CT 6: Necessity of God’s Existence

We’re blogging through St. Thomas Aquinas’ Compendium Theologiae, sometimes called his Shorter Summa. Find the previous posts here. So far Thomas has shown that there is a First Mover, that this First Mover is an Unmoved Mover, utterly unchanging, and that this First Mover is eternal, outside time.  Thomas continues, The same line of reasoning clearly shows that God necessarily exists. Necessary and contingent are philosophical terms of art.  An existent being is necessary if … [Read more...]

CT 5: The Eternity of God

Clock in pieces

We’re blogging through St. Thomas Aquinas’ Compendium Theologiae, sometimes called his Shorter Summa. Find the previous posts here. As we saw in Chapter 4, God, as God, is utterly unchanging.  (Jesus, God Incarnate, is a man and so is clearly subject to change: he is conceived, born, grows, dies, and is raised.  But we’re not nearly there yet.)  And since God is unchanging, then, Thomas argues that God must be eternal. The further conclusion is evident that God is eternal. For … [Read more...]

CT 4.2: Another Principle of Change

Saturn

We’re blogging through St. Thomas Aquinas’ Compendium Theologiae, sometimes called his Shorter Summa. Find the previous posts here. Having established that God must be unchanging by reducing the notion of a changing First Mover to absurdity, Thomas then goes on to make a direct argument for the Unmoved Mover: Among things that are moved and that also move, the following may also be considered. All motion is observed to proceed from something immobile, that is, from something that is … [Read more...]

Review: Scholastic Metaphysics, by Ed Feser

FeserScholastic

Prof. Ed Feser's latest book is Scholastic Metaphysics: A Contemporary Introduction. I think enough of Prof. Feser that I pre-ordered it a couple of months before publication; and when it arrived I began reading it on my lunch break and other odd moments. I find that that's the right approach for books of philosophy; I can't take it all in at once, I need time to ponder and let things settle. First, some background. Scholastic philosophy is the philosophy of the "schoolmen" of the Middle … [Read more...]

CT 4.1: The Immobility of God

coins

We're blogging through St. Thomas Aquinas' Compendium Theologiae, sometimes called his Shorter Summa. Find the previous posts here. In Chapter 3, Thomas showed that there must be a “First Mover”, something that stands at the head of all per se causal chains, where the word “move” means any kind of change, not just motion from place to place.  Here he goes on to show that this First Mover is also an Unmoved Mover, that is, an unchanged changer. We clearly infer from this that God, … [Read more...]

It’s Worse Than That, It’s Physics, Jim!

Green Apple

I'm taking a short break from St. Thomas Aquinas to talk about the Aristotelian underpinnings of Thomas' philosophy. You can relax, though. All I'm going to be doing is putting words to something that you know so clearly you probably don't even think about it. Newton's physics is about the motion of bodies, and particularly of predicting how they move quantitatively: speed, acceleration, momentum and so forth.  Aristotle's physics has the same name, but Aristotle was asking a different … [Read more...]

CT 3.4: The End of the Causal Chain

Chain

In which we see what's at the end of the causal chain. Continuing my look at Chapter 3 of the Compendium Theologiae. The complete series is here. In the previous posts on this chapter, we saw that when Thomas uses examples, he's illustrating a principle, not offering evidence for it; that even obsolete science had some sense to it, and can still be useful as an illustration; and that there are two kinds of causal chains. In one kind of causal chain we have a sequence of "movers", each of … [Read more...]

CT 3.2, The Heavenly Bodies

Moon over Mountains

Continuing my look at Chapter 3 of the Compendium Theologiae. The complete series is here. Thomas was talking about how one thing moves (i.e., causes change in) another thing, and referenced Medieval astronomy as an example. Because the motion of the heavenly bodies figured largely in Aristotle’s notions of the Unmoved Mover, we should spend a little time on it. To Thomas, as to Aristotle—and, in fact, to everyone who lived before the invention of the telescope—the stars and … [Read more...]

CT 3.1, The Existence of God

Euclid

Continuing my series on Aquinas; find the rest here. Now, preliminaries settled, we dive into the deep end. Chapter 3 of the Compendium Theologiae begins, Regarding the unity of the divine essence, we must first believe that God exists. This is a truth clearly known by reason. In dealing with truths known by revelation, Thomas proceeds in one of two ways. Some of these revealed truths can also be known by reason; and these he attempts to prove. Others can be known only by … [Read more...]


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