Don't Mind the Gap: A Reply to Adam Wood

Oxford Studies in Medieval Philosophy 4 (1):198–213 (2016)
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Abstract

Most contemporary interpreters of Aquinas think that he rejects the possibility of intermittent or “gappy” existence. Thus they think that the soul’s natural survival after death is a necessary part of Aquinas’s defense of the possibility of the resurrection. Yet this contemporary consensus rests on shaky foundations. For on the basis of a widely neglected quodlibet question, earlier interpreters of Aquinas as eminent as John Capreolus and Francis Sylvester Ferrara recognized that Aquinas reserves to God the power to annihilate material substances, including human beings, and then re-create them numerically the same. If these earlier interpreters are right, then the contemporary consensus is wrong. But Adam Wood argues that they are not right. He attempts to vindicate the contemporary consensus by offering an alternative reading of Aquinas’s quodlibet on annihilation and re-creation, providing textual evidence of Aquinas’s rejection of the possibility of “gappy” existence, criticizing the reading given to this evidence by Aquinas’s earlier interpreters, and mounting a philosophical case against the possibility of “gappy” existence based on his preferred interpretation of Aquinas’s theory of the principle of individuation. In this paper I come to the defense of Aquinas’s earlier interpreters. Wood’s alternative reading of Aquinas’s quodlibet is impossible to square with the text itself. Close inspection of Wood’s textual evidence shows that some of the readings of Aquinas’s earlier interpreters are much more plausible than Wood allows, making his textual case much weaker than he admits. And his philosophical case against the possibility of “gappy” existence begs the question.

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Turner C. Nevitt
University of San Diego

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Mind the Gap?Adam Wood - 2015 - Oxford Studies in Medieval Philosophy 3 (1).
St. Thomas Aquinas on Gappy Existence.Patrick Toner - 2015 - Analytic Philosophy 56 (1):94-110.

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