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Lecture 14

PHIL 3060 Lecture Notes - Lecture 14: Unmoved Mover, Summa Contra Gentiles, Summa Theologica

Course Code
PHIL 3060
Peter Eardley

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Lecture – Aquinas
Five Ways, Treatise on Happiness, Treatise on Law, Summa Theologica (manual for
theological students), Summa contra gentiles (defence of the truth against heretics)
Medieval Catholic Theologian, perhaps the best known – most famous of the Dominicans,
Franciscans also existed at the time (e.g. William of Ockham), which are powerhouses in the
history of thought
Born 1224, dies 1274 – 13th century, living in a time when the works of Aristotle are flooding
into the West
Scholars at the time sought to reconcile Aristotle and Islamic Commentary with Christian
oThis rise of Aristotle again in the west took place during a time of the rise of
Aristotelean, theologian who most successfully harmonized Aristotle with Christianity
Wrote A LOT
Absolute being angelshumans ; hierarchy to the universe which works in terms of
actuality/being, from most (at top) to least
How do you get from the creator, God, whose existence is immaterial and necessary, to
creation, which is finite, contingent (not the reason for our own existence), composite (both
material and immaterial)?
oLike humans, angels are finite, contingent (depend on God for their existence), but
unlike humans they are immaterial?
The article in the Summa is the basic thought unit of an article: he will ask a question, then
present objections to his position, then argue against them – will appeal to an authority,
usually Aristotle – so objections are NOT his own views
Is the existence of God self-evident? “God exists”
oA self-evident proposition is one whose predicate is included in the essence of the
oE.g. Man is an animal: man is the subject, animal is the predicate, contained in the
definition of man
oBut if you don’t know the definition s of the terms, then whether or not they are self-
evident is impossible to determine
oBecause we cannot know God’s essence in this lifetime, we must demonstrate the
existence of God; if His existence were self-evident in this life, we would not need to
demonstrate/argue for his existence
Aquinas is a direct realist, who thinks we can know the thing in itself
oLike Aristotle, he believes that true knowledge comes when I know the essence of
God’s essence just is His existence; we can only reason to God from His effects, not from his
Lecture – Aquinas
Widely regarded as one who most successfully harmonized Aristotle and Christian theology
– he was an Aristotelean
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