Agir en vertu d’un autre: Thomas d’Aquin et l’ontologie de l’instrument

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2022.11.08 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews

Charles Ehret, Agir en vertu d’un autre: Thomas d’Aquin et l’ontologie de l’instrument, Vrin, 2021, 235pp., $37.00 (pbk) ISBN 9782711630066.

Reviewed by Cyrille Michon, Université de Nantes

If I move a stone with a stick, what does the stick contribute? To say that it causes the movement of the stone is to attribute to it more than its own capacity. But should we say that it contributes nothing to the movement of the stone and that I am the only cause? For the Scholastics, a similar questioning also arose concerning the relationship between God and creatures. What is the effectiveness of the so-called “secondary causes”? How can we avoid removing God’s status as the principal agent without falling into occasionalism? The notion of an instrumental cause, often invoked in this context by Thomas Aquinas, seeks to reconcile the primacy of the principal agent (God or the artisan) with the efficacy…

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