Pre-existence of knowledge in a pupil according to Thomas Aquinas


  • Tomáš Adamovič


Thomas Aquinas, teacher, first principles, cognition, knowledge


This contribution aims at the question on the origin of knowledge, as discussed by Thomas Aquinas in the eleventh question of Quaestiones disputatae de veritate “On The Teacher”. Here, Thomas Aquinas defends the possibility that a man can teach another man but, to support his argumentation, he has to reveal what is the origin of knowledge in a man. As concerns knowledge, Thomas Aquinas thus states that it pre-exists in a man. What does he mean by this? This contribution strives to provide a certain answer to this question as an interpretation. Knowledge does not pre-exist in a pupil in terms of its actual presence, as believed by Plato, and is neither inserted in a pupil from outside, as believed by Avicenna. In fact, it pre-exists in a pupil in the form of a germ of its kind. This “germ” seems to be represented by the first rational principles. These become acquired by reason as soon as it begins to recognize, and bear “concealed” all other knowledge.