Reformers and Thomist metaphysics?

arapahoepark

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
So, first of all, as one who isn't philosophically astute (I just pick up whatever I see in what I generally read) what exactly is Thomism (from Aquinas I know...) when referring to it as a metaphysical system? How much of it is influenced by Aristotle? I also hear Vermingli, for instance, is a Thomist. How did it influence, rightly or wrongly, the Reformation and what are the differences between RC Thomism and the Reformation adoption of it?

Additionally, where does Greek realism or Neoplatonic dualism fit into this?
 

Charles Johnson

Puritan Board Freshman
Aristotle was the primary authority on metaphysics for Thomas, but Thomas reformed his thought where it was obviously at difference with Christianity. Metaphysically, this meant introducing the doctrine of creation. The early reformers especially didn't find particular value in Thomas, although they were certainly aware of his writings. Luther and Melanchthon said something along the lines of "he who is learned in Thomas is stupid in the Scriptures". Not to mention that their doctrines are entirely incompatible with Thomas's understanding of soteriology. Calvin also was familiar with Thomas and seemingly went out of his way at times to avoid Thomistic doctrines and Scriptural interpretations. There was more diversity among the Reformed Scholastics. None of them wanted a wholesale adoption of Thomas's metaphysics, but some of them wanted to reform realist metaphysics but still employ it (Paulus Voet), while some despised Aristotle (Ramus, Ames). Ramus called the theology found in Aristotle's Metaphysics "most detestable impiety of all impieties, and execrable." Ames said "the devil is the greatest metaphysician." So all that to say, there were differing views about Thomistic Metaphysics, but without question it does not lie at the heart of reformation doctrine.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
God is pure act.

Metaphysics = substance/accidents.

Soul is the form of the body

In terms of freedom of the will: there is a divine premotion before the human act.

God has no real relation to the world; only a conceptual or notional one.

Many were Thomists but not all, and don't let internet Thomists tell you otherwise. Later Puritans, as hinted at above, were just as likely to be Ramist instead of Thomist.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Additionally, where does Greek realism or Neoplatonic dualism fit into this?

All Thomists are realists, as are all Platonists. For Plato, the real world is the world of forms (heaven is basically where right triangles live). If I say the horse is brown, what I mean is that the horse participates in the extra-mental form of Brownness.

An Aristotelian would say that the form of Brown is in the horse.

A Neoplatonist would say that the Real is the One which is above Nous. Reality, therefore, is a cascading overflow from the One, with reality getting "thinner" as you can down. It would look like this:

One
Nous
World Soul
Creation

Creation isn't evil, as some caricatures would have Neoplatonism say. It's just more "shadowy." Jonathan Edwards says something very similar.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Most of the post Reformation guys would have been Thomists on the point of divine simplicity. However, both Dabney and Charles Hodge emphatically were not.

Calvin was Platonic to the degree that he identified the image of God with the soul. I'm not sure Thomas would have done that.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Thoughts on Aristotle on Ethics? Is that part of Luther's vehement critique or other metaphysics?

While I have huge problems with Aristotle, Luther isn't the most reliable guide.

His Ethics is a classic. Virtue is key to the Christian life. Aristotle just misplaced the Virtues.
 

Charles Johnson

Puritan Board Freshman
A couple of the reformed orthodox wrote commentaries on Aristotle's ethics seeking to correct some aspects of it. Walaeus and Peter Vermigli were two such authors.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
I hate to throw a monkey wrench in all this do we all need to be Thomists whether or not the reformers where or not? It's an outdated metaphysics and which Thomists do we ascribe to modern or ancient?
 

Charles Johnson

Puritan Board Freshman
I hate to throw a monkey wrench in all this do we all need to be Thomists whether or not the reformers where or not? It's an outdated metaphysics and which Thomists do we ascribe to modern or ancient?
No one said this, the reformers weren't Thomists, and all metaphysics is "outdated' if you consider that most research on the interaction between mind, meaning, and matter is being done by nominalistic linguists who don't describe themselves as metaphysicians.
Or is Aristotle as important as Jesus?
No one said this, and is Van Dooyeward as important as Jesus?
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
No one said this, the reformers weren't Thomists, and all metaphysics is "outdated' if you consider that most research on the interaction between mind, meaning, and matter is being done by nominalistic linguists who don't describe themselves as metaphysicians.

No one said this, and is Van Dooyeward as important as Jesus?
I wasn't saying that, just throwing a wrench in there. I read a review by Jared Oliphint of James Dolozel's book on divine simplicity and he was making similar critique's. And you are correct we don't have to have Van Til and Dooyeweerd plus Jesus either. I just think too many Christians equate classical metaphysics as the Christian metaphysics.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
My own take, in no particular order:
1) Some of the post-Reformation used Thomist and Aristotelian categories, though some, like Ramus, resisted.
2) Internet Thomism today is a cult.
3) I believe in essences (de re modality), though not in Plato's two-worlds.
4) Anselm
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Do expand, if you don't mind.
Reformed Thomists on facebook generally don't allow any criticsm of Thomas whatsoever. In fact, they will allow guys in their group who deny ALL of the Reformation solas, but if you ask hard questions o fThomas you get the boot.

Per Anselm, I love the modal ontological argument.
 
Top