Can we give God a name?

I’m publishing one of my papers that I wrote during my first year at the GTU. I tried to publish it in Nova et Vetera but did not succeed. I think it is a good stuff and that is why I decided to share it here with everybody who might be interested in the topic of analogical predication in theology. I will add my unpublished papers in the new section of my blog that you can enter clicking on “Unpublished Papers” in the main menu on the left-hand side of the home page of my blog.

Can we Give God a Name? Thomas Aquinas and Karl Barth’s Teaching on Analogy

Abstract

Man reaches the highest point of his knowledge about God when he knows that he knows Him not, inasmuch as he knows that which is God transcends whatever he conceives of Him. (St. Thomas Aquinas, De Potentia, 7, 5 ad 14)

One of the most basic linguistic tools in theology is analogy. Although many would agree that predicating in theology is of analogous nature, it is by no means easy to bring unity among different ontological and epistemological presuppositions accepted by various theologians when they speak about analogy.

In this essay I will go back to the controversy between the most prolific and influential Calvinist theologian of the 20th century Karl Barth, and the position presented by Thomas Aquinas and his followers. I will first provide the reader with a necessary outline of Aquinas’ and Barth’s respective ways of defying and understanding analogy, with an additional reference to ontological presuppositions they seem to accept. Secondly, I will analyze the philosophical and historical background of this theological controversy. Finally, I will try to present main lines of argumentation concerning possible ways of convergence and divergence between the proponents of analogia entis and analogia fidei, and express my opinion on the possibility of a reconciliation between Aquinas’ and Barth’s positions. However, the main point of this essay is to introduce new participants of the debate to its sources and course.

Link to the paper at academia.edu

Dominican Colloquium 2014 Berkeley

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We are almost at the end of the first Dominican Colloquium organized by the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley: What Has Athens to Do with Jerusalem? Dialogue between Philosophy and Theology in the 21st Century. The event is really great. Lots of first rate philosophers and theologians from the US and Europe. Lots of good plenary sessions and conversations. We have among us the master of the Order Fr. Bruno Cadore and the provincial of the Province of the Holy Name of Jesus, Fr. Mark Padrez. I’m also happy to meet fr. Michał Paluch, the regent of my Polish province. Both Michał and I presented our papers yesterday. He did it in a plenary session, and I in the evening breakout-session. I think both were successful. Michael spoke on the topic of analogy of attribution versus the analogy of proportionality in Aquinas. His paper provoked a very interesting discussion with Stephen Long who is an author of a recent book on the topic and is present here too. I presented on the powers view of causation and divine action. Several people congratulated me on the paper, the manner I presented it and on the power point presentation that accompanied my speech. Hereunder you can find a summary of my paper. More about the conference on the DSPT website.

 

A Powers View of Causation and Divine Action: New Aristotelianism in Analytic Philosophy and Theology

Mariusz Tabaczek, OP, Graduate Theological Union

If “God is and God acts”, then “we need a language of causality” – says Michael Dodds, O.P. – showing thus that the connection between theology of divine action and philosophy of causation is indispensable. What is then the present stage of the debate on causation in philosophy? After the rejection of final and formal causes as not observable, not quantifiable, and not capable of empirical investigation in the modern science, the final blow against causation came from Hume, who reduced even efficient causes to the impression of the constant conjunction and the idea of necessary connection in our mind. The contemporary philosophy of causation, following the anti-Humean turn, seems to be concentrated on an attempt to prove the reality and ontological character of efficient causes. Such is the main concern of major theories of causation in analytic tradition (necessary and/or sufficient conditions, counterfactual, probabilistic, singularist, process, instrumentalist, and interventionist views of causation). However, the same tradition brings one more theory, which opens a way back to the more robust philosophy of causation. A ‘powers and capacities’ view of causality defines dispositions and properties of things and organisms as a distinct, basic, and irreducible ontological category, and a source of their identity and activity. The acceptance of powers and capacities can lead to accounts of laws of nature and modality. Moreover, the idea of powers and their manifestations resembles Aristotle’s notion of formal and final causality. In my presentation I will describe the powers view of causation and explore its possible use in theology of divine action. I claim that it may be helpful in reintroducing Aquinas’ view of divine action, his emphasis on the fact that God is not an agent univocal with creatures, and his attempt to find a proper balance between God’s transcendence and immanence.