The Knowledge on natural beings according to Thomas Aquinas

The reflection on the meaning of the term “nature” is particularly important in the context of knowledge on natural beings and this topic maintains a distinctive relevance to the present day.
This contribution only attempts to clarify the meaning of the term nature in the works of Thomas Aquinas, and to particularly explain the two fundamental meanings proposed in the Summa Theologiae: nature as essence and nature as a whole of material things. It will then seek to analyse how Aquinas describes the presence of phenomenon as it happens by chance within the context of the natural order. This also serves as an illustration of the usefulness of a correct comprehension of what natural can mean

Natural order and chance in Thomas Aquinas’ Thought

This study analyzes the notion of order in Thomas Aquinas’ texts. The natural order is different from the mathematical one, and is related to contingency, multiplicity, graduality. Such a notion of order is not in contradiction with the reality of chance, but confirms it. In fact, chance is perceivable since it is a lower degree of order. If it were total disorder, chance could not be perceived. Chance can only be explained in theological perspective. For St. Thomas, Providence requires chance. For God nothing is casual, but for human beings chance is the space of human freedom and God’s gifts.