Adrian Pabst on Metaphysics, Plato, and Christian Theology

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9 Responses to Adrian Pabst on Metaphysics, Plato, and Christian Theology

  1. Fr Aidan Kimel says:

    Adrian Pabst is the author of Metaphysics: The Creation of Hierarchy.

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    • brian says:

      I love this book, though it is heavy slogging in places for a non-specialist. Pabst links individuation fundamentally to the relation to God which moves beyond simply accepting matter as the chief individuating factor. While Aristotle still contemplates a complex of formal causality, the aloof nature of his divinity made it too easy for early modern thinkers to shift Aristotle and think merely in terms of material and efficient causality. One then blithely accepts an Aristotelian view of the individual as a unit within the aggregate of a species. (This is how almost all Thomists think of nature, especially “non-rational” nature.) When a proper sense of metaphysical form breaks down (it still perdures more or less in Aristotle,) one ends up with nominalism. However, I think Pabst’s understanding allows for an eschatological imagination that includes every existent being as chosen in its individuality by a loving God and thus included in formal and final causalities.

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    • Thomas says:

      I have mixed feelings about Pabst’s metaphysics. He intervenes in a wide number of scholarly debates, but his treatment turns out to be so brief that it often is not particularly convincing. The result is that he typically gives a schema of how we would interpret e.g., Plato or Aquinas without giving a sustained argument for that interpretation. In many ways the work reads like an earlier draft where critical points of the argument remain tacit or underdeveloped.

      On the other hand, I do keep returning to Pabst’s Metaphysics. It does give good overviews of debates on Aristotle, Plato, and Aquinas in the contemporary literature, and the overall story Pabst recounts is quite interesting. Pabst has a talent for identifying the interesting interpretive debates on a wide number of thinkers, and his sources are all people I find very interesting–e.g., Gail Fine, M.M. McCabe, Michel Barnes, R.E. Allen, David Bradshaw, Joseph Owens …. Pabst’s book would be worth the cost for the bibliography alone.

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  2. Fr Aidan Kimel says:

    Dr Pabst has made his book available (or at least a large portion of it) over at Academia.edu.

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  3. Michelle says:

    Ok, I’m just going to put this out there because I’m bit of a beginner when it comes to all this metaphysics stuff, and as such I’m having a hard time finding good resources. What I’m looking for in particular are books or internet resources by notable philosphers and/or theologians that marry the platonic tripartite and/or christian bipartite soul to modern notions psychology or biology of the mind. Or at least anything that comes close to this topic. From what I can see, there seems to be a lot of well educated people following this recent string of philosophic posts of Fr Kimel’s, so I’m hoping someone out there can point me in the right direction. Thanks!

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    • Robert Fortuin says:

      It’s a broad topic, so I am not sure precisely what you are after, but you may find Fr Alexis Trader “Ancient Christian Wisdom and Aaron Beck’s Cognitive Therapy” worthwhile.

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      • Michelle says:

        Thank you, Robert!

        After checking out Fr Trader’s blog, and a quick overview of the book online, I will definitely be buying it. Can’t wait to read it.

        Sorry about the broadness of the topic. The Church Fathers describe human nature with great care, including both body and soul, with soteriology always in the forefront of their mind. According to their understanding such descriptions of body and soul are indespensible to the Christian faith.

        But while reading their theories I often imagine modern darwinian psychologist and biologists mockingly rolling their eyes up into their heads before dismissing it all as nonsense and moving on.
        I just want to see what a of marriage of these anciant and modern views of human nature would look like.

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        • Robert Fortuin says:

          Reductionists, ancient or modern, will always and in principle object to wholistic accounts of the human being. Inasmuch as such a materialistic bias is reflected in psychology the Christian account will be seen as in conflict. But such materialism is a departure from true science and the scientific method of inquiry – there’s no intrinsic opposition between psychology and Christianity. The slight of hand is passing off philosophical materialism as scientific method.

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