Filo-Sofija 12 (19) (2012)

Wonderful Knowledge. Aquinas on the Immutability and Eternity of God’s Knowledge The general concept of knowledge is a kind of concept closely akin to transcententals: its use is not restricted to a certain kind of being, and it does not itself designate a kind of entity. Such concepts may be applied to God not as metaphors: when we grasp (through the analysis of cases of finite knowledge) some general traits of knowledge as such, we can show that God has knowledge, and his knowledge, as opposed to ours, is infinitely perfect. We have no insight into this realization of knowledge as opposed to ours, but as far as we know what general traits of knowledge are, it is important to know that God has infinitely perfect knowledge. To grasp the general traits of knowledge, I focus on the topic of mutability and immutability of knowledge analyzed systematically by Aquinas, and thus on the topic of identity criteria specific for knowledge in general: the question of when knowledge that p and knowledge that q are (in a certain knower) one and the same knowledge; the criteria of identity of knowledge vary according to natures of knowers. I think that the problem of the criteria of identity of knowledge is rather neglected in omniscience-immutability discussions. I analyze Aquinas’ arguments for the thesis that human knowledge is mutable, and God’s knowledge is absolutely immutable (they concern the role of tense). The analysis sheds light on some general traits of knowledge: it is always something formulated by the knower which manifests some truth to him, and in general the way it is formulated corresponds to (i) the way it manifests some truth, (ii) its identity criteria, (iii) the way it is propositional, (iv) the way it is related to tense, and finally (v) the nature of the knower. Focusing on the criteria of the identity of knowledge shows that God’s knowledge is absolutely immutable, and that time and change in its objects are nevertheless undoubtedly real. Keywords: God’s knowledge, knowledge, criteria of identity of knowledge, immutability; tense; transcendentals; omniscience-immutability arguments
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