Catholic theology and its handmaiden, Scholastic philosophy, are complex, very consistent and organic (capable of development) systems with precise and interrelated language and concepts that cannot be comprehended if one does not grasp their exact meaning.

Scholastic philosophy is not the system of a particular school of philosophy, let alone one philosopher. We call it Thomism because the term is useful in a historical perspective, but its proper name is Philosophia perennis, that is, the love of wisdom for all times. It is the common philosophy of man, the treasure of philosophy as Maritain put it, hence it is not limited to a time, or place, or religious or social organization. If the Catholic Church is its guardian, she is not its owner; Philosophia perennis is a servant to theology but not a slave. It has a separate and autonomous existence as a science in its own right, and accordingly, philosophy and theology were always taught separately (the basics of philosophy first). The treasure of Philosophia perennis is open to all men to study and use, and many schools of classical theist philosophy may exist, as long as the concepts are not deformed. Those who deform it are adhering to, or starting, another philosophy that will never account exactly for the truth nor lead them to any wisdom, insofar as philosophy can lead to wisdom.

To the Greek we owe the language and technical apparatus proper to philosophical science. Fathers of the Church, Catholic theologians and philosophers, notably St. Thomas Aquinas, greatly augmented, corrected and adapted it, but the Greek heritage is still there and recognizable.

Greek philosophy, particularly in Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and the Stoics, contained much truth, perhaps miraculously so. Catholics generally think God was preparing the terrain for His Word to take root in man’s mind as well as in his heart. Because of the Greek philosophy potential to account for the truth and to make spiritual reality more accessible to reason, the Catholic Church, from the New Testament times, deemed necessary to preserve this science and use it time and again to express and explain doctrine and to fight the various errors and heresies.

It is a poor way to approach philosophy to begin with a dismissal of its Greek or Scholastic bases like Luther, Descartes and many others did. To try to engage philosophy with so strong a prejudice will lead only to incomprehension and error. In order to be able to understand and discuss propositions from the works of St. Thomas Aquinas and his followers we must use the terminology, assumptions, principles, modes of arguing that Thomist philosophers use. Moreover, if the matters on discussion are theological we have to use the principles and modes of Scripture interpretation of Catholic theology. To do otherwise would amount to saying nothing at all, and if the intent is to debunk a proposition, it would amount to attacking straw men.