Simplicity and Aseity

Jeffrey E. Brower

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophical Theology

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199596539
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

 Simplicity and Aseity

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There is a traditional theistic doctrine, known as the doctrine of divine simplicity, according to which God is an absolutely simple being, completely devoid of any metaphysical complexity. Although divine simplicity was once regarded as an essential part of philosophical theology, having been upheld for over a millennium by a veritable army of philosophical theologians – not only Christian, but also Jewish and Islamic – the doctrine has, in more recent history, fallen on hard times. Philosophers and theologians now seldom speak of divine simplicity, and when they do, their remarks are almost always critical. This article takes the first steps necessary for restoring the doctrine of divine simplicity to its former glory, arguing that its widespread rejection in contemporary philosophy and theology is certainly premature, perhaps ultimately unwarranted. There can be no question that this doctrine comes with substantial and controversial commitments in metaphysics. But in each case, these commitments are perfectly respectable, having been ably defended and taken very seriously on independent grounds in the contemporary literature.

Keywords: divine simplicity; God; Christianity; philosophical theology

Article.  11308 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Philosophy of Religion ; Christianity

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