Authors
Daniel D. De Haan
Oxford University
Abstract
This paper will argue that the order and the unity of St. Thomas Aquinas’s five ways can be elucidated through a consideration of St. Thomas’s appropriation of an Avicennian insight that he used to order and unify the wisdom of the Aristotelian and Abrahamic philosophical traditions towards the existence of God. I will begin with a central aporia from Aristotle’s Metaphysics. Aristotle says that the science of first philosophy has three different theoretical vectors: ontology, aitiology, and theology. But how can all three be united into a single Aristotelian science? In his Metaphysics of the Healing, Avicenna resolved the impasse by taking the ontological vector as the subject of metaphysics. He then integrated the question of the four first causes into the penultimate stage of his demonstration for the existence of God, thereby placing aitiological and theological questions among the ultimate concerns of a unified Aristotelian metaphysics. In the five ways, St. Thomas integrated Avicenna’s Aristotelian search for the first four causes into the last four of his five ways, by showing that each of the four aitiological orders terminate in an ultimate first cause that we call God. Finally, by appending the proof from the Physics to the beginning of the five ways, St. Thomas was able to show that the ultimate aim of both natural philosophy and metaphysics is the divine first principle, which is the beginning and subject of sacra doctrina.
Keywords Aristotle  Avicenna  Thomas Aquinas  Five Ways  Natural Theology  God's existence  Theology  Metaphysics  Summa theologiae
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Reprint years 2012, 2013
DOI 10.5840/acpaproc20128612
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Where Does Avicenna Demonstrate the Existence of God?Daniel D. De Haan - 2016 - Arabic Sciences and Philosophy 26 (1):97-128.

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