Study Questions for Final Exam

A. Questions based on lectures
B. Questions based on reading
    A.  15-point questions from lectures (you will have to answer three out of five):
    1. Many modern philosophers seem to hold that faith (or trust in some authority) and reason are antithetically opposed sources of belief, and that it is foolish--and even intellectually irresponsible--to accept propositions on faith. On the basis of the class lectures and readings, raise objections to this view and show why, according to St. Augustine and St. Thomas, reliance on faith is not necessarily irresponsible. 

     2. In discussing the relationship between faith and reason St. Thomas distinguishes six different types of cognitive acts that might be directed toward propositions, viz., dubitatio, suspicio, opinio, intellectus, scientia and fides. Explain the nature of these attitudes, making clear how they differ from one another. 

    3. Identify five Platonic doctrines that St. Augustine adopted either outright or in modified form, and explain briefly how he saw them as fitting into a Christian worldview.  (You might find these notes useful in studying for this question, especially the references cited in Phases 7 and 8.)

     4. Explain the general structure of St. Thomas's natural theology, making clear how he motivates and integrates into a coherent whole (i) the proof for a First Efficient Cause, (ii) the via remotionis, and (iii) the via affirmationis. Along the way, give St. Thomas's explanation for why the via remotionis is necessary and his explanation of how the via affirmationis is possible.

     5. Explain St. Thomas's distinction between metaphorical and literal predications with respect to God, and then explain his claim that all terms predicated literally of both God and creatures are predicated analogically. 

     6. Explain the way in which Aquinas brings together the Aristotelian notion of Pure Actuality and the Platonic notion of Unparticipated Esse in order to fashion the concept of a being that is able to create ex nihilo

     7. Explain the similarities and differences between (a) creation ex nihilo as an instance of efficient causality and (b) ordinary instances of efficient causality. 

     8. Describe the dispute over secondary (creaturely) causation in nature and show how this dispute led occasionalists and Christian Aristotelians to adopt profoundly different views about the aims of natural science and the nature of scientific explanation.  As part of your answer, briefly describe Aristotle's notion of an individual nature, and explain why the occasionalists (both medieval and early modern) rejected this notion.  

    B.  10-point questions from readings (you will have to answer one out of two):

    1. In the mid-13th century the bulk of Aristotle's non-logical writings became available for the first time in the great European universities.  Explain why this event stirred up such great controversy, specifying (a) at least two (alleged) Aristotelian doctrines that provoked a furor and (b) the roles played in this controversy by St. Bonaventure and St. Thomas Aquinas, and Siger of Brabant. 

    2.  Lay out and discuss intelligently St. Anselm's famous "Ontological Argument" for God's existence. 

    3. Describe the problem of universals as it emerged in the middle ages.  Your answer should contain references to at least three of the following:  Peter Abelard, Roscelin, St. Thomas Aquinas, Blessed John Duns Scotus, William of Ockham. 

    4. Explain (i) Avicenna's characterization of the metaphysical distinction between God and creatures and (ii) his argument for the immortality of the soul.