1st Edition

Neo-Aristotelian Metaphysics and the Theology of Nature

Edited By William M.R. Simpson, Robert C. Koons, James Orr Copyright 2022
    462 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    462 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book explores the relationship between a scientifically updated Aristotelian philosophy of nature and a scientifically engaged theology of nature. It features original contributions by some of the best scholars engaging with Aristotelianism in contemporary metaphysics, philosophy of science, and philosophical theology.

    Despite the growing interest in Aristotelian approaches to contemporary philosophy of science, few metaphysicians have engaged directly with the question of how a neo-Aristotelian metaphysics of nature might change the landscape for theological discussion concerning theology and naturalism, the place of human beings within nature, or the problem of divine causality. The chapters in this volume are collected into three thematic sections: Naturalism and Nature, Mind and Nature, and God and Nature. By pushing the current boundaries of neo-Aristotelian metaphysics to recover the traditional notion of substantial forms in physics, reframe the principle of proportionality in biology, and restore the hierarchy of being familiar to ancient philosophy, this book advances a metaphysically unified framework that accommodates both scientific and theological knowledge, enriching the interaction between science, philosophy and theology.

    Neo-Aristotelian Metaphysics and the Theology of Nature will be of interest to scholars and advanced students working in metaphysics, philosophy of science, natural theology, philosophical theology, and analytic theology.

    Chapters 1, 2, and 7 of this book are freely available as downloadable Open Access PDFs at http://www.taylorfrancis.com under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives (CC-BY-NC-ND) 4.0 license.


    John Marenbon

    Introduction: Reflections on science, theology and the new Aristotelianism

    William M. R. Simpson, Robert C. Koons, and James Orr

    Part I: Naturalism and Nature

    1. From Quantum Physics to Classical Metaphysics

    William M. R. Simpson

    2. Essential Thermochemical Powers

    Robert C. Koons

    3. Restoring the Hierarchy of Being

    David Oderberg

    4. Evolution and the Principle of Proportionality

    Stephen Boulter

    Part II: Mind and Nature

    5. Free Will in a Network of Powers

    Timothy O’Connor

    6. Animal Powers and Human Agency

    Janice Chik

    7. The Power to Perform Experiments

    Daniel De Haan

    8. Logical and Mathematical Powers

    Antonio Ramos-Diaz

    9. Persons, Souls and Life After Death

    Christopher Hauser

    10. Angels, Principalities and Powers

    Travis Dumsday

    Part III: God and Nature

    11. Grounding and Participation in God

    Ross Inman

    12. God and Hylomorphism

    Anne Peterson

    13. Natural and Supernatural

    Edward Feser

    14. God, Chance and Evolution

    Alexander Pruss

    15. Teleology, Providence and Powers

    Simon Kopf

    16. Divine Lawmaking: Powers and Kinds

    James Orr


    Anna Marmodoro


    William M.R.Simpson is Junior Research Fellow at Wolfson College, Cambridge and an honorary research fellow in the philosophy of nature at the University of St Andrews. He is the author of Surprises in Theoretical Casimir Physics (2014) and the co-editor, with Robert C. Koons and Nicholas J. Teh, of Neo-Aristotelian Perspectives on Contemporary Science (Routledge, 2017).

    Robert C. Koons is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin. He is co-editor, with George Bealer, of The Waning of Materialism: New Essays in the Philosophy of Mind (2010) and, with William M.R.Simpson and Nicholas J. Teh of Neo-Aristotelian Perspectives on Contemporary Science (Routledge, 2017). He is also the co-author of Metaphysics: The Fundamentals (2015).

    James Orr is University Lecturer in Philosophy of Religion at the University of Cambridge, and formerly the McDonald Postdoctoral Fellow in Theology, Ethics, and Public Life at Christ Church, Oxford. He is a trustee of St. Paul’s Theological Centre, London, and a member of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s advisory group, the Lambeth Partnership.

    "This book offers a fresh, bold, stimulating take on some of the hardest questions philosophers and theologians alike are engaged with, arguing that only a metaphysics developed on the basis of the Abrahamic-Aristotelian tradition can enable us to understand today’s world of science, the relation of God to it, and our place within it. A hugely enjoyable read – even for those who will find themselves in disagreement." -- Prof. Anna Marmodoro, Professor of Metaphysics, Durham, UK.

    "Neo-Aristotelianism is one of the important movements in contemporary metaphysics: this collection provides a wide-ranging sample of the state of the art from its outstanding exponents and shows how it can also be an important force in theology." -- Prof. John Marenbon, Professor of Medieval Philosophy, Cambridge, UK.

    "While scholasticism has been on the margins of Christian theology for some decades, this volume suggests the possibility of a powerful and fruitful intellectual revival. The talented authors of this conceptually well-organized volume orchestrate the use of scholastic principles to analyze some of the most important and difficult questions in contemporary theology, with both clarity and depth. In doing so they delineate a compelling vision of harmony between revealed theology, philosophy, and modern science. A wonderful book!" -- Prof. Thomas Joseph White, OP, Rector Magnificus of the Pontifical University of St Thomas, Angelicum, Rome, Italy.

    "Despite its long neglect in mainstream philosophy of science, neo-Aristotelian metaphysics has enormously interesting and creative applications for contemporary science, as this new collection of essays amply demonstrates. But perhaps even more importantly, the question of God can then be manoeuvred back into contestation in a way occluded or outlawed by other metaphysical alternatives. This important new book brings together senior and junior scholars to help carve a new trajectory through long-disputed territory." -- Prof. Sarah Coakley, FBA, Norris-Hulse Professor of Divinity Emerita, University of Cambridge, and Honorary Fellow, Oriel College, Oxford, UK .

    "When the Scientific Revolutionaries of the seventeenth century left their Aristotelian homeland for a far country, little did they realise that their distant descendants might need to return one day. I have heard much whispered about the promise of neo-Aristotelianism for the science-and-theology enterprise, but until seeing this volume had never been able to grasp the vision. This book will surely be an indispensible guide for years to come, providing lucid overviews of contemporary historical, philosophical, scientific and theological perspectives on neo-Aristotelianism, as well as much original research looking forward." – Prof. Mark Harris, Professor of Natural Science and Theology, Edinburgh, UK.