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Re: [thomism] Re: Neoplatonic Aquinas

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  • Anthony Crifasi
    ... Aquinas begs to differ: Averroes took occasion to speak against what is held by faith about creation. For if coming-to-be is a kind of change and every
    Message 1 of 3 , Sep 10 6:11 AM
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      On Sat, Sep 7, 2013 at 10:11 AM, James <jagiven1370@...> wrote:

      Dear Gary,
      You are certainly correct that Aristotle by himself cannot account for 'creation ex nihilo', as this is not in any way an Aristotelean, causal transformation.

      Aquinas begs to differ:

      "Averroes took occasion to speak against what is held by faith about creation. For if coming-to-be is a kind of change and every change requires a subject, as Aristotle here proves, it is necessary that whatever comes to be does so from a subject, therefore, it is not possible for something to come to be from nothing...

      974. But if one considers rightly, he was deceived by a cause similar to the cause by which he claimed we are deceived, namely, by considering particular things. For it is clear that a particular active power presupposes the matter which a more universal agent produces, just as an artisan uses the matter which nature makes. From the fact therefore, that every particular agent presupposes matter which it does not produce, one should not suppose that the first universal agent—which is active with respect to all being—should presuppose something not caused by it.

      "Nor, moreover, is this in keeping with the intention of Aristotle who in Metaphysics II proves that the supremely true and the supreme being is the cause of being for all existents. Hence the being which prime matter has—i.e., a being in potency—is derived from the first principle of being which is in a supreme way a being. Therefore, it is not necessary to presuppose for its action anything not produced by it.

      "And because every motion needs a subject—as Aristotle proves here, and as is the truth of the matter—it follows that the universal production of being by God is neither motion nor change, but a certain simple coming forth. Consequently, 'to be made' and 'to make' are used in an equivocal sense when applied to this universal production of being and to other productions."

      (Commentary on Aristotle's Physics VIII, lectio 2: http://www.scottmsullivan.com/AquinasWorks/Physics8.htm#2)

      An excellent source for the Platonic and Neoplatonic influences, both on Aquinas, and on 19-20th century Thomist scholarship are, the book, "God in Himself", and the historical essays by Thomist scholar Wayne J. Hankey. The latter are on his website, freely available.

      Jim Given

      --- In thomism@yahoogroups.com, Gary Moore <gottlos752004@...> wrote:
      > I am interested in Platonic and Neoplatonic influence on
      > Aquinas which I am coming to see as co-substantial with Aristotle, for
      > instance, the "now" or "instantaneity" of the moment [like
      > Nietzsche's "Augenblick"] especially evident in
      > "progression" of descending categories down to the individual
      > "this" and "that" and "you" which accords and/or
      > contravenes Aristotelian serial time as measured ("that was then, this is
      > now") creation from a first cause that Aquinas accepted as occurring
      > 'within' time as revelation that must be accepted by faith, but in the
      > commentary on De generatione et corruption (and other places) taken that the
      > eternal existence of the universe within finite beginning or end was rational.
      > He wrote 4 books on Neoplatonic themes in historical order:

      > 1] Super De divinis nominibus
      > 2] Expositio libri De ebdomadibus
      > 3] Super librum De causis
      > 4] De substantiis separatis

      > Neoplatonic influence is everywhere in his work, but I
      > wonder how much is directly from Plato other than the TIMAEUS? In the last work
      > above, De substantiis separatis, he is very interested in distinction per se in
      > "this" versus "that". Scotist scholars have argued
      > convincingly that the whole purpose of "creation"/"progression"
      > was to create substantive (real) individuals since they are the most distinctly
      > existent of all, ergo clarifying Aquinas' implication that "evil" has
      > a divine purpose behind it and is therefore justified. Considering Aquinas'
      > insistence that "God" is ultimately incomprehensible to human beings
      > forever even after death because of their necessary individual perspective,
      > present even in Dante's PARADISO, makes absolutely absurd human judgments of
      > "God", as to "good" and "evil", whose nature and
      > point of view is utterly & permanently metaphysically unknowable in any
      > fashion at all other than by revelation, "special & uniquely
      > privileged knowledge to a single person" become very much like Plato at
      > REPUBLIC 517b which John Sallis describes:
      > <<†And yet, when immediately after telling the story

      > of the cave, Socrates reiterates the story in such a way as to relate it to the
      > figure of the divided line, he says of the idea of the good that it is μόγις á½ Ï á¾¶ÏƒÎ¸Î±Î¹,
      > scarcely to be seen (Rep. 517b).†>>

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