Et in pulverem reverteris : a defense of Thomistic hylemorphic anthropology.


What is the relationship between the human soul and the human body and what does this relationship tell us about the prospects for the survival of the human person in the interim state between death and the General Resurrection? This dissertation is an attempt to shed light upon both of these questions using Aristotelian-Thomistic metaphysics. Since animalism about the human person is currently enjoying a great resurgence in popularity, I begin by offering the contemporary animalist reason to adopt Aristotelian animalism by showing that substantial forms can do crucially important work in warding off worries about compositional vagueness that would otherwise threaten the determinate composition and existence of material composites in general, including animals. I then show that human substantial forms are unique by offering an account of intentionality as partial identity between mind and object which rules out materialistic accounts of intentionality. Rounding out the first part of the dissertation, I argue that the substantial form (or soul) of the human person cannot reasonably be construed on Aquinas’s philosophical anthropology to be identical with that human person. Turning to the question of survival, I closely investigate the textual basis for believing that Aquinas rejected survivalism, the view that the human person survives in the interim state between death and the General Resurrection. This involves, among other questions, whether Aquinas’s mereology is compatible with such survival. I argue that Aquinas endorses a mereological principle that is ultimately incompatible with the commitments of Thomistic survivalism. Then, building on Aquinas’s work, I develop three original arguments for corruptionism (the view according to which the human person does not survive in the interim state), one of which is metaphysical and two of which are bioethical. Finally, I conclude with a summary exposition and brief defense of a dozen other promising and original arguments for corruptionism, drawn from premises concerning, among other things, the nature of supposita, of life, of individuation and the role played in it by matter, of accidents, of original sin, and of the General Resurrection itself.