maanantai 15. helmikuuta 2016

Baumgarten: Metaphysics – Divine deeds

Like majority of the German philosophers at the time, Baumgarten was quick to distance his ideas from Spinozism. Thus, he insists that God is not just a passive source of emanation, but an active creator. Of course, God has not created everything, Baumgarten says. Essences of all things are necessary and thus in need of no creation. Since essences of things contain their necessary limitations, Baumgarten can also say that God is not the cause of these limitations – whatever evil there is in the world, is then ultimately no fault of God.

What God has done then is that he has given existence to some of the essences and their complex or the world. With the world, he created all its parts, down to the simple substances or monads. Because God knows best, this world must be the best possible, even though it necessarily has some evil due to the limitations of the substances. Quite traditionally, Baumgarten suggests that the end of the creation is to reflect the glory of divinity, especially in the eyes of all substances with intellect to comprehend the perfection of the world and its creator.

Baumgarten also states, again quite traditionally, that God has not just created the world, but also sustains its continued existence. This means especially that God makes sure that world follows certain stable physical laws. Such stable laws might allow some evil to happen – a human being might be killed, because a bullet follows a certain trajectory. Still, this is not something that God would have positively wanted to happen, but just something he has allowed as a consequence of the working of natural laws.

God can have more specific influence in world's events. Such special influence cannot then have any bad effects, since it is something God has positively willed to happen. Indeed, Baumgarten assures us, the aim of these divine interventions is often to help the frail worldly creatures and prevent them from succumbing to their limitations. One particular type of such interventions is revelation, which in strict sense means for Baumgarten God speaking supernaturally to finite beings. The content of such revelation is usually something that humans could not have found out by themselves, but it can never contradict what philosophy has to say about world and God.

With such traditionally religious notions ends Baumgarten's Metaphysics. Next time, I shall take a look at how to combine necessity with freedom.

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