Eileen C. Sweeney. gap between what faith believes and what reason understands, is also expressed in the attempt to think “that than which none greater can be thought.” For to think it is to reach God via a single, long extension of the mind ...
The paper discusses Anselm's account of human finitude and freedom through his discussion of what it means to receive what we have from God in De casu diaboli. The essay argues that Anselm is considering the same issue as Jean Paul Sartre in his account of receiving a gift as incompatible with freedom. De casu diaboli takes up this same question, asking about how the finite will can be free, which requires that it have something per se, when there is (...) nothing, as St. Paul asserted in Romans, that we have not received. Anselm's notion that we have two wills, one for benefit or advantage, and one for justice, allows for something to come per se from the individual who wills and also accounts for the willing of the good angels as the acceptance of what they are and have as received and, hence, as finite. The essay concludes with reflection on Sartre and Camus's The Plague taking as the central ethical and existential problem of human life, as Anselm does, the problem of finitude, and comparing their responses. (shrink)
This interdisciplinary study offers an interpretation of the major logical, philosophical/theological and poetic writings of Boethius, Abelard and Alan of Lille. The author examines their theories of language and the ways in which they explore how words illuminate things, how the mind comprehends God and how the individual reaches beatitude.
John Rist's What Is a Person? is a scholarly, rich, and trenchant study of the history of the concept of personhood in Western thought. However, its sharp critique of modern and postmodern accounts of personhood, though thought-provoking, also uses jarringly polemical language, which further undermines the book's flawed overall argument. The first section, "Constructing the Mainline Tradition," carefully mines ancient and medieval sources, tracing with nuance and complexity the different threads in the notion of person. The threads are religious, philosophical, (...) legal, and literary, and the philosophical sources are multiple. Rist does not privilege Boethius's definition in Contra Eutychem et Nestorium of person as... (shrink)
This paper argues that the role of nature in Aquinas’s account of virtue, action and law does not require the kind of adherence to Aristotle’s ‘metaphysical biology’ that is refuted by Darwin because of the way Aquinas transforms nature as applied to a rational being and as an analogy to elucidate virtue, habit and law. Aquinas’s grounding of ethics and law in the notion of nature is also not a kind of intuitionism designed to answer all moral questions and stop (...) all ethical debates but a model which gives principles; these principles in turn are not that from which all conclusions can be derived with universality and certainty but are principles which are the topic of reasoned and ongoing debate about their interpretation and application in particular laws or practices. The paper then examines Aquinas’s application of the principles of natural law to evaluate human law as an example of this reasoned debate, which is both subject to error and correction, showing how Aquinas’s notion of nature can work in practical applied ethics. (shrink)
The claim of this paper is that there is a common form of reflection in Anselm’s prayers and the Proslogion and Monologion. The practice of meditation, of rumination and introspection, is the crucial link between these works, mostly thought of as philosophy or speculative theology, and as opposed to Anselm’s monastic practices of meditative prayer and thoughtful examination of self and scripture. The philosophical meditations are, like the prayers, the product of an imaginative project, in this case of reasoning as (...) if he did not already believe and as if reason alone were his only resource. I show that Anselm’s arguments are solutions to the aporetic paradoxes toward which he pushes reason. Like the sinner’s realization of his own inability to extricate himself, grasping these paradoxes is for Anselm the only way of moving toward a sense of the metaphysically unique being of God. (shrink)
In the period between the mid-12th and mid-13th centuries, the notion of 'science' replaced that of 'art' as the category against which all areas of academic inquiry including theology were measured. This dissertation selectively traces one aspect of this change as it is understood by Thomas Aquinas: the understanding of the relationship of sacred and secular study given these two different models of learning, art and science. ;Hugh of St. Victor's Didascalicon is discussed as it represents the acceptance and assimilation (...) of the 'arts' into a program of Christian education in the 12th century. The author reinterprets two Augustinian themes--the epistemological theory of divine illumination and the notion that theology is 'faith seeking understanding'--and uses them to explain and parallel the methods and order of learning for secular and sacred study. ;Next some of the thinkers and texts which introduce and try to interpret the notion of science, its requirements, and its application to the various disciplines are covered. Chapter two is dedicated to two didascalic works which use the Aristotelian concept of science and Aristotle's classification of sciences to divide and define the secular sciences, and chapter three deals with the understanding of the nature of science and its relationship to theology in William of Auvergne, Robert Grosseteste, and the Summa Fratris Alexandri. These thinkers both introduce the notion of science with which St. Thomas works and form the background against which Aquinas articulates his interpretation of science and the sciences. ;In conclusion, I turn to Aquinas' view of the subjects and methods of theology and the theoretical sciences, which he explains using the language of Aristotelian science rather than that of the arts. St. Thomas reinterprets the requirements for science given in the Posterior Analytics in a way that makes them applicable to theology, and in the process changes their application to the secular sciences, resulting in an understanding of the learning process that is symmetrical to the one found in the Didascalicon. The sciences are formed and defined not in terms of their objects, but in terms of their rationes or formal perspective, and the method of the sciences and sacred theology Aquinas articulates is, as it is for Hugh of St. Victor, circular or dialectical. ;As with Hugh of St. Victor, the standard for secular study, in Aquinas' case 'science' not 'art', redefines sacred study or theology, and at the same time, secular study is shown to share certain properties of sacred study, namely the circular or dialectical structure implied by 'faith seeking understanding'. (shrink)
This essay will focus on analogies drawn from Aristotle’s account of natural motion and change which Thomas Aquinas uses to construct responses and explanations of free choice and its characteristic act, i.e. creation for God, and acts of virtue for human beings. Though these analogies to natural change recur throughout the Thomistic corpus, my analysis will focus on their use in the Summa Theologiae, where they consistently bear the weight of Aquinas’s account of the divine and human will and their (...) acts, and tend to be used to minimize the differences between the elements, animals, human beings, and God by relating them as being which tend to, move toward, act for, and are themselves an end. In contrast to De veritate and other texts, in which categories and examples of physical change are used to distance and distinguish human or divine willing and action from motion and change, the Summa attempts to build up from the ground of material natures and change toward the human and divine in gradual steps, transforming the gap and opposition separating creature from creator into a gradual ascent. (shrink)
This well-written volume consists of paired chapters on human being, understanding, freedom, and happiness on Aquinas and Sartre. Stephen Wang's project is to use Sartre to reveal the more "radical" aspects of Aquinas's thought and to use Aquinas to "unlock the meaning" of Sartre's more radical claims . There is a great deal that is fresh and illuminating in this rapprochement between two thinkers most would not join together. Because the aim is to bring the thinkers into conversation, Wang avoids (...) any temptation merely to repeat their technical language. Overall, his account is helpful as a counter to distorted readings of Aquinas that overemphasize the determination of human ends and actions by nature, as well as his intellectualism and realism. Similarly countered are extreme readings of Sartre as an irrationalist and radical voluntarist.In the account of understanding, Wang points out that Sartre eschews both idealism and realism, arguing that, on the one hand, "consciousness adds nothing to being" but, on the other, it "reveals what is there through negation" . Aquinas occupies similar ground, Wang contends, holding that reason can observe the present reality in a number of different ways, not just one . The will. (shrink)
This essay focuses on three interpretations of Aquinas influenced by Continental philosophy, those of John Caputo, Jean-Luc Marion, and John Milbank/Catherine Pickstock. The essay considers the well-worn question, whether Aquinas is an onto-theologian in Heidegger’s sense, but looks more broadly at the point of contact common to these interpretations: Aquinas’s relationship to modernity.As Continental thought has put into question the nature of philosophy through a critical look at modern philosophy—questioning its self-representation as progress and characterizing the present as post-modern—Aquinas is (...) of interest to Continental thought in his anti-modernity. The author considers three issues: (1) What does Continental philosophy bring to the study of Aquinas missing from analytic approaches? (2) What is highlighted about Aquinas as he is seen by Caputo, Marion, and Milbank/Pickstock? (3) Can Aquinas escape both the limitations of modernism and the deconstruction of postmodernism, as some claim, and would he want to? (shrink)
Etude de la théorie de la supposition développée par Saint Thomas d'Aquin dans le cadre de ses réflexions sur les universaux. Distinguant les différents types de supposition et leur relation avec la signification, l'A. montre que la théorie thomiste de la supposition illustre la position théologique et métaphysique de Saint Thomas concernant l'unité du divin.
This companion volume to Stump's earlier translation of Boethius's De topicis differentiis contains Stump's translation of Boethius's lengthy commentary on Cicero's Topica, extensive explanatory notes, and a short, basic explanation of ancient and medieval notions of the categories and predicables. Much of this volume depends on the earlier one; most of the introduction on Boethius is repeated from the earlier work, and many of the explanatory notes refer the reader to the earlier volume. Though the two Boethian texts have the (...) same subject--the description of the categories or universal differentiae of topics to be used in the discovery of arguments--Boethius' Cicero commentary covers this ground in a much more expansive way, explaining and amplifying Cicero's examples of arguments falling under each of the topic types, responding to possible objections to Cicero's scheme, and adding his own adjustments. (shrink)
While the history of Western philosophy as a whole can be seen as the appropriation by philosophers of the discourse of truth from the poets and makers of myth, of the replacement of the narrative form by the 'properly philosophical' form of argument, it is an appropriation that also takes place within medieval thought, particularly in the construction of theology as a legitimate academic discipline. Whether that appropriation constitutes progress or loss was as much debated in the Middle Ages as (...) it is in recent thought. I offer this medieval chapter not to take a side on the issue, but as an example of some of the presuppositions and dangers awaiting both sides of the polemic. The particular example I would like to examine is a well-known one, the conflicts over and changes in the nature of theology in the Latin twelfth century, beginning with the even more familiar conflict between Abelard and Bernard of Clairvaux. I offer this essay with fully knowledge that characterizations of this conflict are cliché-ridden. It has often been seen as the conflict between the first stirrings of the modern critical spirit and the conservative, fideistic opposition, between an emerging ‘Scholastic’ and a revised ‘monastic’ theology, and/or between ‘systematic’ and ‘mystical’ theologies. (shrink)
The paper examines the different uses of and responses to Aristotle’s account of science in the first wave of interpretation of Aristotle’s theory of science and works in natural science and metaphysics in the early 13th century in Roger Bacon and Albert the Great. The author argues that Bacon reduces all the disciplines to mathematics as the most scientific discipline, even as he argues that experimentum is at the center of scientific evidence and conclusions. Albert the Great, by contrast, gives (...) a more strongly analogical account of science, with broader differences between different disciplines as operating according to different intellectual ‘lights’ and methods. Albert champions experimentum in physics in a special way, rejecting a mathematical physics. (shrink)