Knowing God’s Essence: a Contemporary Thomistic Debate

The paper presents the story of a contemporary Thomistic debate that deals with
a crucial theological question, i.e. whether or not our knowledge of God is related
to his nature/essence, and its legacy to theology of our time. Throughout the last
60 years there has been an intense debate among Thomist scholars belonging
to different generations: R. Garrigou Lagrange, E. Gilson, H. McCabe, F. Kerr,
J. Wippel, M. Pérez de Laborda, D. Turner and I. McFarland. The legacy from
this debate is that both in contemporary philosophical and revealed theology
a cautious distinction is needed: while it is legitimate and profitable to apply
contemporary anti-essentialist criticism to natural and social sciences and, also, to
cosmology and philosophical anthropology, this should not be done in regards of
God. In fact, in God, because of his non-changeability and simplicity, everything
is of his essence, and this essence is unknowable.

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