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On Aquinas’s view, a human being is a material object, a hylomorphic compound of prime matter and the substantial form of a human being. That form is capable of existing on its own, apart from matter; and it does so in the period between the death of a human being and the resurrection of his body, when that form configures matter again. The resurrection of the body is not a reassembly of bodily bits that had previously composed the body; it is more nearly a reconstitution of the substantial form with prime matter. Finally, after death some human beings go to heaven. In heaven, a human being is perfected, so that the true nature of a human being is revealed best in the condition of human beings in heaven. A human being in heaven sees God and is united in loving relationship with God and with all others who are also united to God. In this vision and union, she has the full perfection of her human nature and also her complete beatitude.
The Cambridge Companion to Aquinas, edited by Eleonore Stump and her friend and former teacher Norman Kretzmann († 1998), appeared almost thirty years ago. In the time since the publication of that volume, an enormous amount of research on Aquinas’s thought has appeared. The time is right, then, for a redoing of that Companion volume. But because so much time has elapsed since the first Companion volume appeared, it was not feasible just to revise it and reissue it as a second edition. Instead, it was necessary to start over completely. With the exception of Eleonore Stump, all the contributors to The New Cambridge Companion to Aquinas are new and have written original papers for this volume; and even Stump’s paper in the first Companion volume has been replaced by an entirely fresh essay.
This new Companion to Aquinas features entirely new chapters written by internationally recognized experts in the field. It shows the power of Aquinas's philosophical thought and transmits the worldview which he inherited, developed, altered, and argued for, while at the same time revealing to contemporary philosophers the strong connections which there are between Aquinas's interests and views and their own. Its five sections cover the life and works of Aquinas; his metaphysics, including his understanding of the ultimate foundations of reality; his metaethics and ethics, including his virtue ethics; his account of human nature; his theory of the afterlife; his epistemology and his theory of the intellectual virtues; his view of the nature of free will and the relation of grace to free will; and finally some key components of his philosophical theology, including the incarnation and atonement, Christology, and the nature of original sin.
‘Abandon all hope, ye who enter here’ is, as we all recognize, the inscription over the gate of Dante's hell; but we perhaps forget what precedes that memorable line. Hell, the inscription says, was built by divine power, by the highest wisdom, and by primordial love. Those of us who remember Dante's vivid picture of Farinata in the perpetually burning tombs or Ulysses in the unending and yet unconsuming flames may be able to credit Dante's idea that Hell was constructed by divine power; and if we understand ‘wisdom’ in this context as denoting an intellectual virtue only (and not as connoting a mixed moral and intellectual one), then we might agree that only divine wisdom is capable of making something like Dante's hell.
In this article, I respond to articles by Faith Pawl, Anne Jeffrey, and Kathryn Pogin that raise issues related to my book Atonement. The topics covered include the suffering of beasts, the necessity of Christ's atonement, the relationship of my interpretation of the doctrine of the atonement and that of Thomas Aquinas, and social and communal guilt and shame.
The doctrine of the atonement is the distinctive doctrine of Christianity. Over the course of many centuries of reflection, highly diverse interpretations of the doctrine have been proposed. In the context of this history of interpretation, Eleonore Stump considers the doctrine afresh with philosophical care in her book Atonement. This article is an overview of the book.
In Simon Wiesenthal's book The Sunflower: On the Possibility and Limits of Forgiveness, Wiesenthal tells the story of a dying German soldier who was guilty of horrendous evil against Jewish men, women, and children, but who desperately wanted forgiveness from and reconciliation with at least one Jew before his death. Wiesenthal, then a prisoner in a camp, was brought to hear the German soldier's story and his pleas for forgiveness. As Wiesenthal understands his own reaction to the German soldier, he did not grant the dying soldier the forgiveness the man longed for. In The Sunflower, Wiesenthal presents reflections on this story by numerous thinkers. Their responses are noteworthy for the highly divergent intuitions they express. In this paper, I consider the conflicting views about forgiveness on the part of the respondents in The Sunflower.
I argue that those respondents who are convinced that forgiveness should be denied the dying German soldier are mistaken. Nonetheless, I also argue in support of the attitude that rejects reconciliation with the dying German soldier. I try to show that, in some cases of grave evil, repentance and making amends are not sufficient for the removal of guilt, and that reconciliation may be morally impermissible, whatever the case as regards forgiveness.