Thursday, November 27, 2014


An Introduction to Biblical Ethics: Walking in the Way of Wisdom. 3rd ed. By Robertson McQuilkin and Paul Copan. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2014. 667 pp. $ 45.00. ISBN 978-0-8308-2818-0.

            Whether people know it or not, and whether or not they are willing to admit it, ethical issues are some of the most highly debated issues both in the Christian church and without. For church goers, almost every single sermon and small group study will, given enough time, turn to ethical subjects – how should we live our lives in light of what the Bible says. For those who are not church goers the subject is just as important, and is discussed in political campaigns, during lunch break, at the barbers shop, and just about anywhere people take the time to stop and think. It should be of the utmost importance, therefore, for Christians (minimally – those who accept the Bible as the word of God and seek to model their lives after it) to be able to make wise ethical choices in their daily lives, and be able to (biblically, at least) defend those choices. This fact is why An Introduction to Biblical Ethics by Robertson McQuilkin and Paul Copan is so important. There have been many books written on moral philosophy (ethics), probably more than books can be read in one lifetime. I would suggest that if you, as a Christian, are only going to read one book, in your entire lifetime, on Christian morality, then it should be this book. I am not saying that you shouldn’t read other books on the subject, nor that this book is perfect in every aspect. I am saying that the approach taken in this book provides such a broad introduction to the subject of biblical ethics that it is the ideal book for a person who wants to be able to understand the issues, but does not have the time to read a pile of books on the subject. In this book review I will begin by noting, as usual, the purpose of the book, its approach to ethics, and the general positions that the authors seem to hold concerning ethics. I will then provide an overview of the subjects covered in each chapter, and will finish by noting (or repeating) the relative worth of this book.

            The main text for this book was originally written by Robertson McQuilkin, and then edited expanded by Paul Copan. The purpose of this book, and its approach to ethics, is to deal with ethical issues that are treated in Scriptures, as well as those which are met in contemporary life, by starting from, and remaining true to, the moral teachings of the Bible. They assume, unless it is explicitly mentioned in the Bible, that the Bible’s teachings are morally normative. The book is essentially based around the Ten Commandments, and a number of issues which do not necessarily fall under the Ten Commandments are covered along the way. One of the interesting elements of the book is that on a couple of occasions McQuilkin and Copan disagree on how to properly understand the biblical answer to a moral question. When this happens they each present, and support, their respective positions. They also do their best to not impose any ethical system on scripture (p. 23). This being said they hold to a form of Divine Command Theory (p. 69-70) in which they deny deontology (p. 88, 123), and affirm a form of virtue theory (p. 88, 91, 123-132). They argue that man’s motivation for doing good should be his love for, and devotion to, God (p. 89). Finally, they claim that the standard for humanity is the divine nature, to which we are supposed to conform (p. 219).

            Prior to looking at the contents of the book, let’s look at how the book is structured. The book is divided into two main sections. The first main section is divided into 5 parts and 11 chapters. The second main section is divided into 6 parts and 23 chapters. The book is introduced with a preface and introduction, and concludes with a short afterword, endnotes, and indexes of proper names, subjects and scripture references. Each of the main chapters ends with a list of books for further reading on the subject covered in the chapter. This book has been created, quite evidently, so that the interested reader will be able to easily find the subjects that he/she is looking for, as well as further references for advanced study in each of the subjects approached. As far as the contents of the book are concerned, the first main section sets down foundational considerations for a profitable discussion of biblical ethics. The second main section turns to the task of applying the scriptures to ethical issues. It is in the second main section that we see the application of the 10 commandments to ethical concerns.

            In part 1 they look at the biblical concept of love. In chapter 1 they propose that the foundation of biblical ethics is love (Love God…& love your neighbour…). The authors then seek to define and describe what is biblically portrayed as love. A definition if formed out of their observations (p. 35), internal and external aspects of love are discussed as well as reciprocal and sacrificial love. In chapter 2 the authors consider the appropriate objects of our love, the relationship between the various objects of our love, their relationship to us, and how to resolve potential conflicts that may arise due to our love for these different objects. A hierarchy of those things that can be loved by us is proposed: (1) God, (2) others, (3) self, (4) things. The authors also introduce us to 3 other love related discussions: love and forgiveness, God’s character as love and our divine image, and the results of properly ordering our love.

            In part 2 they look at the biblical concept of law. In chapter 3 the authors begin by giving a biblical definition of law. In so doing they survey the general use of ‘law’ in the Bible, the law of nature, etc. They explain their theory of divine commands. We are then introduced to the purpose of the law, the role of conscience, and the relationship between faith and works in the writings of Paul and James. In chapter 4 the authors explain 5 ways in which Jesus fulfilled the Law of Moses. We are then taken through Romans 7 in order to explain the relationship of the Christian to the law – that is, that Christians are no longer under the law (they properly interpret these difficult verses). We are also introduced to the notion of “already-not yet”. The chapter ends by explaining 6 problems with Legalism, and 5 errors that must be avoided in attempting to avoid legalism. The authors make sure, in their explanation of the importance of the law, to emphasize that obedience out of love is more important than obedience out of fear, a virtuous character more important than blind obedience to the law.

            In part 3 they consider the biblical concept of sin. In chapter 5 we are introduced to a description/definition of sin and an explanation of the origin of the first sin. In chapter 6 the authors take an in-depth look at the biblical notion of sin. They begin by providing 2 descriptions of sin (transgression & missing the mark). They then discuss the human condition of sin (Noting that we are sinners from birth. In this section they tackle the question of original sin & the various views of how sin effects human nature.), sin in thought and sins of omission. This chapter finishes with a summary of 5 sin-related subjects: guilt, shame, depravity, addiction, and judgment.

            In part 4 they consider the biblical notions of virtues and vices. In chapter 7 the reader is introduced to virtue ethics. They begin by comparing Aristotle’s virtue ethics with that of the Bibles (the comparison is relatively accurate except for a false contrast on pages 124-125, where they claim that for Aristotle and other Greek thinkers growth in virtue was an individualistic thing, whereas in scriptures it is a community thing. The reality is that for Aristotle it is impossible to become virtuous on one’s own, one must necessarily find the virtuous person and follow them. For Aristotle growth in virtue is very much the result of being part of a community that is encouraging this growth.). In this comparison they introduce the notions of virtues, vices and character formation. They then give an overview of how we can promote virtue formation and avoid vice (including the importance of the spiritual disciplines). The emphasis on the necessary role of the community (church, friends, family, etc.) in character formation is wonderful! In chapter 8 the authors look at the vice of Greed and the virtue of contentment. They spend the first part of the chapter looking at self-control and its related vices. One of the interesting parts of this chapter is the differing views of McQuilkin and Copan on the consummation of Alcohol. In their discussion of greed and contentment they consider both money & time usage. In chapter 9 the authors consider the vices of pride and crippling fear, as well as the virtues of humility, faith and hope. They interact with great thinkers such as Plato, Aristotle and Aquinas, but base their ultimate analysis on the Bible.

            In part 5 they consider the various alternative moral systems that have been proposed by different thinkers through the ages. In chapter 10 the authors look at three important moral theories: Moral Relativism, Social Contract Theory, and Utilitarianism. They rapidly explain the general idea of each theory, note, if possible, some positive insights from each position, and present numerous critiques of each view. In chapter 11 they consider non-Christian versions of deontology, and evolutionary ethics. This part is, by far, the shortest section of the book, and is, in my humble opinion, the biggest let-down of the book. I would have liked to see a more developed explanation of the various views, as well as consideration of Christian views of deontology, theories of eudaimonian morality, and moral theories that base find the foundations of morality in the human nature.

            Turning to the second main section, Part 6 looks at the application of the first 4 commandments. Part 7 considers the contemporary application of the 5th and the 7th commandment. Part 8 applies the 6th commandment to a number of contemporary and perennial moral issues. Part 9 looks at the application of the 8th and 9th commandments. Part 10 looks at questions concerning church and state, and Part 11 looks at two difficult, but important, questions: how to approach questions where Christians differ, and the Bible gives no clear teaching? How do we understand Gods will concerning matters that are not revealed in scripture?

            In chapter 12 the authors explain the moral importance of the first and second commandments. Of special interest is the discussion of the use of images in worship and devotion (such as is common in Catholic and Orthodox Churches). Chapter 13 looks at the 3rd and 4th commandments. In looking at the 3rd commandment the authors consider questions concerning swearing, crude language and how even certain forms of modern evangelical worship can break the 3rd commandment. In considering the 4th commandment we are given the differing views of McQuilkin and Copan, both in their understanding of the Christian view of the Sabbath and in their understanding of the application of their respective views in contemporary society.

            In chapter 14 the authors provide some ground work for further considerations concerning sexuality and marriage. They discuss the nature of God in relation to the two human sexes, the biological differences between the sexes, the biblical standard of equality between the sexes, celibacy and marriage. In discussing marriage they consider the importance of spiritual and physical unity as well as the importance of unity in seeking God. Their section on the “purposes” of marriage is quite interesting, though one wonders if 2 of the 3 purposes mentioned are not subordinate ends, which help obtain that one ultimate purpose for marriage, namely, “relational unity and wholeness”. In chapter 15 they consider the various violations of the marriage commitment that are explicitly mentioned in the Bible. In chapter 16 they consider a number of sexual deviations from Gods purpose for sexuality including issues related to lust, modesty, pornography, homosexuality and sex-changes. In chapter 17 the authors discuss the steps (and give valuable advice) that should be followed prior to marriage. In chapter 18 the authors explain the biblical perspective on homosexuality, the scientific perspective on homosexuality, and how the church should treat homosexuals. In chapter 19 they consider the question of what constitutes the proper definition and nature of marriage. From the proper definition they conclude that “gay marriages” are not true marriages. They then consider two objections to the position that we should maintain, and defend, the traditional definition of marriage. In chapter 20 the authors explore the various relations, purposes and responsibilities of the various members of a healthy Christian home. Two views on the relationship between husband and wife are presented: Complimentarian (McQuilkin’s view) and Egalitarian (Copan’s view). They then explore the parent’s responsibilities towards children and children’s responsibilities towards parents.

            In chapter 21 the authors begin considerations of violations of the 6th commandment. They here discuss subjects such as self-defence, physical and verbal violence, anger and racism. In chapter 22 the authors present a number of biblical, scientific and philosophical arguments against abortion, and respond to counter-arguments. In chapter 23 the authors look at some health (and death) related moral problems such as suicide, euthanasia (doctor-assisted suicide), plastic surgery, and animal rights. In chapter 24 they follow Leo Tolstoy in considering War and Peace. The look at the biblical (Old and New Testaments separately) teaching on the subject. They then present numerous arguments in favour of the just war theory. They also consider questions such as torture and nuclear war. Leaving Tolstoy behind, they follow Fyodor Dostoevsky, in chapter 25, in considering Crime and Punishment. Here they look at the causes and nature of crime (they also elaborate a distinction between sin and crime). The also consider the purposes for punishment of crimes and discuss various methods of punishment.

            In chapter 26 the authors discuss working and leisure, slavery, taxation and the biblical understanding of how employers and employees should interact. In chapter 27 the take on a number of economy and possession related issues including stealing, gambling, social justice, and, among other things, church and government based help of the poor. In chapter 28 the look at the question of lying and deception. They argue that in certain situations lying is biblically acceptable. In chapter 29 the authors give a general overview and history of the relationship between church and state, including how the church has traditionally influenced the state. In chapter 30 they propose that, of 4 possible relationships between church and state, the best arrangement is a relationship where they are “distinct but mutually influential”. In chapter 31 the authors consider how the church (both as an official institution, and as individual Christians), and the government, should be involved in socially beneficial actions. Of interest is the proposed biblical hierarchy of social involvement for Christian individuals (seek to help, in the following order: (1) one’s own family, (2) fellow Christians, (3) the surrounding society). In chapter 32 the authors discuss the engagement of Christians in Education and the Media. Of particular interest is the discussion concerning how Christians can influence public schools, the pros and cons of private Christian schools, and some of the advantages and myths related to homeschooling.

            In chapter 33 the authors lay down the biblical principles concerning how to interact with fellow Christians who hold different ethical views, regardless of whether or not those issues are explicitly addressed in the Bible. In chapter 34 the authors give their views on how to understand and seek Gods will for one’s life; the extent to which God reveals “particular”; things to do to discover God’s will, and methods to avoid.

            All in all this is an exceptional introduction to biblical ethics. It is as complete an introduction as one could wish for. Keeping in mind that it is intended as an introduction to the subjects that are treated, and considering its size, no one should be disappointed by the fact that some of the subjects are not treated as thoroughly as one would like. I would highly recommend this book as the academic standard for any course on Biblical Ethics. Every Christian pastor, lay-person, Apologist, Theologian and Philosopher should have this book in their personal library.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Onto-theological difference and Marilyn McCord Adams

          A while back I wrote a blog post on Martin Heidegger's short article "Identity and Difference" (which can be found here). It crossed my mind that those who had read that article might be interested in Marilyn McCord Adams lecture, on the topic of the Onto-theological difference. The lecture can be found, in transcript form here, or as a youtube video presentation below.

Thursday, November 20, 2014


The Future of Biblical Interpretation: Responsible Plurality in Biblical Hermeneutics. Edited by Stanley E. Porter and Matthew R. Malcolm. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2013. 165 pp. $18.00. ISBN 978-0-8308-4041-0.

            For those who believe that the Bible is the word of God, and, therefore, that not only life in the church, but the life of the church should be regulated by the Bible, it is of the utmost importance to properly understand the Bible. It seems, then, that understanding how to properly interpret the Bible should be one of the most important questions that any believer could ask. In The Future of Biblical Interpretation, the various contributors approach the question of “responsibility” in biblical interpretation and hermeneutics from a number of different angles. The idea of the editors, Stanley Porter and Matthew Malcolm, was that the contributors would present how it was possible to maintain a moderate interpretation of scriptures within the plurality of interpretations that the scriptures allow (p. 157-158). They express, in the conclusion, their frustration that the contributors ended up defending their own individual understandings of what hermeneutics constitutes (p. 158). Though the editors noted that they did not quite get what they aimed for, the end product still provides the reader with an important understanding of the current state of biblical hermeneutics and interpretation. The articles in this book are the product of a conference that was held in honor of Anthony Thiselton’s work in hermeneutics (p. 8). In this review I will provide a brief overview of the book, and conclude with some comments on its relative worth for the contemporary reader (Due to the nature of this book – a compilation of 8 essays – I cannot allow myself to offer any detailed analysis or critique of this work.).

            The book is divided into 8 main chapters that are preceded by an Introduction and followed by some Concluding remarks, both written by the editors. The first chapter, written by Anthony Thiselton, seeks to explain what it means to provide a responsible interpretation of scriptures in light of the plurality of hermeneutics. The author draws on his own previous work in hermeneutics (which was heavily influenced by such well-known philosophers as René Descartes, Immanuel Kant, Martin Heidegger, Hans-George Gadamer, and Paul Ricoeur) in order to explain what type of plurality is intrinsic to hermeneutics and to offer suggestions on future avenues for research in hermeneutics. The second article, written by Stanley E. Porter, attempts to explain what it means to be theologically responsible in one’s interpretation of scripture. Of interest in this chapter is Porters belaboured distinction between hermeneutics and interpretation. The third article, written by Richard S. Briggs, seeks to explain how the plurality of hermeneutics can be reasonably applied to scriptural interpretation without forfeiting the worth of scripture. Briggs bases his theory on the distinction between understanding “scripture is” and understanding “scripture as”. The fourth article, written by Matthew R. Malcolm, seeks to situate the plurality of scriptural interpretations in the missional understanding of the church and the text which gives it that mission in each era of church history. The fifth article, written by James D. G. Dunn, argues that a responsible interpretation of the scriptures will primarily situate the text in its historical (original) context, and that any later understanding of the text will be necessarily subordinate to the primary historical understanding. The sixth article written by Robert C. Morgan, seeks to develop a notion of properly interpreting the Bible from within a critical standpoint. By and far this was the least useful of the articles in this book. The seventh article, written by Tom Greggs, seeks to redefine the notion of Sola Scriptura in order to remove the individualistic interpretation of scripture that is often associated with it and to bring it into agreement with the communal understanding of the church, and of interpretation as the activity of the church community. The final article, written by R. Walter L. Moberly, seeks to explain how biblical interpretation is dependent on the church, and, inversely, the church is dependent on biblical interpretation, and this through an examination of the relationship between the church, its canon, and its interpretation of its canon.

            Most of these authors, if not all of these authors, have been heavily influenced by the contemporary school of hermeneutics that was born from Martin Heidegger’s post-turn philosophical work, and was explicitly worked out by Hans-George Gadamer and Paul Ricoeur. For a person who thinks that Heidegger, Gadamer, and Ricoeur where pioneers of the proper way of understanding hermeneutics and biblical interpretation, this book is going to be a wonderful resource, and a delicious read. For myself, however, as a person who, though appreciative of Heidegger’s powerful intellect, is wary of the consequences of his philosophy, and, who is allergic to the results of much modern and contemporary philosophy, this book presented itself as a warning sign of a clear and present danger. In spite of its dependence on modern and contemporary philosophy, as well as its (and many individual authors) emphasis on plurality in interpretation and hermeneutics, there are many important insights that can be gleaned from this book. Though I would not recommend this book to a beginner in hermeneutics, nor to a person who has not studied the history of philosophical thought, I think that the trained philosopher and exegete will find much in this book that is worthy of deep reflection.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


Il y a des penseurs Chrétiens qui ont dit que l'homme chuté, à moins d'être régénéré, ne pourrait pas arriver à déduire, à partir de l'univers qui les entoure, qu'un Dieu qui est infinie existe. Ils affirment qu'un personne non-régénérée ne pourrait que déduire un Dieu qui est immanente à l'univers[1] (étant un être parmi d'autres, ou « l’extension de l’univers »[2]) et finie.[3] Ils vont même à dire que les hommes non-régénéré ne peuvent pas démontrer l’existence du vrai Dieu.[4] Est-ce que c’est vrai ? Il y a 3 affirmations ici :

1.      L’homme non-régénéré ne peut pas démontrer qu’un Dieu transcendant (séparé de, et non un partie de, l’univers) existe.
2.      L’homme non-régénéré ne peut pas démontrer qu’un Dieu infinie existe.
3.      L’homme non-régénéré ne peut pas démontrer que le vrai Dieu existe.

Chacun de ces affirmations est différent, et doit être prouver, ou réfuter, individuellement. Comment prouver ces affirmations ? Démontrer qu’il n’y a aucun homme ou femme non-régénéré qui auraient pensé arriver à la conclusion en question par un raisonnement, ou déduction, à partir de l’univers. Comment réfuter ces affirmations ? Démontrer qu’il y a, au moins, 1 homme ou femme non-régénéré qui auraient pensé arriver à la conclusion en question par un raisonnement, ou déduction, à partir de l’univers.

            On pourrait penser, premièrement, à Thomas d’Aquin qui pensait être capable de démontrer, à partir du raisonnement humain partant de l’univers, qu’il existe un Dieu,[5] qui est parfait,[6] qui est bon,[7] qui est infinie,[8] qui est immanente et transcendante,[9] qui est immuable,[10] qui est éternelle,[11] etc. Si c’est le cas, alors les deux premières affirmations sont évidemment fausses. Quelqu’un va peut-être me dire, oui mais Thomas d’Aquin était un homme régénérée. Je l’avoue, mais, même si Thomas d’Aquin était un homme régénérée, il me semble que ses arguments ne dépends pas des écritures saintes (dans ses sections il se réfère aux Écritures Saintes non comme preuve, mais pour démontrer que ses arguments philosophique sont entièrement en accord avec l’enseignement claire de la Bible), et, donc, que ses arguments pourrait être fait par un personne non-régénérée. La question est, y-à-t’il un personne non-régénérée qui aurait fait les mêmes déductions ? Si non, alors il semblerait que les 3 affirmations ci-haut sont vrai, même si ce n’est que des vérités accidentelles.[12]

Ceux qui auraient étudié l’histoire de la philosophie vont tout de suite penser à un philosophe ancien – Aristote. Il me semble qu’il n’y a personne qui va contester le fait que, selon la définition normale de la régénération Chrétienne, Aristote n’était pas un homme régénérée. Donc, si Aristote n’était pas un homme régénéré, et si Aristote pense prouver l’existence d’un Dieu qui est, à la fois, transcendante et infinie, alors nous aurions démontré la fausseté des deux premières affirmations.

Aristote, dans la Métaphysique, dit la suivante, de ce qu’il appelle Dieu. « Il y a, par suite, aussi quelque chose que le meut; et puisque ce qui est à la fois mobile et moteur n'est qu'un terme intermédiaire, on doit supposer un extrême qui soit moteur sans être mobile, être éternel, substance et acte pur. »[13] Il dit, plus tard, « Et la vie aussi appartient à Dieu, car l'acte de l'intelligence est vie, et Dieu est acte même; et l'acte subsistant en soi de Dieu est une vie parfaite et éternelle. Aussi appelons-nous Dieu un vivant éternel parfait; la vie et la durée continue et éternelle appartiennent donc à Dieu, car c'est cela même qui est Dieu. »[14] Et, finalement, « Que donc il existe une substance éternelle, immobile et séparée des êtres sensibles, c'est ce qui résulte manifestement de ce que nous venons de dire. Nous avons démontré aussi que cette substance ne peut avoir aucune étendue, mais qu'elle est impartageable et indivisible: elle meut, en effet, durant un temps infini, alors que rien de fini n'a une puissance infinie; et tandis que toute étendue ne pourrait être qu'infinie ou finie, cette substance ne saurait, pour la raison qui précède, avoir une étendue finie; elle ne peut avoir non plus une étendue infinie, parce qu'il n'existe absolument pas d'étendue infinie, parce qu'il n'existe absolument pas d'étendue infinie. Mais nous avons montré aussi qu'elle est impassible et inaltérable, car tous les autres mouvements sont postérieurs au mouvement local. »[15]

Dans ces citations Aristote démontre l’existence d’un Dieu qui est : (1) immuable, (2) éternelle, (3) ousia,[16] (4) acte pur, (5) vivant, (6) intelligent – connaissant tout, parfaitement, (7) parfaite, (8) « séparée des êtres sensible » - autrement dit, totalement autre, absolument distinct de l’univers sensible, ou transcendante, (9) il n’est pas limité par l’espace (« aucune étendue »), ou, autrement dit, il est partout, (10) il est impartageable (absolument autre), (11) indivisible (unique et un), (12) tout puissant (basé sur le fait qu’il est puissant et infinie), (13) infinie, et (14) impassible.

Donc, selon ces textes, Aristote pense avoir démontré un Dieu qui transcendes l’univers et qui est infinie. Aristote, comme nous avons déjà constaté, n’était pas un homme régénéré. Donc, il s’ensuit qu’un homme non-régénérée à démontrer l’existence d’un Dieu qui est transcendante et infinie. Donc, il s’ensuit que les deux premières affirmations sont fausses.

Qu’est-ce qu’on fait avec la troisième affirmation : « L’homme non-régénéré ne peut pas démontrer que le vrai Dieu existe. » Il faut, premièrement, remarquer que ceci dépends de ce qu’on s’entend par « le vrai Dieu. » Si, pour démontrer que « le vrai Dieu » existe, il faut démontrer l’existence du Dieu Trinitaire, alors c’est sûr qu’aucun homme ne pourrait pas démontrer l’existence du vrai Dieu.[17] Mais, le véritable Dieu, selon la théologie Chrétien, est un Dieu trinitaire. Il semblerait, alors, que la troisième affirmation est nécessairement vraie.

Je contesterais cette conclusion hâtive avec deux réflexions. Premièrement, est-ce qu’Adam, Noé, Job, Abraham, Jacob, Isaac, Moise, Josué, le Roi David, Salomon, et tous les prophètes de l’Ancien Testament croyait dans un Dieu Trinitaire ? Les Chrétiens veulent dire, immédiatement, « Oui. Absolument. » ; et ils auraient raison d’un sens. De la même sens que ceux qui ne connaissaient pas la loi de la gravité explicitement, le connaissaient implicitement par le fait qu’il savait que des choses tombent toujours vers le centre de la terre ; les saintes de l’Ancien Testament croyaient dans le Dieu trinitaire, non explicitement, mais implicitement par le fait qu’ils croyaient, et obéissaient, le Dieu d’Abraham, Isaac, et Jacob, qui s’est révélée dans le Nouveau Testament comme le Dieu Trinitaire. Le Dieu de l’Ancien Testament se révèle comme étant un Dieu, la seule Dieu, etc. La connaissance explicite (c'est-à-dire, les contenus des croyances actuelle) que les saintes de l’Ancien Testament avaient de Dieu n’était pas que Dieu était trinitaire. Autrement dit, ils ne croyaient pas, explicitement, en un Dieu trinitaire. Question : est-ce qu’ils n’ont pas crue dans le vrai Dieu parce qu’ils ne savaient pas que Dieu était Trinitaire ? Je vous propose que malgré le fait qu’ils ne savaient pas que Dieu était trinitaire, ils avaient crue dans le vrai Dieu ! Donc, il semblerait que c’est aussi possible de démontrer l’existence, et les attributs, du vrai Dieu (si ce qu’on dit de la Dieu qu’on démontre corresponde à ce que la Bible dit de Dieu), sans savoir que ce Dieu est trinitaire.[18] Si c’est le cas, alors il me semble que Aristote à démonter l’existence du vrai Dieu, même s’il ne l’a pas compris comme il faut.

La deuxième réflexion que j’aimerais apporter est ceci : Est-ce qu’on doit être capable de démontrer (ou connaître, ou croire) toutes les vérités, sans aucun erreur, concernant « le vrai Dieu » pour être capable de démontrer (ou connaître, ou croire) l’existence et les attributs du « vrai Dieu » ? Basé sur la réponse à la première réflexions, nous sommes obligées de répondre à cette question avec une réponse négative. Si la réponse est « oui. », alors tous les saintes de l’Ancien Testament on crue dans une fausse Dieu, parce qu’ils ne savaient pas que le vrai Dieu est trinitaire. Il s’ensuit, aussi, qu’il n’y a aucun être humain qui croit au vrai Dieu, parce que, comme Jésus lui-même le dit, personne ne connaît le père sauf celui qui est venu lui manifester à l’homme. Aucun être humain (à l’exception de Jésus) ne connaît toutes les vérités, sans aucune erreur, concernant « le vrai Dieu ». S’il faut être capable de démontrer (ou connaître, ou croire) toutes les vérités, sans aucun erreur, concernant « le vrai Dieu » pour être capable de démontrer (ou connaître, ou croire) l’existence et les attributs du « vrai Dieu », alors aucun être humaine ne connait le vrai Dieu. Il me semble que c’est un standard qui est, peut-être, un peu trop élevé pour la capacité de connaissance de l’être humaine. C’est possible de connaître, « véritablement », l’existence, et certains attributs, d’un être (et donc, de connaître le vrai être en question) sans connaître toutes les vérités concernant cette être. Par exemple, si je vois un chat mort dans le rue devant ma maison, alors je sais (même si je ne sais pas comment il est mort, d’où il vient, etc.) qu’il y a (1) le corps d’un chat, (2) le corps d’un chat qui n’est plus vivant – mort, (3) sa position – dans le rue devant ma maison, (4) que cette chat ne vais plus jamais bougé par lui-même, etc. Donc, c’est possible de connaître des vérités concernant un être, sans connaître toutes les vérités concernant cet être. De la même manière il semblerait possible de connaître certaines vérités concernant Dieu, sans connaître toutes les vérités concernant Dieu. Et c’est une chance, parce que si ce n’était pas le cas, alors il n’y aurait personne qui pourrait connaître Dieu.

En effet, Paul, en Romains 1 :20, dit ceci, « En effet, les (perfections) invisibles de Dieu, sa puissance éternelle et sa divinité, se voient fort bien depuis la création du monde, quand on les considère dans ses ouvrages. » Paul ne dit pas qu’on peut tout connaître de Dieu, ni qu’on peut savoir que Dieu est trinitaire. Paul ne dit qu’on peut connaître quelque chose de Dieu, quand on considère les choses qu’il a créées. Paul semblerait confirmer nos deux contestations.

Il me semble que ces deux réflexions, couplé avec ce que Paul enseigne en Romains 1 :20, nous laisse avec la conclusion suivante : C’est possible d’arriver à une certaine connaissance du véritable Dieu, sans toute connaître de Dieu, et, plus important, sans savoir que Dieu est trinitaire.[19] Si c’est le cas, alors, je propose, si on arrive à déduire l’existence d’un Dieu qui ressemble à celle de la Bible, en générale, alors nous avons déduit l’existence du vrai Dieu. On pourrait dire qu’il y a un minimum de vérités qu’on doit savoir. On doit savoir que Dieu transcendes l’univers (est absolument distinct de l’univers), et que Dieu est une vie, doué d’intellect qui est éternelle, immuable et infinie. Pourquoi ces attributs ? L’inverse de ces attributs ne pourrait pas, en aucun cas, corresponde à la Dieu de la Bible. Comme nous avons vue, ici-haut, Aristote (un homme non-régénérée) à démontrer l’existence d’un Dieu qui transcendes l’univers, et que Dieu est une vie, doué d’intellect qui est éternelle, immuable et infinie. De plus, il a démontré que l’intelligence et puissance de Dieu sont illimitées. Que Dieu est impassible et partout présente. Il me semble, alors, basé sur ces observations, que la troisième affirmation est aussi fausse.

[1]Cornelius Van Til, An Introduction to Systematic Theology, vol. 5 of In Defense of the Faith (1974; repr., Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1982), 101.


[3]Ibid., 57.

[4]Ibid., 57, 101-104

[5]Thomas d’Aquin, Somme Théologique I, Q. 2, A. 3. Cf. Thomas d’Aquin, Somme Contre les Gentils, tome 1, Q. 13.

[6]Aquin, ST I, Q. 4. Cf. Aquin, SCG, 1, Q. 28.

[7]Aquin, ST I, Q. 5 & Q. 6. Cf. Aquin, SCG, 1, Q. 37, 38, 39, 40, 41.

[8]Aquin, ST I, Q. 7. Cf. Aquin, SCG, 1, Q. 43.

[9]Aquin, ST I, Q. 8. Cf. Aquin, SCG, 1, Q. 26, 29.

[10]Aquin, ST I, Q. 9. Cf. Aquin, SCG, 1, Q. 16, 17, 18, 19, 20.

[11]Aquin, ST I, Q. 10. Cf. Aquin, SCG, 1, Q. 15.

[12]Un accident est quelque chose qui est vrai d’un X, mais ne fait pas partie de la nature de X, et pourrait aussi être faux de cette X sans changer la nature de X.

[13]Aristote, Métaphysique, 1072a23-26, trad. J. Tricot (Paris: VRIN, 1992), 2 :675. Nous allons utiliser l’excellente traduction de J. Tricot pour toutes les citations d’Aristote. Donc, à partir de cette note nous n’allons qu’utiliser les numéros de références de Bekker.

[14]Aristote, Métaphysique, 1072b27-30.

[15]Aristote, Métaphysique, 1073a3-13.

[16]Le mot que Tricot traduit comme « substance » est le mot grec « ousia ». Ce mot est très difficile à traduire en français et fait référence à l’existence d’une nature. Donc, de dire que Dieu est ousia, est de dire que Dieu est existant et qu’il a un nature.

[17]Ceci est le cas parce que, comme tous ceux qui pensent pouvoir démonter l’existence de Dieu vont dire, on ne peut que démontrer l’existence d’un seul Dieu (comme décrit par Thomas d’Aquin et Aristote). Que Dieu est une trinité est une vérité qui nous est proposé comme vrai par la Bible, et qu’on doit accepter par la foi.

[18]Ceci soulève une autre question : Est-ce que l’homme peut être sauvé sans croire dans la Trinité? Je pense que la réponse est, selon Romains 1-5 et Romains 10 :9-10, un « non » catégorique.

[19]Ceci ne veut pas dire qu’on est « sauvé » de la colère de Dieu. Les hommes qui, selon Romains 1 et 2, tombent sous la juste colère de Dieu, était capable de savoir que Dieu existe (Rom. 1 :18-20), qu’il y avait un standard morale pour les être humaines (Rom. 1 :32), et, même, que ce Dieu juge ceux qui agit ainsi (Rom. 1 :32). Il n’était pas « sauvé » de la juste colère de Dieu parce qu’ils connaissaient ces 3 faits importants, au contraire, Paul nous enseigne que c’est à cause du fait qu’ils connaissaient ces 3 faits, mais qu’ils persistaient dans leurs actions pécheresse, qu’ils sont condamnées.

Thursday, November 6, 2014


What follows is my outline of, with occasional comments (in red) on, Pierre Aubenque's book Le Problème de l'être chez Aristote, 5th ed. (Paris: PUF, 2009). Pierre Aubenque is one of the most important french Aristotelian scholars of the 20th century. His theory is deeply indebted both to Wernaer Jaeger and Martin Heidegger. Perhaps this will be helpful to some. The book is divided into two main parts, and Introduction and a Conclusion.

1.      First Philosophy = the foundational part of philosophy (p. 38-39)
a.       It is a part of the science of being qua being but is not equivalent to the science of being qua being. (p. 36)
b.      First philosophy = theology (p. 36-37)
c.       First philosophy is not Metaphysics (p. 68)
2.      The science of being qua being = that part of Metaphysics commonly known as ontology (p. 68)
3.      So, for Aubenque, Metaphysics is an umbrella term under which is found two distinct (yet connected) sciences: First philosophy (theology) and the science of being qua being (ontology).

First Part
1.      Philosophy is a dialogue that extends through time and the history of humanity (p. 87-89, 92-93)
a.       Two types of dialogue: (1) a dialogue between the philosopher and beings, (2) a dialogue between philosophers
2.      Being and Language
a.       The sign = a relationship between things (p. 109)
                                                              i.      Simple signification (p. 109-110)
                                                            ii.      Judgment (p. 111-113)
b.      2 elements of Aristotle’s theory of language (p. 118)
c.       Language is incapable of reaching (touching, grasping, comprehending) the objects that it signifies (p. 114-115)
d.      The equivocality (homonymy) of words
                                                              i.      2 types (p. 119)
1.      Natural and Accidental (p. 120)
                                                            ii.      This is the cause of the sophisms (the fallacy of equivocation) – (p. 120-123)
1.      In order to eliminate equivocations it is necessary to distinguish between the multiple meanings – provide a proper word for each individual meaning that is applied to the original word (p. 123)
a.       Importance of the principle of contradiction (p. 124-127)
                                                                                                                                      i.      This principle is based on being (p. 128fn2)
                                                          iii.      The essence (or being) of X is the foundation for all dialogue, language and meaning (p. 127-129, 131-132, 134)
a.       Therefore, univocal meaning must be the rule, and equivocal speech the exception. (p. 131)
2.      For Aristotle, the theory of language presupposes a certain ontology (p. 133)
a.       On the other hand, Aubenque claims, ontology presupposes, just as much, language (p.l33)
                                                                                                                                      i.      Just what he means by this is unclear from the text, and seems to be a view that is clearly dependent on Martin Heidegger. I think that an important distinction, that Pierre does not make, needs to be made here, namely: the possibility of language and dialogue presupposes a certain ontology (if this ontology is not true, then no language, dialogue or meaning is possible); on the other hand, explaining, debating and dialogue concerning ontology presupposes language. In other words, unless a certain ontological framework is the case, no language, dialogue or meaning is possible; and, inversely, it impossible to express this ontology if language is not possible.
b.      If there are no essences, then everything is nothing but essence. This is because if everything is accident, then everything is one. If all is one, then all is essence. (p. 138)
                                                                                                                                      i.      Accident = non-being (p. 138-139)
c.       Being = essence (p. 140-142)
                                                                                                                                      i.      But, accident “is” in a sense
                                                                                                                                    ii.      Therefore, there are multiple meanings (ways of saying) being (p. 142-144)
1.      How can being be both one and many? (p. 142-145)
a.       The platonic solution (p. 146-148)
                                                                                                                                                                                                              i.      This solution is insufficient (p. 148-159)
                                                                                                                                                                                                            ii.      There are many meanings of “non-being” (p. 153-156)
                                                                                                                                                                                                          iii.      “il n’y a…de négation que dans la proposition.” (p. 156)
                                                                                                                                                                                                          iv.      Therefore, it is language that renders discussion concerning non-being possible, and not the inverse (p. 156) This is a great point!!!!

3.      The Aristotelian Solution to the problem of the one and the Many—the meaning of Being
a.       The science of being is, for Aristotle, the solution to the Sophistical Aporias (p. 158-159)
b.      Aristotle’s solution: Distinguish the many meanings of Being (p. 160-163)
                                                              i.      Being: of itself (essential), accidental, in act, in potency (p. 163)
                                                            ii.      The Categories (p. 164)
                                                          iii.      Being as true/false (p. 165-171)
1.      2 meanings
c.       The meaning of Being is found in the categories (p. 170-172)
                                                              i.      Which brings up the problem of the equivocality of being (p. 172-181)
1.      Many “things that are signified” & “meanings/significations” (p. 173-174)
2.      2 possible ways of understanding the homonymy of being (p. 179)
a.       Aristotle does not decide between the two ways (p. 180-181)
                                                            ii.      2 ways of understanding the categories (p. 182-184)
1.      Way of being of beings “l’étant”
2.      Or a way of speaking (predicating)
3.      We must choose the first option (p. 184)
a.       Therefore, the question of being becomes “What is the beings “l’étant”? (p. 184)
                                                          iii.      Therefore, “What is the beings?” – in other words – “what are the things that are?”
1.      If the categories are giving a list of beings (ways of being), then we fall prey to the problem of Meno and Euthyphro (p. 185-186)
2.      There is not, therefore, one single response to the question “What is the beings?”(p. 186)
a.       There is not, therefore, a response to the question of being (p. 186-188)
                                                          iv.      However, the “being” of beings remains unanalyzed, and appears to have, as well, a number of different meanings (p. 188-189)
1.      It is, therefore, necessary to reduce them. Such an endeavour will be eternally unfinished (p. 189-190)
a.       This is why the question of being is “always asked”.
2.      Therefore, “the being” is “above the categories” (p. 190)
a.       Of the two types of homonymy (accidental and natural) being is not an accidental homonymy (p. 190-192)
                                                                                                                                      i.      Being is a πρὸς ἓν λεγόμενον (p. 191)
1.      There are a multitude of meanings of Being that are all related to one single nature (or foundation) – (p. 191-192) – this sounds like the analogy of being.
2.      This one nature/foundation is οὐσία (p. 192-193)
3.      But οὐσία, as foundation, is one of the categories that it founds and, at the same time, that which founds the categories.
4.      Therefore, οὐσία is, at the same time, foundation and founded (p. 193, 195)
                                                                                                                                    ii.      Therefore, the question of being is nothing other but a different form of the problem of homonymy (p. 194)
1.      Essence - οὐσία- means being, but not perfectly (p. 196-197)
2.      Therefore, the problem of being persists, and is, indeed, unsolvable (p. 198)
d.      Replies to possible objections to Aubenque’s interpretation of Aristotle
                                                              i.      Against the thomistic analogy of Being (p. 199)
                                                            ii.      Against Alexander’s univocity of Being (p. 199-202)
                                                          iii.      Analogy of Proportionality (p. 202-206)
1.      Aubenque claims that there is no analogy of Being in Aristotle
e.       It seems like Aubenque is simply play around with semantics to say that the word that Aristotle uses to talk about “Analogy” is never applied to “Being”, and, therefore, that there is no such thing as an “analogy of being” in Aristotle. It seems like somebody could respond to Aubenque, “but if what I mean by ‘analogy’ is what Aristotle means by ‘Being πρὸς ἓν λεγόμενον’, then, regardless of what Aristotle calls it, ‘Analogy’, according to my definition of ‘analogy’, is found in Aristotle.
                                                              i.      Cf. Ralph McInerny, Aquinas & Analogy (Washington, D. C.: CUA Press, 1996), 46.
4.      Can there be a science of Being qua being (ontology)? (p. 206-250)
a.       What makes a discussion scientific
                                                              i.      That it is about some genus (p. 208-210)
1.      In other words, it is about something that is determinate and universal
                                                            ii.      Aristotle is seeking, according to Aubenque, a science of the totality of all beings (of universality of being), but it is impossible (p. 210-214)
1.      It seems, against Aubenque’s portrayal of the discussion, that Aristotle speaks of the universal (contrasted with the particular) not the totality of all things (p. 214). In other words, Aristotle is saying that science is of the universal.
                                                          iii.      So, what Aristotle does, according to Aubenque, is to seek a science of the principles of all things (p. 214-215)
1.      But this science is also impossible (p. 216-219)
a.       The aporia of the science of being as being (p. 222)
                                                                                                                                      i.      First proposition (p. 222) - there is a science of being qua being
                                                                                                                                    ii.      Second proposition (p. 222-226) -   all science is of a determinate genus
                                                                                                                                  iii.      Third proposition (p. 226-231) - Being is not a genus.
1.      2 interpretations to avoid
a.       The positive – Aquinas (p. 231-324)
b.      The Negative – Hégel (p. 234-235)
2.      The proper interpretation – Aubenque (p. 235-236)
3.      Another argument demonstrating that being is not a genus (p. 236-239)
a.       And, therefore, that there can be no science of being (p. 239)
                                                          iv.      However, contrary to this conclusion: Aristotle says that there is a science of being (p. 239-250)
1.      Why? – This is an ideal but unattainable science (p. 240-244)
a.       The science of being qua being, the science of the principles of essence are, in reality, knowledge of the categories (p. 246-249)
                                                            v.      Conclusion: There can be no science of being, but, is it possible for there to be a dialectic of being? (p. 250)
5.      Is Aristotle’s Ontology a Dialectic?
a.       A short history of Dialectic (p. 251-64)
                                                              i.      Plato and dialectic (p. 252-53)
                                                            ii.      Aristotle and dialectic (p. 253-64)
1.      Aristotle’s understanding of dialectic (p. 255-57)
a.       Universality
b.      The probability of the starting point
2.      Dialectic is opposed to science (p. 257)
3.      Description of dialectician (p. 259-261)
a.       Rhetorician and the sophist
                                                                                                                                      i.      A traditional critique of the sophist (p. 261-262)
b.      The art of Rhetoric (p. 262-264)
b.      The endeavor to find a first science that will make man happy (p. 264-267)
                                                              i.      The options (p. 268)
1.      Three types of men (p. 268-269)
a.       The scholar
b.      The philosopher
c.       The free and cultured man
                                                            ii.      The science that is being pursued creates a dilemma (p. 271-279)
1.      Is it a science of everything or a science of one unique and privileged thing? (p. 271-272)
a.       Response: both (p. 272)
                                                                                                                                      i.      2 interpretations of this response (p. 272-279)
1.      First because universal (p. 272-277)
2.      Universal because first (p. 277-279)
c.       The Metaphysics of Aristotle (p. 279-281)
                                                              i.      The duality of his inspiration (p. 279)
1.      Science of being qua being – ontological (p. 280)
2.      Science of the first principle – theological (p. 280)
3.      This duality is the source of the classical division (modern) of the Metaphysics (p. 279)
a.       I think that Aubenque is being influenced not by an Aristotelian understanding of metaphysics, but by modern interpretations of Aristotle on this question. This is because the modern distinctions in Aristotelian Metaphysics include, uncritically, that which Aristotle considered as philosophy of nature (cosmologie) which is not, for Aristotle, metaphysics (cf. Maritain, Philosophy of Nature); and, modern interpretations of Aristotle also make Aristotle’s science of the first principle into a positive theology, when, for Aristotle, it was, most certainly, a negative theology, and, just as important, knowledge of the first principle was not the proper object of Metaphysics – it is known as the cause of the proper object of Metaphysics.
4.      This duality in metaphysics finds, suggests Aubenque, its inspiration in the quest to find a science that is both universal and primary (p. 280)
a.       This is what creates, for Aristotle, the parental relationship between dialectics and ontology (p. 281)
                                                                                                                                      i.      I get the impression that Aubenque absolutely ignores the fact that Aristotle considers, in his metaphysics, the principle of being (theology) not as the proper object of the metaphysics, but as the principle (or cause) of the proper object of metaphysics (being as being).
1.      Therefore, another science would be necessary in order to know the first principle in its essence.
2.      It seems evident to me, in light of even Aubenque’s observations, that we cannot talk about the unity of the sciences in Aristotle, but, rather, of the division and distinction of the sciences based upon their proper objects.
d.      There is an opposition between the scientist (science) and the man of culture (dialectic) – (p. 282-302)
                                                              i.      The cultured man is the proper critique of the sciences (p. 283-285)
1.      The characteristics of culture (p. 285)
a.       Culture = dialectic (p. 286)
                                                                                                                                      i.      2 functions of dialectic (p. 286)
1.      Universality
2.      Questioning – the critical function
                                                            ii.      Comparison between dialectic and science (p. 287-302)
1.      Universality vs. specificity (p. 287-288)
2.      Positive vs. negative knowledge (p. 287-290)
3.      Truth claims vs. problems (p. 290-292)
                                                          iii.      Aristotle’s definition of dialectic (p. 293)
1.      “essence” and the syllogism vs. “essence” and dialectic (p. 294)
2.      2 types of dialectic (p. 294-295)
a.       Provisional and pre-scientific
b.      Dialogue
e.       Dialectic and the science of Being qua Being (p. 295-302)
                                                              i.      The traditional view sees opposition (p. 295-298)
                                                            ii.      There is also, however, a familial link (p. 299-300)
1.      How the science of being presents itself to us (p. 300)
a.       Absence of scientific syllogisms in the metaphysics, but, exclusive presence of dialectical method (p. 300-302)
                                                          iii.      Aristotle was seeking a “science” of being, not a “dialectic” of being (p. 302)
1.      Why, then, Aubenque asks, did he find nothing but a dialectic of being? Why did Aristotle fail in his search? (p. 302)

Second Part
1.      Introduction (p. 305-322)
a.       Summary of the questions asked in the first part (p. 305)
b.      The problem of unity and separation (p. 306-310)
                                                              i.      This problem gave birth to the search for a universal and primary science (p. 308-309)
                                                            ii.      This problem provides us with the question (and subject) of the second part of Aubenque’s book. (p. 310)
c.       Aristotle’s dilemma concerning the nature of philosophy (p. 310-311)
                                                              i.      Is Philosophy the united totality of all knowledge or a part of the united totality of all knowledge?
                                                            ii.      First question for Aristotle: Do separate and incorruptible beings exist? (p. 311)
1.      If yes, then there is an important separation between corruptible being and incorruptible being (p. 311)
a.       Plato’s solution and Aristotle’s critique of Plato’s solution (p. 311-314)
b.      Aristotle’s solution (p. 314-322)
                                                                                                                                      i.      There is no science which speaks, at the same time, of corruptible and incorruptible being (p. 317)
1.      There is no “being that is common” to the corruptible and incorruptible (p. 317)
2.      But, the principle of X must be of the same genus of X (p. 318)
3.      Therefore there is no “creator” God (p. 319-321)
                                                                                                                                    ii.      2 consequences for Aristotle’s Theology (p. 322-335)
1.      Theology is the only science (p. 322-329)
2.      Theology is useless (p. 330-335)
a.       There is no relation between God and corruptible things (p. 331)
b.      Aubenque rejects the possibility of a theory of Analogy, therefore, this point is indeed a difficulty, according to Aubenque, for Aristotle.
                                                                                                                                  iii.      There are, therefore, 2 concepts of philosophy in Aristotle (p. 334)
2.      Defense of Aubenque’s interpretation of Aristotle’s Theology (p. 335-368)
a.       Refutation of the Astral theology Interpretation (p. 335-355)
                                                                                                                                      i.      Astral Theology in Aristotle (p. 337-339)
                                                                                                                                    ii.      The place of Astral Theology in the philosophy of Aristotle (p. 339-355)
                                                                                                                                  iii.      One source of confusion: Aristotle’s use of the word “cosmos” (p. 343-348)
                                                                                                                                  iv.      The difficulties that man has when attempting to speak of God (also, a form of the triplex via) – (p. 353-354)
b.      Refutation of the first motor interpretation (p. 355-368)
                                                                                                                                      i.      How Aristotle arrives at the theory of a first motor (p. 355-356)
                                                                                                                                    ii.      The threat to the transcendence of the first motor (p. 356-360)
1.      How Aristotle responds to this threat (p. 360-365)
a.       Negative predication (p. 360-364)
b.      The categories do not apply to God (p. 363)
                                                                                                                                  iii.      How God moves the world (p. 365-368)
1.      As final cause
                                                                                                                                  iv.      The God of Aristotle vs. the God of Christianity (p. 367)
2.      The relation between Ontology and Theology in Aristotle (p. 368-411)
a.       Does Aristotle end up mixing them together? (p. 368)
                                                              i.      Aubenque thinks that there does not appear to be an difficulty with the definitions of ontology and theology, so long as we keep the two sciences separate (as Aristotle seems to want to do) – (p. 367-371)
                                                            ii.      Aubenque thinks that the confusion and mix up of these two sciences is due to the fact that Aristotle speaks of being qua being through negative predication, which resembles the way he talks about God (p. 371)
1.      I think that the confusion of the 2 sciences is a phenomena of modern philosophy.
2.      This seems to be due to the fact that modern philosophers have not made a distinction between the proper object of metaphysics (that being which is common to sensible being – ens commun) and the principle of the proper object of metaphysics (that which is the cause of the being of sensible beings). – cf. John F. Wippel, The Metaphysical Thought of Thomas Aquinas, p. 20-21.
b.      Ontology is born from a reflection on language (p. 372) – see above: Aubenque’s comment on ontology being dependant on language. I disagree heartily with Aubenque on this point. Our language that is used in ontological discourse is based upon being. Ontology, as discourse on being, is based on considering the distinctions that are within the things that are.
c.       Theology is a negative discourse concerning God (p. 372)
d.      Aristotle does not, according to Aubenque, want to accept the necessary consequence that theology cannot be the first of all the sciences, in light of the fact that it is nothing other than the first of the sciences that are concerned with particular beings, and, therefore, that it is submitted to ontology. (p. 372)
                                                              i.      This is not the impression that we get when we read Aristotle. Rather, we get the impression that Aristotle’s negative theology is not, properly speaking, a science. This is due to the fact that it is nothing other than observations concerning the cause (principle) of the “being” which is the proper object of ontology. If this is the case, then ontology is necessarily submitted to theology, though true theology is not possible for man.
                                                            ii.      Cf. p. 376 where Aubenque says that for Aristotle ontology could leave behind all discourse on God, because there is nothing that can be positively asserted about God (p. 376)
1.      Discourse concerning God tells us nothing about being (p. 379-80)
2.      Therefore the project of unifying the sciences fails (p. 380)
e.       We see, according to Aubenque, 2 conceptions of theology in Aristotle (p. 381)
                                                              i.      Science of the divine genus
                                                            ii.      Science of the principle
1.      Joseph Owens and Philip Merlan propose that for Aristotle the world is derived, in some way, from the first principle as first mover (p. 383)
a.       Problems with this thesis (p. 383-384)
2.      What Aristotle means by the principle of movement for the world (p. 384-390)
a.       God as final cause
b.      The relationship between the world and God (p. 390)
                                                                                                                                      i.      Ascending, not descending.
f.       The theological and ontological perspectives, though technically distinct in Aristotle, interfere frequently with each other (p. 390)
                                                              i.      2 examples
1.      Book Γ (p. 391-395)
2.      Book Λ (p. 396-401)
                                                            ii.      The theological perspective seems to frequently invade the ontological perspective (p. 401)
                                                          iii.      There is, however, something which allows us to reintroduce the distinction (p. 401)
1.      “as if” – I find this translation highly debatable.
a.       “human discourse must proceed as if…” (p. 401)
g.      How God is the final cause of the movement in the world (p. 402)
                                                              i.      As something to be imitated (p. 402)
1.      The question/problem of being qua being does not treat of God (p. 403)
2.      There is a major distinction between God and sensible beings (p. 404)
3.      Sensible beings imitate the unity of the divine οὐσία (p. 405)
a.       Aubenque examines the meaning of οὐσία (p. 405-406)
                                                                                                                                      i.      Divine οὐσία “is” (p. 406-408)
                                                                                                                                    ii.      Sensible οὐσία is more than οὐσία (p. 408)
h.      Aubenque’s proposed solution to the question of the chapter (p. 409-411)
                                                              i.      God is the only unity (p. 409)
                                                            ii.      All other things imitate the divine unity (p. 409)
                                                          iii.      Separation (p. 410)
i.        The relation between theology and ontology in Aristotle (p. 410-411)
                                                              i.      Theology = ontology of a world without movement (p. 411)
                                                            ii.      Ontology = the only theology that is possible in a world that is in constant movement (p. 411)
3.      The relationship between Aristotelian Physics and Ontology (p. 412-484)
a.       Analysis of a Plotinian critique of Aristotle (p. 412-413)
b.      Augustine’s modification of Plotinus’s critique (p. 413-414)
                                                              i.      In one manner of speaking, Aristotle’s God is not, because the categories cannot be applied to him. (p. 414)
1.      God is essence (p. 414)
a.       By which we mean “presence”
2.      “The God of Aristotle is not over and above being”, on the contrary, the sensible world is less than being (p. 415)
a.       Aristotle’s problem, therefore, is “why is the sensible world less than being?” (p. 415) – why this separation?
c.       The purpose of this chapter (and Aubenque’s thesis): that it is necessary to turn the traditional interpretation of Aristotle on its head (by traditional, Aubenque means the interpretation given by Suarez, Leibniz, Wolff, etc.) – (p. 416-418)
d.      The particularity of the being qua being of the sensible world (p. 418-419)
                                                              i.      Perpetual Movement (p. 419)
1.      Aubenque’s analysis of Aristotle’s doctrine of movement (p. 419-422)
2.      Conclusion: Aristotle’s Physics is an ontology (p. 422)
a.       it seems to me that Aubenque forgets an important distinction among Aristotle’s sciences – the philosophy of nature. This negligence creates confusion in Aubenque’s interpretation – Cf. Jacques Maritain, Philosophy of Nature
e.       Aubenque seeks to demonstrate that Aristotle’s ontology is rooted in the experience of movement – change (p. 422-438)
                                                              i.      Becoming presupposes composition (p. 427)
                                                            ii.      Movement presupposes divisibility (p. 428)
                                                          iii.      “That which becomes” is said in 2 ways (p. 431)
                                                          iv.      3 principles of becoming (p. 432-438)
1.      Matter, form and privation (p. 432)
a.       Privation = non-being (p. 432-435)
2.      Time (p. 435-438)
                                                            v.      Distinction between Act and Potency (p. 438-443)
1.      Act (p. 440-442)
2.      Which is primary: Act or Potency? (p. 442-443)
                                                          vi.      Consideration of the Aporias of movement which give birth to the distinction between Act and Potency (p. 443-456)
1.      The first Aporia (p. 443-448)
a.       This aporia is not solved by Aristotle (p. 445-448)
2.      The second Aporia (p. 448-456)
a.       Again, Aristotle does not respond to this aporia, he simply reformulates it (p. 449-451)
b.      The Scholastic definition of movement (p. 453-454)
c.       Aubenque’s definition of Movement (p. 454) and Infinite (p. 454-455)
f.       There is, therefore, no science of being because being cannot be comprehended or apprehended (p. 456-457)
                                                              i.      Aristotle transforms, therefore, the question of being into the question of οὐσία – essence (p. 457)
1.      What is οὐσία? (p. 457-460)
a.       What is the τὸ τί ἦν εἶναι? (p. 460-472)
                                                                                                                                      i.      2 interpretations (p. 461-466)
                                                                                                                                    ii.      The proper interpretation (p. 466-472)
                                                            ii.      Of what beings can there be definition? (p. 472-484)
1.      Of composed beings? (p. 473-484)
a.       There can be neither definition nor demonstration of composed being (p. 477-484)
g.      Conclusion: The impossibility of all discourse (p. 483-484)
                                                              i.      From where, then does human discourse come? (p. 484)

The third Part: Conclusion
1.      Aubenque notes that his conclusions appear to be quite negative (p. 487)
a.       The impossibility (at least on one level) of theology – a word on God (p. 487-488)
                                                              i.      This impossibility is not due to the nature of God, but to the impossibility that we have of thinking God.
                                                            ii.      This impossibility is the source of negative theology (p. 487-488)
b.      The absolute impossibility (on all levels – the ontological and the discourse concerning being) of ontology (p. 488-489)
                                                              i.      Aubenque asks if this claim is alien to Aristotle (p. 489-491)
1.      The temporality and contingency of humans keep us from possessing any science (p. 491-495)
a.       But, they do not prevent us from engaging in dialectic (p. 495)
b.      Ontology is necessarily, therefore, a dialectic (p. 495-499)
                                                                                                                                      i.      Dialectic = imitation (p. 497-498)
1.      Imitation is like art (p. 498-499)
2.      In this way, through ontological dialectic, man imitates (p. 499-505), and indeed becomes like (p. 503), God.
c.       A final description of the metaphysics of Aristotle (p. 505)
2.      Proof that the philosophy of Aristotle is Aporetic (p. 506-508)
a.       2 traditional responses to the incompleteness of Aristotle’s Metaphysics (p. 506-507) – for Aubenque, both of the traditional responses are faulty (p. 507).
                                                              i.      The Christian/Islamic response (p. 506)
                                                            ii.      The Neo-platonic response (p. 507)
b.      Aubenque’s conclusion and theory concerning the proper response (p. 507-508)
                                                              i.      There are two ways of considering an aporia (p. 507-508)
1.      Either solve it (p. 507)
2.      Or continue to appreciate it and perpetually re-propose it (p. 508)
                                                            ii.       Option 1 destroys the aporia, option 2 accomplishes it. (p. 508)
                                                          iii.      Aubenque claims to have proved that the aporias of Aristotle’s Metaphysics are unsolvable because there is no solution for them in a world of essences. “We believe that we have shown that the metaphysical aporias of Aristotle did not have a solution, in the sense that they were not solved somewhere in a universe of essences.” (p. 508)  - my translation
                                                          iv.      Aubenque proposes that it is because they are unsolvable that Aristotle says that they are always and ever the subject of our research. (p. 508)
                                                            v.      Therefore, states Aubenque, for Aristotle, to “never stop researching what being is, is to have already responded to the question: What is Being?” (p. 508) – my translation.
1.      Therefore, perpetually working to answer, but never answering, the question of being is, according to Aubenque, what it means, for Aristotle, to answer the question of being.

a.       This feels as if Aubenque is reading Heidegger into Aristotle!!!