Thanks for this. I learn best when I have a sense of the big picture and then fill in details. That is just the sort of overview that I need.
Any ideas about how to study Aquinas? As I said, I've done an intro course (we used Kreeft's Summa of the Summa
). I tried just starting at the beginning of a translation of the Summa and reading, but I bogged down.
There are two ways to read Aquinas: 1) in and of itself, and accept the glosses and one can still get a decent philosophical understanding based on the theology. 2) Understand what Aquinas is referring to which is more often than not Aristotelian philosophy especially when dealing with metaphysics and epistemology, etc., rather than theology.
Philosophers have a long standing tradition of building on and refuting other philosophers. For example, Aristotle often goes through different philosophers' opinions before he makes his argument. So, in some sense it is expected that one have a familiarity with what came before if one is reading a philosopher directly.
I think a brief review of Aristotle (even something like Aristotle for Dummies if it exists) will go a long way towards the metaphysical parts of Aquinas. Nowadays, when there is something I don't understand a Google search often turns up some professor's class notes that explains it nicely esp. if it is straight Aristotle. My understanding of Aristotle is pretty weak so I do this pretty often especially for the first part of the Summa.
But I think if you have a grasp of the basics of Aristotle's ideas, like a Summa of Aristotle notion, that will go a long way in the parts you want to understand and you will be less frustrated.