Friday, September 18, 2009

Now available: AQUINAS

The first anniversary of the publication of The Last Superstition is just around the corner. How will you celebrate? You could drink a bottle of Aquinas – not a bad idea. But while doing so, why not read a hot-off-the-press copy of my new book Aquinas?

Aquinas is an in-depth but accessible introduction to the philosophical thought of the Angelic Doctor. St. Thomas’ key metaphysical ideas are set out in detail, their relation to current issues in analytic philosophy is explored, and common caricatures and misunderstandings are swept away. The core of the book is an extended, critical but sympathetic treatment of the famous Five Ways, which situates them in the broader Aristotelian-Thomistic metaphysical context apart from which they cannot properly be understood, reveals how the standard objections rest on a failure to appreciate this context, and shows that each of the arguments is still defensible today. This is followed by a similarly A-T metaphysics-informed treatment of Aquinas’s philosophical psychology and moral theory. Readers of The Last Superstition will be interested to see some of its topics developed in greater detail and in a more academic and – for those of more tender sensibilities – entirely non-polemical fashion.

Some pre-publication blurbs:

“At last. A concise, accessible and compelling introduction to Aquinas's thought. Feser shows that Aquinas's philosophy is still a live option for thinkers today.” Kelly James Clark, Professor of Philosophy, Calvin College

“Lucid, cogent, and compelling. Required reading.” Christopher Kaczor, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Loyola Marymount University

“Useful and easy to read. Students and scholars will find this highly beneficial.” Fulvio di Blasi, President, Thomas International

What else is in the book, you ask? I got your Table of Contents right here:


1. St. Thomas

2. Metaphysics

Act and potency
The four causes
Essence and existence
The transcendentals
Final causality
Efficient causality

3. Natural Theology

The First Way
The Second Way
The Third Way
The Fourth Way
The Fifth Way
The divine attributes

4. Psychology

The soul
Intellect and will
Immateriality and immortality
Hylemorphic dualism

5. Ethics

The good
Natural law
Religion and morality

Further reading

Remember, Christmas is coming, so you’ll need copies for family, friends, your priest, minister, rabbi or imam, colleagues, acquaintances, enemies, the milk man, the mail man, Domino’s Pizza delivery guys, and whatever random people you might meet on the street. So, as they say in Chicago, order early and often!


  1. That took all of three seconds to decide. Copy ordered; looking forward to its arrival.

  2. I ordered mine four days ago, but it hasn't arrived at the local B&N yet. Now that I've seen the Table of Contents, I'm even more eager to get it!

  3. I begged & pleaded with my wife....AND SHE ORDERED IT!!!!!:-)


  4. I'm ordering it right now! Warm regards from CR.

  5. Just ordered mine. Will I be the first Norwegian owner of this book?

  6. Just ordered this and your Philosophy of Mind book. Good deals.

    And now for the completely unrelated question of the day: Are there any good Thomistic critiques of Kant's philosophy? Not so much his moral philosophy but his metaphysics (or what's left of it after he gets rid of everything that came before him.)

  7. E.R. Bourne:

    Try reading E. Gilson's Thomist Realism and the Critique of Knowledge, as well as an essay or two online by Mario Derksen. Just a couple leads off the top of my head.


  8. Personally I'm wondering what the Thomistic/Aristotelian answer is to the claim "If God is Outside of Time then He can't know what Time it is Now(assuming an A-Theory view of Time)"?

    I've got a book coming in the Mail by Paul Helm(a Calvinist) on the subject of Eternalism & one by Padgett. I've been following this argument since I learned about it from reading Craig( reject his view).

    I reject all forms of Temperalism in regards to God since it contradicts the Defined Dogma of the Holy Church as far as I can tell.

    Based on what I have already read from Dr. Feser on Aristotle I would reason, based on my limited understanding, that since God is Pure Actuality & He is the First Cause at the Top of all essentially ordered phenomena actualizing their potency causing them to exist then it seems God must be doing that with Created Time as well & thus He is the one who actualizes the present "Now"(since in A-series Time only the present exists).

    If God actualizes the present "Now" then how could he not know what time it is now even if he isn't present in time to experience it?

    I've been studying the mystery of Tense & God lately.

  9. ordered mine last night, It seems as though is having problems keeping up with the orders :)

  10. I look foward to read professor Feser's new book.

    It's astonishing the consistent caricarures and misrepresentations of Aquinas's views by mainstream analytic philosophers.

    I myself believed Aquinas' arguments were childish and ignorant, until I read The Last Superstition. I discoveried that Aquinas' arguments are dependent of a particular metaphysics which is rationally defensible.

    Not being myself a Christian, I'm very sympathetic and open mind regarding the A-T metaphysics and his implications for the God question.

    As an example of a caricature of Aquinas' fifth way, look in this comment by analytic philosopher Steven Hales:

    "In Summa Theologiae, Thomas Aquinas offers a Teleological Argument as the fifth way to demostrate God's existence. Aqunas argues that all the natural bodies seem to act to a end; natural objects seem orderly, lawful, precise in operation, and remarkbly functional. What explain this data, data which is publicly available to all? Surely we all know what would we take as compelling, if not downrigh conclusive, evidence for the hypothesis that the universe and the everything in it is the result of design, viz. what we around us-- functionality, uselfulness, oder, lawful behaviour. If there is design, then logic demand a designer. And what hypothesis would come first to everyone's minds? Aquinas is not bashful: "some being exists by whom all all natural beings are directed to their end; and this being we call God"

    Of course none of this follow. The fact that Aquinas is all too ready to jump to the conclusion that design is the only viable hypothesis for order, and even more hastily leap to the conclusion that the only available universe-designer must be the Christian God, does not justify these as the most plausible explanations.

    Even though that paper is not about philosophy of religion (but a reply to philosopher Robert Almeder who defends reincarnation on empirical grounds), Hales's comments reflect his misunderstanding of Aquinas' metaphysical argument.

    Professor Hales has never heard or read that Aquinas is not arguing for an empirical hypothesis, but for a conclusion entailed in the A-T metaphysics.

    Hales commits the same mistake than Dawkins when refering to Aquinas' fifth way.

    But in Hales' case, it's more unexcusable, because he's a trained philosopher, so he should know better about Aquinas' philosophy.

    Also, Hales is not a defender a crude scientism like Dawkins; in fact Hales is a Nietzche scholar, and he defends a new version of philosophical relativism and perspectivism.

    Thus it's hard to understand Hales' misrepresentation of it. Perhaps his strong atheism is the reason...

  11. Maolsheachlann O Ceallaigh, DublinSeptember 21, 2009 at 1:23 PM

    I'm reading (and greatly enjoying) The Last Superstition, but I bought GK Chesterton's The Dumb Ox only a few months ago. Is buying two books about St. Thomas in one year extravagant?

    Now, if there was more mockery of Hitchens and Harris, I would DEFINITELY go for it...

    But I'm succumbing to the idea even as I write...

  12. How does your book compare to Copleston's Aquinas? I recently saw a copy of the latter in the book store and will probably pick it up. Not sure if it's simply a reworking of his treatment in the History. I'll then see about special ordering yours--I doubt B$N will stock it, but you never know.

  13. Maolsheachlann O Ceallaigh, Dublin

    I second that, we need more fun made of misccilanious Oxford Midgets on this blog

  14. Wow, Jime.

    I'm certainly no philosopher, but even to someone possessing mere common-sense that is a scandalously bad misreading of the Fifth Way. What is it with the modern mindset that so confounds teleology (inherent purpose; goal-directedness) with the very human act of mechanical "design" (man sitting at a drafting table, scribbling away)? Is there some more "philosophical" notion of design of which I am unaware?

    BTW, my copy of "Aquinas" should arrive tomorrow. I look forward to setting aside a good bit of the week to reading (and no doubt re-reading) the book. I'd just like to thank the good doctor here for expositing these very complex and, sadly, very out of fashion ideas with such clarity and wit. May the accolades--and, of course, royalties--coming rolling in.

  15. Sorry Ed, but I only ordered one copy.

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