Perspectives in Catholic Philosophy II

David B. Burrell

in Teaching the Tradition

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780199795307
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199932894 | DOI:
Perspectives in Catholic Philosophy II

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Thomas Aquinas wanted to show that creation was a free act of God, who cannot be constrained. Both postmodern and medieval philosophy rests on fiduciary premises, but these presuppositions too must be critically assessed. As a result Catholic philosophers now have to justify, not necessarily prove, what thinkers like Aquinas could presume. Because the Greeks did not claim creatio ex nihilo, Aquinas turned to the Jewish thinker Maimonides for intellectual support that free creatures are created by a free God; Maimonides in turn relied on the Islamic thinker, al-Ghazali. Catholic culture is enriched when people from other perspectives, such as an African one, revivify a tradition by adding their culture as a third perspective to the contrast between faith and reason. Faith also needs philosophy to acquire understanding. In order to explain a free creation, God has to be God even if he did not create the world. To accomplish this, Aquinas uses both philosophy and theology in saying that God is pure esse, pure “to be,” whereas all other creatures have existence (esse) and essence, which is a way of being. Individual beings share in the esse of God.

Keywords: philosophy; Thomism; creation; postmodern; creatio ex nihilo; Islam; Jewish; culture; essence; existence

Chapter.  9971 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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