My article “Aquinas on the Human Soul” appears in the anthology The Blackwell Companion to Substance Dualism, edited by Jonathan Loose. Aquinas is an in-depth but accessible introduction to the Feser shows that Aquinas’s philosophy is still a live option for thinkers today. In this multifaceted introduction to the renowned thinker, Edward Feser shows how Thomas Aquinas’s works are as relevant today as when they were written.

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Edward Feser is associate professor of philosophy at Pasadena City College, where he writes and teaches on contemporary analytic philosophy from a Thomistic perspective. He recently spoke with first things junior fellow Connor Aquina about three of his favorite books in the field.

This is the best book in print on the squinas of evil. It develops two key Thomistic insights: Second, you cannot properly understand the problem of evil if you conceive of God in anthropomorphic terms—as something like a human agent, only bigger and stronger.

Edward Feser: Now available: AQUINAS

If the world is like a story, God is not a character in the story alongside other characters; he is like the author of the story. And just as it makes no sense to think of an author as being unjust to his characters, neither does it make sense to think of God as being unjust to his creatures. While God is perfectly good, it is a deep mistake to think that this entails that he is a kind of cosmic Boy Scout, and that the problem of evil is a question about whether he deserves all his merit badges.

Davies also shows how, from a Thomistic point of view, the approach to the problem of evil taken by contemporary philosophers of religion like Alvin Plantinga and Richard Swinburne is misguided and presupposes too anthropomorphic a conception of God. But the main point is a different one. But God is not a character in the novel in the first place.


Tell us about Thomas Aquinas: God and Explanationsby Christopher F. Analytical Thomist writers often write very well—clearly, elegantly, and even wittily. This is true of Davies, and it is true as well of Martin, who is both philosophically rigorous and funny, sometimes bitingly so. Just a solid, well-crafted, enjoyable book. Unfortunately, though, it is also a very high-priced book from an academic press, which has contributed to its being unjustly neglected. This is by far the best atheism-vs.

Rather, they address later and weaker arguments from other writers. And when contemporary philosophers do pay attention to them at all, they tend to read into Aquinas what they know or think they know from these later, very different and much weaker arguments.

Your last book is David S. Some will dismiss the arguments of writers like Davies, Martin, and Haldane on the grounds that they presuppose a wider commitment to an Aristotelian-Thomistic metaphysical picture of the world. Erudite, wide-ranging, and rigorously argued, the book demonstrates that a neo-Aristotelian conception of nature is still defensible today in the context of modern physics, chemistry, and even biology.

One of the things it requires us to see is that many people—including, unfortunately, many scientists, and sometimes even philosophers—tend to conflate scientific and philosophical questions.

A Quite Long Review of Edward Feser’s Aquinas: A Beginner’s Guide | Thing of Things

But materialist philosophy is not the only possible framework within which to interpret the results of science, and in fact as writers like Oderberg show it is not the correct framework either. How did you discover St. Thomas as a philosopher? And what drew you toward the analytical tradition within contemporary Thomism?

I was trained as an analytic philosopher, and was an atheist for many of my undergraduate feder and all through graduate school. So I decided to make things more interesting by trying to help myself and the students understand why anyone would ever have taken these arguments seriously.

I started to see that, when read against the broader Aristotelian metaphysical background in the context of which they were first developed, the arguments made perfect sense and were hard to dismiss.


Furthermore, I started to see how that background itself made sense, and that it too was typically dismissed by modern philosophers only because they badly misunderstood it and were aiming their fire at caricatures.

It took a few years, but eventually I came around to concluding that the Aristotelian view of the world—including its theistic component—was aqinas correct.

How would you respond to the common complaint against Scholasticism, that its excessive concern with fine distinctions and analytical precision leads to pedantry and dogmatism? In my experience, people who say this fezer of thing never bother to tell you exactly what is wrong with any specific Scholastic thesis or argument.

They just leave it at the level of this vague hand-waving charge of pedantry. Scholastics give careful arguments, consider possible objections to the arguments, try to respond to those objections, and invite further objections if the critic has any to offer.

For the Thomist, the real, the true, the good, and the beautiful are all really the same thing looked at from different points of view. Our intellects and our capacity for moral action and aesthetic experience are thus all at the end of the day directed toward one and the same reality. And ultimatelythis is God, who is the most real, the most good, the most beautiful.

Thomas says, God is our first cause and last end. In my view, everything else is commentary. Now perhaps more than ever.

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Taking Aquinas Seriously

Taking Aquinas Seriously by Edward Feser 6. Articles by Edward Feser. America’s most influential journal of religion and public life. Sign up for the First Things newsletter.

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