Friday, June 30, 2017

Three books …

Taking Aquinas Seriously | Edward Feser | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I was trained as an analytic philosopher, and was an atheist for many of my undergraduate years and all through graduate school. But I was drawn to take Aristotelian ideas seriously, in large part thanks to Alasdair MacIntyre’s After Virtue. Furthermore, while teaching introductory courses as a grad student, I got bored doing the standard shtick when covering Aquinas’s Five Ways—lining them up and shooting them down with the stock objections. So I decided to make things more interesting by trying to help myself and the students understand why anyone would ever have taken these arguments seriously. As a result, I got into the Thomistic literature while preparing lectures, and the deeper I got into it the clearer it became that the usual objections philosophers raise against Aquinas’s arguments are just laughably bad, completely missing the point and aimed at straw men. I started to see that, when read against the broader Aristotelian metaphysical background in the context of which they were first developed, the arguments made perfect sense and were hard to dismiss.


  1. Isn't it counterintuitive to arrive at theism after so much ratiocination?

  2. Probably. I am also not sure if it is the soundest way, either. Georges Lemaitre, the priest who discovered the Big Bang, once told an atheist friend of his that he believed in God because of the human heart. This echoes something Pascal wrote: “What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace?
    This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.”

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