Dissertation

The Primum Mobile in the Thomistic Aristotelianism of Charles De Koninck:
On Natural Philosophy as Architectonic

My dissertation argues that natural philosophy is a qualified form of wisdom. It thereby provides an avenue towards the reintegration of the scientific specialties into a sapiential view of the cosmic whole. I draw inspiration from Charles De Koninck, who provides the key principles to support this thesis. The dissertation’s main contention is that there are perennial conclusions warranted by Aristotelian physics, and these ground the discipline’s claim to being a type of wisdom. One such conclusion is the existence and general nature of the first mobile or fundamental cosmic body, which Aristotle mistakenly identified with the outermost celestial sphere. The tentative, modern scientific replacement is “physical space,” dialectically studied by modern cosmology via the fundamental spacetime conditions for local motion and the “expansion” of space.

Therefore, two contributions are made by the dissertation. First, it defends the sapiential or “architectonic” role of natural philosophy. The centerpiece for this case is the disentanglement of those features of the ancient theory about the first mobile now surpassed by modern science from those features discovered by natural philosophy. This opens a theoretical space for cooperative work by modern science to discover the specific nature of this fundamental body. Second, by following such a course, the dissertation provides a much-needed exegesis of De Koninck’s interpretation of Aristotelian natural philosophy.

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