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Volume 27 • Number 1

January 2010



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.

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ISSN: 2152-1026