and science possible – without sacrifice of the intellect (sacrificium intellectus) or falling into fanatic fundamentalism.

About the Speaker


Fr. Walter SennerFr. Walter Senner, O.P. entered the Dominican Order in 1968, where he pursued studies in philosophy, theology, and communication and library science at several institutions, including the Dominican house of studies in Walberberg, and the universities of Bonn, Köln, and Louvain (PhD in 1989). He has served as university chaplain at Berlin (1982-1989), regent of studies of the Province of Teutonia (1990-2000), and as a member of the Leonine Commission for editing the works of St. Thomas Aquinas (1998-2005). Since 2006, he has served in Rome as professor of philosophy at St. Thomas Aquinas University (Angelicum). His main fields of research include Albert the Great, Thomas Aquinas, Meister Eckhart and the Rhineland Dominican School.

The Precarity of Wisdom: Modern Dominican Theology, Perspectivalism, and the Tasks of Reconstruction, Thomas Joseph White, OP (Providence)

This talk will focus on the mid-twentieth century conflict between Marie-Dominique Chenu and Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange as an illustration of the central issue confronting modern Catholic theology: the relation between the historical character of human existence and knowledge versus the supposedly absolute, unchanging truth claims of revelation. After illustrating ways in which both interlocutors ventured toward extremes, the presentation will take up St. Thomas Aquinas' description of sacra doctrina as ‘wisdom,' and propose a view of theology that requires the unification of classical dogma and ontology with modern historical studies. The lecture will conclude with an examination of three loci where contemporary Dominican theology can contribute to the marriage of classical doctrine and historical sensitization: creation and modern cosmology; Chalcedon and ‘Christology from below'; and Aquinas' virtue theory and modern ‘archeological' narrative conceptions of the self.

About the Speaker

Thomas Joseph WhitePrior to his entry into the Dominican Order in 2003, Thomas Joseph White, OP received his undergraduate degree in Religious Studies from Brown University, and his doctorate from Oxford University, where he focused on modern Thomistic philosophical theology. He has published articles on Christology in journals such as The Thomist and Nova et Vetera, and is currently working on a manuscript on natural knowledge of God, entitled: Wisdom in the Face of Modernity: A Study in Modern Thomistic Natural Theology. He resides at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C.

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