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Does God Have a Nature? (Aquinas Lecture 44) Paperback – June, 1980

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Book by Plantinga, Alvin

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Product Details

  • Series: Aquinas Lecture 44
  • Paperback: 146 pages
  • Publisher: Marquette Univ Pr (June 1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0874621453
  • ISBN-13: 978-0874621457
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 4.8 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,336,599 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Darren L. Slider on December 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
The question in the title of this 1980 contribution to Marquette University's Aquinas Lecture series has its root in a broader concern vis-a-vis the Divine omnipotence: If we posit that God has a nature, must we conclude that He has properties different from Himself (say, His own wisdom, or the truths of arithmetic) over which He has no control? Plantinga pursues five lines of inquiry.
First, he investigates the Kantian transcendental idealism of Kaufman, who concludes that God as He is in Himself entirely transcends any concept we have of Him. Plantinga deftly draws out the incoherence of this position: if God transcends all of our concepts of Him, He must also transcend the concept we have of God "God transcends all of our concepts of Him", and the position crumbles into dust.
Second, he considers the position of Aquinas that God is simple: that is, God has a nature but is identical to it, so that He is all of His properties, whence there exists no property external to Him such that He has no control over it. Plantinga is less successful here: He argues that the position leads to the conclusion that God is a property. Since a property can't be a person but is merely an abstract object, he says, it would follow that God is an abstract object. He does briefly consider the Thomist position that what is said of God, as opposed to what is said of us (e.g., goodness, wisdom, intellect, etc.), is said neither univocally nor equivocally, but analogically. After stating that this notion is a difficult one, Plantinga concludes that, rather than simply supporting the notion that "property" is applied to God and to the creation analogically, it "cuts both ways": that is, the notion can be used equally well to cast doubt on our argument for God's simplicity.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Sykes on January 5, 2001
Format: Paperback
Alvin Plantiga's work Does God Have a Nature? explores the difficulty with the aseity-sovereignty issue. If one asserts that God does have a nature, then one limits both the aseity and the sovereignty of God. If one wishes to preserve God's sovereignty and aseity, then one must deny that God has a nature. Plantiga investigates four approaches to the issue of aseity-sovereignty: (1) our concepts do not apply to God, (2) Aquinas' doctrine of divine simplicity, (3) nominalism or "concretism," and (4) Cartesian possibilism. In his drive to knock down each of these positions, Plantiga clearly states that God has a nature and that it is difficult to hold that God exists a se or to hold to a strong version of God's sovereignty.
Plantiga finds that (1) suffers from self-referential problems. He then attacks (2) and says that this view equates God with a property. He beleives it is nonsensical to say that God is a property and also personal. The position therby creates more problems than it solves. In examining nominalism, Plantiga seems to think that it does not help one answer the question but it does help one see that the question is not about ontology but rather modality.
The fourth view is that of Descartes and it is broadly characterized as Universal Possibilism. This view holds that all truth is contingent. This presserves God's a se and his soveriegnty. However it has problems. Plantiga thinks this renders knowledge through reason or any other means unreliable.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Sykes on January 5, 2001
Format: Paperback
Alvin Plantiga's work Does God Have a Nature? explores the difficulty with the aseity-sovereignty issue. If one asserts that God does have a nature, then one limits both the aseity and the sovereignty of God. If one wishes to preserve God's sovereignty and aseity, then one must deny that God has a nature. Plantiga investigates four approaches to the issue of aseity-sovereignty: (1) our concepts do not apply to God, (2) Aquinas' doctrine of divine simplicity, (3) nominalism or "concretism," and (4) Cartesian possibilism. In his drive to knock down each of these positions, Plantiga clearly states that God has a nature and that it is difficult to hold that God exists a se or to hold to a strong version of God's sovereignty.
Plantiga finds that (1) suffers from self-referential problems. He then attacks (2) and says that this view equates God with a property. He beleives it is nonsensical to say that God is a property and also personal. The position therby creates more problems than it solves. In examining nominalism, Plantiga seems to think that it does not help one answer the question but it does help one see that the question is not about ontology but rather modality.
The fourth view is that of Descartes and it is broadly characterized as Universal Possibilism. This view holds that all truth is contingent. This presserves God's a se and his soveriegnty. However it has problems. Plantiga thinks this renders knowledge through reason or any other means unreliable.
Read more ›
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