Avicenna, Aquinas, and Leibniz on the argument from contingency

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Avicenna, Aquinas, and Leibniz on the argument from contingency

E. Feser

Quote:Avicenna, Aquinas, and Leibniz all present versions of what would today be called the argument from contingency for the existence of a divine necessary being.  Their versions are interestingly different, despite Aquinas’s having been deeply influenced by Avicenna and Leibniz’s having been familiar with Aquinas.  I think all three of them are good arguments, though I won’t defend them here.  I discussed Avicenna’s argument in an earlier post.  I defend Aquinas’s in my book Aquinas, at pp. 90-99.  I defend Leibniz’s in chapter 5 of my book Five Proofs of the Existence of God.  Here I merely want to compare and contrast the arguments.

Because I want to focus on what I take to be the main thrust of each of the arguments rather get bogged down in exegetical details, I will offer my own paraphrases of the arguments rather than quote directly from any of these thinkers’ texts.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell



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