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This Element focuses on some core conceptual and ontological issues related to pantheistic conceptions of God by engaging with recent work in analytic philosophy of religion on this topic. The conceptual and ontological commitments of pantheism are contrasted with those of other conceptions of God. The concept of God assumed by pantheism is clarified and the question about what type of unity the universe must exhibit in order to be identical with God receives the most attention. It is argued that the sort of unity the universe must display is the sort of unity characteristic of conscious cognitive systems. Some alternative ontological frameworks for grounding such cognitive unity are considered. Further, the question of whether God can be understood as personal on pantheism is explored.
Adams argues that the traditional doctrine of eternal hellish experience stretches the Problem of Evil beyond any reasonable solution, as hell is stubbornly incompatible with God's omnipotence, omniscience, and perfect goodness. Buckareff and Plug argue that people could leave hell. Matheson responds that if people could leave hell, people could leave heaven. But Matheson provides reasons to think that this is not possible. Luck attempts to refute Matheson's argument. I show that Luck's attempt contains analogies that lack features that crucially depict the asymmetrical relationship between heaven and hell. I advance some other analogies that I think contain such features.
The will is the key component of Duns Scotus’s moral theory, both because Duns Scotus held (quite uncontroversially) that we are morally responsible only for our free choices and their outcomes and because (more controversially) he thought that most principles detailing what is morally good and what is morally bad depends on God’s free decisions. The key, then, question is how we know contingent practical principles. This essay offers an account of our knowledge of such principles that is (a) consistent with what Duns Scotus says about the relationship of the moral law to the divine will and to human nature, (b) consistent with what he says more generally about our knowledge of contingent truths, and (c) consistent with his actual argumentative practice in dealing with contingent practical principles. The examination of Duns Scotus’s argumentative practice uncovers a third, hitherto unnoticed, sense of ‘natural law’. This essay suggests that the core unifying sense of ‘natural law’ for Duns Scotus is precisely the epistemic status of the precepts of natural law as non-inferentially evident.
This essay focuses on the way the first cause’s action relates to the action of created causes, with a particular focus on the action of created wills. Since medieval thinkers considered God an active causal source of all existents, they believed that God must in some way actively cause the actions of created causes, including the acts of the will. Duns Scotus’s thought on this matter is particularly interesting because, as is widely recognized, he was committed to a robust understanding of the created will’s freedom. This essay argues that Duns Scotus struggled to figure out how God could be involved in causing the operation of such a spontaneously and autonomously operating cause. He wrestled with two different theories, and ultimately could not make up his mind. This essay reconstructs Duns Scotus’s analysis of competing positions while tracking the developments in his thought.
John Duns Scotus is commonly recognized as one of the most original thinkers of medieval philosophy. His influence on subsequent philosophers and theologians is enormous and extends well beyond the limits of the Middle Ages. His thought, however, might be intimidating for the non-initiated, because of the sheer number of topics he touched on and the difficulty of his style. The eleven essays collected here, especially written for this volume by some of the leading scholars in the field, take the reader through various topics, including Duns Scotus's intellectual environment, his argument for the existence of God, and his conceptions of modality, order, causality, freedom, and human nature. This volume provides a reliable point of entrance to the thought of Duns Scotus while giving a snapshot of some of the best research that is now being done on this difficult but intellectually rewarding thinker.
I argue that classical theism has a significant advantage as a theory of the First Cause over Graham Oppy's naturalistic account. This is because classical theism not only gives us a clear answer to the question of how many first causes there are but also because it explains why there is that number and not another. In comparison, Oppy's ‘initial physical state’ account seemingly leaves these questions hopelessly open, and so does his ‘metaphysical simples’ proposal for a foundational layer of reality. I end by exploring two arguments from omnipotence and perfection that could be of use also to non-classical theists.
Substance (substantia, zelfstandigheid)’ is a key term of Spinoza’s philosophy. Like almost all of Spinoza’s philosophical vocabulary, Spinoza did not invent this term, which has a long history that can be traced back at least to Aristotle. Yet, Spinoza radicalized the traditional notion of substance and made a very powerful use of it by demonstrating – or at least attempting to demonstrate – that there is only one, unique substance – God (or Nature) – and that all other things are merely modes or states of God. In the first section, I examine Spinoza’s definitions of "substance" and "God" at the opening of the Ethics. In the second section, I study the properties of the fundamental binary relations pertaining to Spinoza’s substance: inherence, conception, and causation. The third section is dedicated to a clarification of Spinoza’s claim that God, the unique substance, is absolutely infinite. The fourth section studies the nature of Spinoza’s monism. It will discuss and criticize the interesting yet controversial views of Martial Gueroult, about the plurality of substances in the beginning of the Ethics and evaluate Spinoza’s kind of ontological monism. The fifth and final section explains the nature, reality, and manner of existence of modes.
Over his career, Kant engages in a long attempt – which reaches a high point in the Prolegomena – to forge what in the Physical Monadology he calls a ‘marriage’ of metaphysics and geometry. The chapter traces the development of Kant’s thought on this union from its pre-critical roots to its flowering in the Prolegomena, and focuses on the role that geometric construction in natural science plays in connecting the two disciplines. This has implications both for how we should understand Kant’s desire to discover the ‘common origin’ of mathematics and natural science that is spelled out in the Prolegomena, as well as how this bears on Kant’s broader views about the status of natural science and laws.
The chapter explores the ways in which Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion influenced Kant. Both Hume and Kant have deep reservations about traditional theistic arguments about God, but each declines to reject them entirely, choosing instead to allow that there is some legitimacy in thinking of the world ‘as if’ it were created by God. The essay argues that Kant’s and Hume’s positions are – at least on this issue – much closer than might be expected, particularly in light of Kant’s attempt in the Prolegomena to distance himself from Hume’s attacks on deism.
The chapter focuses on Kant’s rather surprising claim that although we cannot have any direct cognition in metaphysics, we can nonetheless have “cognition by analogy” of things such as God and the world-whole. While Kant says relatively little about what this involves, the essay makes the case that cognition by analogy, and in particular the symbolic cognition of God, shows that Kant’s account of how we meet the criteria for cognition is far more flexible than is typically recognized. The analysis of Kant’s use of analogy more generally widens the scope of how we as humans, who are at once sensible and intelligible, stand in relation to the world of experience.
Buddhism is a tradition that set itself decidedly against theism, with the development of complex arguments against the existence of God. I propose that the metaphysical conclusions reached by some schools in the Mahayana tradition present a vision of reality that, with some apparently small modification, would ground an argument for the existence of God. This argument involves explanation in terms of natures rather than causal agency. Yet I conclude not only that the Buddhist becomes a theist in embracing such explanations as legitimate, but also ipso facto abandons their metaphysical project and ceases to be a Buddhist.
Benedict (Baruch) de Spinoza (1632–1677) was one of the most systematic, inspiring, and influential philosophers of the early modern period. From a pantheistic starting point that identified God with Nature as all of reality, he sought to demonstrate an ethics of reason, virtue, and freedom while unifying religion with science and mind with body. His contributions to metaphysics, epistemology, psychology, ethics, politics, and the analysis of religion remain vital to the present day. Yet his writings initially appear forbidding to contemporary readers, and his ideas have often been misunderstood. This second edition of The Cambridge Companion to Spinoza includes new chapters on Spinoza's life and his metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of religion, and biblical scholarship, as well as extensive updates to the previous chapters and bibliography. A thorough, reliable, and accessible guide to this extraordinary philosopher, it will be invaluable to anyone who wants to understand what Spinoza has to teach.
The teaching of creation has been much misunderstood and under-developed because it has been taken to be primarily about how the world began a long, long time ago. Religious naturalists have often abandoned this teaching so as to give a more scientifically informed characterization of our cosmos and humanity’s place within it. Wirzba argues that this is a big mistake because the rejection of the idea that our world is a divinely created world makes it impossible to speak of life as a gift. This chapter develops what it means to say that each creature is gift cherished and sustained in its being by God. As such, it opens the idea of creation to encompass life’s meaning and purpose, and it creates a way for people to become involved in the nurture and healing of our world and our shared life. The logic of creation, upon further examination, is not about God’s power “over” the world but about God’s presence to the world in the forms of love that invite human participation in it.
In a time of climate change, environmental degradation, and social injustice, the question of the value and purpose of human life has become urgent. What are the grounds for hope in a wounded world? This Sacred Life gives a deep philosophical and religious articulation of humanity's identity and vocation by rooting people in a symbiotic, meshwork world that is saturated with sacred gifts. The benefits of artificial intelligence and genetic enhancement notwithstanding, Norman Wirzba shows how an account of humans as interdependent and vulnerable creatures orients people to be a creative, healing presence in a world punctuated by wounds. He argues that the commodification of places and creatures needs to be resisted so that all life can be cherished and celebrated. Humanity's fundamental vocation is to bear witness to God's love for creaturely life, and to commit to the construction of a hospitable and beautiful world.
Also Schelling – by 1802 a declared Spinozist – altered his methodology, adding to it a phenomenological dimension. In 1807 he portrayed the philosopher as an artist singularly gifted with an intuitive sense for nature as issuing from the Oneness of the Absolute, equally substance and subject. Jacobi attacked him for this. Chapter 4 details Schelling’s ensuing controversy with him but is otherwise dedicated to Schelling’s seminal Freedom Essay (1809). In the essay Schelling again portrayed the philosopher as a divinely inspired artist. He now conceived his work, however, as one of remembering the event at which God manifests himself in the form of a world that reflects in its manifold the internal economy of the divine being. This event is shrouded in the human unconscious but can be brought to light through the philosopher’s imaginative representations. The warrant for these is that they resonate with humankind’s belief, embodied in mythology, that its history is also the history of God’s realization in space/time. Schelling was thus adopting a rich metaphysical position, the direct contrary of Fichte’s ontological quietism, which the monism the two shared nonetheless also made possible. Evil comes up as an important issue for Schelling
If one believes in God, what should one say is the answer to the question of why we are here? In this article, I hope to show that when we ask why we are here we ask several different questions at once and that Theism allows (indeed dictates) that these different questions have very different answers. Appreciating these differences can remove at least that perplexity generated when an answer which could well be plausible were it to be given in response to one question of God's purpose for us is mislocated and treated as if it were an answer to another.
Theism is the view that God exists; naturalism is the view that there are no supernatural beings, processes, mechanisms, or forces. This Element explores whether things are better, worse, or neither on theism relative to naturalism. It introduces readers to the central philosophical issues that bear on this question, and it distinguishes a wide range of ways it can be answered. It critically examines four views, three of which hold (in various ways) that things are better on theism than on naturalism, and one of which holds just the opposite.