Unity, ontology, and the divine mind

International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 85 (3):319-333 (2019)
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Abstract

In his landmark book on philosophical theology, Saving God: Religion After Idolatry, Mark Johnston develops a panentheistic metaphysic of the divine that he contends is compatible with ontological naturalism. On his view, God is the universe, but the ‘is’ is the ‘is’ of constitution, not identity. The universe and God are coinciding objects that share properties but have different essential modal properties and, hence, different persistence conditions. In this paper, I address the problem of accounting for what it is about the organization or structure of the universe that makes it sufficient to constitute the Divine Mind. Specifically, I consider what kind of unity the universe exhibits in virtue of which it constitutes the Divine Mind. I consider how Johnston’s hylomorphic account of the unity of composite objects might be applied to provide a solution and offer an alternative that emends the Johnstonian proposal I present by exploiting a variant of a neo-Aristotelian ontology of causal powers that takes properties to be powerful qualities. On the framework I defend, we can understand the universe as a constellation of powers that displays the sort of unity sufficient to truthfully described it as a Divine Mind. The approach I recommend will, however, ultimately lend itself to a pantheistic metaphysic of the divine rather than Johnston’s preferred panentheism.

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Andrei Buckareff
Marist College

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References found in this work

From an ontological point of view.John Heil - 2003 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Powers: A Study in Metaphysics.George Molnar - 2003 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by Stephen Mumford.
Summa Theologica.Thomasn D. Aquinas - 1273 - Hayes Barton Press. Edited by Steven M. Cahn.
The Universe as We Find It.John Heil - 2012 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.

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