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Abraham's DiceChance and Providence in the Monotheistic Traditions$
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Karl W. Giberson

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190277154

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190277154.001.0001

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Thomas Aquinas on Natural Contingency and Providence

Thomas Aquinas on Natural Contingency and Providence

Chapter:
(p.158) 8 Thomas Aquinas on Natural Contingency and Providence
Source:
Abraham's Dice
Author(s):

Ignacio Silva

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190277154.003.0008

Thomas Aquinas’s engagement with newly received Arabic commentaries on Aristotle and Neoplatonic ideas shaped his distinct approach to God’s action in the world. Aquinas understood divine providence as encompassing God as first cause and contingent secondary created causes, contributing to a richer, more perfect world. This moderate indeterminism, based on the fourfold causes of Aristotle, lets Aquinas uphold a primary cause that, while causing secondary causes to cause contingently, causes their effects without determining their outcome. When Aristotelian philosophy, inspired in part by biological prototypes, was replaced by the mechanical philosophies during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the interplay between primary and secondary causes became problematic, resulting in occasionalist or deist positions.

Keywords:   Aquinas, primary causes, secondary causes, contingency, indeterminism, providence

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