Jacob Andrews, Crown Fellowship Recipient 2020-2021
Congratulations to our graduate student, Jacob Andrews, who has received The Graduate School's Crown Fellowship for 2020-2021! Learn more about Jacob's research:
What happens when you lack evidence or rational arguments for your religious beliefs? Is such belief justified? Is there even, as W.K. Clifford argued, something immoral about believing without evidence? Medieval thinkers cared about this issue, but asked it from the opposite direction: What happens when you do have evidence for your beliefs? Suppose you could prove that God exists. Is there anything praiseworthy about believing it, then? How could such a belief even be called “faith”?
In my dissertation I look at two distinct medieval ways of tackling this question. St. Thomas Aquinas thinks that if you have evidence proving some belief of yours, then you can’t believe it by faith. Because, according to Aquinas, faith is essentially believing on someone else’s authority (i.e., God’s), faith only concerns things you don’t know for yourself. William of Auxerre, however, thinks that even if you can prove something you believe, it’s still possible to additionally believe it by faith. This is because, on William’s view, faith doesn’t essentially involve a lack of knowledge. Rather, it is itself a kind of knowledge: a vision of eternal things that is even more certain than the knowledge you get from evidence or arguments.