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The Science of Being as Being

The Science of Being as Being: metaphysical investigations

Edited by Gregory T. Doolan
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  • Book Info
    The Science of Being as Being
    Book Description:

    Scholars present studies on key philosophical and historical issues in the field. Though varied, the investigations address three major metaphysical themes: the subject matter of metaphysics, metaphysical aporiae, and philosophical theology.

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1945-5
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)
    Gregory T. Doolan

    The essays in this volume originated from papers presented as part of the fall 2008 School of Philosophy lecture series at the Catholic University of America. The series was entitled “Metaphysical Themes—in Honor of John F. Wippel.” As with the series, this volume is intended to honor Wippel on the occasion of his seventy-fifth year. Thus, the essays herein reveal the contributors’ profound respect for Wippel. Moreover, these essays reveal the significant influence he has had on scholarship in the areas of metaphysics and medieval philosophy. As is befitting the honoree, all of these contributions to the volume are...

  4. Part One. The Subject Matter of Metaphysics

    • 1 The Science of Being as Being in Aristotle, Aquinas, and Wippel
      (pp. 9-35)
      Robert Sokolowski

      As my contribution to this collection of papers in honor of John F. Wippel, I would like to discuss a topic that he explores in his own writings, the science of metaphysics, one of whose classical names is “the science of being as being.” The phrase itself originates in Aristotle, who begins book 4 of his Metaphysics with the blunt statement, “There is a particular science [estin epistēmē tis] that theorizes being as being [to on hēi on] and that which belongs to it as such.”¹ Thomas Aquinas uses the same phrase to speak about the subject of metaphysics, and...

    • 2 The Transformation of Metaphysics in Late Antiquity
      (pp. 36-52)
      Dominic O’Meara

      The theme of my chapter is the development of metaphysics understood as a philosophical discipline or science. Perhaps as humans we have always had some interest in metaphysical questions—questions about the ultimate constitution of reality, about the reasons for the existence of things and of ourselves. But as regards the treatment of such questions within the framework provided by a conception of rational scientific knowledge: this is a development that we can trace back to Greek philosophy. I would like to propose that the last period of Greek philosophy—from about the third to the sixth centuries AD—made...

    • 3 Why Is Metaphysics called “First Philosophy” in the Middle Ages?
      (pp. 53-69)
      Jan A. Aertsen

      The idea of a “First Philosophy” presupposes a plurality of philosophies, among which an order exists. The discipline that claims the title philosophia prima pretends to precede all other philosophical disciplines, but in what sense is it “prior” and for what reason? Is it the first in rank because of the ontological dignity of its object, or is it prior to the other sciences for epistemic reasons?

      In one of his essays, John F. Wippel calls attention to the interesting fact that Thomas Aquinas, in his accounts of metaphysics, identifies this science with “First Philosophy,” but gives different reasons for...

    • 4 The Fragile Convergence: Structures of Metaphysical Thinking
      (pp. 70-96)
      Andreas Speer

      The present state of metaphysics is ambivalent. On the one hand, speaking of a “postmetaphysical” age has become a jargon of “philosophical correctness” that is very often not even conscious of the origin of its mental state, which looks upon the opportunities of occidental metaphysics as exhausted. Heidegger puts it this way¹ and, at the same time, narrates the history of metaphysics as a story of complete decline, as the attempt to render the eventful openness of being tangible as being and to make it accessible to thinking, finally doomed to fail²—a thinking that, moreover, apparently is not afraid...

  5. Part Two. Metaphysical Aporiae

    • 5 Aquinas on Substance as a Metaphysical Genus
      (pp. 99-128)
      Gregory T. Doolan

      The topic that I wish to address in this chapter is influenced in no small part by the writings of John F. Wippel. It touches upon a theme that Wippel has examined in detail, namely Thomas Aquinas’s treatment of the subject matter of metaphysics. Following Aristotle, Thomas identifies this subject matter as being qua being, or as he terms it, ens commune: being in general.¹ He observes, furthermore, that this science could also be called the science of substance (scientia substantiae).² Here, again, he follows Aristotle, who in book 4 of the Metaphysics presents being as pros hen equivocal and...

    • 6 A Scholastic Perspective on the Individuation of Races
      (pp. 129-153)
      Jorge J. E. Gracia

      Does it make sense to speak of a Scholastic perspective and solution to the problem of the individuation of races when the word “race” did not become common in European languages until the sixteenth century, when its etymology and provenance are in dispute, and when the very notion of peoples as races is traced by some to the age in which Europeans began encountering peoples from places other than Europe and the Mediterranean basin? Sixteenth-century Scholastics confronted issues that had to do with peoples from the newly “discovered” territories in the Americas in particular. Francisco de Vitoria, Francisco Suárez, and...

    • 7 Merely Metaphysical Possibility
      (pp. 154-174)
      James Ross

      The question here is whether there are alien possibilities, that is, possible things or states of affairs other than those that ever actually exist or lie within the capacities of finite things.¹ To answer that, I give reasons why conceivability cannot ensure real possibility, and why there are not in re any mere possibilities, and why recent modal ontologies developed in the twentieth century² and widely employed by metaphysicians and philosophers of nature are mistaken.³

      Appropriately, this topic is related to the views John F. Wippel explored historically in his 1981 Review of Metaphysics paper, “The Reality of Non-existing Possibles...

  6. Part Three. The Two Theologies

    • 8 The Role of Metaphysics in the Theology of Godfrey of Fontaines
      (pp. 177-195)
      Stephen F. Brown

      In this chapter I will focus on Godfrey of Fontaines’ Quodlibet IV, q. 10 (1287), Quodlibet VIII, q. 7 (1292/1293), and Quodlibet IX, q. 20 (1293/1294), disputed in Paris.¹ However, I begin far from Paris and Godfrey—with Richard Fishacre, the Dominican who lectured in the 1240s at Oxford. He initiated the reading of the Sentences at Oxford and did so in the morning hours that had been reserved for the study of the Scriptures themselves. He informs us that the way the Scriptures themselves are studied is according to the moral or tropological interpretation of the Bible: presenting the...

    • 9 Thomas Aquinas on Philosophy and the Preambles of Faith
      (pp. 196-220)
      John F. Wippel

      One of Thomas Aquinas’s most important explicit discussions of the preambles of faith appears in his Commentary on the De Trinitate of Boethius, at q. 2, a. 3. There he asks whether in the science of faith that deals with God one is permitted to use philosophical arguments and authorities. He responds that the gifts of grace are added to nature in such fashion that they do not destroy nature but perfect it. Therefore, the light of faith, which is given to us as a grace (gratis), does not destroy the natural light of reason, which is divinely instilled in...

    • 10 Thomas Aquinas on Demonstrating God’s Providence
      (pp. 221-242)
      Brian J. Shanley

      The inspiration for this chapter, and even its very title, comes from chapter 8 of John F. Wippel’s Metaphysical Themes in Thomas Aquinas II: “Thomas Aquinas on Demonstrating God’s Omnipotence.” The occasion for that chapter is a certain dubium raised by Aquinas’s reply to an objection in De veritate, q. 14, a. 9, ad 8, wherein he seems to imply that divine omnipotence is an article of faith rather than a demonstrable truth: “But the unity of the divine essence in the way that it is posited by believers, namely, with omnipotence and providence over all and other features of...

    • 11 Eternity, Simplicity, and Presence
      (pp. 243-263)
      Eleonore Stump

      The doctrine of omnipresence implies that each point of space is equally here for God. On the doctrine, God is present to all places and to all persons. But what is it for God to be present? What is it for human persons to have God present to them? What does this presentness consist in?

      Biblical stories portray God as personally present to human beings in the way in which one person is present to another, but in an especially powerful way. In Genesis, for example, Abraham hears God calling his name and responds with instant recognition of God. Abraham...

    • 12 Why Bodies as Well as Souls in the Life to Come?
      (pp. 264-298)
      Marilyn McCord Adams

      Christians believe that despite the fact that we die and our bodies revert to dust, human beings will rise to live embodied forever after in the life to come. It seems reasonable that we could not exist without our souls. They are our personal centers of thought and choice without which we would not be ourselves. But why bodies? In Aristotelian nature as in art, “form follows function.” Medieval accounts of the life to come do not seem to give bodies anything to do. The elect will be principally occupied with the beatific vision and enjoyment of God; surely these...

  7. Bibliography
    (pp. 299-314)
  8. Contributors
    (pp. 315-318)
  9. Index of Names
    (pp. 319-320)
  10. Index of Terms
    (pp. 321-324)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 325-326)