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Oxford Studies in Medieval Philosophy, Volume 3$
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Robert Pasnau

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198743798

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198743798.001.0001

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Mind the Gap?

Mind the Gap?

The Principle of Non-Repeatability and Aquinas’s Account of the Resurrection

(p.99) Mind the Gap?
Oxford Studies in Medieval Philosophy, Volume 3

Adam Wood

Oxford University Press

Most contemporary interpreters of Aquinas have assumed that Thomas subscribed to a “non-repeatability principle” such that created entities, once destroyed entirely, cannot be “brought back" into existence, even by God's power. Souls persisting in the interim between death and resurrection thus play an essential identity-preserving role between our death and rising again. No separated souls, no resurrection. Two of Aquinas’s best medieval interpreters, however, reject this interpretation. Leaning largely on one of Aquinas’s late quodlibetal questions, they deny that Thomas held any non-repeatability principle strong enough to bar God’s resurrecting us even from complete destruction, souls and all. Here the chapter argues that careful analysis of the quodlibet and other texts largely vindicates the contemporary interpretation. It does so in a surprising way, however, since it turns out Aquinas’s non-repeatability principle applies only to corruptible, material entities like us, and not to incorruptible entities like angels. The reason Aquinas held this view, the chapter argues, is rooted in his theory of individuation.

Keywords:   Aquinas, resurrection, personal identity, individuation, souls

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