A Reading of Aquinas's Five Ways

Robert J. Fogelin

in Philosophical Interpretations

Published in print April 1992 | ISBN: 9780195071627
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833221 | DOI:
A Reading of Aquinas's Five Ways

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Aquinas's so‐called Five Ways are usually read as proofs – or at least as sketches of proofs – of God's existence. This chapter suggests that they can profitably be read as a series of responses to one of the objections that precedes them: namely, that there is no need to posit the existence of God, because natural effects can be explained by natural causes and contrived effects by human reasoning and will. On this reading, the first three (cosmological) ways are aimed at the claim that science can explain all natural causes. The Fifth (teleological) Way is a response to the claim that all purposes in the world can be explained as human contrivance. The Fourth (degrees of perfection) Way points to a dimension of reality completely outside the scientific worldview.

Keywords: Aquinas; cosmological argument; Five Ways; God; perfection; teleological argument

Chapter.  6780 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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