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 VOLUME LXVIII, Number 3

March 2015

The Rationality of Being, EDWARD C. HALPER

This paper explores two issues: (1) how our thought about nature could reflect natural processes, and (2) how our thoughts about nature are connected with each other. It argues, first, that the standard ways philosophers try to make sense of the notion that thought is separate from nature cannot be made intelligible and, second, that the conceptual schemes used to grasp nature fall broadly into two groups each of which presupposes the other, even though the two are incompatible. Although these conclusions pose obstacles to the rationality of nature, the paper concludes by arguing for some significant degree of rationality of nature and explaining what this means for science. In brief, our ability to have an experience of nature and, especially, to connect disparate features of that experience with each other presupposes some intrinsic connections within nature itself, even if these are inaccessible to us. 

Substance and the Primary Sense of Being in Aristotle, ANGUS BROOK

Aristotle’s notion of substance and its relation to his investigation of the question of being qua being in the Metaphysics is one of the most important, enduring, and intriguing problems in scholarship focused on Aristotle and the tradition of metaphysics. This article explores some of the more recent developments in this area of scholarship, especially the trend toward more dynamic interpretations of Aristotle’s conception of substance, as a way of renewing the question of what Aristotle really means by being. On this basis, the article reinterprets Aristotle’s investigation of substance as the primary sense of being in the Metaphysics. It argues that there are two primary ways substance may be considered; with respect to the principles of intelligibility of substance and with regard to the causal framework of the real unity and determinacy of substance. The primary principles of the intelligibility of substance, it is argued, are end and fulfilment (telos and entelechy). The causal framework of the real unity and determinacy of substances, on the other hand, can be understood via the notion of act and activity (energeia).

Maimonides and the Epicurean Position on Providence, GADI CHARLES WEBER

In a sense Maimonides identifies his views on the subject of divine providence with those of Epicurus. He does so by implying an analogy between this Greek philosopher’s atheistic opinions and those put forth by Elihu in the Book of Job. Despite the fact that commentators have discussed Maimonides’ views on providence for eight hundred years the only one to refer to the connection between Elihu and Epicurus was Joseph Ibn Kaspi in the fourteenth century. One of the consequences of this analogy is a modification of our understanding of Maimonides’ concept of “providence according to the intellect.” Whereas Moshe Narboni and other commentators have understood Maimonides’ concept of providence to involve a unification of the human intellect with the Active Intellect, the association with Epicurus suggests an emphasis on the human individual’s material faculties such as the imagination. Indeed, it is possible that, following Al-Fārābī, Maimonides rejected the possibility of conjunction with the Active Intellect altogether, and that “providence according to the intellect” consists of nothing more than the activity of the human individual’s material faculties. 

Cornelio Fabro on the Distinction and Composition of Essence and Esse in the Metaphysics of Thomas Aquinas, JOHN F. WIPPEL

This article focuses on Cornelio Fabro’s understanding and presentation of Thomas Aquinas’s argumentation for a real distinction and composition of essence and an act of existing (actus essendi) in finite beings, a theory that is closely connected with Aquinas’s notion of transcendental participation. It examines Fabro’s division of Aquinas’s arguments into five gradually developing major approaches. Fabro offers an interesting interpretation of the argument offered by the youthful Aquinas in the often discussed De ente et essentia, c. 4, and finds that in his mature writings Aquinas developed and relied ever more heavily on a proof based on participation.

Subjectivity and the Encounter with Being, JASON M. COSTANZO

Following the Kantian critique of metaphysics, the conscious subject is discovered to be an insurmountable obstacle with respect to knowledge of things themselves. For this reason, Kant concludes that metaphysics as the science of being as being is impossible. In this essay, the possibilities of metaphysics in light of the problem of subjectivity are reexamined. The nature and relationship between the conscious subject and the embodiment of the subject is first examined. Following this, the subject’s “encounter with being” within consciousness is analyzed yielding two fundamental structures that are determined to hold with respect to being in relation to the conscious subject. Further examination of the act of reflection coupled with judgment reveals that these structures may in fact be transcended, from which an encounter with being as such follows. On the basis of reflection and judgment, metaphysics is thereby determined to be possible. 

From Metaphysics to Ethics: East and West, MAY SIM

The article examines rival representatives of both classical Chinese and ancient Greek traditions to show that there is an intimate relation between metaphysics and ethics.  More specifically, texts attributed to Laozi and Zisi and texts by Plato and Aristotle are compared with each other on the topic of metaphysics and ethics.  If each of these traditions agrees that metaphysics is bound up with ethics, such that reality determines what’s ethical, then examining their accounts can illuminate not only their strengths and weaknesses, but also truths that transcend these disparate cultures.  Ultimately, the author aims to illustrate how such an East-West comparison can reveal the practical as a standard by which we can assess the strength of metaphysics, thus emphasizing the essential relation between metaphysics and ethics.


Last Updated ( Wednesday, 04 March 2015 00:34 )