Metaphysical Themes in Thomas Aquinas

Metaphysical Themes in Thomas Aquinas

John F. Wippel
Copyright Date: 1984
Pages: 305
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt284z1b
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  • Book Info
    Metaphysical Themes in Thomas Aquinas
    Book Description:

    In this volume, John Wippel has collected a number of his essays dealing with Aquinas's metaphysical thought. The volume begins with a presentation and critical evaluation of certain twentieth-century attempts to describe the philosophical thought of Thomas Aquinas as a "Christian philosophy."

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-2104-5
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. ix-xii)

    The studies included in the present volume treat of a number of different topics having to do with Thomas Aquinas’s metaphysical thought. This variety in subject-matter is only to be expected, since these essays were originally written at different times and for different purposes. Nonetheless, enough of them deal with related issues to enable me to impose some order upon this collection. The first chapter combines into one two articles which appeared a number of years apart, but each of which deals with the same theme–the twentieth-century controversy concerning the appropriateness of describing Thomas’s philosophical thought as “Christian philosophy.”...

  5. CHAPTER I THOMAS AQUINAS AND THE PROBLEM OF CHRISTIAN PHILOSOPHY
    (pp. 1-34)

    During the revival of interest in the philosophical thought of Thomas Aquinas which marked the first six decades or so of the twentieth century, considerable attention was directed to his views concerning the proper relationship between faith and reason, and between philosophy and theology. Many participants in these investigations were not only interested in reaching a proper understanding of the historical Thomas’s views concerning this relationship; they also wished to propose his solution as a working-model for twentieth-century thinkers who would be both believers and philosophers. In itself this is not surprising, since Thomas Aquinas stands out as one who...

  6. PART I THE NATURE OF METAPHYSICS AND ITS SUBJECT-MATTER
    • CHAPTER II AQUINAS AND AVICENNA ON THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN FIRST PHILOSOPHY AND THE OTHER THEORETICAL SCIENCES (In De Trin., q. 5, a. 1, ad 9)
      (pp. 37-54)

      In recent decades considerable progress has been made in investigating and identifying earlier philosophical sources for the thought of Thomas Aquinas. Among these sources Avicenna stands out as one whose work must be considered by anyone interested in the historical origins of Thomistic metaphysics. In addition to groundbreaking studies by Etienne Gilson illustrating the general influence of Arabic philosophy on Latin scholasticism,¹ a number of more recent efforts have been directed to particular examples of the Avicennian influence on Thomas himself. Some of these have investigated the Avicennian influence on particular doctrines while others have concentrated on Avicenna as a...

    • CHAPTER III “FIRST PHILOSOPHY” ACCORDING TO THOMAS AQUINAS
      (pp. 55-68)

      In q. 5, a. 1 of his Commentary on the De Trinitate of Boethius, Thomas Aquinas divides the theoretical sciences on the basis of the different degrees to which objects of theoretical knowledge (speculabilia) may be viewed as separated from or joined to matter and motion. He appeals to this criterion in this context to show that the division of speculative science into three parts is fitting.¹ Thus there are certain objects of theoretical knowledge that depend on matter for their very being (secundum esse). The proof lies in the fact that they cannot exist except in matter. But these...

    • CHAPTER IV METAPHYSICS AND SEPARATIO IN THOMAS AQUINAS
      (pp. 69-104)

      Considerable attention has been paid in recent years to the intellectual processes involved in one’s explicit discovery of being, especially of being as real or existing, according to Thomas Aquinas. Inspired in large measure by the work of E. Gilson and also of J. Maritain, many recent commentators on Thomas have stressed the role of the mind’s second operation, often referred to as judgment, when it comes to one’s discovery of being as existing. Judgment, it is argued, is required if one is not to have an incomplete notion of being, a notion of being that would be reducible to...

  7. PART II THE METAPHYSICS OF CREATED AND UNCREATED BEING
    • CHAPTER V ESSENCE AND EXISTENCE IN THE DE ENTE, CH. 4
      (pp. 107-132)

      This brief chapter from one of Aquinas’s earliest works has occasioned much disagreement on the part of commentators not only with respect to the validity of the argumentation found therein, but also with respect to Thomas’s purpose in penning the same. Thus it is often contended that in this chapter he offers an argument based on one’s understanding of essence (intellectus essentiae argument) in support of real distinction or real composition of essence and existence in creatures.¹ Not only is the validity of this argumentation contested by many, but some maintain that it was not even intended by its author...

    • CHAPTER VI ESSENCE AND EXISTENCE IN OTHER WRITINGS
      (pp. 133-162)

      As is well known, texts dealing with the relationship between essence and existence (esse) are scattered throughout Thomas Aquinas’s writings. A number of these seem to offer some kind of argumentation for real distinction and/or real composition of essence and existence in created beings. Here no attempt will be made to gather all of these texts together. Rather, by drawing on a limited sampling of these, I shall illustrate a number of distinctive ways in which Aquinas seems to reason to this distinction. In the course of doing this, another issue already discussed within the confines of the De ente...

    • CHAPTER VII THOMAS AQUINAS, HENRY OF GHENT, AND GODFREY OF FONTAINES ON THE REALITY OF NONEXISTING POSSIBLES
      (pp. 163-190)

      In this chapter I shall concentrate on three leading philosophical and theological thinkers of the thirteenth century: Thomas Aquinas, Henry of Ghent, and Godfrey of Fontaines. Of these, Thomas is surely the best known. But I have selected these three because their discussions of non-existing possibles are sufficiently different from one another to illustrate some of the major solutions proposed to this issue at that time.

      Before turning to these three thinkers in particular, I should like to sharpen the focus of this chapter by reducing its major concern to three questions. A first has to do with what one...

    • CHAPTER VIII THOMAS AQUINAS ON THE POSSIBILITY OF ETERNAL CREATION
      (pp. 191-214)

      As is well known, Thomas Aquinas repeatedly found wanting all argumentation offered in support of eternity of the world. So great was his respect for Aristotle, however, that at times he seized upon a passage from the latter’s Topics in order to suggest that the Stagirite himself may not have really intended to demonstrate the eternity of the world, but only to show that argumentation presented by others against its eternity was not demonstrative.¹ But later in his career, while commenting on the Physics, Thomas appears to reject this more benign reading of Aristotle.² As is equally well known, Thomas...

    • CHAPTER IX QUIDDITATIVE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD
      (pp. 215-242)

      In a well-known statement in his Summa contra gentiles Thomas Aquinas observes: “Concerning God, we cannot grasp what he is, but what he is not, and how other things are related to him.”¹ This statement, reechoed as it is in many other passages in his writings, comes from a Thomas Aquinas who is equally well known, if not more so, for having developed a theory of analogical predication of divine names. This is the same Thomas who had also criticized others, especially Moses Maimonides, for having unduly restricted our knowledge of God.² Without intending here to discuss Thomas’s theory of...

    • CHAPTER X DIVINE KNOWLEDGE, DIVINE POWER, AND HUMAN FREEDOM IN THOMAS AQUINAS AND HENRY OF GHENT
      (pp. 243-270)

      In this chapter I shall limit myself to two thinkers from the thirteenth century, Thomas Aquinas and Henry of Ghent. Since Thomas devoted considerably more attention to this topic than did Henry, and since Aquinas’s position was to become the focal point for centuries of subsequent controversy, the greater part of my remarks will be devoted to him. As will be recalled, Henry lectured as Master in Theology at the University of Paris from 1276 until ca. 1292. Concerning the present topic he may serve as an interesting link between Aquinas and Duns Scotus (though Scotus’s position will not be...

  8. Bibliography
    (pp. 271-280)
  9. Index of Names
    (pp. 281-284)
  10. Index of Topics
    (pp. 285-293)