Sunday, January 13, 2013

Revised outline

After attempting to write another draft (based on the previous outline), it has become more and more clear, that my outline does not give sufficient space and ordering to the topics which I will need to consider in a preliminary way before I will be able to give my actual argument in a way that makes sense.

Newly revised thesis outline:
  • An introduction (currently I just jump right in)
    • Briefly lead up to and state the thesis and topic under consideration
    • Explain the relevance/worthiness of the topic considered
      • The knowledge which is most truly knowledge is a knowledge of principles and causes. God and prime matter are each first causes in a certain respect, and therefore are each worth considering on account of that.
      • Knowledge is the primary means by which beings communicate. In showing how God knows prime matter, it will be seen how the highest of beings communicates with the lowest of beings. Also, through considering the extremes, light is shed on what falls between.
      • Knowledge of singulars is a particularly interesting aspect of knowledge, and God's knowledge of matter is related to how he knows material individuals in their individuality.
    • To prepare the reader, an outline (quite like this one) will be given to guide the reader through the considerations and arguments that will follow
  • The what and esse of prime matter
    • This will be for the most part a paraphrase of the Physics 1.
    • Focus will then be made on how prime matter barely exists and the problems it presents for knowing in general.
    • Perhaps here or later, it will be discussed that prime matter is a principle of individuation in material things, and therefore that it will have to do with knowing them
  • Consideration of the method and limits of (natural) theology, the science of God
    • (Perhaps this topic alone would suffice as thesis topic, but I'll just go at it to the extent that it will be helpful for my thesis. This seems necessary, for it one might be tempted to think that this is a purely academic exercise or worse, if it is not made clear just what is being done when one tries to understand something about God.)
    • Preliminary distinction between sacred theology and the divine science proper to philosophy, and that this is the latter.
    • We must go from the more known to the less known, go from creatures to God
    • Talk about analogous names here, how every name we say about God will first be said of creatures but will be more truly said of God because there is nothing of imperfection in him
  • Knowledge in general
    • Since we see perfections in creatures first, it is necessary to consider knowledge as it exists in creatures and in the highest of creatures
    • Focus on the immaterial aspect of knowing, this is obscure but develop it
  • Knowledge in God generally
    • Since all perfections exist in God in a higher way, God is indeed a knower
    • (Look at the argument in Contra Gentes, as they may be more proportioned to the consideration of a philosopher)
    • Explain why he primarily knows himself, and how he secondarily knows all creatures
    • Talk further about how he knows creatures in their distinctions from each other
  • God's knowledge of prime matter
    • Before discussing this more particular question, look at how man knows singulars and why this account does not fit to God (or angels), and how St. Thomas resolves it to an immaterial likeness of matter. This resolution is the reason for considering this kind of knowledge in particular.
    • His knowledge of prime matter involves special difficulties on account of what prime matter is.
    • Look at and address with some precision how it falls within God's power. (I keep mention Berkeley and Timaeus in the same breath, but really their objections to the doctrine of St. Thomas are so different in kind as to belong different parts of the paper. Here is where Timaeus is worth considering).
      • In what way is prime matter in God's power, and in what way is it not.
    • After it is clear that God must in some way know prime matter, talk about the handful of approaches to better understanding how he knows prime matter:
      • He knows it as it is, that is, as a principle of substance and therefore not apart from it. Although prime matter is not a perfection nor does it have perfection itself, it in potency to every material perfection and so God can know it as perfectible.
      • God can have a (quasi?) speculative knowledge of prime matter. This is where I will discuss in what way God is like prime matter and is a sufficient likeness for knowing it.
      • God can know it through privation (just as he knows evil through privation). This may not be as exciting or interesting, but I may address it if I give the fourfold division of God's knowledge from De Veritate 3.3, just for the sake of completeness.
  • If I spend enough time on the parts of the thesis above, I will probably be pretty much done with my thesis. If it is short, I can explain more. It will be helpful. Try to use examples when possible.
All right, so that is all I need to do. This division is much better than the last one I made, and it should not be difficult to write decent-sized chunks and then string them all together. The section where I give an outline, I will probably not be as thorough about subdivisions, but I will give the reasons for why I go in the order that I do.

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