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Metaphysics: The creation of hierarchy

Pabst, Adrian (2012) Metaphysics: The creation of hierarchy. Interventions . Wm.B. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 557 pp. ISBN 978-0-8028-6451-2. (KAR id:37471)


This book seeks to retrieve metaphysics and reveals its theological nature.

It shows how ancient and modern conceptions of being in terms of individual substance fail to account for the irreducible, ontological relations that characterize all things. Those relations bind immanent, finite beings to each other and also to their transcendent, infinite source in God.

As such, there is no abstract individuality that is somehow more primary than being in relation. Rather, the ‘individuality’ of a thing is both existentially and essentially its metaphysical positioning in relation to other things. In turn, the relational ordering of all things suggests a priority of relation over substance. That priority intimates a first principle and final end that is itself relational – the triune God of the Christian faith.

To develop this argument, the book provides a close reading of the Neo-Platonist theology that we find in the works the Church Fathers and Doctors. The main figures are St. Augustine, Boethius, Dionysius the Areopagite and St. Thomas Aquinas. Common to them is the idea that the creative relationality of the three divine persons brings everything out of nothing into existence. God gives all beings a share of Trinitarian being in which the created order participates. Thus, the argument is that the doctrine of creation ex nihilo and the Trinity provide a better account of individuation than purely philosophical theories.

In short, the book combines the theological ‘turn’ of contemporary philosophy with the re-hellenization of theology that Pope Benedict XVI and other theologians have defended. Based on a genealogical account from Plato to ‘postmodernism,’ the essay argues that the Christian Neo-Platonic fusion of biblical revelation with Greco-Roman philosophy produced a theological metaphysic that surpasses ancient and modern ontology.

Item Type: Book
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
J Political Science > JC Political theory
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
Depositing User: Adrian Pabst
Date Deposited: 10 Dec 2013 20:37 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 10:14 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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