Philosophy, God, and Aquinas

John F. X. Knasas


The article briefly surveys the Christian intellectual tradition as the tradition tries to come to grips with Pascal’s complaint that human reasoning cannot reach the BiblicalGod. In his complaint that he wanted the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Blaise Pascal epitomized the perennial issue of Christian philosophy: Can human reason approach the God of belief? Because of the first of the Ten Commandments, any Christian must strive to integrate the first principle of his philosophy and the God of his belief. Building upon ideas from Etienne Gilson, I try to map out, for purposes of further study, the key responses to achieve this required integration. The thinkers mentioned are: Augustine, Bonaventure, Aquinas, the Moslem Mutakallim, Latin Averroists, Hume, and Kant. Particular attention is paid to Aquinas’ metaphysics of actus essendi by which he claimed to reach the God who revealed his name to Moses as “Ego sum qui sum: I am who am.” The article concludes that Aquinas’ a posteriori approach to God from the esse of sensible things appears to be sufficiently unique to avoid problems in other approaches. Only further study can determine if this is so.


Esse; existence as fact; causality; motion; First Commandment; sense realism; constitutive a priori; first principle and God

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