St. Thomas’ Modal Logic: Did Wittgenstein and Heidegger Embrace It?

Idealistic Studies 26 (1):79-99 (1996)
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Wittgenstein and Heidegger were not merely pioneering leaders of different philosophical schools. They both disavowed a Judeo-Christian God and influenced trends opposed to traditional metaphysical arguments. Therefore, we may suppose that they had a major role in relegating medieval arguments for God to archaic syllogistic pedantries. But I will argue that a conditional premise in Thomas’ Second-Way argument not only finds expression in modal logic, since it specifies necessarily if there is no God, there is no world, but involves a natural sort of reasoning. Its ordinariness bears on Wittgenstein and Heidegger because they had extraordinary moods induced by considering the world’s possible nonexistence. Taken with their expressed disbelief in God when they consider the nonexistence, these things suggest a surreptitious embracement of Thomas’ reasoning. This fact both strengthens and makes it relevant to a pervasive twentieth-century “angst.”



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Robert Trundle
University of Colorado, Boulder (PhD)

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