Saturday, January 16, 2016

Finality and Intelligence .Is the Universe Designed..A Brief Description of the Book

A Brief Description of the Book

The purpose of this work is to present an exposition and critical evaluation of
the doctrine of final causality primarily in the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas,
with special emphasis on the relation between final causality as existing in the  universe and intelligence as its ultimate ground. In view of the universally recognized fact that final causality plays a key role in the metaphysical system of St. Thomas, it may be asked why such a study is needed; it might be presumed that such a central  doctrine would long ago have received the full dress treatment it deserves. Yet the surprising fact of the matter is that aside from one small German book written over  half a century ago,

Theodore Steinbuchel's Der Zweckgedanke in der Philosophie des Thomas von Aqin (Muenster, 1912), there has been no book-length study of the doctrine of final causality in St. Thomas in recent times, certainly not in English, and  none at all on the relation between final causality and intelligence as its ultimate    ground, although this relationship lies at the heart of the Thomistic ascent from the    order in the world to God as its source. The aim of the present work is to fill this  important lacuna. Furthermore, in the wider horizon of Western philosophy in
general, the notion of final causality and order in the world as the basis for a
philosophical inference to a Creative intelligence as source of the world has long
been an important theme, from the Pre-Socratics to the present day. Yet here again
the full-dress studies of the problem have been surprisingly meager, and we hope that
this inquiry will help to fill in one of the most significant chapters in this long history.

Chapters I and II contain a brief historical sketch of the notion of final
causality and its relation to intelligence before St. Thomas, first in Anaxagoras the Pre-Socratic, then in Plato, the first major thinker to lay the foundations of the doctrine, and finally in Aristotle, to whom St. Thomas is principally indebted for the first full-dress technical elaboration of the existence and nature of final causality, though, surprisingly, not for its relation to intelligence. Brief mention will also be
made of the contributions of Plotinus and St. Augustine in the transmission of the doctrine to St. Thomas.

Chapter III will show the existence, nature and role of final causality in St.
Thomas himself. It begins by establishing the so-called principle of finality, namely, 
"Every agent acts for an end," as a universal law governing all agents or efficient 
causes throughout the entire domain of being. After thus establishing the existence of 
final causality as a necessary ingredient of all efficient causality, it goes on to analyze 
the nature of final causality and its relation to the efficient cause, and concludes by showing how this unique type of cause is realized analogically on different levels of 
reality, all the way from the blind, unconscious, and predetermined natural tendencies 
of inanimate causes to the supremely conscious and free causality of the highest agent, God himself.

Chapter IV will show how St. Thomas establishes the link between final 
causality at whatever level it occurs and some intelligent cause as its ultimate 
ontological condition of possibility. The key point of St. Thomas' argument will be 
brought out from his texts, namely,, that because final causality of any kind involves 
setting up a relation to a not yet existing goal as guide for action in the present, and 
since such a goal can exist and function in the agent only in the mode of intentional 
and not real being, only an intelligent cause transcending the limitations of time and 
space can be ultimately responsible for setting up such a relation.
Chapter V will show how the inference to intelligence as ultimate ground of 
any final causality must itself be followed through all the way to the positing of one 
supreme Creative Intelligence at the source of all final causality and order in the 
universe. This reduction of all finalizing intelligence to one ultimate Source is carried 
out by St. Thomas within the context of his metaphysics of participation applied to 
being conceived as existential act. This principle of participation requires that any finite perfection be drawn back ultimately to a single infinite source of this perfection 
as its only adequate sufficient reason, namely to God as ultimate Creative 
Intelligence. It will then be shown how as a result St. Thomas sees the entire universe 
as a system of beings tending by the inner finalized dynamism of their natures toward 
a single ultimate end and good, the infinite Goodness of God himself, in which all 
things strive to participate according to the capacities of their natures: in a word, all 
beings tend in their own characteristic ways toward Godlikeness. The magnificent sweep of St. Thomas' metaphysical vision here becomes apparent.

Chapter VI then takes up a comparative examination of St. Thomas' own 
formal arguments for the existence of God from final causality and order in the 
world, as presented in the Summa Theologica and the Summa contra Gentiles. A  sound  textual basis for the proper interpretation of the argument of the  Fifth Ways is first st up using the newly revised  Latin and English texts from  the new Black-friars edition. A critical evaluation of the argument brings out its incompleteness as it stands and the need for completing it by inserting it into the context of the complete 

Thomistic metaphysics of participation if it is to claim rigorous metaphysical validity. 
A parallel examination of the arguments in the Summa contra gentiles brings out the notable difference between the type of argument used in this work, based explicitly 
not on the intrinsic metaphysical principle of finality but on the unity of the world 
order, and the superiority of the Fifth Way argument. the chapter concludes by 
pointing out how none of the formal arguments used by St. Thomas, if taken in 
isolation as they stand, out of the context of his full metaphysics of participation, can  conclude with full metaphysical validity to the existence of God.

Chapter VII will summarize the main conclusions of this analysis and point to 
the significance of St. Thomas' contribution as the most carefully worked out analysis 
of the doctrine of final causality, and especially of its relation to intelligence, of any thinker up to his time.

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