This chapter examines the similarities in the views of Soren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche about faith in the providence. It explains that, for both Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, the issue of providence is occasioned not primarily by the study of nature or of history but of their own lives, and that both of them can help show that neither faith in providence, nor the abandonment of such faith, can be taken too lightly. The chapter also analyses the ideas (...) of Kierkegaard in his The Point of View for my Work as an Author and Nietzsche in his Ecce Homo. (shrink)
Introduction -- Euripides, philosopher of the stage -- The world of men and gods -- Agreeing with nature : fate and providence in stoic ethics -- Augustine : divine justice and the "ordering" of evil -- The philosopher and the princess : Descartes and the philosophical life -- Living with necessity : Spinoza and the philosophical life -- Designer worlds -- Providence as progress -- Providence lost.
Kant’s use of the terms ‘Nature’ and ‘Providence’ in his essays on history has long puzzled commentators. Kant personifies Nature and Providence in a curious way, by speaking of them as “deciding” to give humankind certain predispositions, “wanting” these to be developed, and “knowing” what is best for humans Moreover, he leaves the relationship between the two terms unclear. In this essay, I argue that Kant’s use of ‘Nature’ and ‘Providence’ can be clarified and explained. Moreover, I (...) show that Kant’s use of the terms is symptomatic of a much more important and not sufficiently appreciated fact about Kant’s philosophy of history, viz., that it fulfils a function in both his theoretical and his practical philosophy. (shrink)
In these pages, we expose the main traits of St. Albert the Great’s doctrine of providence and fate, considered by Palazzo the keystone of his philosophical system. To describe it we examine his systematic works, primarily his Summa of Theology. His discussion follows clearly the guidelines of the Summa of Alexander of Hales, in order to delve into the set of problems faced over the centuries by theological tradition. Albert also restates the reflections of different authors like Boethius or (...) Saint John of Damascus but, in his Summa he incorporates to his reflections also the noteworthy book of Nemesius of Emesa, De natura hominis, which includes some pages on providence. Albert gives his personal solution to the complex questions of providence, destiny and contingency of the world. His conception of providence is developed in the frame of the creative power of the almighty God. God’s knowledge is necessary and inerrant and his providential purposes are infallible, but that does not mean that every event is necessary. He does not communicate His own proprieties to the creatures. In order to understand this problem, Albert recalls the notion of hypothetical necessity coined by Boethius in an Aristotelian framework and the difference between 'necessitas consequentis' and 'necessitas consequentiae' proposed by Alexander of Hales. He also develops his account of providence, closely linked to the topic of fate. However, it would be exaggerated to deem his position deterministic. (shrink)
This article deals with the doctrine of providence in Thomas Aquinas based on the thinking of the French philosopher Christian Godin: divine providence would provide an understanding of the “totality” (totalité) that concerns not only the entire universe but also each individual. Aquinas gives an Aristotelian explanation of chance, luck and contingency from the divine perspective. Omniscience, omnipotence and divine providence, however, do not contradict the existence of either true contingency in the natural world or freedom but, (...) on the contrary, they support them. In short, the two peculiarities of the doctrine of providence in St. Thomas here exposed are: first, that God’s will is the ultimate foundation of all contingency (and not merely the deficiency of secondary causes); second, that the divine causality cannot be reduced to any of the two groups of created causes (necessary or contingent) but it is only known to us by analogy. (shrink)
In this paper, I shall try to elucidate the relationship between nature and providence with regard to the function of guaranteeing perpetual peace in Kant's 1795 essay, an issue which, presumably for the very reason of providence being granted some role in the first place, has led to noticeable unease in Kant scholarship. Providence simply does not seem to fit in well into Kant’s philosophical account of history given the emphasis he puts on the notion of human (...) freedom. The main idea grounding my approach is that the notion of providence is not only not a threat to human freedom, but perhaps the most important ingredient in Kant’s solution of the compatibility problem with regard to human freedom and natural causal determinism. This solution of the compatibility problem, as I have argued elsewhere, must be understood along the lines of a so-called “altered law-compatibilism” which makes the special laws of nature dependent on human freedom. The role of providence then is to elucidate or explicate how such a dependency is possible. Moreover, Kant’s own definition of “providence”, which he develops as an alternative to Baumgarten’s, provides the resources of identifying it – in a sense to be qualified below – with nature and hence provides the means for solving a long-standing riddle in Kant’s account. Of course, the compatibility problem does not take centre stage in the guarantor section in any way. Rather, what Kant is doing there can best be understood as presupposing and being closely related to his compatibility argument: He can be read as spelling out the dependency of laws on nature with regard to the course of history. (shrink)
This article offers an analysis of the argumentative method of two treatises by Alexander of Aphrodisias, On Fate and On Providence, the latter of which is preserved only in Arabic translation. It is argued that both texts use techniques from Aristotelian dialectic, albeit in different ways, with On Fate adhering to methods outlined in Aristotle's Topics whereas On Providence uses the ‘aporetic’ method familiar from texts such as MetaphysicsΒ. This represents a revision of a previous study of Alexander's (...) method in On Fate by Jaap Mansfeld, which emphasized parallels between that method and the techniques of ancient scepticism. It is, however, suggested that Alexander does reflect developments in epistemology during the Hellenistic period, especially in so far as he ‘upgrades’ the status of endoxa to play something like the role of common conceptions in the dogmatic Hellenistic schools. (shrink)
Although Nicholas of Cusa occasionally discussed how the universe must be understood as the unfolding of the absolutely infinite in time, he left open questions about any distinction between natural time and historical time, how either notion of time might depend upon the nature of divine providence, and how his understanding of divine providence relates to other traditional philosophical views. From texts in which Cusanus discussed these questions, this paper will attempt to make explicit how Cusanus understood divine (...)providence. The paper will also discuss how Nicholas of Cusa’s view of the question of providence might shed light on Renaissance philosophy’s contribution in the historical transition in Western philosophy from an overtly theological or eschatological understanding of historical time to a secularized or naturalized philosophy of history. (shrink)
Distributive justice assumes a morally critical judgment of nature, which typically contradicts providential conceptions. Hence, simple conceptions of divine Providence cannot support distributive justice. This essay analyzes and develops a complex strand of theorizing about Providence within Jewish philosophy that is compatible with distributive justice. According to this conception, the actions of divine Providence express different and mutually exclusive considerations of justice. Therefore, the moral value of outcomes is intransitive between the situations of different people. And while (...) each providential action is justified from an ethical perspective, the total outcome is distinct from God's ultimate desire. Human ethics responds to this disparity by redistribution. This conception of Providence also contributes to the additional issue of intergenerational justice through the concomitant idea of life missions. The classical rendering of missions creates problems, however, for distributive justice. I conclude by formulating a conception of life missions that is compatible with both distributive and intergenerational justice. (shrink)
This paper presents a philosophical argument for divine providence by Aquinas. I suggest that upon returning to Aristotle’s Physics and Metaphysics to prepare his commentaries on these texts, Aquinas recognized that his stock argument from natural teleology to divine providence (the fifth way and its versions) needed to be filled out. Arguments from natural teleology can prove that God’s providence extends to what happens for the most part, but they cannot show that God’s providence also includes (...) what happens for the least part. In order to prove the latter, Aquinas claims that one must argue from a higher science, which he then does with all characteristic clarity. This paper presents this argument, discusses what this means for his previous arguments from teleology, and discusses the argument’s relevance to the contemporary discussion about creation and evolution. (shrink)
Molinism attempts to resolve the incompatibility of divine foreknowledge and human libertarian freedom by the inclusion of the divine will into the solution. Moreover, middle knowledge is providentially useful under the Molinist model because of the way God uses it. This speaks of an integral link between the divine will and intellect that works in such a way as to provide a foreknowledge solution and, allegedly, the best view of providence. Nevertheless, there have been several anti-Molinist arguments by analogy (...) which suggest that the God presented in the Molinist model is a manipulator, and therefore something is lost or undermined in the libertarian freedom that Molinism purports to uphold through its model of foreknowledge and providence. This thesis examines the anti-Molinist charge of manipulation primarily by analysing how God uses information known through middle knowledge. The findings of the anti-Molinist arguments from analogy are reconstructed to form deductive arguments. These are evaluated against standard definitions of objectionable manipulation. It is concluded through analysis of these stronger, deductive arguments that divine providence under the Molinist model is a case of objectionable manipulation, one which many theists, classical or progressive, should find abhorrent. The effects of manipulation on ostensible libertarian freedom are then analysed, leading to the conclusion that Molinist-style manipulation results in a form of free-will compatibilism, ergo, the divine foreknowledge problem is not answered, nor is the result compatible with libertarian freedom. Given that it is close to a form of divine determinism, Molinism is then compared with Calvinism along several lines of criticism, namely whether such a God is good, loving and personal. (shrink)
Le mouvement féminin en Syrie s’est constitué sous le mandat français comme une force politique autonome et originale. Malgré le faible nombre de femmes impliquées et son échec à obtenir le droit de vote féminin, il participa à une redéfinition du jeu et de la culture politique en Syrie. Les méthodes féminines de mobilisation collective et populaire réclamant des réformes furent pionnières. Leurs revendications sociales devinrent centrales dans l’arène politique. Jusqu’en 1946, elles contribuèrent à l’émergence d’un État-providence de type (...) colonial en Syrie garant des droits légaux fondamentaux des travailleurs, des femmes et des familles. (shrink)
Prior to his ‘naturalistic turn’, Bocheński was a Thomist and defended the Thomist doctrine as a logically consistent and attractive philosophical system. Some opponents of Thomism interpreted this doctrine, Aquinas’s conception of divine providence included, as a kind of theological fatalism (or theological determinism) incompatible with human freedom. Bocheński dismissed such interpretations as based on “a superficial misunderstanding.” I will try to demonstrate that his criticism of deterministic interpretations of Thomism was not quite justified. The article will present, first, (...) Bocheński’s account of the Thomist doctrine of divine providence, next, the arguments for theological fatalism leading to the conclusion that there is no freedom if Aquinas’s conception of divine nature is assumed. Finally, I will try to show how the dispute between Thomism and its opponents is rooted in some fundamental differences concerning the very concept of human freedom. (shrink)
This paper discusses the philosophical significance of 'September 11' by relating it to attempts that have been made throughout the history of philosophy to read particular events as symbols of conceptual change. It draws especially on Susan Neiman's Evil in Modern Thought and Giovanna Borradori's dialogues with Derrida and Habermas, in her Philosophy in a Time of Terror, to relate 'September 11' to Kant's versions of Progress, Providence and Cosmopolitanism.
John Polkinghorne claims there are no real distinctions between general providence, special providence and miracle. In this paper I determine whether this claim could be true given Polkinghorne’s wider account of these types of divine action. I conclude that this claim could be true, but only given a particular reading of Polkinghorne. I then defend this reading in light of two potential objections.
Introduction : "The idea of divine providence in Orosius, Augustine, and Dante" -- "Destined lands and chosen fathers: Virgil, Livy, and the Bible" -- "Orosius defends the Roman Empire" -- "Augustine's theology of history" -- "Dante's monarchia with and against Augustine" -- "Dante's Commedia and the ascent to incarnational history" -- Conclusion : "The hand of God".
In this paper, we argue that Plotinus denies deliberative forethought about the physical cosmos to the demiurge on the basis of certain basic and widely shared Platonic and Aristotelian assumptions about the character of divine thought. We then discuss how Plotinus can nonetheless maintain that the cosmos is «providentially» ordered.
This article gives a brief history of chance in the Christian tradition, from casting lots in the Hebrew Bible to the discovery of laws of chance in the modern period. I first discuss the deep-seated skepticism towards chance in Christian thought, as shown in the work of Augustine, Aquinas, and Calvin. The article then describes the revolution in our understanding of chance—when contemporary concepts such as probability and risk emerged—that occurred a century after Calvin. The modern ability to quantify chance (...) has transformed ideas about the universe and human nature, separating Christians today from their predecessors, but has received little attention by Christian historians and theologians. (shrink)
Providence, Evil and the Openness of God is a timely exploration of the philosophical implications of the rapidly-growing theological movement known as open theism, or the 'openness of God'. William Hasker, one of the philosophers prominently associated with this movement, presents the strengths of this position in comparison with its main competitors: Calvinism, process theism, and the theory of divine middle knowledge, or Molinism. The author develops alternative approaches to the problem of evil and to the problem of divine (...) action in the world. In particular, he argues that believers should not maintain the view that each and every evil that occurs is permitted by God as a means to a 'greater good'. He contends that open theism makes possible an emphasis on the personalism of divine-human interaction in a way that traditional views, with their heavy emphasis on divine control, cannot easily match. The book concludes with a section of replies to critics, in which many of the objections levelled against open theism are addressed. (shrink)
To study the influence of divinity on cosmos, Alexander uses the notions of ‘fate’ and ‘providence,’ which were common in the philosophy of his time. In this way, he provides an Aristotelian interpretation of the problems related to such concepts. In the context of this discussion, he offers a description of ‘nature’ different from the one that he usually regards as the standard Aristotelian notion of nature, i.e. the intrinsic principle of motion and rest. The new coined concept is (...) a ‘cosmic’ nature that can be identified with both ‘fate’ and ‘divine power,’ which are the immediate effect of providence upon the world. In the paper it is exposed how the conception of providence defended by Alexander means a rejection of the divine care of the particulars, since the divinities are only provident for species. Several texts belonging to the Middle Platonic philosophers will convince us that such thinkers (and not directly Aristotle) are the origin of the thesis that will be understood as the conventional Aristotelian position, namely that divinity only orders species but not individuals. (shrink)
Discussions of the evidential argument from evil generally pay little attention to how different models of divine providence constrain the theist's options for response. After describing four models of providence and general theistic strategies for engaging the evidential argument, I articulate and defend a definition of 'gratuitous evil' that renders the theological premise of the argument uncontroversial for theists. This forces theists to focus their fire on the evidential premise, enabling us to compare models of providence with (...) respect to how plausibly they can resist it. I then assess the four models, concluding that theists are better off vis-à-vis the evidential argument if they reject meticulous providence. (shrink)
Drawing primarily upon Dante’s three major philosophical treatises (De vulgari eloquentia, Convivio, and Monarchia), this essay explores how Dante’s ethico-political philosophy operates within the crucial tension between the phenomenology of time as the condition for the possibility of human moral development and yet also as, metaphysically speaking, the privation and imitation of eternity. I begin by showing that, in the De vulgari eloquentia, Dante’s understanding of the poetic and rhetorical function of the illustrious vernacular is tied to his political philosophy (...) in a way that depends upon a rich but ultimately unresolved tension between (a) the demand that only an atemporal, unchanging vernacular would be suitable for the tasks of universal monarchy and (b) the recognition that only a temporal, localized, and changing illustrious vernacular could possibly bring about the existence of the universal monarchy. In the second half of the essay, I will turn to Dante’s treatment of the providential grounding for the independence of spiritual and temporal authority in Convivio and Monarchia. I will argue that Dante’s understanding of divine providence provides common justification for the temporal and spiritual authorities whose independence he otherwise insists upon. Finally, drawing on the letter to Cangrande della Scala (the authorship of which is disputed), I will discuss how, for Dante, the providential ground for the legitimacy of temporal authority can only be discerned through the allegorical interpretation of history itself. In light of my discussion of these themes in Dante’s political philosophy and its dependence on his understanding of divine providence, I will conclude with a brief reflection on how Dante’s understanding of divine providence might help us better appreciate important aspects of the neglected legacy of Renaissance humanism in the history of early modern philosophy. (shrink)
Luck egalitarianism is an approach within current distributive justice theory which aims to focus redistributive efforts solely upon disadvantages that ensue from bad luck. This article considers how central assumptions and themes of both luck egalitarianism and its critics parallel those of providence theology and share some of their concerns. These relate to problems such as the basis of equality, the extent and nature of our knowledge, and of course, the paternalism that assessing people’s responsibility over their own disadvantages (...) involves. I highlight the similarity of luck egalitarianism to the role of providence and providence theory thinking, and particularly the tension between egalitarianism as a theological concept and the condescension inherent to imitatio Dei ethics. I approach these issues by analyzing standard criticisms of the luck egalitarian project, espoused by Susan Hurley and Elizabeth Anderson. I then proceed to assess the values of luck egalitarianism itself and consider different models of providence, and the meaning of this analysis for normative ethics. The subject matter of this article is part of a wider comparison of distributive justice and providence theory, within which luck egalitarianism affords a very fruitful and highly relevant case study. (shrink)
The position on the question of divine providence of the Aristotelian commentator Alexander of Aphrodisias is of particular interest. It marks an attempt to find a via media between the Epicurean denial of any divine concern for the world, on the one hand, and the Stoic view that divine providence governs it in every detail, on the other.2 As an expression of such a middle course it finds a place in later classifications of views concerning providence.3 It (...) is also of topical interest: Alexander's fullest discussion, in his treatise De providentia, has only recently been edited and translated,4 although some aspects of his position had long been known from other texts preserved in Greek.5. (shrink)
This article attempts to spell out more clearly the Thomist, the Openist, and the Molinist approaches to divine providence, and to indicate the strengths and weaknesses of these three positions. It begins by discussing both the traditional notion of divine providence and the libertarian picture of freedom. The article then argues that each theory of divine providence has its advantages and disadvantages. Each has had numerous able and creative defenders. As with most philosophical disputes, one can hardly (...) expect this debate to come to an end. The field of battle may shift more clearly in the coming years to considerations of which view, when applied to specific doctrines, offers us the most satisfying overall position. Still, it seems quite likely that all three positions will continue to be defended for the foreseeable future. (shrink)
Over the past sixty years, within the analytic tradition of philosophy, there has been a significant revival of interest in the philosophy of religion. More recently, philosophers of religion have turned in a more self-consciously interdisciplinary direction, with special focus on topics that have traditionally been the provenance of systematic theologians in the Christian tradition. The present volumes Oxford Readings in Philosophical Theology, volumes 1 and 2 aim to bring together some of the most important essays on six central topics (...) in recent philosophical theology. Volume 1 collects essays on three distinctively Christian doctrines: trinity, incarnation, and atonement. Volume 2 focuses on three topics that arise in all of the major theistic religions: providence, resurrection, and scripture. (shrink)
Of the rich legacy of the Timaeus, this study deals with the cross-pollination between Stoic and Platonist readings of Timaeus, spanning the period from Plato's writings to that of the so-called Middle Platonist authors. Plato's Timaeus and Stoic doctrine had their fates intertwined from very early on, both in polemical and reconciliatory contexts. The blend of Platonic and Stoic elements ultimately constituted one of the main conceptual bridges between the pagan tradition on the one hand and the Judeo-Christian, in its (...) own search for the distinction between transcendence and immanence, on the other. Contrary to the received opinion, later platonist authors do not merely borrow Stoic terminology. Rather, in a genuine 'discourse of assimilation' the Stoic analysis of the universe has left a profound mark on Platonist views of the principles, of the place of humans in the universe, as well as of human freedom and its interaction with divine Providence. (shrink)
In this essay, I challenge David P. Hunt's defence of the utility of simple foreknowledge for divine providence against the ‘Metaphysical Principle’. This principle asserts that circular causal loops are impossible. Hunt agrees with this principle but maintains that so long as the deity does not use simple foreknowledge in such a way that causal loops unfold, the Metaphysical Principle in not violated. I argue that Hunt's position still allows for the possibility of such causal loops and this itself (...) is a breach of the Metaphysical Principle. (shrink)
In a number of earlier papers I have attempted to defend the providential utility of simple foreknowledge as a via media between the accounts of divine providence offered by Molinists, on the one hand, and ‘open theists’, on the other. In the current issue of this journal, Michael Robinson argues that my response to one of the standard difficulties for simple foreknowledge – that its providential employment would generate explanatory loops – is inadequate. In the following paper I answer (...) Robinson's charge. (shrink)
God’s providence appears to threaten the existence of human freedom. This paper examines why Descartes considered this threat merelyapparent. Section one argues that Descartes did not reconcile providence and freedom by adopting a compatibilist conception of freedom. Sections two and three argue that for Descartes, God’s superior knowledge allows God to providentially arrange free choices without causally determining them. Descartes’ position thus strongly resembles the “middle knowledge” solution of the Jesuits. Section four examines the problematic relationship between this (...) solution and the creation of the eternal truths, arguing that Descartes’ position depends on his unique understanding of divine simplicity. (shrink)
This article focuses on the sections 49-56 of the De angelo perdito by Gilbert Crispin, where he intended to solve the problem between free will and divine Providence. It aims to show how Gilbert draws on the argumentative scheme of the fifth book of the Consolatio philosophiae, and uses this source in a personal manner. On that basis, its purpose is both to highlight the lack of references to Boethius in the apparatus fontium of the critical edition and to (...) provide further evidence that the philosophical production of the fourth Abbot of Westminster is not a rehashed summary of Anselm's, as it was usually believed. (shrink)
For Kant, cosmopolitan ethical community is a necessary response to humans’ radical evil. To be cosmopolitan, this community must not depend on particular historical religions. But Kant’s defense of ethical community uses Christian concepts such as providence and divine mercy. This paper explores two ways—one more liberal and the other more religious—to relate the theological commitments underlying ethical cosmopolitanism with the non-dogmatic nature of Kantian religion.
My concern is to overturn the Leibnizean model of God's creation of the world which proposes that God selected a possible world out of a whole host of other alternative ones. This is the familiar possible worlds model of creation. I argue that this understanding of creation does not take seriously the idea of ex nihilo and that, rather than considering determinate possible worlds, we should understand possibility as indeterminate. I then develop this argument and explores how it impacts on (...) the idea of providence, and the problem of evil. I then explore the notion of creativity. Only a God who can make something utterly novel is a God who is making something different from Himself and which consequently has no divine precedent. A God who uses possible worlds makes nothing new. -/- . (shrink)
For Thomas Aquinas, the Book of Job is the authoritative teaching concerning divine providence. In his Literal Exposition on Job, Aquinas offers a line-by-line commentary on the scriptural text. He analyzes the text not only by way of cross-references within the Book of Job and to other parts of Scripture, but also by appeal to the writings of Aristotle, the Church Fathers, and other Christian Aristotelians. Anthony Damico's translation is more literal than literary, preferring to render the Latin words (...) wherever possible by their obvious English derivatives. Martin Yaffe provides an extensive interpretive essay, bibliography, and indexes of citations. (shrink)