Metaphysics: The Creation of Hierarchy

Metaphysics: The Creation of Hierarchy

Metaphysics: The Creation of Hierarchy

Metaphysics: The Creation of Hierarchy


"This book does nothing less than to set new standards in combining philosophical with political theology. Pabst's argument about rationality has the potential to change debates in philosophy, politics, and religion." (from the foreword)

This comprehensive and detailed study of individuation reveals the theological nature of metaphysics. Adrian Pabst argues that ancient and modern conceptions of "being" -- or individual substance -- fail to account for the ontological relations that bind beings to each other and to God, their source. On the basis of a genealogical account of rival theories of creation and individuation from Plato to 'postmodernism,' Pabst proposes that the Christian Neo-Platonic fusion of biblical revelation with Greco-Roman philosophy fulfills and surpasses all other ontologies and conceptions of individuality.


John Milbank

This is a remarkable work that breaks new ground in both philosophical and political theology. in his book Adrian Pabst achieves two things. First of all, he successfully recasts the terms in which the history of the metaphysics of individuation has been written. Second, he outlines more precisely than hitherto the links between ontological individuation, on the one hand, and the political understanding of the human individual, on the other hand.

The first achievement is the most extensively realized. Broadly speaking, philosophical treatments of individuation, while they may gesture towards the Platonic theory of forms, tend to deal with it in strictly immanentist terms. How and why things occur always in an individual mode is seen as a strictly this-worldly problem. Pabst, however, carefully delineates the genealogy of this approach, from Avicenna and Gilbert Porreta in the eleventh and the twelfth centuries through the late scholasticism of John Duns Scotus and William of Ockham to Suárez, Spinoza, Kant, and even some contemporary thinkers such as Husserl and Heidegger. Correspondingly, he argues that the main axis of division within the treatment of this topic has lain historically between those who treat it theologically and those who effectively bracket God out of the picture — even if they do so for paradoxically theological reasons.

He first of all sets up this division through a contrast of Aristotle with Plato. in Aristotle one has the germs of the immanentist approach. Individuation concerns the coming together of form with matter (and here Pabst rightly eschews over-simplistic readings of this in terms of matter alone as the individuating factor) within an individual concrete substance. the first mover is relatively removed from this scenario because . . .

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