Religious Studies



A realist epistemology of faith


PAUL A. MACDONALD JR a1
a1 Department of Religion, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA 17837

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Abstract

In this paper, I analyse and interpret Thomas Aquinas's account of faith in order to show how Thomistic faith is a veridical cognitive state that directs the mind to God, and consequently constitutes a distinct form of knowledge of God. By assenting to the revealed propositions of faith (which express the truth about God), and thereby forming true beliefs about God under the authority and guidance of God's grace, the possessor of faith comes to know or apprehend truly something about God, even if she fails to ‘see’ or know fully the truth that she believes. A further task of the paper is to show how Thomistic faith qualifies (at least potentially) as knowledge from a contemporary epistemological standpoint, insofar as it consists of true belief that is appropriately justified and warranted, by virtue of being supernaturally informed and generated. By expositing and defending this central claim – focusing specifically on faith as a form of knowledge – I show how Aquinas offers an epistemologically realist account of faith.