A. Some basic theses (all gathered from the Summa Contra Gentiles):
- Every agent tends to introduce its likeness into its effect in the measure that the effect can receive it.
- An effect is most perfect when it returns to its source.
- The principle of every operation is the form by which a thing is in act.
- The principle of diversity among individuals of the same species is the quantity of matter.
- Everything composed of matter and form is a body.
- The object of appetition moves the appetite.
- The defect in the will which precedes any moral fault is not natural but voluntary.
B. Some general notes:
- As a child I discovered a copy of William Danforth’s I Dare You! on my parents’ bookcase, and read most of it. I was too young to know what a self-help book was, but I found the book interesting. Danforth tells the story of some shy bow-legged kid in a classroom who was once challenged by the teacher to surpass his peers in all the qualities he apparently lacked, and rose to the challenge.
- The book is based in part on the belief that an open challenge is the best way to inspire discipline and high achievement among people. Danforth’s other ideas (about balancing squares and standing up straight and so forth) are less valuable, but this one seems to be worth keeping.
- The difference between Bread Flour and All-Purpose Flour is that the former contains more gluten, thus giving the bread a sturdier consistency.
- If one wants to familiarize oneself with the assumptions of an author, the best place to look is at the beginning of every argument. (Obvious, but easy to forget.)