The six articles that comprise Book 2, Distinction 1, Quetion 1 of Aquinas' Writings on the 'Sentences' of Peter Lombard represent his earliest and most succinct account of creation. These texts contain the essential Thomistic doctrines on the subject, and are here translated into English for the first time, along with an introduction and analysis.
Thomas Aquinas is a massive figure in the history of western thought and of the Catholic church. In this major addition to the Cambridge Texts series Robert Dyson has chosen texts by Aquinas that show his development of a Christian version of the philosophy of Aristotle, its contrast with the Augustinian thought that had coloured so much political thinking in the previous eight centuries, and St Thomas's views as to the purpose of government, constitutions, and the relations between (...) secular and ecclesiastical power. Property, slavery, and usury are fully covered, as are St Thomas's celebrated and influential writings on law. The translations are extremely accessible and the whole is supported by all of the usual series features designed to assist the student reader, including brief biographies, notes for further reading and a concise critical introduction. (shrink)
Bertrand Russell famously said of Thomas Aquinas, ‘There is little of the true philosophic spirit in Aquinas. He does not, like the Platonic Socrates, set out to follow wherever the argument may lead.’ Russell’s criticism here presupposes that philosophical beliefs ought to ‘track’ the conclusions of the best arguments but that Aquinas’ religious commitments prevent his beliefs from doing this. Elsewhere, I have defended Aquinas from this ‘Failure to Track’ objection on the grounds that it enshrines (...) an arbitrary and unreasonable epistemic principle. Graham Oppy has recently replied that I have misunderstood Russell, and that his objection to Aquinas was not the ‘Failure to Track’ objection, but rather the ‘Sincerity Objection’ (that one should not to pretend have grounds or reasons for philosophical conclusions other than those which one actually has). I argue that Oppy is mistaken, that Russell did mean the Failure to Track objection, and that the Sincerity Objection is weak anyway. (shrink)
In this article I consider whether Aquinas’ arguments for the claim that God is His essence are conclusive, and what was his purpose of upholding this thesis. I show his proofs from Summa Theologiae and Summa Contra Gentiles to be problematic and argue that the defense of Aquinas’ views on that matter suggested by certain remarks of P. T. Geach is flawed.
This chapter examines the mechanistic psychology of Descartes in the _Passions_, while also drawing on the _Treatise on Man_. It develops the idea of a Cartesian “psychology” that relies on purely bodily mechanisms by showing that he explained some behaviorally appropriate responses through bodily mechanisms alone and that he envisioned the tailoring of such responses to environmental circumstances through a purely corporeal “memory.” An animal’s adjustment of behavior as caused by recurring patterns of sensory stimulation falls under the notion of (...) “learning,” behavioristically conceived. Indeed, Descartes’s animal-machine hypothesis may well be a distant ancestor to Watsonian behaviorism, via T. H. Huxley (1884). The final two sections of the chapter take stock of what psychological capacities Descartes ascribed to mind, body, or both, and consider those capacities that we might now plausibly construe as being explicable by nonmentalistic mechanisms as opposed to those that at present remain unreducedly mentalistic. -/- This chapter derives from a lecture delivered at the University of King's College (Halifax, Nova Scotia) as part of a year-long series on Descartes and the Modern. The lecture series was co-sponsored by the programs in History of Science and Early Modern and Contemporary Studies. (shrink)
A philosophy of nature is an urgent need if we want to avoid falling back into the Gnostic view of the world and of man’s place in it that modern science can’t help fostering. The medieval idea of the world as the creation of stable natures by a rational and benevolent God should provide us with useful guidelines. In particular, Aquinas gives us valuable hints about how our scientific knowledge of nature might help us to get a correct appreciation (...) of our own worth. (shrink)
Bertrand Russell famously disparaged Thomas Aquinas as having ‘little of the true philosophic spirit’, because ‘he does not, like the Platonic Socrates, set out to follow wherever the argument may lead.’ Like many of Russell's pronouncements, this is breathtakingly supercilious and unfair. Still, even an enthusiastic admirer of Aquinas may worry that there is something in it, that there is something wrong with religious ‘commitments’ in philosophy. I examine Russell's objection by comparing standards of permissibility in epistemology with (...) standards of permissibility in ethics, where these issues are better understood. I conclude that the epistemic standard behind Russell's criticism is no less contentious in epistemology than, say, direct utilitarianism is in ethics. (shrink)
Resumen William James hace del sentimiento de esfuerzo un elemento característico del querer; de modo que su presencia sería señal indiscutible de que se trata de un acto propiamente voluntario, y su ausencia una prueba de que la voluntad estaría faltando. Esta consideración aún vigente ha contribuido a la afirmación de que el poder de la voluntad depende del mayor o menor esfuerzo para ejecutar un acto: de donde, a mayor esfuerzo, mayor voluntad. El propósito de este artículo es mostrar (...) que una consideración de la voluntad en estos términos está en desacuerdo con la perspectiva de Tomás de Aquino, el cual enseña la existencia de actos voluntarios que no cuestan trabajo. Como consecuencia de la postura aquiniana, la popular creencia de que los actos más valiosos son los más difíciles termina siendo cuestionable.William James puts forth the feeling of effort as an essential feature of the mil ¿n such a way that its presence would be an undeniable sign of a voluntary act, and its absence proves that the mil is missing. This historically accepted consideration has contributed to the prevailing assumption that the power of will depends on the more or less effort to execute an act: the more effort one puts into operation, the more will one have. The purpose of this article is to show a consideration of the will according to these terms disagree with Thomas Aquinas's vision, who teaches that there are voluntary actions that don't take hard work. As a result of the aquinian stance, the common belief that the most valuable actions are the most difficult ends up being disputable. (shrink)
Disputing the Unity of the World: The Importance of Res and the Influence of Averroes in Giles of Rome's Critique of T homas Aquinas concerning the Unity of the World G. j. MCALEER 1. INTRODUCTION tILES OF ROME earned, after a decidedly difficult start, the most complete honors open to an academic religious in the Middle Ages. Joining the Hermits of St. Augustine at age 14, he became the first regent master of his order at the University of Paris (...) ; his works were made compul- sory in the education of students entering the Hermits in 1287; finally, in 1292 he became the general of the order itself.' Giles is significant, as Mandonnet puts it, because he "est incontestablement au premier rang des th~ologiens de la fin du XIII e si~cle. "2 But this is not all. Giles is also important to the period because his writings were censured by the same commission that composed the famous Parisian condemnation of 1277. As a result of this I would like to thank Robert Wielockx, Jos Decorte, Jennifer DeRose, and especially two anonymous referees of theJHP, for their extremely useful comments on an earlier draft of this paper. P. Nash, "Giles of Rome," New Catholic Eneydopedia, vol. 6 , 485 9 "P. Mandonnet, O. P., "La carri6re scolaire de Gilles de Rome," Revue des sciences philosophiques et thlologiques 4 09t~ 497. [~9] 3 ~ JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY 36: I JANUARY 1998 censure, Giles had to leave.. (shrink)
Le regard théologique sur la question du mal a progressé en Occident grâce à la lecture des Noms divins de Denys, et à l'analyse scientifique de Thomas d'Aquin. Il est cependant intéressant de souligner le nouvel ordre et les rectifications que Thomas d'Aquin apporte à la pensée de Denys dont il est tributaire. Imprégné de la philosophie néoplatonicienne, Denys apparaît dans son ouvrage comme faisant une théologie de l'amour et du Bien. Le Bien y est non seulement objet d'amour, mais (...) il appelle un ordre et une vie. Le mal ne peut être situé que par rapport à l'opération vitale défaillante. Par rapport à Denys, Thomas d'Aquin opère une inversion de pensée. Son apport propre est de dépasser les deux positions de Denys selon qui le mal n'a pas de cause propre, le Bien étant fin de tous les maux. Le mal, qui reste accidentel pour Thomas, est aussi le fruit d'une relation déséquilibrée. Conséquence du péché en tant que mal de peine, tout est-il résolu par là quant au problème du mal ? Par delà saint Thomas, n'y a-t-il pas demande aujourd'hui d'un regard lucide sur la relation réciproque, c'est-à-dire le rôle inhibiteur que joue souvent l'excès de souffrance dans la relation à Dieu ? Theology's attitude to the question of evil has progressed in the West, thanks to the study of Dionysius' Divine Names and the scientific analysis of Thomas Aquinas. It is, nevertheless, interesting to underline the new method and rectifications that Thomas Aquinas brings to the thought of Dionysius, upon which he depends. Dionysius, impregnated with neo-Platonic philosophy, seems to elaborate a theology of love and the Good in his work. He sees the Good as not only the object of love, but calling for an order and a life. Evil can only be situated in terms of a vital operation that is faulted. In comparison with Dionysius, Thomas Aquinas operates an inversion of thought. His own contribution is to go beyond the two positions of Dionysius, according to whom evil does not have its own cause, the Good being the end of all evils. Evil, which remains accidental for Thomas, is also the fruit of an unbalanced relation. The consequence of sin in terms of the evil of pain does this resolve all the problems concerning evil ? Beyond St. Thomas, isn’t there a need today of a clear perspective about reciprocal relation, the inhibiting role that the excess of suffering often plays in the relation to God ? (shrink)
Thomas Aquinas argues that matter is informed by a rational soul to compose a human person. But a person may survive her body’s death since a rational soul is able to exist and function without matter. This leads to the typical characterization of Aquinas as a dualist. Thomistic dualism, however, is distinct from both Platonic dualism and various accounts of substance dualism offered by philosophers such as Richard Swinburne. For both Plato and Swinburne, a person is identical to (...) an immaterial soul that is contingently related to a human body. For Aquinas, a human person is composed of her soul and the matter it informs, but is not identical to either metaphysical component. I explicate Thomistic dualism while critically analyzing Swinburne’s account. I conclude that Aquinas’s account has theresources to address a central issue that arises for substance dualism. (shrink)
IN THIS PAPER, I PROVIDE A FORMULATION of Thomas Aquinas’s account of the nature of human beings for the purpose of comparing it with other accounts in both the history of philosophy and contemporary analytic philosophy. I discuss how his apparently dualistic understanding of the relationship between soul and body yields the conclusion that a human being exists as a unified substance composed of a rational soul informing, that is, serving as the specific organizing principle of, a physical body. (...) I further address the issue of Aquinas’s contention that a human rational soul can exist without being united to a body and show how this ability of a human soul does not contradict the thesis that a human being exists naturally as embodied. I will also respond to two related questions. First, what accounts for the individuation of human beings as distinct members of the human species? Second, what is the principle of identity by which a human being persists through time and change? (shrink)
Based on a recently published essay by Jeremy Gwiazda, I argue that the possibility that the present state of the universe is the product of an actually infinite series of causally-ordered prior events is impossible in principle, and thus that a major criticism of the Secunda Via of St. Thomas is baseless after all.
According to Thomas Aquinas, the ideas in the mind of God serve two distinct although interrelated roles: (1) as epistemological principles accounting for God’s knowledge of things other than himself, and (2) as ontological or causal principles involved in God’s creative activity. This article examines the causal role of the divine ideas by focusing on their relation to natural agents. Given Thomas’s observation that from God’s intellect “forms flow forth (effluunt) into all creatures,” the article considers whether the causality (...) of the divine ideas excludes that of natural agents, or whether both modes of causality can somehow produce one and the same effect. (shrink)