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Customer Review

on 30 December 2011
This book contains several elements of very unequal value. The best, and fortunately the longest, part of the work is an introduction to Aristotelian-Thomist metaphysics, with lucid accounts of act/potentiality, form/matter, efficient/final causation, and the rest, and proceeds to show how the rejection of Thomism in favour of empiricism in early modern philosophy created a whole range of unnecessary and unreal problems over personal identity, mind and matter, and the like. All would be solved if only we would go back to St Thomas. This is a fascinating and compelling argument.

The second element in this book, and the only one that directly counters the `new atheism', is a statement of some of the arguments based on Thomist metaphysics for the existence of God - Aquinas's famous `five ways'. Again there is lucid exposition, but attention should be paid to the objections raised by good metaphysicians such as Anthony Kenny. The argument here needs expansion if it is to be (as I believe it can be) fully convincing.

The third element in the book consists of recurrent invective against liberalism, particularly in ethics. Feser has a particular hatred of gay lib, and the book begins with a nasty swipe at those who treat `the family and sodomy' as being of equal value. One's inclination is to throw the book out of the window, and ill-tempered, malicious ranting disfigures later parts of the book as well; sadly, Feser habitually insults his opponents, careless of the danger that he will simply alienate those who don't agree with him already. This, I admit, is a major flaw. But I would advise readers to suppress their annoyance and persevere. The better parts of this book - and they make up most of it - provide a well-informed and hugely readable account of some of the main problems in the history of metaphysics.
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