Chapter

A Brief History of the Metaphysics of Matter

Stephen H. Webb

in Jesus Christ, Eternal God

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199827954
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919468 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199827954.003.0003
A Brief History of the Metaphysics of Matter

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The Pre-Socratic philosophers turned to matter to explain the origin of all things, while Socrates turned to the nature of the good, but Plato's description of matter in the Timaeus had a tremendous impact on all subsequent speculation, especially in Christian theology. Matter was elusive to the Greeks, but it was the stuff of creation for the Christians. Nonetheless, theologians, through Augustine's appropriation of Plotinus, remained in debt to Platonic immaterialism. Plato was the first thinker of immateriality, a metaphysical position which became the common sense of Christian theology. The author speculates about what theology would have looked like had Tertullian's sympathy for Stoicism triumphed rather than Augustine's appropriation of Plotinus. The chapter concludes showing how Irenaeus pointed the way forward to a new solution by giving a Christological account of creation.

Keywords: Pre-Socratics; Plato; Augustine; Stoicism; Tertullian; matter; Timaeus; Irenaeus

Chapter.  12493 words. 

Subjects: Christian Theology

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