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Title: Divine providence and natural contingency : new perspectives from Aquinas on the divine action debate
Author: Kopf, Simon Maria
ISNI:       0000 0004 8503 0267
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2019
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This theological thesis is about conceptualising providence and its relation to contingency. What approach shall we take to arrive at an appropriate concept of the providence of God? Is there a creaturely analogue that can facilitate understanding of a genuinely divine providence? Within the context of the contemporary divine action debate, the presupposition has been that providence is best understood in terms of divine action modelled on human action. There is a view, however, associated with this presupposition although not properly dependent on it. On this view, either natural contingency limits divine providence, or natural contingency is a locus of divine providence, but in either case, there is a fundamental incompatibility between natural and divine causation. The present thesis seeks to offer a new perspective on the conception of divine providence associated with Thomas Aquinas. This alternative models providence in terms of prudence, incorporating not only the intentionality of God but also the immanent teleology of created beings. By re-framing providence in terms of divine transcendence and natural teleology, this thesis argues that this alternative prevents the incompatibility of natural and divine causation. This revised approach not only presents an alternative vision conceiving natural contingency as an effect and means of providence, but also provides a far richer understanding of providence compatible with contemporary science. PART ONE illuminates the current standard model by showing the historical positions and driving forces behind the (theo-physical) incompatibilist and action-istic argumentation that has led to the limited positions on the relation of contingency and providence. PART TWO returns to the source texts of a (theo-physical) compatibilist and teleological alternative, Thomas Aquinas, to reveal a richer account of providence, and undertakes a careful examination of its relation to natural causation, contingency and teleology. PART THREE shows the advantage of this recovered theological view. By way of illustration, the study shows how the revised account harmonises naturally with the scientific perspective that contingency plays a key role in biological evolution.
Supervisor: Silva, Ignacio ; Pinsent, Andrew Sponsor: Denyer and Johnson Fund 2018 ; Higher Studies Trust
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available