The Latin Avicenna and Aquinas on the Relationship between God and the Subject of Metaphysics

Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 83:129-140 (2009)
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Abstract

This paper examines and compares the ways in which the Latin Avicenna, that is the Persian thinker’s work as known in Latin translation to medieval Christianthinkers, and Aquinas alter Aristotle’s conception of the breadth and scope of the subject of metaphysics. These two medieval philosophers inherited the problem that Aristotle posed in the Metaphysics concerning the relationship between the study of being as being and the natural study of God. Both thinkers reject the idea that God is the subject of metaphysics and maintain that the one subject of this science is being qua being. They differ, however, in their analysis of the relationship between this subject and God. Avicenna does not directly address this problem, but certain passages from the Liber de prima philosophia seem to suggest, and were interpreted during the middle ages as suggesting, that God falls within the scope of being qua being. Aquinas, on the other hand, analyzes this relationship in detail and firmly denies that God falls within the scope of the subject of metaphysics.

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Peter Furlong
Valencia College

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