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Knowledge and the Transcendent

An Inquiry into the Mind's Relationship to God

Paul A. Macdonald Jr.

Publication Year: 2011

Knowledge and the Transcendent advances the provocative claim that the human mind is not "bounded" on the outside but actually remains "open" to the world and to God.

Published by: The Catholic University of America Press


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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. ix-x

This book is the product of much effort and thought, along with a fervent desire to bring to completion a project whose roots extend as far back as my undergraduate years when I first began my study of philosophy and theology, and began reflecting on the very idea of knowledge of God: ...

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Introduction: Diagnosing the Problem

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pp. xi-xxiv

This book addresses an important perennial question in philosophical theology, specifically as it intersects with the philosophy of mind and epistemology: how can human persons have knowledge of God, or more specifically, how can God transcend the mind but still remain known to the mind? In addressing this question (or I should say, in providing an answer to this question), ...

Part I. Pitfalls in Modern Epistemology

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pp. 1-2

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1. Skepticism and Subjectivism in Modern Thought

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pp. 3-42

The goal of the current chapter is to diagnose further how knowing god becomes a problem—a problem that arises with the advent of a particular form of skepticism and subjectivism within modern thought and continues to plague contemporary philosophical and theological reflection on the mind’s relationship to god. In short, the problem can be specified as follows: ...

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2. Challenging Modern Skepticism and Subjectivism

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pp. 43-78

In the last chapter, I identified a deeply embedded picture of the mind’s relationship to God, as it has come into focus in modern and contemporary philosophical and theological reflection on the very idea of knowledge of God. according to the picture, given that the mind is bounded in what it can know, and God radically transcends the mind, God therefore belongs outside or beyond a cognitive boundary, ...

Part II. The Contribution of Thomistic Epistemology

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pp. 79-80

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3. Direct Realism and Aquinas’s Account of Cognition

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pp. 81-134

In the second part of this book, my goal is to investigate and defend an alternative framework for understanding how human persons know the world as well as God. and this entails considering an alternative thinker, Thomas Aquinas, and the contribution Aquinas makes to helping us understand how human persons know the world as well as God. To start, then, we explore the contribution of Thomistic epistemology within the realm of philosophy. ...

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4. Having God in View

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pp. 135-171

Aquinas’s commitment to direct realism extends far beyond his account of empirical cognition or knowledge. For Aquinas the theologian, beatific knowledge of God—or the knowledge of God possessed by the blessed in heaven—is itself a paradigm case of direct realism in cognition. Aquinas’s remarkable main claim, which I will explicate below, is that in the supernatural cognitive state of beatitude, ...

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5. Realist Epistemologies of Reason and Faith

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pp. 172-228

As a Christian philosophical theologian, Aquinas holds to the scriptural principle that we ‘see’ God “face to face” in the next life; in this life, however, we ‘see’ God, at best, “in a glass darkly.”1 Thus the following question presents itself: if our ability to think about God or direct our thoughts on God in this life is intrinsically limited and inadequate, then must God also remain unknown to us? ...

Part III. Applications in Thomistic Epistemology

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pp. 229-230

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6. Rehabilitating Objectivity in the Knowledge of God

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pp. 231-263

The main purpose of this chapter is to continue to defend claims I advanced in the previous chapter and so to further explicate and support what I take to be Aquinas’s theologically realist understanding of knowledge of god here below. First, I address what I expect is the most pressing theological suspicion or concern raised by my analysis so far: by emphasizing (or perhaps overemphasizing) ...

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7. In Defense of a Realist Interpretation of Theology

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pp. 264-290

The main aim of this book has been to overcome what I have argued is a distinctly modern, skeptical anxiety concerning whether God can be known by the mind; an anxiety that is generated by a distorted and consequently unintelligible conception or picture of the mind’s relationship to God. The first step in overcoming this anxiety required locating the origins of the picture and its variations in modern ...


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pp. 291-300


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pp. 301-306

Publication Information

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pp. 307-307

E-ISBN-13: 9780813218939
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813215778

Page Count: 331
Publication Year: 2011

Edition: 1

OCLC Number: 707926656
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Knowledge and the Transcendent

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Subject Headings

  • Thomas, Aquinas, Saint, 1225?-1274.
  • Philosophical theology.
  • Knowledge, Theory of (Religion).
  • Philosophy of mind.
  • Transcendence of God.
  • Transcendence (Philosophy).
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