Thomas Aquinas: God and Explanations

Thomas Aquinas: God and Explanations

Thomas Aquinas: God and Explanations

Thomas Aquinas: God and Explanations

Synopsis

Addressing the critical themes of authority and reason, Martin examines the role of science and definitions in medieval thought, and how to deal with the question 'Is there a God?' Interpreting Aquinas' Five Ways in the context of his theory of science, Martin's clear, rigorous exposition compares and contrasts Aquinas' arguments with those of Anselm, Descartes, and Kant.

Excerpt

Like many other people, I have tended in the past to skip prefaces and introductions. I have always felt that if an author puts something he wishes to say to me outside the body of his book, then I am under no obligation to read it. This is ridiculous, of course, since I am under no obligation to read any of the book at all. But my experience suggests that this ridiculous attitude of mine is fairly common. Let me make a plea: do not skip this preface unless you are sure you want to. What I have to say now cannot properly form a part of what I have to say in the book, but I am sure that it needs saying. I only hope my readers will be sufficiently warned by this first paragraph that if they do skip the reading of it they may fail to understand the book. Worse, if they skip the preface they may find themselves reading something they do not like, or leaving aside something they would like.

Since the days in which I was an undergraduate a change of nomenclature has been spreading over the teaching and the writing of philosophy in Britain. When I was young, all those who taught or learnt in philosophy departments were considered to be philosophers, in some sense, and to be doing philosophy. It was out of fashion at the time to try to do philosophy entirely out of one's own head, and I approved and approve of this modest fashion. Since not everyone can manage to do everything, and since tastes differ, what philosophers principally read to support the efforts of their own minds varied. Some read principally Kant; others, principally the empiricists. Some, the kind I liked best, read principally the ancients, and a very few read the medievals, as I have done since those early days in philosophy. Others, meanwhile, were working in more restricted but more rapidly moving fields, and read principally their contemporaries. Each choice was respected by the others, at least to the extent that those who chose to do their philosophy one way recognised the right of others to choose to do philosophy another way. All were willing to concede to the others the right to claim that they were trying to do philosophy, even though they may have thought that those others were not going the best . . .

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