A talk by Prof. John Finley
While it is commonly accepted that Thomas Aquinas is mistaken on certain points concerning the biology of gender and the status of woman, the question remains as to what Thomistic philosophy could reveal about the metaphysical structure of gender, given current scientific knowledge. In this talk I attempt to answer that question. After outlining Thomas’s own position and noting the correctives of modern biology, I propose an account of gender, articulating it with respect to soul and body, person and essence, and modes of classification. I then examine the definitions of male and female, and conclude by addressing two contemporary concerns: sex reassignment surgery and the intersex condition. While some of my positions explicitly contradict Thomas, I argue that they accord better with the principles of his metaphysical anthropology. With respect to gender, then, this account contributes to a development of Thomistic thought.