He Who Is: A Study in Traditional Theism

By E. L. B. D. Mascall | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI
THE TRADITIONAL APPROACH

(3) ITS SIGNIFICANCE AND VALIDITY

BEFORE we gather up the results of this discussion of the Quinque Viae in order to see exactly where it has led us, it may be well to see what objections can be brought against them as a whole. Kant, it is well known, brought against the Third Way in particular the charge that it made an implicit and illicit appeal to the Ontological Argument in identifying necessary being with ens realissimum. Professor W. R. Sorley has pointed out that Kant's criticisms were really directed against theology as such; "We see," he writes, "that they are directed not simply against the old forms of argument, but against any possible arguments for a knowledge of the ultimate nature, or of the whole, of things."1 Much discussion has ranged round them, and it need not be reproduced here. It will perhaps be more profitable to consider the criticisms recently made by a present-day philosopher, Professor C. D. Broad, who has stated the case against all forms of argument from the existence of the world to the existence of God with consummate clearness. And this task will be all the more

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1
Moral Values and the Idea of God, p. 299. A very thorough refutation of the Kantian objections is given by Professor A. E. Taylor in E.R.E., XII, p. 276 f., s.v. "Theism"; cf., for a more scholastic discussion, H. S. Box, The World and God, ch. xxi, or the very long treatment by Garrigou-Lagrange in Dieu, E.T., I, p. 61 f. Prebendary R. Hanson writes as follows: "Since the time of Kant they (sc. the scholastic arguments for the existence of God] have been very generally held to be invalid, to which it may be sufficient to reply that on the Kantian theory of knowledge they certainly are, but not necessarily so on a different theory of knowledge, and not at all so on the Scholastic and Aristotelian theory of knowledge." ( "Dogma in Medieval Scholasticism" in Dogma in History and Thought, p. 103.) Cf. Taylor: "It is one question whether Kant has proved that the demonstration of theism is impossible on the assumption that the special doctrine of his Critique as to the limits of human knowledge is true, but quite another question whether that doctrine is true, and consequently whether Kant has proved the fallaciousness of natural theology unconditionally." (art. cit., p. 276.) Again, Dr. R. L. Patterson, while very critical of St. Thomas in many respects, refuses to admit the validity of the Kantian objections; he points out that St. Thomas did not merely assume that necessary being was ens realissimum, but argued at length to prove this. ( Conception of God in the Philosophy of Aquinas, p. 96 f.)

It is not always realized that it was only in late middle-age that Kant developed his hostility to natural theology and that in his earlier works he argued vigorously in support of it.

-57-

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He Who Is: A Study in Traditional Theism
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vi
  • Preface vii
  • ERRATA. xiv
  • Chapter I - INTRODUCTION 1
  • Chapter II - THE MEANING OF "GOD" 8
  • Chapter III - EXPERIENCE AND REVELATION 14
  • Chapter IV - THE TRADITIONAL APPROACH 30
  • Chapter V - THE TRADITIONAL APPROACH 40
  • Chapter VI - THE TRADITIONAL APPROACH 57
  • Chapter VII - INTELLECT AND INTUITION 83
  • Chapter VIII - GOD AND THE WORLD: ANALOGIA ENTIS 95
  • Chapter IX - THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES 116
  • Chapter X - TRANSCENDENCE AND IMMANENCE 126
  • Chapter XI - THE COSMOLOGY OF WHITEHEAD 150
  • Chapter XII - THE COSMIC TELEOLOGY OF TENNANT 161
  • Chapter XIII - CONCLUSION 191
  • Bibliography 200
  • Index 208
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