Friday, September 18, 2009

Aristotle on Religion

"[T]here is, in Aristotle's view, no divine providence, which is so important an aspect of the Judeo-Christian view of the world. His god does not look out for, care about, and provide for man. He did not create the universe, for it is eternal, and he is utterly indifferent to it. It is true that he causes its motion, but only as a beautiful picture might cause a man to purchase it. God is the object of desire for the lesser intelligences, but he is unconscious of their admiration and would be indifferent to them if he were aware of them.

"In Aristotle's view god is a metaphysical necessity--the system requires an unmoved mover, a completely actual and fully realized form, but he is not an object of worship. Aristotle did not experience a Christian's love of a heavenly father, nor the Orphic's need for union with a mysterious, infinite power. Aristotle's god is transcendent and remote, and his attitude toward this god, at least as revealed in the Metaphysics and other works of his maturity, was emotionally neutral."

from W.T. Jones, A History of Western Philosophy, volume I: The Classical Mind (2nd ed. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1970, pp.231-2)

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