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Thomas Aquinas' concept of freedom in the context of his treatment of God's knowledge of future contingents

Simpson, Morag Macdonald (2001) Thomas Aquinas' concept of freedom in the context of his treatment of God's knowledge of future contingents. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This thesis examines Thomas Aquinas' concept of human freedom in the context of his treatment of God's knowledge of future contingents. Much has been written about Aquinas' attempt to solve the problem of how humans can act freely if God knows all future things, but little of that work comments on a major underlying assumption in his treatment of the problem - namely, the concept of human freedom presupposed. This thesis therefore seeks to establish the nature of the freedom that Aquinas was assuming in the important discussions of God's knowledge of future contingents. Chapter 1 sets out Aquinas' statement of the problem and his solution to it, that since God is outside time, he knows things not as future but as 'present'; and knowing x as 'present' imposes no necessity on x itself. Some criticism of Aquinas' solution is reviewed. It is noted that although Aquinas' approach seems to imply a concept of freedom which includes the possibility of doing otherwise than one does, other interpretations are possible. It is noted also that modern commentators hold differing views on what Aquinas' concept of freedom is. Chapter 2 examines the link between contingency and freedom and makes the point that, for Aquinas, contingency in human behaviour seems to arise from the peculiarly human way of bringing things about i.e. by voluntary action. As a preliminary to looking at his analysis of voluntary action, Aquinas' distinction between 'human acts' and 'acts of man' is noted and a further distinction drawn between 'simply' and 'fully' voluntary acts. It is concluded that the nature of freedom will be found in Aquinas' description of human, or fully voluntary, acts.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BT Doctrinal Theology
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Humanities > Philosophy
Supervisor's Name: Broadie, Prof. Alexander
Date of Award: 2001
Depositing User: Elaine Ballantyne
Unique ID: glathesis:2001-2046
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 17 Aug 2010
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 13:50
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/2046

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