Art Show: Abbey Boy Aquinas Humor

Here’s why I love teaching Abbey Boys: after reading Aquinas for a semester, they come up with brilliant memes that capture what it is like to read Aquinas for the first time.  Our constant refrains and groan moments from the semester are on full display here.  Hopefully the jokes are not too in to get a laugh from the general audience.  Memes done by actual teen-agers, titles by me.

The Teaching Boys Badly art gallery is proud to display Reading Aquinas With Memes, by St. Anselm’s Abbey School Form V. 

Meme 1: The objections are not “wrong people on the internet.”  They contribute invaluably to understanding the question properly.  Objectors Are Always Right (Somehow):

Respondeo Only
Objectors Are Always Right (Somehow)

Meme 2: Objectors are objectors.  This one is criminally overlooked even by credentialed professionals sometimes.  The Respondeo is Where the Kung-fu Happens:

Reads Only Objections
The Respondeo is Where the Kung-fu Happens

Meme 3: Pretty much every article in Aquinas turns on making a necessary distinction.  The beginning of almost every respondeo could be “Well, it depends…”    Distinguo Ergo Sum:

Distinguo Ergo Sum


Meme 4: One of the classic distinctions in Aquinas is “simply” vs. “in a certain respect.”  Does fear cause involuntariness?  What about desire?  Is this test hard?  Simple Doesn’t Mean Easy:

Simply Certain Respect
Simple Doesn’t Mean Easy

Meme 5: One of the great fears when teaching Ethics: am I just equipping these intelligent children to rationalize their vicious behavior?  Nowhere is that scarier than when distinguishing the forms of ignorance, but what an important distinction it is!  If You Are Not Sure, It’s Probably Not Antecedent:

Antecedent Ignorance
If You Are Not Sure, It’s Probably Not Antecedent

Meme 6: Aquinas is hard enough to learn when he’s laying down three objections, a humdrum sed contra, and a respondeo that’s a few sentences long.  Then there are the days when it is on.  Sometimes he’s got to dig in a bit, recap some knowledge from way back, or throw shade on some fancy popular views with epic, saintly burns like “But this is unreasonable.”  But This is Unreasonable:

Long Respondeo
But This is Unreasonable

And that’s a wrap for this show, folks.  Watch this space for future exploitation of the artistic nerd-gifts of Abbey Boys.


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