One could hardly describe the philosophical writings of the earlier stages as childish, let alone infantile. But the field of study itself was discernibly immature, and since then there has been notable progress both in the topics addressed and in the manner of treating them. This article divides the history into three phases, characterized by differences in the subject matter most actively discussed. In the first phase, lasting until about 1965, the overwhelming preoccupation was with religious language, especially with the cognitive meaningfulness of such language. In the second phase, lasting through the early 1980s, much effort was focused on what may be termed the “philosophy of theism.” In the most recent period there has been a notable diversification, and the field now embraces a greater variety of topics than at any previous time.
David B. Burrell
The works of Plato and of Aristotle were made available to the Islamic people by virtue of Syriac translators from Greek into Arabic. Aristotle's Metaphysic offered the paradigm for carrying out philosophy to al-Farabi's successor, Avicenna (980–1037). His al-Shifa adapted the cosmological scheme of al-Farabi, whereby the planetary spheres transmit the primary causal influence of the One successively to the earth. Moses Maimonides (113–-1204) lived all of his life in the Islamicate, which is the linguistic and cultural world of Islam, coming eventually to serve as court physician for Saladin in Foster, the modern Cairo. He composed works of philosophy in Judaeo Arabic, the most significant of which is the Guide of the Perplexed, addressed to his student, Joseph. It was quickly translated into Hebrew, coming to Aquinas's attention in Latin translation. Avicenna had tried to reconcile Qur'anic assertions about creation with a pre-existent (and eternal) matter because he could see no other place to locate the possibility that what came to be would come to be. Aquinas was able to offer a coherent characterization of the act of creation without pretending to have described it. Existence (esse), understood as actuality, becomes the vehicle for articulating God's transcendence, as well as what links created things with their creator.
This article considers the following medieval philosophers—Philoponus, Anselm, Maimonides, Aquinas, and Scotus—all supposedly to have produced arguments that deserve the label “medieval arguments for the existence of God.” The first part of the discussion considers arguments for the existence of God in the works of these medieval philosophers, in the writings of Craig, Robert Maydole, Robert Koons, David Oderberg, and O'Connor. The next part turns to some more general reflections on the role of argument and proof in medieval thought about the existence of God.
Brandon C. Look
This essay critically discusses Leibniz’s arguments for the existence of God. It explores Leibniz’s improvements on the traditional ontological arguments of Anselm and Descartes, as well as his version of the cosmological argument and his argument from eternal truths. It is suggested that, while Leibniz’s arguments are unlikely to move a hardened atheist, they do offer important insights about the status of the existence predicate, the nature of modality, and the nature of mathematical knowledge.
When Aristotle speaks of theologikê, he means not the study of a single God, but the study of gods and divine things in general. He never uses the phrase “the unmoved mover” to pick out just one being (or even to pick out the many movers of the heavenly spheres), and that phrase would not express the essence of the beings it applies to. To see what sort of religious interest there might be in such a being, and how the words “god” and “divine” enter into Aristotle's philosophy, it is best to start with what he says about gods and divine things in moral and political contexts. Guided by his criticisms of Plato on the soul's self-motion, Aristotle sets out, in Physics VIII, to give a revised version of Plato's cosmotheological argument in Laws X. This article focuses on Aristotle's theology and his views about gods, the soul, the cosmos, heavens and heavenly bodies, and the first principle or first cause.
Thomas Aquinas integrated the newly translated philosophical source that is Greek, Arabic, and Jewish authors into a unique synthesis with his own Christian tradition efficiently. The most prominent and certainly one of the most influential, among Aquinas's Latin-Christian authors of reference was Augustine of Hippo (354–430). The North African bishop had a significant influence on intellectual discussion at the end of the twelfth and during the thirteenth centuries. Aquinas follows Augustine in theological matters such as Trinitarian theology, and the questions of divine providence and grace. Aquinas accepted Augustine's doctrines on causality and exemplarism but he clearly rejected some of his metaphysical teachings, and a series of claims concerning theory of knowledge and psychology, namely the role of the ‘seminal reasons’ and of divine illumination. Aquinas placed the issue in the larger setting of different philosophical options, such as Augustine vs. Aristotle, Arabic philosophy vs. the ‘genuine’ peripatetic tradition, and Platonism vs. Aristotelianism. Aquinas's second commentary (Paris 1259) is dedicated to the short tract De hebdomadibus, in which Boethius set out to analyze the goodness of substances. Boethius coined some very influential ontological key notions, in particular the distinction between id quod est and esse. Aquinas paid a good deal of attention to this distinction, interpreting Boethius's id quod est as ens, which is one who participates in the act of being (actus essendi), whereas being itself (ipsum esse) is defined as that which does not participate in anything else.
Al P. Martinich
In Leviathan, Hobbes holds that prospective subjects authorize a sovereign to represent them. Alienation of some rights to the sovereign typically follows upon authorization of him, and representatives are persons. Although this view sounds straightforward, the exact nature of authorization, representation, and personhood has been greatly debated. I will argue first that Hobbes’s best account of the origin of sovereignty (by institution) is the one given in chapter 21 of Leviathan, according to which authorization of the sovereign does not itself involve any alienation of rights, and, second, that the primary political relation of representation is between the sovereign, who is an artificial person, and each individual subject.
Nancey Murphy and Jeffrey P. Schloss
This article tries to deal with the issues of biology versus religion. This relates to a conflict between evolutionary and biblical accounts of Earth's history. The most important area involves the question of a transcendent. The second involves the almost universally affirmed but differently joined religious responses to the human suffering. The third area of intersection between evolutionary and religious understandings of human nature involves the biblical notion of human uniqueness. All religions entail some notion of transcendent purpose or sacred meaning. There are developments in biology with important implications for religion because of the vast increase in knowledge of the workings of the brain. This does not prove the nonexistence of the soul, but suggests that the concept of soul as an explanatory construct has outlived its usefulness. This also plays a valuable role in ethics. Biology will prove to be a help in this case.
Hobbes was an unusual Christian, and one that recognized the potential power of the Christian story to strengthen (as well as to undermine) commonwealths. This chapter discusses the account of Christianity found in Leviathan, which was designed to replace contemporary versions with one that would promote stability and obedience within the state. Hobbes’s religious ideas, like his political philosophy, began from his understanding of human beings; he insisted that religious belief was natural to humans, stemmed from anxiety, and needed to be coordinated by a sovereign to prevent strife. For Hobbes, Christianity was a particularly effective remedy for such anxiety, at least when interpreted along correct (i.e., Hobbesian) lines. The theology developed by Hobbes was original, but it probably drew on ideas circulating among his Anglican acquaintances; indeed in Leviathan we see these ideas being used for a very different purpose. As Hobbes’s acquaintances realized, at the center of Hobbes’s project in Leviathan lay an extremely heterodox theology which could enhance the state while destroying the independent authority of the Church.
This article examines the three ways in which God was conceptualized by leading philosophers in early modern Europe. Gottfried Leibniz and Nicholas Malebranche's rationalist God was conceived as an analogy with a rational human being whose actions are explained by their purposes. René Descartes and Antoine Arnauld's voluntarist God was conceived Antoine Arnauld. Baruch Spinoza equated God with an eternally existing, infinite nature.