Aquinas argues that practical reasoning requires foundations: first practical principles (ultimate ends) grasped by us per se from which deliberation proceeds. Contrary to the thesis of an important paper of Terence Irwin's, I deny that Aquinas advances two inconsistent conceptions of the scope of deliberation and, correspondingly, two inconsistent accounts of the content of the first practical principles presupposed by deliberation. On my account, Aquinas consistently takes first practical principles to be highly abstract, general, or formal ends, ends subject to (...) specification and determination by a process of reasoning. Aquinas therefore gives deliberation wide scope, allowing (indeed, requiring) it not only to settle for us the things that are for the sake of our ends but also to engage in determining in important respects what our ends are. Accordingly, I conclude that Aquinas's foundations in ethics are “thin.” Our natural grasp of first practical principles gives us very little in the way substantive ethical principles. (shrink)
The Confessions recounts Augustine's successful search for God. But Augustine worries that one cannot search for God if one does not already know God. That version of the paradox of <span class='Hi'>inquiry</span> dominates and structures Confessions 1–10. I draw connections between the dramatic opening lines of book 1 and the climactic discussion in book 10.26–38 and argue that the latter discussion contains Augustine's resolution of the paradox of <span class='Hi'>inquiry</span> as it applies to the special case of searching for God. (...) I claim that he develops a model, relying on the universal human experience of joy and truth, that identifies a starting point that (1) is common to all human beings, (2) is sufficient for guiding a successful search for God, and (3) avoids commitment to recollection of experiences prior to birth. The model is crucial to Augustine's rejection of traditional Platonist views about recollection. (shrink)
From very early on, Western philosophers have been obsessed with the understanding of a relatively few works of philosophy which have played a disproportionately large and fundamental role in developing the Western philosophical canon, dominating the curriculum in the past and in the present; there is no indication that they will not do so in the future.Uses and Abuses of the Classics examines the various ways in which the different periods of the history of philosophy have approached these texts. The (...) editors have chosen for analysis some of the major philosophers from periods of the history of philosophy in which the interpretation of the classics has been particularly significant.Contributions to this book include entries on: Aristotle's reading of Plato; Averroes on Aristotle; Nietzsche on the Beginnings of Western Philosophy; and Thomas Aquinas's Commentary on Aristotle's Metaphysics. (shrink)
In his reflections on his adolescent theft of a neighbor’s pears, Augustine first claims that he did it just because it was wicked. But he then worries that there is something unacceptable in that claim. Some readers have found in this account Augustine’s rejection of the principle that all voluntary action is done for the sake of some perceived good. I argue that Augustine intends his case to call the principle into question, but that he does not ultimately reject it. (...) His careful and resourceful analysis of the motivations of his theft adds subtlety to his own understanding of voluntary action and allows hirn to introduce an important component of his general account of sin, namely, that it essentially involves prideful self-assertion in imitation of God. (shrink)
A large part of the ambitious project that Grisez sketches in his paper can reasonably be thought of as developing and extending in interesting ways ideas of Thomas Aquinas. But in Part IV of the paper Grisez dramatically parts company with Aquinas on what might seem a fundamental issue. Aquinas famously holds that human beings find their ultimate fulfillment in beatific vision of God. Grisez tells us that, as he understands that claim, it is false.
This issue of MedievalPhilosophyandTheology is atypical in that it contains a single work by a single philosopher and scholar. Norman Kretzmann, the author of the work here presented, was one of the founders of this journal and served as the chair of its editorial board from the journal’s inception until his untimely death in 1998. His intimate association with MedievalPhilosophyandTheology and his dedication to its mission makes the journal an entirely appropriate vehicle for the publication of the work that filled (...) the last year of his life. (shrink)
In this paper I investigate the philosophical developments at the heart of what appears to be the earliest systematic formulation of the doctrine of the transcendentals by comparing the first questions of Philip the Chancellor''sSumma de bono (the so-called first treatise on the transcendentals — ca. 1230) with its immediate ancestor, a small group of questions from William of Auxerre''sSumma aurea (ca. 1220). I argue that Philip''s innovative position on the relation between being and goodness, the centerpiece of his doctrine (...) of the transcendentals, is motivated by an Aristotelian conception of theoretical knowledge that grounds inquiry in metaphysical classification and definition understood in terms of Aristotle''s doctrine of the categories. The concerns about taxonomy and definition that Philip introduces into the early thirteenth-century discussion of the metaphysics of goodness lead him to the theses that are the foundations of the medieval doctrine of the transcendentals, among them that being and goodness are conceptually distinct but the same in reality. (shrink)