The Philosophical Significance of Immortality in Thomas Aquinas [Book Review]

Review of Metaphysics 55 (3):645-645 (2002)

Dr. Oguejiofor argues that Aquinas’s philosophical anthropology “is not much more than his philosophy of the human soul.” In his well-documented book he first gives a survey of the positions of philosophers on our question during the earlier part of the thirteenth century paying special attention to Albert the Great. Albert hesitated to accept Aristotle’s definition of the soul as the act of the body, believing that it is not compatible with the soul’s immortality. The second chapter explains this definition and stresses the fact that the soul is immaterial and therefore subsistent. The author might have argued from the fact that it does not share its intellectual activity with the body. Surprisingly he thinks that many of M. Kelly’s remarks against the main argument of the mind’s immateriality—the mainstay of Thomas’s theory—are correct. The third, central chapter deals with Aquinas’s proofs of the soul’s immortality. It examines in their chronological order passages from six works of Thomas where they are put forward, paying special attention to chapters 79 to 81 of the Summa contra gentiles, II. The argument from man’s natural desire is linked to the immateriality of intellectual knowledge. The main arguments are: thought is immaterial and therefore the soul as its source also is; the rational soul transcends the contrary qualities responsible for corruption; the natural desire to exist for ever cannot be in vain.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0034-6632
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