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Praeambula Fidei

Thomism and the God of the Philosophers

Ralph McInerny

Publication Year: 2011

In this book, renowned philosopher Ralph McInerny sets out to review what Thomas meant by the phrase and to defend a robust understanding of Thomas's teaching on the subject.

Published by: The Catholic University of America Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

In Characters in Search of Their Author,1 I considered the difficulties posed for natural theology by various developments in recent philosophy. By and large, philosophers have become professionally hostile to the possibility of proving the existence of God and consequently of saying other true things about him. ...

Part I. The Preambles of Faith

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pp. 1-2

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1. Introduction

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pp. 3-32

It would be too much to say that it is only religious believers who are interested in proofs of God’s existence. But it is the rare unbeliever who holds that such proofs work, whereas most believing philosophers have argued for the soundness of a proof or proofs of God’s existence. ...

Part II. The Erosion of the Doctrine

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pp. 33-34

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pp. 35-38

The praeambula fidei presuppose that philosophy is distinct from theology, an autonomous discipline whose arguments do not depend on the acceptance of any revelation. Of course, it is philosophy in the classical sense that provides the praeambula fidei, a search for understanding fueled by wonder ...

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2. Gilson’s Attack on Cajetan

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pp. 39-68

Commenting on a letter that Etienne Gilson had written in the early 1970s, Henri de Lubac remarked that the historian made him think of an elderly parishioner with eccentric ways.1 The letters that de Lubac gathered together and then all but smothered in commentaries that carried on the cardinal’s lifelong crusade ...

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3. De Lubac and Cajetan

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pp. 69-90

In 1992, Henru de Lubac published a second and augmented edition of his Mémoire sur l’occasion de mes écrits. Taken together with the publication of his exchange of letters with Gilson—or more accurately of Gilson’s letters to him, amply annotated and commented on by de Lubac ...

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4. Christian Philosophy

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pp. 91-107

Signs to Juvisy can be seen along the motorist’s nightmare that is the drive from Orly to Paris. Doubtless when the French Société Thomiste met there on September 11, 1933, the town would have been far enough from Paris to provide an appropriate atmosphere for the second of the Journées d’études that the society had sponsored. ...

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5. The Chenu Case

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pp. 108-125

When religious orders were expelled from France in 1904, the Benedictines and the Jesuits retreated to channel islands, while the French Dominicans moved into Belgium to a place called Le Saulchoir near Tournai. It was there that generations of French Dominicans were formed. ...

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6. The Alleged Forgetfulness of Esse

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pp. 126-156

Etienne Gilson’s claim that Cajetan, among many others, failed to understand what Thomas had to say about esse obviously implies that Gilson himself understands Thomas correctly. Having shown that his reading of Cajetan fails to make his point against the great commentator, we turn now to what it is that Gilson thinks Cajetan missed. ...

Part III. Thomism and Philosophical Theology

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pp. 157-158

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pp. 159-168

There can be little dispute that at the outset of the Summa theologiae Thomas refers to the philosophical sciences as already known by his reader, pointedly asking if the philosophical science dubbed theology renders redundant the effort he is about to undertake. ...

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7. The Presuppositions of Metaphysics

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pp. 169-187

In Book VI of the Nicomachean Ethics Aristotle discusses the intellectual virtues, both those of practical intellect and those of theoretical or speculative intellect. The object or aim of the latter is truth, that of the former the guidance of action in doing or making. ...

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8. The Science We Are Seeking

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pp. 188-218

Reading the Metaphysics can give the impression of reading dispatches from the Lost Patrol. From the very outset of the work, wisdom is put before us as the ultimate aim of the pursuit of knowledge, one that can only be achieved after many other sciences and disciplines have been mastered. ...

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9. The Metaphysics as a Literary Whole

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pp. 219-237

Thomas commented on the first twelve books of the Metaphysics but was aware of M and N as well. From first to last, his commentary insists on the orderly discussion of the work and clearly views it as a unified whole. One of the chief tasks of a commentator is to display the order of the text before him. ...

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10. Methodological Interlude

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pp. 238-244

It is the task of metaphysics to consider the communia entis, that is, whatever can be said of anything just insofar as it is a being, whether material or immaterial. But in what sense can something be common to any and every being? The very term ‘being’ immediately breaks into a number of meanings and is saved from equivocation ...

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11. The Book of Wisdom

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pp. 245-282

In what follows, I first provide a continuous paraphrase of what Thomas Aquinas makes of Book XII of Aristotle’s Metaphysics. Only with this account before us can we turn to the neuralgic points of the narrative, considering, for example, those turns of interpretation that agree or disagree with what has become received opinion ...

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12. Sed Contra

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pp. 283-292

Some of my fellow Thomists have taken exception to Thomas’s reading of Aristotle’s theology in a number of ways.1 Sometimes we are told that what Thomas says in his commentaries does not represent his own thought, but merely that of Aristotle. ...

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13. Aristotelian Existentialism and Thomistic Essentialism

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pp. 293-306

In this chapter I do not intend to defend what has been called the “Identity Thesis,” that is, that Thomas was Aristotle, but I will continue to play the odd man out to the extent of urging that we should regain Thomas Aquinas’s own enthusiastic regard for Aristotle and take more seriously Thomas’s readings of the man he called the Philosopher.1 ...

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 307-310


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pp. 311-313

E-ISBN-13: 9780813216270
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813214580

Page Count: 325
Publication Year: 2011

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Subject Headings

  • Thomas, Aquinas, Saint, 1225?-1274.
  • Philosophical theology.
  • Aristotle.
  • Metaphysics.
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