Jeffrey E. Brower presents and explains the hylomorphic conception of the material world developed by Thomas Aquinas, according to which material objects are composed of both matter and form. In addition to presenting and explaining Aquinas's views, Brower seeks wherever possible to bring them into dialogue with the best recent literature on related topics. Along the way, he highlights the contribution that Aquinas's views make to a host of contemporary metaphysical debates, including the nature of change, composition, (...) material constitution, the ontology of stuff vs. things, the proper analysis of ordinary objects, the truthmakers for essential vs. accidental predication, and the metaphysics of property possession. (shrink)
Predication is an indisputable part of our linguistic behavior. By contrast, the metaphysics of predication has been a matter of dispute ever since antiquity. According to Plato—or at least Platonism, the view that goes by Plato’s name in contemporary philosophy—the truths expressed by predications such as “Socrates is wise” are true because there is a subject of predication (e.g., Socrates), there is an abstract property or universal (e.g., wisdom), and the subject exemplifies the property.1 This view is supposed to be (...) general, applying to all predications, whether the subject of predication is a person, a planet, or a property.2 Despite the controversy surrounding the metaphysics of predication, many theistic philosophers—including the majority of contemporary analytic theists—regard Platonism as extremely attractive. At the same time, however, such philosophers are also commonly attracted to a form of traditional theism that has at its core the thesis that God is an absolutely independent.. (shrink)
Stephen Law has recently argued (Think 9), using a dialogue set on the fictional planet Eth, that traditional belief in God is . Bergmann and Brower argue that theists on Earth should not be convinced.
According to the doctrine of divine simplicity, God is an absolutely simple being lacking any distinct metaphysical parts, properties, or constituents. Although this doctrine was once an essential part of traditional philosophical theology, it is now widely rejected as incoherent. In this paper, I develop an interpretation of the doctrine designed to resolve contemporary concerns about its coherence, as well as to show precisely what is required to make sense of divine simplicity.
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity poses a serious philosophical problem. On the one hand, it seems to imply that there is exactly one divine being; on the other hand, it seems to imply that there are three. There is another well-known philosophical problem that presents us with a similar sort of tension: the problem of material constitution. We argue in this paper that a relatively neglected solution to the problem of material constitution can be developed into a novel solution (...) to the problem of the Trinity. (shrink)
There is a traditional theistic doctrine, known as the doctrine of divine simplicity, according to which God is an absolutely simple being, completely devoid of any metaphysical complexity. On the standard understanding of this doctrine—as epitomized in the work of philosophers such as Augustine, Anselm, and Aquinas—there are no distinctions to be drawn between God and his nature, goodness, power, or wisdom. On the contrary, God is identical with each of these things, along with anything else that can be predicated (...) of him intrinsically. (shrink)
In a recent article, Edward Wierenga defends a version of Social Trinitarianism according to which the Persons of the Trinity form a unique society of really distinct divine beings, each of whom has its own exemplification of divinity. In this paper, I call attention to several philosophical and theological difficulties with Wierenga’s account, as well as to a problem that such difficulties pose for Social Trinitarianism generally. I then briefly suggest what I take to be a more promising approach to (...) the Trinity. (shrink)
Few notions are more central to Aquinas’s thought than those of matter and form. Although he invokes these notions in a number of different contexts, and puts them to a number of different uses, he always assumes that in their primary or basic sense they are correlative both with each other and with the notion of a “hylomorphic compound”—that is, a compound of matter (hyle) and form (morphe). Thus, matter is an entity that can have form, form is an entity (...) that can be had by matter, and a hylomorphic compound is an entity that exists when the potentiality of some matter to have form is actualized.1 What is more, Aquinas assumes that the matter of a hylomorphic compound explains certain of its general characteristics, whereas its form explains certain of its more specific characteristics. Thus, the matter of a bronze statue explains the fact that it is bronze, whereas its form explains the fact that it is a statue. Again, the matter of a human being explains the fact that it is a material object, whereas its form explains the specific type of material object it is (namely, human). My aim in this chapter is to provide a systematic introduction to Aquinas’s primary or basic notions of matter and form. To accomplish this aim, I focus on the two main theoretical contexts in which he deploys them—namely, his theory of change and his theory of individuation. In both contexts, as we shall see, Aquinas appeals to matter and form to account for relations of sameness and difference holding between distinct individuals. (shrink)
The doctrine of the Trinity poses a deep and difficult problem. On the one hand, it says that there are three distinct Persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—and that each of these Persons “is God”. On the other hand, it says that there is one and only one God. So it appears to involve a contradiction. It seems to say that there is exactly one divine being, and also that there is more than one. How are we to make sense of (...) this? (shrink)
Theology is the preeminent academic discipline during the Middle Ages and, as a result, most of great thinkers of this period are highly trained theologians. Although this is common knowledge, it is sometimes overlooked that the systematic nature of medieval theology led its practitioners to develop full treatments of virtually every area within philosophy. Indeed, theological reflection not only provides the main context in which the medievals theorize about what we would now recognize as distinctively philosophical issues, but it is (...) responsible for some of their most significant philosophical contributions. To give just a few examples: it is problems with the Christian doctrine of the Incarnation that prompt medievals to develop the notions of ‘substance’ and ‘person’ in striking and original ways; it is problems with the doctrine of the Eucharist that lead them to consider the possibility of ‘accidents that do not inhere’; and it is problems of.. (shrink)
Brian Leftow sets out to provide us with an account of Aquinas’s metaphysics of modality. Drawing on some important recent work, which is surely close to the spirit (if not quite the letter) of Aquinas’s thought, he frames his discussion in terms of “truthmakers”: what is it that makes true claims about possibility and necessity—that is to say, what serves as their ontological ground or ultimate metaphysical explanation? Leftow’s main thesis is that, for Aquinas, all true modal claims are made (...) true by one and the same thing—namely, God. Along the way, however, he also attempts to show that Aquinas’s endorsement of this thesis commits him to an objectionable form of Platonism about possible worlds. (shrink)
The purpose of this entry is to provide a systematic introduction to medieval views about the nature and ontological status of relations. Given the current state of our knowledge of medieval philosophy, especially with regard to relations, it is not possible to discuss all the nuances of even the best known medieval philosophers' views. In what follows, therefore, we shall restrict our aim to identifying and describing (a) the main types of position that were developed during the Middle Ages, and (...) (b) the most important considerations that shaped their development. We shall have occasion along the way, however, to examine in detail certain aspects of the views of important representatives of all the main medieval positions, including Peter Abelard (1079 1142), Gilbert of Poitiers (1085 1154), Albert the Great, (1200 1280), Thomas Aquinas (1225 1274), John Duns Scotus (1265 1308), Henry Harclay (1270 1317), Peter Auriol (1280 1322), and William Ockham (1285 1347). (shrink)
There is a real question about whether Anselm developed anything like a systematic ethical theory.1 Indeed, scholars have sometimes suggested that his treatment of ethical matters consists in little more than recapitulation of ethical principles implicit in Scripture or transmitted to him by Christian thinkers such as Augustine and Boethius.2 The truth of the matter, however, is quite the opposite. Although it is easy to overlook the systematic nature of Anselm’s ethical theorizing, as well as its genuine originality, his contribution (...) to medieval ethical theory is considerable. Admittedly, none of his philosophical or theological works is devoted to the systematic presentation of ethical issues; nor is there much novelty to be found in them at the level of specific ethical principles. Nonetheless, it is possible to extract from his works.. (shrink)
The past fifty years have been an enormously fruitful period in the field of philosophy of religion, and few have done more to advance its development during this time than Richard Swinburne. His pioneering work has systematically developed a comprehensive set of positions within this field, and made major contributions to fields such as metaphysics, epistemology, and philosophy of science. This volume presents a collection of ten new essays in philosophy of religion that develop and critically engage themes from Swinburne's (...) work. Written by some of the leading figures in the field, these essays focus on issues in both natural theology and philosophical theology. (shrink)
This volume presents ten new essays in philosophy of religion that develop and critically engage themes from the work of Richard Swinburne--one of the most influential thinkers in the discipline over the last fifty years. Written by a team of experts, the essays focus on key debates in both natural theology and philosophical theology.
Peter Abelard is one of the greatest philosophers of the medieval period. Although best known for his views about universals and his dramatic love affair with Heloise, he made a number of important contributions in metaphysics, logic, philosophy of language, mind and cognition, philosophical theology, ethics, and literature. The essays in this volume survey the entire range of Abelard's thought, and examine his overall achievement in its intellectual and historical context. They also trace Abelard's influence on later thought and his (...) relevance to philosophical debates today. (shrink)
Each volume of this series of companions to major philosophers contains specially commissioned essays by an international team of scholars, together with a substantial bibliography, and will serve as a reference work for students and non-specialists. One aim of the series is to dispel the intimidation such readers often feel when faced with the work of a difficult and challenging thinker. Peter Abelard (1079-1142) is one of the greatest philosophers of the medieval period. Although best known for his views about (...) universals and his dramatic love affair with Heloise, he made a number of important contributions in metaphysics, logic, philosophy of language, mind and cognition, philosophical theology, ethics, and literature. The essays in this volume survey the entire range of Abelard's thought, and examine his overall achievement in its intellectual and historical context. They also trace Abelard's influence on later thought and his relevance to philosophical debates today. (shrink)
What is the ultimate structure of the material world? Brower’s monograph provides a well-argued reconstruction of Aquinas’s Aristotelian answer to this question: the fundamental contents of the material world are prime matter, substantial and accidental forms, substances, and accidental unities.Brower’s aim is twofold: presenting Aquinas’s ontology of the material world, and also emphasizing its relevance—as a mixed ontology and a peculiar two-tier structured substratum theory, combining elements of both thin and thick particularism—to current metaphysical debates. These two perspectives (...) intermingle in the five sections of the book. In part 1, Brower provides a clear roadmap and lucidly condenses the key elements.. (shrink)
This essay explores some of the central aspects of Aquinas's account of mental representation, focusing in particular on his views about the intentionality of concepts (or intelligible species). It begins by demonstrating the need for a new interpretation of his account, showing in particular that the standard interpretations all face insurmountable textual difficulties. It then develops the needed alternative and explains how it avoids the sorts of problems plaguing the standard interpretations. Finally, it draws out the implications of this interpretation (...) with the aim of correcting some persistent misunderstandings of the connection between Aquinas's views and those developed by contemporary philosophers of mind. (shrink)
This paper describes an innovative 2 weeks module for medical students facilitated by drama educators and a palliative medicine doctor. The module incorporates drama, end-of-life care, teamwork and reflective practice. The module contents, practical aspects of drama teaching and learning outcomes are discussed. Various themes emerged from a study of Harold Pinter's play, The Caretaker, which were relevant to clinical practice: silence, power, communication, uncertainty and unanswered questions. Drama teaching may be one way of enhancing students’ confidence, increasing self- awareness, (...) developing ethical thinking and fostering teamworking. (shrink)
It is standardly assumed that there are three — and only three — ways to solve problem of temporary intrinsics: (a) embrace presentism, (b) relativize property possession to times, or (c) accept the doctrine of temporal parts. The first two solutions are favoured by endurantists, whereas the third is the perdurantist solution of choice. In this paper, I argue that there is a further type of solution available to endurantists, one that not only avoids the usual costs, but is structurally (...) identical to the temporal-parts solution preferred by perdurantists. In addition to providing a general characterization of this new type of solution, I discuss certain of its anticipations in the literature on bundle theory, as well as provide a detailed development of it in terms of my own preferred metaphysics of ordinary objects — namely, a distinctive form of substratum theory tracing to Aristotle. (shrink)
I think it would be fair to say that, until about 1900, philosophers were generally reluctant to admit the existence of what are nowadays called polyadic properties.1 It is important to recognize, however, that this reluctance on the part of pre-twentieth-century philosophers did not prevent them from theorizing about relations. On the contrary, philosophers from the ancient through the modern period have had much to say about both the nature and the ontological status of relations. In this paper I examine (...) the views of one such philosopher, namely, Albert the Great. (shrink)
This article provides a sympathetic treatment of Abelard’s account of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. It argues that the key to Abelard’s account lies in his ingenious defense of a form of numerical sameness without identity--a relation whose application to the Trinity he justifies on the grounds that it must be invoked to explain familiar cases of material constitution. The conclusion is that, although Abelard’s discussion provides the resources to establish the coherence of the Trinity, his attempt to reconcile (...) it with the classical doctrine of divine simplicity, though going considerable distance toward this goal, remains incomplete. (shrink)