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God and Being

University of St. Andrews

The traditional idea that the concept of being can be used to explicate the divine nature - for example, by characterising God as being itself (ipsum esse subsistens) or the most real being (ens realissimum) - presupposes a substantive conception of being, and thus is in tension with deflationary conceptions of being that have dominated modem philosophy. These lectures will explore from a contemporary but historically informed perspective the prospects for a moderately substantive conception of being and an account of God as ens realissimum.

Lecture 1: Existence In an exploration of ontological issues about non¬existent objects and abstract objects, the first lecture takes some steps toward a substantive conception of being, arguing, among other things, for distinctions between metaphysically positive and negative attributes and between predicates that do and that do not imply existence.

Lecture 2: Substance and Reality The second lecture extends the account of a substantive conception of being by arguing that in the case of metaphysically fundamental beings (substances) existence entails certain properties. The discussion focuses on the categories of quality, power, and activity.

Lecture 3: God and Possibility How might being in general be grounded in the being of God? The idea that even the possibility of the positive content that (according to the second lecture) constitutes reality depends on the most fundamental possible qualities being exemplified in God is explored in relation to texts of Leibniz and Kant.

Lecture 4: Metaphysical Perfection If even possible reality must be grounded in fundamental qualities of God, must some of those qualities be of surpassing perfection? The fourth lecture proposes an affirmative answer of this question, arguing that in some cases of central metaphysical importance, the less perfect or less developed is to be understood in terms of the more perfect or more developed, rather than the other way around.