Dr. Wilson visits AQ to celebrate the school’s patron

Dr. James Matthew Wilson speaking during the lecture. Photo by Matthew Yeoman, Aquinas photographer.

Story by Kara Wheeler, Reporter

“He was a philosopher of common sense,” said Dr. James Matthew Wilsom about philosopher and Doctor of the Church, St. Thomas Aquinas.

Wilson’s lecture, a part of Aquinas College’s week-long celebration of St. Thomas Aquinas, was sponsored by Catholic Studies and Campus Ministry and took place at the Wege Center on Jan. 27, titled “Thomas Aquinas and the Modern Arts: The Beauty of Being.” It aimed to discuss Aquinas’ timeless insights on the nature of beauty when it comes to esthetic understanding.

Wilson, a professor of humanities and founding director of the Master of Fine Arts Program in creative writing at the University of St. Thomas Houston, spoke on beauty serving a purpose of relaying certain truths on being. 

“Modernism is new – human nature has changed and thus art has changed, it understood beauty in the name of being up to date,” Wilson said on modernism, the art movement from 1914 to 1945. 

Ironically, the artists and poets that tried to reinvent art ended up using the same definitions and ideas that were posed by Aquinas back in the 13th century. 

Statue of St. Thomas Aquinas in the Academic Building. Photo courtesy of Aquinas College.

The unceasing revival of Aquinas demonstrates the abiding truth and brilliance of his intellect. He believed that being, on its own, is the most basic fact. Moreover, logical arguments and insights on the world should be built up from that basic fact. Thus, making him the “philosopher of common sense” according to Wilson.

Art, Wilson argued, is a virtue of intellect. Artists could be “craftsmen of reality,” where their work points to something ontologically true about the human experience. Each piece of art therefore can create theophanies, or stand as light derived from what made it exist in the first place; namely, the Creator. 

At the end of Wilson’s lecture,  the floor was opened for a Q&A session in which participants could offer points or questions on ideas discussed during the lecture or on understandings about beauty and art in general. St. Thomas Aquinas week takes place from Jan. 28, his feast day, to Feb. 4. Masses, lectures, service projects, movie nights, and special events, all geared towards students, will be offered to celebrate the College’s patron saint.