Giving Aristotle His Due

Elaborate Bacon

My fellow Patheos blogger Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry wrote an excellent article last week entitled "How our botched understanding of 'science' ruins everything." I liked it very much, and generally agree with what he says; but I thought a little more could be said about Aristotle's role in the whole thing. PEG says,A little history: The first proto-scientist was the Greek intellectual Aristotle, who wrote many manuals of his observations of the natural world and who also was the first person to … [Read more...]

CT 13: God Not A Genus

Not just any animals, these are puppies!

We’re blogging through St. Thomas Aquinas’ Compendium Theologiae, sometimes called his Shorter Summa. Find the previous posts here.In the previous chapter, Thomas showed that God's essence can not be represented as a genus and a specific difference, and thus God is not a species within a genus.  Now he goes on to show that God isn't a genus, either.  It does not strike me as likely that He could be, mind you, but Thomas is always thorough.Let me note again: these terms, genus and spec … [Read more...]

CT 12: God Not Contained Under Any Genus

Einstein, a genius, fails to find God under any genus

We’re blogging through St. Thomas Aquinas’ Compendium Theologiae, sometimes called his Shorter Summa. Find the previous posts here.In the previous chapter, Thomas shows that God's essence is simply existence itself, ipsum esse, a point he'd been working up to for some chapters.  In this chapter and several that follow, he's concerned to prove some corollaries, and to situate God within certain traditional metaphysical categories—or, more accurately, to show that He is a special case, and … [Read more...]

CT 11: Identity of Essence and Existence in God

Do you have any idea how hard it is to find pictures to illustrate metaphysical concepts?

We’re blogging through St. Thomas Aquinas’ Compendium Theologiae, sometimes called his Shorter Summa. Find the previous posts here.Having noted that God is His essence, Thomas continues,God’s essence cannot be other than His existence. In any being whose essence is distinct from its existence, what it is must be distinct from that whereby it is. For in virtue of a thing’s existence we say that it is, and in virtue of its essence we say what it is. This is why a definition that signifies a … [Read more...]

CT 10.3: Essence is no Accident

Not just any sphere, this one is distinguished by its position.

We’re blogging through St. Thomas Aquinas’ Compendium Theologiae, sometimes called his Shorter Summa. Find the previous posts here.(In the previous two posts we looked at what it means for a thing to have an essence (what it is) as distinct from its accidents (the things by which it differs from other members of its species, starting with location); and also at what Thomas means by genus and species. You might want to go back and refresh your memory.) In any being, therefore, in which there … [Read more...]

CT 10.2: Thomist Taxonomy, or What’s a Species?

Genus: Tree.  Specific Difference: Bearing Oranges.  Species: Orange Tree.

We’re blogging through St. Thomas Aquinas’ Compendium Theologiae, sometimes called his Shorter Summa. Find the previous posts here.In the previous post, we began to explain what it means for a being to have an essence, so as to understand what Thomas means when he says that God is identical with His Essence. In this post, we continue to provide background to Thomas' words, explaining what he means by definition, genus, and species. In each case, Thomas' notion is considerably more precise tha … [Read more...]

CT 10.1: Identity of God with His Essence

Apple

We’re blogging through St. Thomas Aquinas’ Compendium Theologiae, sometimes called his Shorter Summa. Find the previous posts here.Now that Thomas has established that God exists, is eternal and everlasting, and is utterly simple (in the sense of not being composed of distinct, separable parts) he begins to get seriously metaphysical.  That is, he's going to look at the metaphysical notions we apply to the objects of daily experience, and determine the extent to which those notions apply to G … [Read more...]

CT 9: Simplicity of God

salt shaker

We’re blogging through St. Thomas Aquinas’ Compendium Theologiae, sometimes called his Shorter Summa. Find the previous posts here. Now Thomas moves on to one of the fundamental notions of classic theism: the divine simplicity.A similar course of reasoning clearly shows that the first mover must be simple. For any composite being must contain two factors that are related to each other as potency to act. But in the first mover, which is altogether immobile, all combination of potency and a … [Read more...]

CT 8: Absence of Succession in God

Succession: One thing after another

We’re blogging through St. Thomas Aquinas’ Compendium Theologiae, sometimes called his Shorter Summa. Find the previous posts here.We’ve established that God is eternal and everlasting and unchanging; and now Thomas himself shows what that means: there is now this, and then this, and then that in God, not in the sense of things happening one after another in time. Clearly, therefore, no succession occurs in God. His entire existence is simultaneous. Succession is not found except in things t … [Read more...]


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