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 chapter 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.
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.
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.
Maria Rosa Antognazza
This chapter discusses Leibniz’s conception of the Christian church, his life-long ecumenical efforts, and his stance toward religious toleration. Leibniz regarded the main Christian denominations as particular churches constituting the only one truly catholic or universal church whose authority went back to apostolic times and whose theology was traceable back to the entire ecclesiastical tradition. This is the ecclesiology that underpins his ecumenism. The main phases and features of his work toward reunification of Protestants and Roman Catholics, and unification of Protestant churches, are briefly explored before turning to the issue of religious toleration. It is argued that a remarkably inclusive conception of toleration can be gleaned from a broad sample of Leibniz’s writings and correspondence. It is thanks to the philosophical and theological grounds of this conception that, for Leibniz, toleration can be extended in principle to all men and women of good will, including non-Christians, pagans, and atheists.
Aquinas offered ‘Five Ways’ that are the five proofs or demonstrations near the beginning of his Summa theologiae to establish the existence of God. Some scholars think that Aquinas's Five Ways are meant to demonstrate the existence of the particularly Christian God. Others treat Aquinas's Five Ways as attempts to demonstrate the existence of something omniscient, omnipotent, and wholly good. The First Way focuses on the motion in which he argued that there exist some things that are moved, for anything that is moved, it be moved by something not identical with it, a series of movers does not regress infinitely and therefore there must be a first unmoved mover. Aquinas's Second Way focuses on efficient causation in which he argued that there is an ordered series of efficient causes among sensible things, it is impossible that a thing is the efficient cause of itself, and it is not possible for an ordered series of efficient causes to continue infinitely. Aquinas mentioned that his Third Way is from possibility and necessity, but one must be careful how to understand ‘necessity’ or ‘possibility’, as one shall see. Aquinas's Fourth Way mention that there are things that are more or less good, more or less true, more or less noble, and so on, there is something maximally good, maximally true, and maximally noble, which is maximally true is maximally being and there is something which is maximally being. The Fifth Way, and final way, is from the governance of things.
This chapter analyses the Franciscans's views in ethics and moral psychology, beginning with an overview of the general characteristics of Franciscan moral thought in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. It then examines the views of John Duns Scotus (1265/66–1308) and William Ockham (c. 1288–1347) on three central matters of debate: the nature of the virtues, the relationship between intellect and will, and the relationship between moral requirements and the divine will.
Aquinas and Aristotle have different views on the types of virtues. Aquinas claimed that proper or perfect virtues are not acquired, but infused in human beings by God. These infused virtues include counterparts of many of the acquired moral and intellectual virtues. Aquinas argued that only the infused virtues are perfect and deserve to be called ‘virtues’ simply. Aquinas argued that cardinal virtues are not acquired virtues. There are seven gifts, which Aquinas appended to various theological and cardinal virtues. The cognitive gifts are understanding (Intellectus) and knowledge (Scientia) that are appended to the virtue of faith, wisdom (Sapientia), appended to the virtue of caritas, and counsel (Consilium), appended to the virtue of prudence. Aquinas claimed that the gift of knowledge enables ‘participated likeness’ of God's knowledge, knowledge that is absolute and simple rather than discursive, as for the homonymous intellectual virtue. A similar notion of participation can be found in Aquinas's descriptions of the other gifts. Aquinas's descriptions of gift-based movement therefore express two main principles. First, he described a situation in which a person's stance toward some object involves a participation in God's stance toward the same object. Second, gift-based movement involves what Aquinas described as a union or oneness of the soul with God. Aquinas was clear that anyone can possess the infused virtues and gifts.
Aquinas dealt with the science whose subject is God in his Summa theologiae. He focused on the determining of the predicates such as existence/being, simplicity, perfection, and goodness, characterizing God. He mentioned that one couldn't see God in his essence, but rather one cognizes him through creatures under the aspect of a cause, abstracting from creatures the mode of excellence. Aquinas concluded that every being desires its perfection, the perfection or form is a similitude of the agent that causes perfection by actualizing a thing's form, and the agent cause, itself must be something desirable and therefore good as stated in the previous definition. Aristotle defined ‘good’ as the ‘desirable’ (appetibile) only as regards active human desiring agents, Aquinas extends it beyond active agents, claiming that all beings have a fundamental desire, namely to reach their perfection. Aquinas argued that even non-rational creatures desire God insofar as God has given them a natural inclination to their ends. He also introduces and defined the predicate of perfection in order to demonstrate that God is ‘perfect’ (perfectus). Aquinas distinguished a twofold way in which something can be perfected with regard to the two predicates ‘true’ (verum) and ‘good’ (bonum). The intellect is perfected by its object according to its kind (species), the will according to its being (esse).
The article discusses Aquinas's views on God's impassibility, immutability, and eternality. Aquinas argued that God has no passions and God's perfection rules out his negative emotions, such as sorrow, fear, envy, or anger. He mentioned that God cannot be angry because he cannot feel sorrow and he cannot be injured. Aquinas believed that the emotional side of impassibility is a minor detail in the doctrine of God. God's causal impassivity is a consequence of a fundamental, far-reaching claim that Aquinas makes about God. A passive potency is an ability to ‘move’ (change), or rather be moved, with respect to having an attribute. According to Aquinas the ‘motion’ is as such the actualization of potency. Any item that passes from potency to act has the potency temporally before it has the actuality. The claim that God is causally impassive plays a large role in Aquinas's accounts of God's knowledge and providence. Aquinas argued that the doctrine of divine immutability (DDI) rules out only change in quality such as color, intelligence or quantity such as size and shape. Aquinas believed that DDI entails that God is eternal. Aquinas argued that the concept (ratio) of eternity is a consequence of immutability. Aquinas also argued that God is wholly without motion so he is not measured by time.
James Brent O.P.
Aquinas presented God's knowledge as a divine perfection and as divine ideas. He also considered God's knowledge of future contingent events such as creaturely free choices. Aquinas believed that no one in this life could see what God's knowledge is either by the light of reason or by the light of grace. Aquinas talks about God's knowledge in a significant order. First, Aquinas speaks of God's knowing himself. Subsequently, Aquinas speaks about God's knowing creatures and lastly it is God's knowledge of himself that illuminates for us God's knowledge of creatures. Aquinas's argued that perfection terms such as ‘life’, ‘good’, and ‘power’ refer to distinct perfections when predicated of creatures, but co-refer to one and the same simple esse when predicated of God. Aquinas's also argued that the divine ideas are a special sort of cause that has no causality apart from God's willing. The divine ideas are exemplar causes. Aquinas's mentioned that when God sees in himself the whole of creation, he comprehends it. He knows everything that could be known about it. He sees all the parts and so all the properties of all the parts. God sees the actuality, modality, causality, and morality of any and every entity or event within the whole when he comprehends the whole of creation.
Aquinas argued that God's power is infinite because God needs no help from anything else to produce his effects, the number of his effects is unlimited, and its intensity is unlimited. Aquinas believed that God necessarily wills himself to be, be good, be happy, and so cannot produce the contrary volitions. Aquinas's line of thought generates a subordinate metaphysical account of why God can produce only noncontradictory states of affairs. It is a fact about causation, Aquinas thought, that every agent produces effects that are somehow like itself. Aquinas's claim that if God willed to do evil, he would succeed as he has the power but it is impossible that he will to do evil, so impossible that he can do evil. Aquinas argued that the rational agents act ultimately to be happy (a standard Aristotelian thesis). Every evil action falls short of attaining that, given the universe we live in (with Hell), or suitably strong natural-law assumptions and claims about rational nature. God cannot fail to attain the end for which he acts, which implies that God cannot fail to be happy, or to possess himself. He cannot because he is perfectly knowledgeable and knows what will make him happy, perfectly rational, and omnipotent. God's omnipotence is part of the reason he cannot sin.
Aquinas explained the doctrine of divine simplicity with three claims. The first distinguished God from material objects. It is impossible that God have any spatial or temporal parts that could be distinguished from one another as here rather than there or as now rather than then. The second claims that the standard distinction between an entity's essential and intrinsic accidental properties cannot apply to God. It is impossible that God has any intrinsic accidental properties. The third claim rules out the possibility of components of any kind in the essence that is the divine nature. Even when it has been recognized that all God's intrinsic properties must be essential to him, it must be acknowledged as well. Aquinas maintained that because God is simple, human beings can know what God is not, but they cannot know anything of what God is. If the doctrine of simplicity implies that God is esse alone, then it seems that many of the standard divine attributes discussed and accepted by Aquinas cannot be applied to God. Those attributes apply only to something that is an id quod est.
Historical religion depends on “errour of reasoning” concerning invisible spirits and “trusting to other men.” Hobbes replaces the erroneous inference with argument for the existence of the “First Mover,” then replaces psychological subservience to purported spokesmen of God—a rhetorical faith—with rational trust in the Christian sovereign. Because worship of an imaginary invisible power, on whom man’s felicity and misery is thought to depend, is an inevitable production of human nature, it is a sovereign’s task to restrict worship within the bounds of the natural manifestations of honor and submissiveness and to purge it of all supernatural, metaphysical, and mysterious aspects invented by churches. Furthermore, religion must be purified from all theological “superstructures” involving an idea of God that goes beyond the simple affirmation of its existence as a being. Because of this strict distinction between first mover (cause) and world (effect), Hobbes cannot be technically defined an atheist.
This chapter is about Hume’s critiques of the cosmological, ontological, and design arguments for the existence of God, as proposed by Samuel Clarke and other Newtonian theologians. Clarke regarded the cosmological argument (in a form that incorporates the ontological argument) as essential to prove the uniqueness, eternity, infinity, and omnipresence of God and the design argument as essential to prove the wisdom and foresight of God. The criticisms Hume makes all depend on his empiricist theory of ideas and his revolutionary theories of causation and causal reasoning. Most of the chapter discusses these themes. The concluding section draws attention to recent research that shows two things. One is how central to Hume’s whole philosophical enterprise is his rejection of theological ideas and doctrines. The other is how this relates to his rejection of certain parts of Newtonian metaphysics.
Keith E. Yandell
Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, Dialogues 1–11 discuss religion’s foundation in human reason. Dialogue 12, in which Philo. the relentless opponent of pro-theistic arguments, makes his “confession” that he embraces natural religion; namely, the view that the cause or causes of order in nature bear some remote analogy to human intelligence. Hume’s Natural History of Religion, although published earlier than the posthumous Dialogues, is, in effect, a second volume to them. It presents a complex naturalistic explanation of religion’s origin in human nature, providing a sophisticated (and controversial) account of religion’s origin that is also a critique of religious belief. The core of this critique is an argument that theistic belief cannot be rendered so as to significantly differ from an atheism that grants that natural order has some cause or other.
This chapter outlines an alternative interpretation of Hume’s philosophy, one that aims, among other things, to explain some of the most perplexing puzzles concerning the relationship between Hume’s skepticism and his naturalism. The key to solving these puzzles, it is argued, rests with recognizing Hume’s fundamental irreligious aims and objectives, beginning with his first and greatest work, A Treatise of Human Nature. The irreligious interpretation not only reconfigures our understanding of the unity and structure of Hume’s thought, it also provides a radically different picture of the way in which Hume’s philosophy is rooted in its historical context. By altering our understanding of the fundamentals of Hume’s philosophy in this way, the irreligious interpretation also challenges the adequacy of the familiar and entrenched framework of “British Empiricism.”