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G D His Existence And His Nature -Rev. R. Garigou-Lagrange, O.P.

 

In a book entitled, Le Sens Commun et la Philosophie de l'Être, we have shown that common sense or natural reason is a rudimentary philosophy of being, opposed to the philosophy of the phenomenon and to that of becoming; that being and the principles implied in it constitute the formal, primary and adequate object of common sense.

Here we again take up the study of these first principles, not so much as they are concerned with the functioning of the faculty of common sense, but with reference to the classical proofs for God's existence. We have set ourselves the task of demonstrating the necessity of these principles, their dependence upon the first principle, and their ontological and transcendent validity. It will be seen that the proofs for God's existence rest ultimately upon the principle of identity or of non-contradiction, their proximate basis being the principle of sufficient reason, and their immediate basis the principle of causality. Each of the proofs will establish clearly the fact that the principle of identity, which is the supreme law of thought, must be at the same time the supreme law of reality; that the reality which is fundamental must be absolutely identical with itself; that it must be to "being" as A is to A, the self-subsisting Being; consequently, it must be essentially distinct from the world, which on its part is essentially composite and subject to change. Hence the alternative: either the true God or radical absurdity.

The fundamental ideas of the first part of this work were set forth in 1910, in an article entitled "Dieu," written for the "Dictionnaire Apologétique de la Foi Catholique." This article has been revised, recast, and more fully developed on a number of points. Particularly has the terminology of the Vatican Council's definition in reference to the demonstrability of the existence of God been explained by the corresponding proposition of the Antimodernist Oath. The proofs establishing the ontological and transcendental validity of the primary ideas, as also the various formulas of the principle of identity, the defence of the absolute necessity of the principles of sufficient reason, of causality, and of finality have been presented more clearly and extensively. On these various questions we have made every effort to answer the difficulties raised. The proof based on the order prevailing in the universe has been slightly modified in reference to the question of chance.

The second part, which treats of the nature of God and of His attributes is almost completely new. We have made every effort to solve the antinomies of the Agnostics, basing our argument upon the Thomistic doctrine of analogy. To set forth the purport and scope of this doctrine, which is an application of mitigated realism, it seemed necessary for us to attack, on the one hand, the Nominalism of the Agnostics, especially that of Maimonides, and, on the other, the exaggerated Realism which Duns Scotus did not sufficiently avoid. This was necessary in order to safeguard the absolute simplicity of God.

We have devoted the second-last chapter to a critical examination of certain antinomies very difficult to solve, namely, those which concern free will. How can we reconcile the freedom of the will with the principle of sufficient reason, the foundation upon which the proofs for God's existence ultimately rest? How can we reconcile the liberty of God with His immutability and His wisdom? How the liberty of man with the fact that all things are set in motion by God?

Our conclusion with regard to God's ineffability and the absurdity of the unknowable brings out clearly all that we have maintained both in the theoretical and the practical order of the inevitable alternative developed throughout this work: either the true God or positive absurdity.

 








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