John of St. Thomas

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John of St. Thomas
BornJoão Poinsot
9 July 1589[1]
Lisbon, Portugal
Died15 June 1644[1]
Fraga, Spain
OccupationFriar, philosopher, theologian
EducationUniversity of Coimbra
University of Louvain
SubjectMetaphysics, logic, epistemology, ethics, political philosophy, semiotics
Literary movementScholasticism, Thomism
Notable worksTractatus de Signis

John of St. Thomas, O.P., born João Poinsot (also called John Poinsot in English; 9 July 1589 – 15 June 1644), was a Portuguese Dominican friar, Thomist theologian, and professor of philosophy. He is known for being an early theorist in the field of semiotics.


Of noble parentage, he was sent early to the University of Coimbra, displayed talents of the first order, completed his humanities and philosophy, and obtained the degree of Master of Arts. He then entered the University of Louvain. Here, too, he showed remarkable ability, and won the title of Bachelor of Theology at an early age. He joined the Dominicans at Madrid in 1612 or 1613, taking the name of John of St. Thomas, by which he is known to history. As professor of philosophy and theology at the University of Alcalá,[2] he soon took rank among the most learned men of the time, and was placed successively (1630 and 1640) in charge of the two principal chairs of theology in the university of that city. His renown drew the largest number of scholars that had ever attended its theological faculties.

No man enjoyed a greater reputation in Spain, or was more frequently consulted on points of doctrine and ecclesiastical matters. His theological and philosophical writings, which have gone through many editions, are among the best expositions of Thomas Aquinas's doctrine, of which he is acknowledged to be one of the foremost interpreters. Though he took an active part in the scholastic discussions of his times, his courtesy was such that he is said never to have hurt an opponent's feelings. So faithful was he to the traditions of his order and the principles of the Angelic Doctor that in his last illness he could declare that, in all the thirty years he had devoted to teaching and writing, he had not taught or written anything contrary to St. Thomas. His humility and his devotion to education caused him to refuse many dignities offered him by the Church and his order. In 1643 Philip IV offered him the office of royal confessor, a position which only religious obedience could induce him to accept. His writings comprise: Cursus philosophicus Thomisticus (9 vols.); Cursus Theologici (9 vols.), which is a commentary on the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas; Tractatus de Approbatione, Auctoritate, et Puritate Doctrinae D. Thomae Aquinatis; A Compendium of Christian Doctrine (in Spanish); and A Treatise on a Happy Death (in Spanish), written at the command of Philip IV.[3] He died at Fraga, Spain.[4]


  • Ioannes a S. Thoma, O. P. (1883). Cursus philosophicus Thomisticus (in Latin). Paris: Ludovicus Vivès. OCLC 7132509. Volumes 1, 2, and 3 available gratis online. {{cite book}}: External link in |postscript= (help)CS1 maint: postscript (link)
  • Ioannes a S. Thoma, O. P. (1931–1964). Cursus theologici (in Latin). Paris, Rome: Desclée. OCLC 18001569. 5 volumes. Volumes 1, 2a, and 2b of another edition available gratis online. {{cite book}}: External link in |postscript= (help)CS1 maint: postscript (link)
  • John of St. Thomas (2004). Introduction to the Summa Theologiae of Thomas Aquinas: The Isagogue of John of St. Thomas. Trans. McInerny, Ralph. South Bend, Ind.: St. Augustine's Press. OCLC 46928729.
  • John of St. Thomas; Cuddy, Cajetan; Farrell, Walter; Hughes, Dominic (2016). The gifts of the Holy Spirit. Tacoma, WA: Cluny Media. ISBN 978-1-944418-22-9.
  • Poinsot, John (1985) [1632]. Tractatus de Signis. The semiotic of John Poinsot. Trans. Deely, John. Berkeley: California University Press. OCLC 277224194. Retrieved 2011-06-17.


  1. ^ a b Ralph McInerny, 'Preface', in: John of St. Thomas (2004).
  2. ^ "Poinsot, John". Encyclopedia of Renaissance Philosophy (2014).
  3. ^ Quétif and Echard, Scriptores Ord. Praed., II (Paris, 1721), 538; Touron, Hommes illustres de l'ordre de St. Dominique, V (Paris, 1749), 248; Hurter, Nomenclator, I (2nd ed., Innsbruck, 1892), 375; Année Dominicaine, II June, 358-365.
  4. ^ Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "John of St. Thomas" . Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.


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