God's Simplicity

Eleonore Stump

in The Oxford Handbook of Aquinas

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780195326093
Published online May 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 God's Simplicity

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Aquinas explained the doctrine of divine simplicity with three claims. The first distinguished God from material objects. It is impossible that God have any spatial or temporal parts that could be distinguished from one another as here rather than there or as now rather than then. The second claims that the standard distinction between an entity's essential and intrinsic accidental properties cannot apply to God. It is impossible that God has any intrinsic accidental properties. The third claim rules out the possibility of components of any kind in the essence that is the divine nature. Even when it has been recognized that all God's intrinsic properties must be essential to him, it must be acknowledged as well. Aquinas maintained that because God is simple, human beings can know what God is not, but they cannot know anything of what God is. If the doctrine of simplicity implies that God is esse alone, then it seems that many of the standard divine attributes discussed and accepted by Aquinas cannot be applied to God. Those attributes apply only to something that is an id quod est.

Keywords: intrinsic accidental properties; the doctrine of divine simplicity; secundum rem; id quod est; spatial or temporal parts

Article.  5876 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; History of Western Philosophy ; Philosophy of Religion

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