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Article

From People to Community: a Description of the Social Order by Thomas Aquinas. Part 1. Populus, Respublica, Multitudo

Russian Sociological Review. 2016. Vol. 15. No. 4. P. 162-175.

Within the frames of this article, I analyse the central categories of Thomas Aquinas's social thought, such as a people (populus), multitude (multitudo), Commonwealth (respublica). The next article (Part 2) will contain an investigation of the categories of a community (communitas), communication and society (societas).

I stress the severe readiness of the question in the existing Thomistic literature. Despite the active investigations of the Aquinas's political theory, the social one remains almost forgotten. The works of Ignatius Th. Eschmann, Yves Congar and Jeremy Catto represent some exclusion from this assertion, but no one of them paid enough attention to the terminological peculiarities of the Thomistic thought. Between the main results of this work, it's worth to mark the next: the dissipation of the people's concept, its equalisation with the multitude, the break of the connection between the notions of a people and a Commonwealth. The populus in Thomas's theory loses its political nature ascribed to it by Cicero and Augustin. Having lost its subjectivity, the people converts into the organised multitude united by the common territory and the same mode of every-day life. Aquinas ignores the creation of the Commonwealth by the people and establishes between these concepts a connection of another type. According to him, the people is a kind of Aristotelian "materia", while the Commonwealth is the "form". In compliance with the precedent assertion, the Respublica becomes an eternal and unchangeable, where only the content - i.e., the people or the multitude - can change. In effect, Aquinas formulates here the concept of the proto-State.