The Philosophical Approach to God: A New Thomistic Perspective, 2nd Edition

The Philosophical Approach to God: A New Thomistic Perspective, 2nd Edition

Copyright Date: 2007
Published by: Fordham University Press
Pages: 328
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  • Book Info
    The Philosophical Approach to God: A New Thomistic Perspective, 2nd Edition
    Book Description:

    This book is a revised and expanded edition of three lectures delivered by the author at Wake Forest University in 1979. Long out of print, in its new edition it should be a valuable resource for scholars and teachers of thephilosophy of religion. The first two lectures, after a critique of the incompleteness of St. Thomas Aquinas's famous Five Ways of arguing for the existence of God, explore lesser-known resources of Aquinas's philosophical ascent of the mind to God: the unrestricted dynamism of the human spirit as it reaches toward the fullness of being, and the strictly metaphysical ascent to God from finite to infinite, in the line of Aquinas's later, more Neoplatonicallyinspired, metaphysics of participation.The third, and most heavily revised, lecture is a critique of Whitehead's process philosophy, distinguishing Aquinas more sharply and critically from Whitehead than in the first edition.

    eISBN: 978-0-8232-4830-8
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    W. Norris Clarke

    In 1978 I was invited to be the main speaker at the annual James Montgomery Hester Seminar at Wake Forest University, dedicated to the continuing dialogue between the two great intellectual approaches of the human mind to God, one through philosophical reason, through the Book of Nature, the other through faith and theological reason from the Book of Revelation. I have selected here for reprinting from the larger seminar the three lectures I gave, which focus on the ascent to God by philosophical reason in the Neo-Thomist tradition of “creative retrieval” of St. Thomas Aquinas.

    The first two lectures deal...

  4. PART ONE The Turn to the Inner Way in Contemporary Neo-Thomism
    • [PART ONE Introduction]
      (pp. 1-2)

      The aim of the first three chapters, which constitute part I of this monograph, is to present for your reflection and discussion some of the significant ongoing developments in the contemporary Neo-Thomist school of philosophers and philosophizing theologians with respect to the philosophical approach to God.

      I understand the term “Neo-Thomist” here very broadly to signify that loosely but recognizably united group of thinkers who acknowledge that the basic inspiration and structure of their thought derives from St. Thomas Aquinas, even though each one may have made various creative adaptations of his own, in both method and content, inspired by...

    • The Transcendental Thomist Movement
      (pp. 3-11)

      In this quiet renewal of Thomistic thought, one of the movements that has attracted the most interest and shown the most creative power in synthesizing old with new goes by the loose general title of “Transcendental Thomism.”²

      It was initiated by the Belgian Jesuit philosopher Joseph Maréchal, in the late 1920s and 1930s at Louvain, in his famous five-volume workPoint de départ de la métaphysique. In his work, Maréchal went in the door of the Kantian method of transcendental analysis to discover the existence of God as the necessary aprioricondition of the dynamism of human intelligence. This...

    • The Ascent through the Dynamism of the Intellect
      (pp. 12-21)

      As we reflect on the activities of our intellectual knowing power, we come to recognize it as an inexhaustible dynamism of inquiry, ever searching to lay hold more deeply and widely on the universe of reality. It is impossible to restrict its horizon of inquiry to any limited area of reality, to any goal short of all that there is to know about all that there is. For our experience of knowing reveals to us that each time we come to know some new object or aspect of reality we rest in it at first, savoring and exploring its intelligibility...

    • The Ascent through the Dynamism of the Will
      (pp. 22-36)

      The same process of discovery works even more powerfully and effectively—from the point of view of its psychological impact—when applied to the correlative dynamism of the human will, operating within the limitless horizon of being as the good, as the valuable and lovable.⁸ Reflecting on the operation of my human will, I come to discover or unveil the nature of this faculty, or active potency in Thomistic terms, as an unrestricted and inexhaustible drive toward the good, as presented by my intelligence. Our entire life of willing, desiring, loving, avoiding, is carried on within the horizon of the...

  5. PART TWO The Metaphysical Ascent to God through Participation and the Analogical Structure of Our Language about God
    • Why the Inner Path Is Insufficient
      (pp. 39-47)

      Why is the inner path to God through the dynamism of the human spirit insufficient by itself to deliver the full content of the traditional notion of God?

      If taken strictly by itself, as proceeding in the order of final causality alone, this approach does deliver, I think, eminently reasonable grounds for affirming the existence of an infinitely perfectbeingas my God, my ultimate fulfillment of both intellect and will. But this conclusion does not of itself give me the warrant to assert this same God as the ultimatesourceof all being, including my own. In a word,...

    • Ascent to God through Participation Metaphysics
      (pp. 48-68)

      As a result, what most contemporary Thomists who think this way and yet still wish to develop an authentic Thomistic metaphysical approach to God are actually doing today is drawing not from the primarily Aristotelian side of St. Thomas’s thought, which the Five Ways express, but rather from the much richer and profounder resources of his Neoplatonically inspired participation metaphysics, the deepest and most original level of St. Thomas’s metaphysics.⁵ It is a personal synthesis which he constructed by (1) taking over the general formal structure of Neoplatonic participation theory, (2) emptying it of its excessive Platonic realism of ideas,...

    • The Analogical Structure of Language about God
      (pp. 69-90)

      We have now completed the two basic modes of philosophical discovery of God currently being used by leading Neo-Thomist schools of thought: the inner path through the dynamism of the human spirit toward Infinite Being and Goodness and the cosmic-metaphysical path through participation metaphysics, rising from the many to the One and from the finite to the Infinite, as ultimate Source of all being. Now arises the problem of whether we can say anything more about God thanjustthat He is the ultimate Source of all, wrapped in a mystery into which we can penetrate no further. This is...

  6. PART THREE Christian Theism and Whiteheadian Process Philosophy:: Are They Compatible?
    • [PART THREE Introduction]
      (pp. 91-92)

      There is little doubt that during the last few years the principal challenge to traditional Christian theism has come from Process philosophy and theology, which has continued to show itself as one of the most lively and creative movements in contemporary philosophical and religious thought.¹ A growing number of Catholic thinkers have also been drawing inspiration from the writings of this school.² But I have the impression that some of the latter, especially theologians, are a little incautious in speaking of themselves as “Process theologians,” or as “using Process philosophy,” taking the latter rather vaguely and generally as thinking about...

    • Is God Creator of the Universe? Whitehead’s Position
      (pp. 93-130)

      God is not, in the original Whiteheadian system, the Creator of the universe out of nothing—i.e., out of no pre-existing material or subject.⁴ The universe is an ongoing system which has always been and always will be. God does indeed play an indispensable role in this world system, in four ways: (1) as source of the “eternal objects,” the possible intelligible forms or structures which He holds eternally in His mind and presents at the appropriate time for integration by the momentary “actual occasions” or events (also called “actual entities”), which alone are real agents outside God Himself; (2)...

    • God’s Real Relatedness to the World, Mutability, and Enrichment by the World
      (pp. 131-150)

      In this chapter I shall deal with the questions of God’s relatedness to the world, His mutability, and the resulting finitude of His “consequent nature” (according to Whitehead), since all three are inextricably linked. This chapter is an expansion of my previous paper, “A New Look at the Immutability of God,” published in 1972.³⁹ Continued reflection and discussion with Process thinkers on these problems have led me to a partial rethinking of some of my earlier positions, and on one of them in particular—namely, the real relatedness of God to the world.

      There is no doubt that the primary...

  7. NOTES
    (pp. 151-163)