The Metaphysics of Theism: Aquinas's Natural Theology in Summa Contra Gentiles I

The Metaphysics of Theism: Aquinas's Natural Theology in Summa Contra Gentiles I

The Metaphysics of Theism: Aquinas's Natural Theology in Summa Contra Gentiles I

The Metaphysics of Theism: Aquinas's Natural Theology in Summa Contra Gentiles I


The Metaphysics of Theism is the definitive study of the natural theology of Thomas Aquinas, the greatest of medieval philosophers, written by one of the world's most eminent scholars of medieval thought. Natural theology is the investigation by analysis and rational argument of fundamental questions about reality, considered in relation to God. Professor Kretzmann shows the continuing value of Aquinas's doctrines to the philosophical enterprise today; he argues that natural theology offers the only route by which philosophers can, as philosophers, approach theological propositions, and that the one presented in this book is the best available natural theology.


The chapters of this book are revisions of the Wilde Lectures in Comparative and Natural Religion, which I delivered at the University of Oxford in the spring of 1994 under the general title 'Philosophy from the Top Down'. I'm grateful to the Wilde Lecture Committee for inviting me, to Professor Richard Swinburne and Sir Anthony and Lady Nancy Kenny for hosting me and my wife, Barbara Ensign Kretzmann, during our stay in Oxford, and to Balliol College for providing me with a study in college.

Most of the research for, and the writing of, the lectures that became Chapters One-Five were done during the academic year 1992-3, while I was a Senior Fellow of the National Humanities Center in North Carolina. I'm grateful for their support. The Center's staff, its facilities and services, and the stimulating company of the other Fellows provided an ideal setting for the work. And since I was lucky enough to have my office next to Scott MacDonald's and to drive to and from the Center with him every day, the poor man could hardly avoid talking to me about every problem I ran into--which may have helped prepare him to write his helpful comments on every chapter, for which I thank him.

The lectures that became Chapters Six-Eight I wrote in the summer and the fall of 1993, when I returned to teaching at Cornell. (A version of Chapter Eight appeared in a special issue of the Modern Schoolman, 72 (1995), 125-48.) In the spring semester of 1994 I was the mostly grateful recipient of almost more critical comments than I could use, generously provided by the members of my graduate seminar on Aquinas's natural theology: Professor John Boler (of the University of Washington), Dr Blake Dutton, Hannes Jarka-Sellers, Lucy Bell Jarka-Sellers, Claudia Eisen Murphy, Sean Eisen Murphy, Nadia Small, and Katherine Welch. In 1994-5 I conducted a tutorial on the same topic for Mark Case and Christina Van Dyke, who provided me with further help as I was turning the lectures into chapters. I am grateful to them, and to my terrific research assistant, Nancy Davenport, who is responsible for the book's index locorum.

William Alston, Christopher Hughes, Anthony Kenny, William Rowe . . .

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