Forging a New Argument To Use in the Battle of Ideas Is Like Issuing a New Weapon to a Soldier

August 21, 2014

St. Thomas Aquinas and King St. Louis IX by Niklaus Manuel.

St. Thomas Aquinas and King St. Louis IX by Niklaus Manuel.

There is a famous moment in the life of St. Thomas Aquinas that illustrates well the importance of finding arguments. St. Thomas was having lunch with King St. Louis of France. During the conversation, forgetful of the fact that he was at the table of the king, St. Thomas began thinking about other matters. Suddenly he hit his fist on the table and said, “Ergo concluso in contra manicheus” (So much for the heresy of the Manicheans!). St. Louis immediately looked to him and asked what he was talking about. St. Thomas replied that he had found a new argument to fight the Manichean heresy.*

Soldiers from 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment conduct security in Biaj, Iraq. Photo by Department of Defense.

Soldiers from 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment conduct security in Biaj, Iraq. Photo by Department of Defense.

The discovery of a new argument caused a stir since everyone at the table was a Catholic—two were even saints—and even though all were convinced that the Manicheans were in error. Immediately orders were given to call two scribes of the royal palace to take note of the new argument so that nothing would be lost. After St. Thomas’s new argument had been written down, lunch continued.

Subscription24

There are various picturesque aspects to this story, but I draw your attention to one in particular: the importance given to a new argument to defend a thesis already well known by all present. Why was this important? Because they were men with a profound spirit who understood that, for those who fight for the Church, the battle of ideas was more important than the battle with weapons. Since the Church expands through the propagation of ideas, the cause of the Counter-Revolution does so by defending ideas. Therefore a new argument—for one who fights erroneous ideas—would be like what a new weapon is for the military.

Tomahawk Launch aboard the U.S. Navy’s Ticonderoga Class cruiser USS Shiloh. U.S. Naval forces launched 14 Tomahawk Cruise missiles on targets in southern Iraq on September 3, 1996.

Tomahawk Launch aboard the U.S. Navy’s Ticonderoga Class cruiser USS Shiloh. U.S. Naval forces launched 14 Tomahawk Cruise missiles on targets in southern Iraq on September 3, 1996.

* Manichaeism, a religion founded by the Persian Mani in the latter half of the third century, purported to be true synthesis of all the religious systems then known. This heresy is classified as a form of religious Dualism, since it is based on a supposed conflict between the two eternal principles of good and evil.


Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, quoted in Tradition, Family Property Association, ed., Egalitarianism: The Metaphysical Value and Religion of Our Days – Social Leveling…Total Leveling (Glasgow: Tradition, Family, Property Association, 2011), xiii-xiv.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share

Previous post:

Next post: