WHAT IS PHILOSOPHY?
AND THOMAS AQUINAS
St. Thomas Aquinas
The study of
Privy Councilor Husserl
April 8, 1929
Husserl (alone): My good visitors meant well with their kind birthday wishes and I certainly would not have missed a one. But after such a day it is hard to relax, and I have always been one for a good night’s sleep. Actually, after all the chatter I would appreciate a decent conversation on philosophy to get my mind back on track.
(A knock) At this late hour?
Come in, please.
A Religious (in white habit and black mantle): I’m sorry to bother you so late at night, Professor, but I heard what you just said and thought I might still chance a visit. I wanted to speak with you today—just you and I, for I do not take part in social gatherings—but since early morning I have not had the chance to be alone with you until now.
Husserl (kindly but somewhat at a loss): You are most welcome, Reverend Father. I’ve had religious as students before, but to tell the truth I don’t remember having any with your particular color-scheme. Could you please help out my poor memory?
The priest (smiling slightly): No, I have never sat at your feet. Only from afar have I followed with great interest how your philosophy arose and evolved. And some of your students have come and told me about you. I am Thomas Aquinas.
Husserl: Well, this is certainly the biggest surprise of the day. Do sit down. Forgive me if I am unsure how I should act. I would be grateful for some advice.
Thomas: Quite casually, please. Treat me like any other visitor who comes to talk about philosophy. That’s why I’m here, you see.
Husserl: Then do come and sit over here in the corner of my old leather sofa…
Stein, E 2000, Knowledge and Faith, translated from the German by Redmond, W, ICS Publications, Washington DC.