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Divine Simplicity and the Grammar of God-talk: Comments on Hughes, Tapp, and Schärtl 

Otto Muck SJ


Different opinions about the simplicity of God may be connected with different understandings of how abstract terms are used to name the properties which are affirmed of a being. If these terms are taken to signify parts of that being, this being is not a simple one. Thomas Aquinas, who attributes essence, existence and perfections to God, nevertheless thinks that these are not different parts of God. When essence, existence and perfections are attributed to God, they all denominate the same, the Being of the first cause. For Aquinas, this is a consequence of his way of introducing the language about God by basing it upon the philosophical ways leading to God as first cause. Awareness of this connection between Divine attributes and the arguments for God’s existence is crucial for an adequate understanding of Aquinas’ position.

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