Thomas Aquinas: Contemporary Philosophical Perspectives

By Brian Davies | Go to book overview

4
The Realism of Aquinas
SANDRA EDWARDS

In his book On Universals, Nicholas Wolterstorff examines Aquinas' theory of universals and concludes that it suffers from “a crucial and incurable ambiguity, or incoherence. Wolterstorff charges Aquinas with denying that there is anything two distinct things have in common while maintaining that forms or natures may be the forms or natures of several distinct things. Aquinas' resolution of the apparent contradiction is said to consist of the assertion that forms or natures exist outside the mind only as individualized in singulars and exist as universals only when they are abstracted from such things by some intellect. Universals are then concepts abstracted from distinct singulars which are similar but not identical. But in that case, Wolterstorff shows, it is not one nature which is abstracted but several and so-called universal concepts cease to have any foundation in reality. 1

The purpose of this paper is to re-examine Aquinas' theory of universals in order to assess the force of Wolterstorff 's criticisms of it. In the course of the re-examination I look at the different ways in which Aquinas describes natures, the ambiguity of terms such as 'universal' and 'similar' in his writings, and employ his often ignored theory of identity and distinction to show finally that, contra Wolterstorff, Aquinas does maintain that numerically distinct individuals of a kind share a nature and can thus be said to be identical with one another in a certain sense. Aquinas turns out to be almost as strong a realist as Duns Scotus.


I. Natures as Such

According to Aquinas, the nature of a thing is its essence or quiddity, that which makes the thing the sort of thing it is. It is also said to be that through

-97-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Thomas Aquinas: Contemporary Philosophical Perspectives
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 400

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.