University Mission Statement
Mission Statement: Thomas International University is a community of teachers and students dedicated to the pursuit of wisdom, the comprehensive truth about reality derived from reason and faith. The pursuit and sharing of this truth, and the effort to live in accord with it, foster a culture in which intellectual and moral virtues flourish, preparing men and women for lives of leadership and service.
Key Features of the University
The University will be characterized by an emphasis on:
- The Human Person: the University always puts the dignity of the human person at the center of its undertakings
- Reason and Faith: the University's vision is informed by classical and Catholic philosophical and theological principles, which emphasize the harmony and complementarity of reason and faith
- Excellence: the University strives to promote excellence in all aspects of its life, especially scholarly research and teaching
- The Common Good: the University promotes the common good by preparing students to confront the challenges facing society, and by cooperating with others in order to enrich the culture and to pursue solutions for contemporary problems
- Universality: the University is universal in spirit and international in scope; it is committed to free and respectful dialogue with every person and every tradition that shares a commitment to the search for truth
The University’s Guiding Principles
I. Reason’s Confident Pursuit of Truth
The commitment of the University to love for and pursuit of the comprehensive truth about reality – God, the whole of creation, and especially the human person – is reflected in its foundational principles.
We are inspired by a deep faith in the capacity of human reason to attain true knowledge of reality, acknowledging at the same time that this knowledge is often limited. Indeed, the very purpose of a university is to expand and deepen this knowledge. This combination of intellectual confidence and an appropriate humility about the capacities and achievements of the human intellect is especially exemplified in the heritage of classical Western civilization and its philosophia perennis.
II. The Unity of Knowledge
The University is committed to an authentic recovery and development of the cultural heritage of classical and Christian Western civilization, through active and constructive engagement with all that is best in human endeavors to pursue the truth. These foundational principles promote the integration of knowledge eloquently described as the goal of liberal education in John Henry Newman's Idea of a University, and prevent the dis‑integration of knowledge that can result from over‑specialization. At the same time, the University recognizes that the norms of excellence within a given field of study are dictated by the internal demands of the nature of the discipline, and that an integral vision of truth presupposes meeting those high standards. Within the broad outlines of these principles, scholars and students are encouraged to pursue truth where they find it, always respecting the equal right of others to hold different opinions.
III. The Harmony of Faith and Reason
The University is also characterized by an openness to God's revelation of himself in many and different ways, but especially in the person of Jesus Christ. The knowledge that comes from revelation is an integral part of wisdom, and theological reflection on the truths of faith (especially as preserved and handed down by the Catholic Church) will be an integral element of our whole endeavor.
This guidance provided by faith and theology is an intellectual advantage, which presupposes and enhances the legitimate autonomy of each of the various disciplines that advance our understanding of different aspects of reality. This confidence in the harmony between faith and reason is especially (though by no means exclusively) exemplified in the Thomistic intellectual tradition.
An Intellectual Framework for University Education
I. Epistemological Realism
meaning: the human mind can genuinely know reality itself
opposed to: the idea that we only know appearances or the inner workings of our own minds
II. Methodological Pluralism
meaning: there is no one methodology that is the sole way to attain genuine human knowledge
opposed to: the idea that the empirical methods of the natural sciences, or mathematics, is the only way to attain real knowledge
III. The Legitimate, Qualified Autonomy of the Sciences
meaning: there are different sciences, corresponding to different subject matters, and knowledge of a given science requires study according to its proper object and method
opposed to: the idea that one science (e.g., theology, or mathematics, or physics) can by itself provide authoritative knowledge of all subjects
IV. The Unity of Knowledge
meaning: comprehensive knowledge ultimately is knowledge of the whole - not only its parts, but also all the relations of all the parts
opposed to: the idea that each science is completely autonomous, and can be studied without reference to any other sciences
V. The Order of Knowledge and Learning
meaning: there are two orders in knowledge (ways of relating the sciences to each other):
an intrinsic order: some sciences provide the principles for other sciences (e.g., moral philosophy studies the end of man, which needs to be known in politics, which studies the common good)
the pedagogical order: the sciences should be studied in a certain order (e.g., logic - the “rules” of reasoning - should be studied before physics or ethics or politics)
opposed to: the idea that proper education can be attained by arbitrarily studying various subjects, without understanding the relation between them or studying them in a certain sequence
VI. The Possibility of Moral Knowledge
meaning: it is possible to attain genuine knowledge of the good human life (the end of man), especially through natural law and the study and practice of the virtues
opposed to: the fact/value distinction and moral relativism, which hold that objective knowledge through empirical methods is possible, but that so-called “values” are inherently merely subjective or matters of personal choice
VII. The Possibility and Dignity of Metaphysics
meaning: there is a science (a branch of philosophy) that attains genuine knowledge of philosophical first principles, the nature and kinds of being, and the source or ground of being, which provides the broadest framework for the other sciences
opposed to: the ideas that first principles are not known, but merely posited or assumed; that there are no distinct natures, since all things are merely different arrangements of matter; and that there is no ultimate source or ground of being, or, if there is, no way of knowing anything about it
VIII. The Possibility and Preeminence of Theology
meaning: knowledge of God is possible, both through reason (natural theology) and, in principle, through divine revelation and faith; knowledge through reason and revelation is harmonious, since they ultimately have the same author, God; and this knowledge, though difficult, is the knowledge of the greatest things
opposed to: the assumptions that God is completely unknowable (e.g., since we have no direct experience of him through the senses) and that no revelation could be confidently judged to be divine and worthy of belief