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Bodily identity in scholastic theology

Fitzpatrick, A; (2013) Bodily identity in scholastic theology. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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At the core of this thesis is an examination of how Aquinas's materialistic understanding of resurrection shaped his thinking on human nature, individuality and bodily identity. Resurrection implied two things with respect to the individual body. First: the union between soul and matter was intimate and essential. Aquinas held that the soul is the only substantial, or nature-determining, form in a human being. Second: the material part in a human was relatively independent from the soul. Aquinas grounded the relative independence of body from soul on the accidental form 'dimensive quantity', which gave to the body its organic structure, individualised its matter, and supported its material continuity. Chapters 1 and 2 discuss Aquinas's Aristotelian and Averroan sources. For Aristotle, although individuality had its basis in matter, all matter was exchangeable without prejudice to identity. Problematically for the theologian working on resurrection, Aristotle offered no account of postmortem bodily continuity. Averroes, crucially, imported Aristotle's geometrical notion of 'body' as a three-dimensional kind of quantity into his discussions of bodily identity. Averroes thought that matter had a bodily structure of its own, supporting its continuing identity across radical change. Chapters 3 and 4 discuss Aquinas's thinking on the individual body and bodily identity. Reflection on resurrection, it seems, pushed Aquinas towards adopting a position on the nature of matter similar to Averroes'. In the 1270s, critics (mostly Franciscan) of Aquinas's theory of human nature turned it on its head, argued that it threatened the body (with heretical consequences for the identity of Christ's corpse), and set off the late-thirteenth century's defining debate on human nature. Chapter 5 discusses the divergent ways in which the Dominicans Thomas of Sutton, Robert of Orford, and Richard Knapwell defended Aquinas's theory of human nature and its consequences for postmortem bodily continuity at Oxford during 1277-86. It culminates in an examination of Knapwell's advanced work on the nature of matter, which built upon Averroes' and Aquinas's. The thesis contends, furthermore, that these three Dominicans can still be grouped under the banner of the 'early Thomistic school' if the ground they share is understood to be primarily political, rather than primarily doctrinal.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Bodily identity in scholastic theology
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of History
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1411124
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