The far reaching changes in man's social and personal life taking place in our lifetime underline the need for a sound ethical evaluation of our rights and duties and of human behaviour both on the individual level and in the political society. On many issues judgments of value vary widely and a consultation of the thought of Thomas Aquinas on the basic questions will be helpful, the more since he is not only one of the greatest philosophers but also succeeded (...) in integrating in his moral philosophy the wisdom of the ancients, in particular of Aristotle and the Stoa. This book presents Aquinas's thought on such central questions as man's happiness, how to determine the morality of our actions, the natural law and the main virtues, as well as on the common good, war, human labour, love and friendship. Throughout the book the intellectual character of this moral philosophy is pointed out and problems are set in a historical perspective. (shrink)
The Physics is a most remarkable work, and profoundly influenced Medieval Philosophers. Thomas Aquinas wrote a detailed, impressive commentary. This essay studies in particular the composition of the Physics as Thomas saw it, his thorough study of Aristotle’s way of arguing and the important distinction he made between disputative arguments, which are only partially true, and arguments which determine the truth. Aristotle frequently uses proofs which are wrong when one considers the proper nature of bodies, but possible considering their common (...) nature. Thomas accepts proofs in the field of physics but discards those related to a certain mathematization of nature. Aristotle holds the unlimited possibility of movements becoming faster or slower, but according to Aquinas he is considering things in general : when we consider specific bodies there is a fastest movement. Thomas speaks of a way of reading a text which is according the intention of Aristotle, and proposes an understanding of particular texts based on the general doctrine of the Stagirite. Sometimes he goes beyond the text, as when defending the unity of time as dependent on the unity of the First Mover. The essay shows that in the commentary a coherent philosophy of nature shaping up. In some places Aquinas brings in God’s causality: nature is nothing else but the plan of divine art, placed within things. The study of nature shows that there is a first principle of the whole nature which is above everything, sc. God who gives being to things. (shrink)
This is an important book. It consists of twenty-one essays, sixteen of which have not been published before, and sheds light on two of the most difficult points in the Poetics, imitation and catharsis. The order in which the papers are presented has been carefully chosen, so that the overall impression is that of a certain unity of interpretation. In this review we can only bring out a few of the more salient statements of the book.
In the introduction to this important study Bowlin draws attention to the fact that contemporary students of ethics often resort to Aristotle, but overlook Aquinas, one of the more able interpreters of the Aristotelian moral tradition. He intends to correct this situation by concentrating on a particular point of Thomas’s moral theory: the contingencies of various kinds which we must confront. Bowlin argues that Thomas’s treatment of the moral virtues is largely functional: they help to cope with contingencies, although he (...) leaves the connection between the virtues and these contingencies largely undeveloped. Chapter 1 deals with the difficulties caused by the different passions such as concupiscence, fear, and others. The next chapter takes us into the heart of the problem, the contingency of the human good. In Bowlin’s view this contingency results from the fact that circumstances can modify the morality of our actions. Given this variability, prudence and justice must help us to decide what is right to do. Bowlin’s treatment of justice is surprising: this virtue is viewed in the light of contingency, whereas for Aquinas it proceeds basically in an objective way. (shrink)
For some years Yearly has devoted himself to the study of the comparative philosophy of religion and is now convinced of the importance of this kind of study: it enriches us because it makes us attentive to certain aspects of a work we had previously overlooked; it shows how pervasively we are tied to a particular culture; and it helps develop those abilities that allow us to appreciate different visions of the world.
It is not without a certain emotion that one opens this book devoted to the memory of a great scholar of medieval thought who worked and lived in the certainty that there cannot be a conflict between the Christian faith and science. In a significant essay, Benedict M. Ashley defends the idea of the philosophy of nature as continuous or identical with natural science. Ashley does allow, however, for so many divergences between philosophy of nature and natural science due to (...) later developments in science that this identification must be qualified. Steven E. Baldner points out some of the contradictions of Hartshorne's atomism: Hartshorne denies change and real causality. Anthony J. Celano recalls that Robert Kilwardby was very much aware that happiness as described by Aristotle is quite different from the beatitude promised by the Christian faith. The order of the divine entitative attributes in the Summa theologiae I, qq. 3-11 has baffled many a commentator. Lawrence Dewan connects it with some texts of Aristotle's Metaphysics. Jeremiah Hackett studies Roger Bacon's Moralis philosophia. Dealing with Luther's attitude toward St. Thomas, Denis R. Tanz accepts Erasmus's verdict that the weight given to Thomas in theology was an important factor in propelling Luther out of the Roman Catholic orbit. This opinion, however, confounds appearances with the real reason for leaving, namely, estrangement from several central positions of Catholic doctrine. It is a tribute to the Catholicity of Thomas that after 1519 Luther came to identify the Pope, the Church and all scholastic doctors with the Thomists and said that the Church had become the synagogue of the papists and the Thomists: Thomas had been made the arbiter of heresy. Mark F. Johnson stresses the sapiential character of the sacra doctrina. Mark D. Jordan wrestles with the question why Thomas wrote his Aristotelian commentaries. Arguing in the line of Owens's interpretation he reduces their importance with regard to Thomas's own positions. Jordan seems to think that Thomas's philosophy cannot be formulated without his theology, an explanation which is hardly satisfactory. Armand Maurer submits some reflections on St. Thomas's notion of presence. The question to what extent Albert the Great contributed to Aquinas's treatises of the morality of human acts and of natural law is examined by Ernest J. McCullough. Walter H. Principe points out how, according to Aquinas, food is assimilated into the veritas humanae naturae. Eric A. Reitan retraces Weisheipl's analysis of Aristotle's Physics and of St. Thomas' Commentary: the axiom, "whatever is moved, is moved by another" can be understood only within the context of the general science of nature. In his Liber de causis et processu universitatis Albert came to hold the same position as Thomas on the demonstrability of creation and of its beginning in time. Two final articles concern the difficulties underlying Aristotle's arguments in Physics 7 and 8, and Aquinas and Newton on causality: William Wallace connects Newton's universal gravitation with the axiom that nothing acts on itself. (shrink)
This carefully edited book, complete with notes, a bibliography, and indexes, contains fourteen papers selected from those read at the yearly meeting of the Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy. The essays are divided into three groups dealing with logic, metaphysics, and the soul. John P. Anton argues that the categories do not mean predicates but fundamental types of attribution formulated in accordance with the ontology of first substance. D. Morrison points out that they stand for classes of being in the (...) universe. The question of why Plotinus dispensed with some of the categories is the subject of C. Evangeliou's paper: Plotinus tended to reduce even quantity and quality to relations and made action and passion species of motion, whereas Aristotle never referred to motion as a category. A. Urbanas presents a valuable study of the meaning of ὅπερ. (shrink)
A study of Aristotle's use of the "prior" and the "posterior" is most welcome, since it is likely to shed some light on his position with regard to Platonism. Nicomachean Ethics 1096a17-19 intimates that in Plato's view the pair "prior and posterior" belongs to the world of becoming and mutually dependent things. Cleary believes that its use by Aristotle is closely related to the latter's philosophical development. He hopes to discover, in the course of his study, the original set of (...) circumstances which made Aristotle embark upon his theory of these terms. To this effect Cleary examines the main texts of the Aristotelian corpus in which they occur. (shrink)
Some twenty-five years ago the ancient controversy about the compatibility of divine foreknowledge and human freedom came to life again. The relevant papers of those who participated in the debate are scattered over several philosophical reviews. John Fisher has brought them together and added a fifty-page introduction in which he summarizes and evaluates the respective positions.
This is an interesting and useful book with essays by Lewis White Beck, Ernst Cassierer, Hermann Cohen, Richard Hönigswald, Hansgeorg Hoppe, Edmund Husserl, Ram Adhar Mall, Jeffrie G. Murphy, Alois Riehl, Wolfgang Stegmüller, Martha E. Williams. All thirteen essays or notes reprinted concern the relationship between Hume and Kant. Its publication follows the 200th anniversary of the appearance of the Kritik der reinen Vernunft. Common to both philosophers is the view that scientific knowledge depends on the knowledge of man. In (...) a long introduction the editor briefly recalls Hume's place in the history of philosophy. Turning to Kant he points out that Kant realized that if we take Hume's view of causality seriously, it cannot but lead to scepticism. Thus he felt obliged to look for a foundation of the sciences in the trans-subjective structure of the human mind. However, Kant never became an empiricist, but still subscribed to what Russell called a "pre-Humean rationalism." Nevertheless there is a convergence between both philosophers: Hume feels that one cannot go beyond the presence of percepts in one's own consciousness. Now Kant is equally convinced that our theoretical knowledge is limited to appearances. What lies beyond the appearances--das Ding an sich--cannot be reached. (shrink)
This attractive but difficult study begins with an avowal: Korff purposively writes against Kierkegaard. His main thesis is that the Danish philosopher beguiled himself in stating his relationship with Regina, the girl he had promised to marry, in terms of his relation to God. Kierkegaard played with her, using her for his poetical endeavors and philosophical reflections. Korff is not slow to point out a certain inversion of the normal in Kierkegaard's conception of love and his incapacity really to love (...) someone. Breaking up his relation with Regina as well as this attempt to transpose it to a spiritual level of a mystical betrothal with God, gave Kierkegaard the feeling of being free again. Korff sharply criticizes Kierkegaard's comparison of his "sacrifice" with the sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham : "Kierkegaard is less moved by religious seriousness than by the fascination of his own dialectic". He creates a representation of God according to his subjective feelings and dialectical needs of the moment. (shrink)
There are readers of Aquinas’s works, but Penguin’s surpasses all by its sheer size, the very representative choice of texts, the excellent translations, and scholarly, informative introductions. McInerny chose to present his selection in a chronological order, allowing the persevering reader to witness St. Thomas at work in Paris, Italy, again in Paris, and in Naples. In the introduction, the reader finds a survey of Thomas’s life, pertinent remarks on the relationship of philosophy and theology, on Thomas and Aristotelianism, and (...) an enumeration of some key Aristotelian doctrines. “In learning from Aristotle Thomas does not of course think of himself as conforming his mind to another’s, but rather as conforming his mind to the way things are”. McInerny also mentions the controversies after Thomas’s death and the revival of Thomistic studies. (shrink)
In 1997 an international conference on Aristotle and modern science took place in Thessaloniki. Aristotle’s view of nature—his criticism of the atomists, on the one hand, and modern science, on the other—seem to be widely opposed, but in recent years science has changed so much that scientists resort to certain basic notions of Aristotle’s natural philosophy to underpin their theories and make material nature more intelligible. In a first paper Hilary Putnam argues against Victor Gaston that Aristotle’s theory of cognition (...) is a “ direct realism” and not as many say a theory based on representation. Perception and thinking are in direct contact with things and their properties. In a charming comparison Bas C. van Fraassen argues that both tragedy and science are subspecies of representation. As in poetry, in science the inexplicable is kept off stage. John P. Anton is confident that the revival of Aristotle’s model of science can provide a solution to the question of the unity of the various sciences. He levels a stinging attack at Putnam’s interpretation of Aristotle’s theory of cognition. Lambros Couloubaritsis voices amazement that in Physics IV Aristotle says nothing about the creative capacity of time, but believes that the notion of “appropriate time” will bring this out. James R. Brown argues that the main stream of science stemming from the seventeenth century is a fusion of the Platonic and mechanic traditions, but that in recent years Aristotle has made an impressive comeback. He examines to what extent the notion of potentiality may be in agreement with and help explain certain physical facts perceived by common sense observation, although it does no justice to quantum “ bizarreness”. He sees better help in the Platonic account of formal causality. Speaking about levels of reality Basarab Nicolescu believes that the universe is self-creating, showing an open structure. A flow of information traverses the various levels of reality. The notion of potency, we are told by Ephtichios Bitsakis, exercises quite some attraction on scientists. Indeed, Aristotle is a precursor of scientific realism, but his theories are marred by many inconsistencies: the Prime Mover, final causality, and entelechy contradict his dynamic view of nature and should be abandoned. In the transformation of massive particles into nonmassive ones the actual mass becomes potential. Thomas M. Olshewsky points out that Aristotle has a differentiated notion of prime matter and rejects absolute prime matter. Jagdish Hattiangadi suggests giving up the idea of substance. Demetra Sfendoni-Mentzou also tackles “the always actual question” of what matter is for Aristotle. Nowadays the idea of stable particles has disappeared and we have to deal with what is potentially real. (shrink)
The author sees his scholarly book as a contribution to the “remarkable resurgence of interest in Aristotle’s moral and political philosophy.” Despite the difficulty of integrating the various parts of the Nicomachean Ethics into a harmonious doctrine, Tessitore defends the cogency of the text. In five chapters he deals with several of the main topics studied by Aristotle. The Ethics is addressed to morally serious persons. The second chapter discusses the virtues treated in books 2–7. Special attention is paid to (...) equity and prudence. Tessitore sees book 7 as a new beginning, namely, the study of human behavior from the point of view of opposites. Human beings sometimes act in ways they know to be wrong. Tessitore speaks of a “continuous war between right principle and pleasure,” but Aristotle would say that the really virtuous person is no longer attracted by the lower pleasures. So when the author writes that book 7 is disconcerting: “the activity of God is wholly given over to pleasure”, we answer that it all depends on the sort of pleasure we are speaking about. Chapter 4 deals with friendship, which holds society together and is an important element of human happiness. Human activity is increased when one shares one’s life and experiences with others. Tessitore explains in which sense right self-love is the proper basis for friendship and social life. He considers books 8 and 9 an introduction to the best way of life. Book 10 brings a new description of pleasure which is now said to perfect or complete activity. Contemplation is presented as the supreme form of happiness, a conclusion which is “oddly out of step with the rest of Aristotle’s study”. Tessitore explains this: in the previous books of his treatise, Aristotle has kept this argument in the background, but he now shows that ethical excellence must somehow come together with philosophical contemplation. (shrink)
This thorough study in the field of the philosophy of history was accepted as a Habilitationsschrift. There is, however, a problem with this type of book: the author is supposed to give a display of his learning and mastery of the entire literature on the subject. As a result, the style and wording may become pedantic.
David Bostock revisits Aristotle’s theory of matter which was already discussed in some papers of volume 1. He warns the reader that Aristotle would have been surprised by the explanations some propose of his doctrine. Prime matter is, in the first place, the stuff the four elements are made of ; the elements function in their turn as matter for still higher things. Bostock believes that there are several ultimate kinds of matter which cannot change into one another. The atoms (...) would be the basic elements of the bodies, a function fulfilled by matter according to Aristotle. Obviously Bostock does not distinguish between substantial and accidental reality. In a fine paper Gottfried Heinemann explains the sense of such terms as “nature,” “matter,” and “craft” in Aristotle. He attempts to approach matter not from the ontological point of view as a potential component of being, but as that which is used in artifacts. From there it comes to mean what underlies the coming-to-being of natural things. (shrink)
With commendable zeal Horst Seidl has made a German translation of the integral text of the Posterior Analytics, a treatise which has exercised a considerable influence, not only in classical antiquity and the Middle Ages, but also in the modern period. As William Wallace has shown even Galileo, a scientist, owes a great deal to Aristotle's theory of science.
In his detailed and well-argued study of the De interpretatione, Whitaker shows that the treatise is a coherent whole and is closely linked to the Topics and the Sophistici Elenchi, rather than to the Categories and the Prior Analytics as tradition has it. Convinced of the dialectical character of the book he rejects the title as spurious. It should be περὶ ἀντιφάσεως. In the first chapter Whitaker defends the reading πρώτων in 16a8 and explains that falsehood is stating as one (...) things which are in reality separated from each other, or as separate things which are one. Next he deals with the analysis of nouns and verbs. Departing from Alexander, he is right in holding that only man has speech. Animals can show something but do not signify it. The difficult sentence “being by itself is nothing” is understood as follows: being represents the combination of subject and predicate in an assertion. By itself it is nothing, but when used as a copula it gets an additional signification. However, I do not think that this understanding of προσημαίνειν is correct. In the interpretation of Whitaker, the text should simply say “it gets a meaning” without the “additional.” On this point one may usefully compare the commentary by St. Thomas Aquinas, In I Perihermeneias, lesson 5, which reviews the various options. The verb “to be” alone does not signify that something is, but it denotes pure actuality. (shrink)
This book purposes to study Ibn Rushd in his historic context. The introduction depicts the doctrinal and cultural background of the Muslim world of southern Spain in the time of Averroes to consider next the philosopher's life. It was Averroes' intention to construct a coherent system and to determine how far reason can take us in the analysis of reality. His disgrace resulted from the desire of the Almohad rulers to win over the masses by a political gesture.
This book is number 28 in a series of translations of medieval texts published by Marquette University. Together with an edition of the De bono et malo, it is the only English translation available of the works of the important theologian William of Auvergne. The De Trinitate is a key text for William's metaphysics and his theological methodology. The translators deserve praise for having made William's thought more accessible.
Urbanas's intention is to clarify the status and function of the accident in Aristotle's logic and metaphysics. Given the importance of the accidental and the accident and the variety of ways in which the term is used in Aristotle's works, this is a most welcome study.
Dr. Barraza submits a detailed study of utilitarianism and its offspring, consequentialism, and purports to show why it is not an acceptable moral system. As G. Anscombe pointed out, it arose when ethics was no longer based on the virtues and people looked for a way to evaluate moral actions in conformity with the predominant technological outlook. Consequentialism holds that the criterion of morality is that of the best overall result possible, whereas for utilitarianists it is the greatest amount of (...) pleasure, satisfaction, or happiness. John Stewart Mill’s utilitarianism is examined in great detail. Mill felt that the criterion of morality cannot be something intuitively known, but has to be easily recognizable, as, for instance, the consequences of our acts, namely the greatest happiness proper to man as a human being. Mill experienced some difficulties when trying to integrate duties with regard to others. His answers to eight objections raised against his theory are seen as insufficient by Barraza, as is Mill’s justification of the principle of “the greatest happiness.” Mill’s ethics is profoundly marked by the spirit of the Enlightenment, that is, by a type of rationalism related to the empirical sciences; everything was to be explained by one simple principle, without any reference to religion. Important points in the system are the stress on freedom and equality, freedom being the primary value. Mill seeks to secure the greatest possible space for personal freedom, which, however, is limited by the interests of others. Equality results from impartiality which demands that the happiness of the agent is not placed above that of others. Furthermore, Mill’s ethics is characterized by its optimism and its social orientation, aiming as it does at the well-being of the greatest number. However, despite a semblance of coherence Mill’s work is full of ambiguities. A glaring difficulty is that the intention of the agent has nothing to do with the results and their evaluation. (shrink)
In this lengthy and learned study the author shows that in the time of Aquinas there existed already a highly developed philosophy of language. In particular the theory of the modus significandi made a breakthrough in the last part of the thirteenth century.
The study of Plotinus's Enneads is beset with difficulties. In this book, Bussanich examines nine important passages from books 3, 5, and 6 on the relation of the One to the Intellect. The passages are relatively short but provide material for a detailed philological and philosophical commentary.