Thomas Instituut te Utrecht (Tilburg University)



On the 90th Dies Natalis of Tilburg University, Prof. dr. Eleonore Stump (Saint Louis University) was awarded a honorary doctorate. The Tilburg School of Catholic Theology, part of which the Thomas Instituut is, proposed the honorary doctorate. Honorary promotor was prof. dr. Rudi te Velde. The celebration ceremony took place on Thursday November 16 in Tilburg. Please continue to read the laudatio and the widely acclaimed acceptance speech.
Laudatio presented by professor Rudi te Velde

One should be careful when awarding honorary degrees to philosophers. They may remember the cautionary words of Plato, who believed that true philosophers ought to despise the honors presented to them by their fellow citizens; human praise only sees the appearance of philosophical quality. Or more positively phrased: an honorary degree is a way of saying that, in our humble opinion, we think that you are exceptionally good at your philosophical work. It is a way of saying thank you on behalf of the academic community at Tilburg University for all your excellent contributions to the discipline of philosophy and, in particular, to the field of philosophical theology.
Is this merely an opinion in the Platonic sense? I do not think so. Dr. Stump is not a stranger to this university. In 2013, she was our honored guest and keynote speaker at the International Conference of the Thomas Institute, part of the Tilburg School of Catholic Theology. The conference was devoted to the so-called theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity in the work of medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas. At that time, we were very pleased with your presence and impressed by your acute and valuable contributions to our discussions.
Teaching as a professor of philosophy at Saint Louis University since 1992, dr. Stump has earned her reputation with many influential studies in the field of medieval philosophy and the philosophy of religion. Her interest in the rich tradition of medieval thought has never been merely historical; what attracted her to the philosophy of this particular period is the philosophical analytical approach to the central themes of the Christian religion: the concept of God, the problem of evil, grace and free will, the ethics of human action, to mention a few of the most important areas of her research.
Among her many books are her magisterial study on Aquinas, a very important book in the field of Thomistic studies. What also needs to be mentioned is the classic article on Eternity. Any contemporary discussion of the very idea of eternity as a divine attribute is unthinkable without reference being made to this authoritative piece of writing. It is tempting to continue mentioning the highlights of her publications and to explain to the audience why exactly they should read these texts. For instance, her Aquinas Lecture from 2016, published as The God of the Bible and the God of the Philosophers, in which she gives a thoughtful defense of the medieval philosophical approach of the notion of God, generally known as classical theism, which, in her opinion, provides a powerful intellectual basis for the portrayal of God in the Bible. Her own position is neatly summarized at the end of her lecture, but attributed to Aquinas: for that exemplary and influential proponent of classical theism Thomas Aquinas, the God of the philosophers and the God of the Bible are the same God not because the biblical God is after all a frozen and unresponsive deity, but because the God of classical theism is truly the engaged, responsive, intimately present God of the biblical stories. This fundamental conviction reflects the integration in her professional work of intellectual acumen and faithful commitment.
I would like to conclude with a quote from Aristotle: In the arena of human life, the honors and rewards fall to those who show their good qualities in action. According to this criterion, awarding dr. Stump with an honorary degree is fully justified.
Thank you