Title: Saint Thomas Aquinas And The Principle Of Sufficient Reason Edition: 1st

Author(s): Scott M. Sullivan PhD

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Year: 2016 June 28

Pages: 242

ISBN: 9781534982253

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Edition ID: 146931479

Added: 2023-11-10 16:28:50

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Common sense tells us all that things just do not pop into existence out of nothing. It takes work and effort to make things happen. Buildings are made by builders, diseases are the result of germs, headaches come from sinus pressure, plane crashes occur when there is some major malfunction, bumps occur in the middle of the night because of the wind blowing a shutter, an alley cat knocking over a trash can, or a burglar attempting a break-in. In other words, all of these assumptions about the world proceed on a principle. But what exactly is this principle? In our unreflective, intuitional, everyday speech, it goes something like “Things do not just happen ‘out of the blue,’ something has to make them happen!” In ancient and medieval times, the principle about which we are concerned was sometimes implicit, and other times explicit, albeit with various formulations, such as; “Nothing gives what it does not have,” “There cannot be more in the effect
than what was contained in the cause,” “Whatever begins to exist must have a cause,” or more frequently, ex nihilo nihil fit – “Out of nothing, nothing comes.” In this work, I will propose that the principle of sufficient reason is the grand formulation of these intuitions and scholastic dictums, and thus is the principle that lies behind all of our casual inferences. Leibniz explicitly coined this term, yet he claimed not to discover any new principle, rather only to encapsulate all the implicit formulations used in the history of philosophy. The principle of sufficient reason is commonly formulated as such: “Every being has the sufficient reason for its existence (i.e., the adequate ground or basis in existence) either in itself or in another.” Stated negatively, “Out of nothing, nothing comes” (being neither comes from nor can be determined by sheer nothing). The principle of sufficient reason, then, is simply an attempt to conveniently summarize, in one basic formula, the common intuitions of everyday life and what other great philosophers have either presupposed or loosely articulated in these more specialized formulas of the “principle of causality.” Leibniz once said that without the principle of sufficient reason, very little in philosophy and science could be demonstrated. In a similar vein, the contemporary Thomistic philosopher, Norris Clarke, has called the principle of sufficient reason the dynamic principle of metaphysics, since it is in virtue of this very principle that enables the mind to pass from one being to another in order to make sense out of it: “All advance in thought to infer the existence of some new being from what we already know depends upon this principle.” Using primarily, but not exclusively, the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas, the purpose of this book is to argue that there are good reasons for thinking that the principle of sufficient reason is true.
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