Ancient and Medieval Presuppositions (draft)

Ancient Greek Medieval
1. Nature (as natural forms, species, atoms, or reason) is the unchanging basis of all things. 1. God (as supernatural) is the unchanging basis of all things, including the natural universe.
2. The universe, in some sense, is eternal. 2. God is eternal; the universe comes to be in time.
3. God or gods are within nature as a whole. 3. God is supernatural.
4. Nature is reliable and supportive. 4. Nature is not reliable and supportive, but tainted by sin.
5. The natural is better than the artificial because it seeks its own ends (Aristotle). 5. The natural is itself "artificial," since it is the product of divine creation.
6. Nature moves itself (Aristotle). The "unmoved mover" is part of nature. 6. Nature is moved by God; God is the efficient cause of the universe.
7. Human beings are by nature social and political (Aristotle). 7. Human beings, corrupted by sin, are unsocial, aggressive, and self-seeking (see Augustine).
8. Human beings have a natural desire for knowledge. 8. Human beings tend, because of sin, to self-deception and error.
9. Justice can be achieved (to some extent). 9. Justice is not to be expected in this life, but only in the next.
10. Human beings can achieve happiness in this life.
10. Human beings can achieve happiness only in the next life.
11. Human nature can be trusted and can be improved through its own efforts. 11. Human nature cannot be trusted. Without God, it can do nothing. With God, it can do all things.
12. One must use one's own reason. Reason is the seat of authority for the individual. 12. One must rely upon the grace of God. God redeems fallen human nature, through the instrumentality of the Church.
13. The city and its laws (nomoi) cultivate (educate) human nature. 13. Government restrains the natural aggressiveness of fallen human nature; God, through the Church, redeems human nature.
14. Conversation and friendship among human beings "saves" or improves them, or at the very least assists them in saving themselves. 14. Conversation and friendship with God are what is most important. No human being can save another human being. No human being can save himself.
15. Political stability is necessary for happiness. 15. Political stability is irrelevant to salvation.
16. Human beings are part of nature. 16. Human beings have immortal souls, individually created by God.

Direct inquiries and comments to:

Copyright © 1997 - 1999 Gordon L. Ziniewicz
This page last updated 10/14/12

Please note: These philosophical commentaries, though still in process, are the intellectual property of Gordon L. Ziniewicz. They may be downloaded and freely distributed in electronic form only, provided no alterations are made to the original text. One print copy may be made for personal use, but further reproduction and distribution of printed copies are prohibited without the permission of the author.