Is the Distinction between Natural
and Moral Attributes Good?
Jonathan Edwards on Divine Attributes
by Sebastian Rehnman
Traditional or broadly
Aristotelian metaphysics grows out of the recognition that some beings
do not depend on matter for their existence. From the investigation of
being as being, it also maintains that every being of experience is composite,
imperfect, and finite and, therefore, requires an explanation in terms
of something else. Much traditional metaphysics then explains whatever
exists or can exist—why there is something rather than nothing—in terms
of a first cause. In explaining the dependence of material being as a
whole on the first cause, metaphysics argues that the first cause cannot
be composed, imperfect, and limited. At this stage, metaphysics is traditionally
called natural or philosophical theology, for the absolutely independent
first cause is commonly called God. But as arguments for why there is
something rather than nothing may yield something that can be called God,
what the word God means requires further lines of reasoning.
The philosophical investigation, then, of the nature and attributes of
God is the task of making explicit what is implicit in the notion of God
acquired from or supposed by arguments for the existence of God. One of
the major issues is how attributes may be predicated of God.