In exploring this tradition of philosophical reflection on the nature of goodness, the twelve essays in this book (all but two published here for the first time) present some of the best recent historical scholarship in...
In his reflections on his adolescent theft of a neighbor’s pears, Augustine first claims that he did it just because it was wicked. But he then worries that there is something unacceptable in that claim. Some readers have found in this account Augustine’s rejection of the principle that all voluntary action is done for the sake of some perceived good. I argue that Augustine intends his case to call the principle into question, but that he does not ultimately reject it. (...) His careful and resourceful analysis of the motivations of his theft adds subtlety to his own understanding of voluntary action and allows hirn to introduce an important component of his general account of sin, namely, that it essentially involves prideful self-assertion in imitation of God. (shrink)
The purpose of the article is to offer a detailed exegetical analysis of the argument in chapter four of "de ente et essentia" in which aquinas argues for a distinction between "esse" and essence and to develop an interpretation of it on the basis of the analysis. I argue that the reconstructed argument shows that aquinas argues for a real distinction and that he establishes it earlier in the argument than some commentators have thought. I criticize a rival interpretation of (...) the argument defended recently by joseph owens. (shrink)
In this paper I investigate the philosophical developments at the heart of what appears to be the earliest systematic formulation of the doctrine of the transcendentals by comparing the first questions of Philip the Chancellor''sSumma de bono (the so-called first treatise on the transcendentals — ca. 1230) with its immediate ancestor, a small group of questions from William of Auxerre''sSumma aurea (ca. 1220). I argue that Philip''s innovative position on the relation between being and goodness, the centerpiece of his doctrine (...) of the transcendentals, is motivated by an Aristotelian conception of theoretical knowledge that grounds inquiry in metaphysical classification and definition understood in terms of Aristotle''s doctrine of the categories. The concerns about taxonomy and definition that Philip introduces into the early thirteenth-century discussion of the metaphysics of goodness lead him to the theses that are the foundations of the medieval doctrine of the transcendentals, among them that being and goodness are conceptually distinct but the same in reality. (shrink)
Unique in all of literature, the Confessions combines frank and profound psychological insight into Augustine's formative years along with sophisticated and beguiling reflections on some of the most important issues in philosophy and theology. The essays contained in this volume, by some of the most distinguished recent and contemporary thinkers in the field, insightfully explore Augustinian themes not only with an eye to historical accuracy but also to gauge the philosophical acumen of Augustine's reflections.
From very early on, Western philosophers have been obsessed with the understanding of a relatively few works of philosophy which have played a disproportionately large and fundamental role in developing the Western philosophical canon, dominating the curriculum in the past and in the present; there is no indication that they will not do so in the future.Uses and Abuses of the Classics examines the various ways in which the different periods of the history of philosophy have approached these texts. The (...) editors have chosen for analysis some of the major philosophers from periods of the history of philosophy in which the interpretation of the classics has been particularly significant.Contributions to this book include entries on: Aristotle's reading of Plato; Averroes on Aristotle; Nietzsche on the Beginnings of Western Philosophy; and Thomas Aquinas's Commentary on Aristotle's Metaphysics. (shrink)
This volume is an important supplement to the two volumes in the series of Cambridge Histories covering the philosophy of the Middle Ages. Dronke's book, which adopts the format of the latter volume, is intended to fill the gap between them. It contains sixteen contributions by fifteen scholars. The contributions are arranged in four parts. The four essays in part 1, "Background," provide useful summaries of the intellectual inheritance that provides the cultural environment for what has been called the twelfth-century (...) renaissance. These essays give us, for the first time I think, a clear and reasonably broad account of the historical and philosophical relations between twelfth-century thinkers and ancient thought. Part 2, "New Perspectives," contains four chapters, one on twelfth-century scientific speculations, one on the grammatical, logical, and semantic issues that grew out of interest in grammar, and two on logic during the period. These chapters are the most exciting in the book: they succeed in showing us not only some of what is new and distinctive in twelfth-century thought but also in taking us to the frontiers of some of the philosophically most interesting current research. Fredborg's "Speculative Grammar" and Jacobi's "Logic : The Later Twelfth Century" uncover some of the strange and intriguing roots of characteristically medieval developments in logic: issues such as the properties of terms, the theory of supposition, and fallacies; and methods such as the use of sophismata and instantiae. (shrink)
A large part of the ambitious project that Grisez sketches in his paper can reasonably be thought of as developing and extending in interesting ways ideas of Thomas Aquinas. But in Part IV of the paper Grisez dramatically parts company with Aquinas on what might seem a fundamental issue. Aquinas famously holds that human beings find their ultimate fulfillment in beatific vision of God. Grisez tells us that, as he understands that claim, it is false.
Aquinas argues that practical reasoning requires foundations: first practical principles (ultimate ends) grasped by us per se from which deliberation proceeds. Contrary to the thesis of an important paper of Terence Irwin's, I deny that Aquinas advances two inconsistent conceptions of the scope of deliberation and, correspondingly, two inconsistent accounts of the content of the first practical principles presupposed by deliberation. On my account, Aquinas consistently takes first practical principles to be highly abstract, general, or formal ends, ends subject to (...) specification and determination by a process of reasoning. Aquinas therefore gives deliberation wide scope, allowing (indeed, requiring) it not only to settle for us the things that are for the sake of our ends but also to engage in determining in important respects what our ends are. Accordingly, I conclude that Aquinas's foundations in ethics are “thin.” Our natural grasp of first practical principles gives us very little in the way substantive ethical principles. (shrink)