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REJOINDER TO BRUCE MARSHALL FREDERICK J. CROSSON University of Notre Dame Notre Dame, J.ndiana DISCUSSIONS HAVE to end sometime, and the differences in the reading of Aquinas by Bruce Marshall and myself will perhaps have sufficiently come into view if brief comments on several points are made. 1. In his second statement 1 Marshall seems to have shifted his argument. Originally he argued that a non-believer (e.g. a pagan philosopher such as Aristotle) could not know or even properly refer to God.2 But in the subsequent statement, he seems to concede that, according to Aquinas, " That there is one God was known even by the philosophers, and is not a part of faith " and that " while some of the Gentiles knew God with respect to certain things which were knowable by reason, nevertheless they did not know him insofar as he is the Father...." (501; cf. 51213 ). Marshall seems now to hold that although that knowledge was possible at one time, it is not any longer: As Thomas reads Paul, then, the error (and specifically the idolatry) of the Gentiles overrides the knowledge of himself which God has given to them " from 1creation through the senses " ; in consequence the further possibility of this knowledge . . . is withdrawn by God. With regard to the Gentiles, including their sapientes-the philosophers with demonstrative arguments-the denial of knowledge overrides the initial ascription of it (512, my emphasis). 1 Bruce D. Marshall, " Thomas, Thomisms, and Truth", The Thomist 56 (1992) pp. 499-524. His original article was in ibid. 53 (1989), pp. 353-402. Page references in the text or footnotes without other citation will be to these articles. 2 " The person whose discourse does not cohere with the broader norms of Christian belief is not even talking about God, and so cannot possibly know or refer to him " (378-379) , emphasis mine. 299 300 FREDERICK J. CROSSON I confess to a certain difficulty in understanding what "overrides " means here: cancels? contradicts? blots out? In any case, it seems that it was, at some time and for some non-Christian thinkers (e.g. Aristotle), possible to come to the knowledge of God's existence by reason, but that Marshall interprets Aquinas as saying that that knowledge is no longer even possible. 2. Marshall's general claim is that Aquinas must be read as holding a coherentist notion of revealed truth, so that a pagan and a Christian cannot mean the same thing the word ' God '. But Aquinas says exactly the opposite: Neither a Catholic nor a pagan knows the nature of God as he is in himself, but each knows him by some understanding (aliquam rationein ) of causality or excellence or remotion . . . Consequently a pagan can take this name God, when he says an idol is God, in the same way that a Catholic does in saying an idol is not God.3 3. Again and again, Marshall returns to the claim that, according to Aquinas, " In simple things any failure of knowledge (defectus cognitionis) is in fact a total lack of knowledge " (382) ;4 he cites the Commentary on John, in which Thomas declares ... while it is possible for composite things to be known in part and to be unknown in part, if simple things are not grasped completely, they are not known (501) . In Marshall's view, these claims about the knowledge of simple forms exclude the possibility of any adequation between the conclusion of a pagan philosopher's demonstration and the Divine esse: ". . . the defectus cognitionis of which Thomas speaks in II-II, 2, 2, ad 3, entails not a partial, but a total lack of corres:. pondence between the mind and God" (384). Marshall seems to read such statements as if they made the following objection: a Summa Theologiae I, q. 3, a. 10, ad 5: Dicendum quod ipsam naturam Dei prout in se est, neque catholicus neque paganus cognoscit; sed uterque cognoscit earn secumdum aliquam rationem causalitatis vel excellentiae vel remotionis ... Et secundum hoc in eadem significatione accipere potest gentilis hoc nomen Deus, cum

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Additional Information

ISSN
2473-3725
Print ISSN
0040-6325
Pages
pp. 299-303
Launched on MUSE
2017-04-05
Open Access
No
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