Medical Practice in the Thought of Thomas Aquinas

Enzo Fagiolo

Abstract


In the works of St. Thomas Aquinas there are many examples of medical practice, in the discussion of philosophical and theological questions. St. Thomas asserts that like the doctor causes the recovery of the patient, although it is the power of nature to perform, so does the teacher with his student; the teacher raises the knowledge in the student, even if it is the own reason to act. Like the patient can be recovered only by natural force or by this force with the help of the doctor, in the same way, knowledge can be achieved only through the natural reason of the student or with the help of the teacher. To define the relationship betwen the desired aim and the means to achieve it, St. Thomas suggests a fundamental principle of medical ethics. The doctor, which is minister of nature, if has no limit wishing the recovery of the patient, must have a measure in relation to the means used to obtain that goal. In fact, he must try to cure the patient in the best way he can, not using the strongest drug; in fact, the drug is not the aim but it is only one of the means to obtain health.


Key words : Thomas Aquinas - Medical ethics - Medieval teaching.



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