Friday 21 September 2018

How to Think Like Aquinas The Sure Way to Perfect Your Mental Powers - Kevin Vost

How to Think Like Aquinas:
The Sure Way to Perfect Your Mental Powers
Dr. Kevin Vost
Sophia Institute Press
ISBN 9781622825066


I have been a fan of Dr. Kevin Vost's writings since first encountering them in 2006. That was the year he published his first Catholic book, since that time he has published 18 works, covering a wide range of topics. But one he comes back to often is memorization. And in this new book he uses the tools of Saint Thomas Aquinas to help us learn how to build a memory palace, and to use the powers of the intellect and the will and to train both. The introduction begins with this statement:

"We should all strive to think more like Aquinas, but only if we desire to know what is true, to love what is good, to grow in happiness and holiness while wayfarers on earth, and ultimately to share in eternal beatitude with God and the communion of saints when we arrive home in heaven. You see, in all of human history, St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) was among the very best guides to fulfilling these desires. Dozens of popes have sung his praises as philosopher and theologian, the Catechism of the Catholic Church abounds in references to his writings, and even secular scholars have acknowledged his monumental contribution to the field of philosophy.2 They praise him foremost for what G. K. Chesterton called in his biography of Thomas "that unusual human hobby: the habit of thinking.""

I raced through this book the first time I read it. I could hardly put it down. I am now working through it a second time, this time taking my time. And really working through the exercises and suggested practices to apply the skills and truths taught. The description of the book is:

"In these pages, you'll learn St. Thomas Aquinas's unique powers of intellect and will, and how he can train us to perfect them. Best-selling author of The One-Minutea Aquinas offers here a fully guided, illustrated tutorial of exercises to perfect your intellectual powers of memory, understanding, logical reasoning, shrewdness, foresight, circumspection, practical wisdom, and so much more that lead to happier and holier lives. You'll also learn:

The connections between thinking, happiness, and holiness

How to perfect intellectual powers you may not now you possess
Why a failure to understand human nature impairs our ability to understand anything
The three fundamental acts of practical wisdom
The eight parts of prudence every Catholic should keep in stock
How training our memories can make us deeper thinkers
How critical thinking alone is insufficient for reaching the truth
Why Catholics should cherish reason as well as faith and know how to use it!
How to spot twenty common logical fallacies

How thinking like Aquinas can inoculate you from twenty damaging isms and worldviews wreaking havoc in our world today."

In many ways this book is the culmination of Dr. Vost's earlier works. It ties together themes from many of his works and ties them together in a practical and applicable way. Even though Vost is a brilliant man and scholar he writes in such a way that the general public can engage and benefit from reading this book. The sections in the book are:

Introduction: Why You Should Think Like Aquinas (and How)
Part 1
Navigating the Small Streams of Knowledge
1. Speak Slowly and Carry a Big Heart and Mind
2. The Power of Pure Prayer
3. From the Cell to the Wine Cellar: On Crafting a Study Space You Can Love
4. The Benefits and Perils of Friendliness to Study
5. Set Your Intellect Free by Avoiding Worldly Entanglements
6. The Imitation of Christ (and of Those Who Imitate Him)
7. Loving Truth Regardless of Its Source (and On the Perfection of Memory)
8. How to Read Any Book: On the Power of Understanding
9. Filling Your Mental Cupboard to the Brim: On Building a Knowledge Base
10. Knowing Your Mental Powers - and Their Limits
Conclusion to Part 1
Part 2
Fathoming the Depths of Wisdom
Prologue to Part 2
11. Reason Gone Wrong
12. Premises of Sand
13. Wrong Thinking about the Faith
14. Mnemonic Master Table
About the Author

Each chapter in part one of the book ends with a section called Doctor's order, a sort of prescription for learning the lesson of that specific chapter, and tool to help lock the teaching in. These Doctor's orders are broken into three sections, Reflect, Read, and Remember. The Reflect section is to help you apply what you have learned. The Read section is some examples of how to take the lesson further. And the Remember section will help you sink in the lesson. And Chapter 14 provides a Mnemonic Master Table of all we have learned in Part 2 of the book.

When reading books by Kevin Vost I realise how much more I have to learn. And each of his books has served as a guide along that path. I believe this book is his best to date. I do not know any Christian who would not benefit from reading this book. And I look forward to when my children are a few years older and I can share this book with them, and that is the highest praise I can give a book. This book is an excellent read by an amazing author.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Dr. Kevin Vost:
Full Range of Motive (2001)
Memorize the Faith! (2006)
Fit For Eternal Life (2007)
From Atheism to Catholicism (2010)
Unearthing Your Ten Talents (2010)
St. Albert the Great (2011)
Tending the Temple (2011)
Three Irish Saints (2012)
Memorize the Reasons! (2013)
One-Minute Aquinas (2014)
Hounds of the Lord (2015)
Seven Deadly Sins (2015)
Memorize the Mass! (2016)
Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit (2016)
The Porch and the Cross (2016)
The Catholic Guide to Loneliness (2017)
The Four Friendships (2018)
How to Think Like Aquinas (2018)
Memorize the Latin Mass! (2018)

12 Life Lessons from St. Thomas Aquinas (2019)
Aquinas on the Four Last Things (2021)
Books Contributed to:
Man Up! (2014)

Author profile interview with Dr. Kevin Vost.

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