Philosophy, God and Motion
By Simon Oliver
Routledge – 2005 – 254 pages
Series: Routledge Radical Orthodoxy
In the post-Newtonian world motion is assumed to be a simple category which relates to the locomotion of bodies in space, and is usually associated only with physics. This book shows this to be a relatively recent understanding of motion and that prior to the scientific revolution motion was a broader and more mysterious category, applying to moral as well as physical movements.
Simon Oliver presents fresh interpretations of key figures in the history of western thought including Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas and Newton, examining the thinkers’ handling of the concept of motion. Through close readings of seminal texts in ancient and medieval cosmology and early modern natural philosophy, the books moves from antique to modern times investigating how motion has been of great significance within theology, philosophy and science. Particularly important is the relation between motion and God, following Aristotle traditional doctrines of God have understood the divine as the ‘unmoved mover’ while post-Holocaust theologians have suggested that in order to be compassionate God must undergo the motion of suffering. The text argues that there may be an authentically theological, as well as a natural scientific understanding of motion.
This volume will prove a major contribution to theology, the history of Christian thought and to the growing field of science and religion.
Introduction. Part one: Plato's Timaeus and the Soul's Motion of Knowing 1. The Nature of the Cosmos 2. Reason, Necessity and the Power of Rhetorical Persuasion 3. The Pedagogy and Ethics of Cosmology Part two: Aristotle: Ecstasy and intensifying motion 1. The Physics and Nature's Motion 2. Ecstasy and Intensification 3. The Ethics of Motion: Place, limit and God Part three: Light, Motion and Scientia Experimentalis 1. Robert Grosseteste: The science of light and the light of truth 2. The Experimentum 3. Roger Bacon: Truth and experiment Part four: St Thomas Aquinas: The God of motion 1. At the Limits of Aristotelian Physics 2. Motion and God 3. Virtue, Grace and Motion 4. Christ, the Eucharist and Motion Part five: The Isolation of Physics 1. Avicenna on Metaphysics and Physics 2. The Theory of Impetus and the Quantification of Motion Part six: Newton: God without motion 1. The Theological Context of Newtonian Motion 2. Motion in the Principia 3. The Absolute Space, Christ and Motion 4. The Fate of Mechanistic Motion Conclusion.
Simon Oliver is Lecturer in Theology at University of Wales, Lampeter.