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Sophia

, Volume 56, Issue 2, pp 247–261 | Cite as

Thomas Aquinas on Logic, Being, and Power, and Contemporary Problems for Divine Omnipotence

  • Errin D. ClarkEmail author
Article

Abstract

I discuss Thomas Aquinas’ views on being, power, and logic, and show how together they provide rebuttals against certain principal objections to the notion of divine omnipotence. The objections I have in mind can be divided into the two classes. One says that the notion of omnipotence ends up in self-contradiction. The other says that it ends up contradicting certain doctrines of traditional theism. Thomas’ account is frequently misunderstood to be a version of what I call a ‘consistent description’ account of omnipotence, which is a standard contemporary account. That account of omnipotence, however, succumbs to certain contemporary objections. Thomas’ account withstands those objections because of his view of logic and, specifically self-contradiction. Moreover, a certain thesis found in Thomas’ understanding of God, but almost entirely absent from contemporary debates about omnipotence, is that God is not just a being, but the source of being. This thesis, I argue, puts Thomas’ account in a position that differs greatly from many contemporary accounts since the scope of possibility, and specifically the scope of what possible powers there are, is ultimately grounded in God’s being. Further still, many contemporary accounts of omnipotence do not seek to establish substantive account of power itself. Thomas, by contrast, has a robust and independent account of what power is. And that account informs his account of what it is to have all powers, or to be omnipotent, in a way that makes his account resistant to contemporary objections. Against contemporary objections, Thomas’ account of omnipotence can sustain the claim that God can do all things.

Keywords

Omnipotence Thomas Aquinas Being Power Logic Contradiction 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.OconomowocUSA

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