Analytical Thomism: Traditions in Dialogue. Edited by Craig Paterson and Matthew S. Pugh


Pp. xxiii, 332 , Aldershot , Ashgate , 2006 , £55/$99.95

Building distantly on the pioneering efforts of Elizabeth Anscombe and Peter Geach to bring the contributions of analytical philosophy and Thomism together, and more proximately on John Haldane (who writes an afterword) and the special issue of The Monist (vol. 80, no. 4, 1997) devoted to this topic, the editors have assembled an impressive cast to (mostly) argue that the two traditions have much common ground - may in fact, to use a recent phrase of Fergus Kerr, be ‘natural allies’. For the anti-metaphysical stance is characteristic only of Wittgenstein's earlier Tractatus phase; the Philosophical Investigations reverse this and also what John Searle calls the ‘three hundred year mistake’ (p. 73) of adopting Descartes' replacement of wonder and explanation with ever-increasing doubt (so that we only accept strictly logical forms of necessity) as the method in philosophy. Later analytical philosophy brings the discipline into line with the ways we actually speak, with the ‘forms of life’ the later Wittgenstein referred to, by which we navigate and negotiate epistemically to settle disputes. Those who condemn analytical Thomism mistake its ambition – not a ‘fusion’ of world views (there is no one ‘world view’ of analytical philosophy), but rather the development of a rhetoric– in the Aristotelian sense of making use of contemporary means of persuasion – to put the nature of the Thomistic claims powerfully on display. Anthony Kenny's criticism of Aquinas' ‘confusion’ of existence and being comes in for special attention; a convincing case is presented that the tools of analytical philosophy are well suited to argue for the Thomistic notion of ‘intentional being’ and, more deeply, for an identity of God as the unrestricted act of being.