Plotinus in the Jungle

Home » Dissertation Progress » Outline of chapters 1-3

Outline of chapters 1-3


Some of you may be wondering if I will ever emerge from the jungle as Dr. Zimmerman.  Take heart!  I hope to be finished writing the dissertation by the end of the next year.  I had some great meetings with my director, Dr. Matthias Vorwerk, when I was in the USA this summer.  He came up with a plan to reorganize the work that I already did into three chapters, cut most of a planned chapter out, and then condense what had been projected as three chapters into two.  The focus is changing a bit so that the dissertation will be more of a comparison between Thomas Aquinas and Plotinus on the causality of God than a dissertation just on Plotinus, but that set me up to sell myself as capable of ancient and medieval philosophy when I hit the job field.

My goal is to write chapter 4 during the Spring (USA) term and chapter 5 by the end of 2017.  I was delayed by having my laptop stolen about a month ago, but I had backed up my files when I was in the US and my kind mother-in-law procured a new computer for me (which I am now using).

Here is the outline of the completed chapters, in case you are interested:

Part I: Creation is said in many ways [80 pages]

Introduction to Part I

Chapter 1: Objections

1.1 – Gilson and Associates

1.1.1 – Gilson, Pegis, and Sweeney: Why Plotinus Does Not Present an Account of Creation

1.1.2 – Gilson and Pegis: Aquinas Denies that Greek Philosophers Reached the Idea of Creation

1.1.3 – Responses Against and Continuations of Gilson’s Thesis

1.1.4 – Six Objections

1.2 – The Christian Distinction

1.2.1 – Robert Sokolowski, James Hart, and the Christian Distinction

1.2.2 – The Limits of Philosophical Explanation

1.2.3 – Sokolowski and Hart’s Critiques of Plotinus’s Philosophy

1.2.4 – David Burrell’s Rethinking of the Creation-Emanation Antithesis

1.3 – Lloyd Gerson’s Ambiguous Stance on Plotinus and Creation

1.4 – List of Objections

Conclusion to Part I


Part II: Aquinas on the Philosophical Discovery and Meaning of Creation


Introduction to Part II

Chapter 2: Aquinas on the Philosophical Idea of Creation [90 pages]

2.1 – Immediate Context for Thomas’s Doctrine of Creation

2.1.1 – Peter Lombard on the Christian Doctrine of Creation

2.1.2 – How Creation Was Understood by Thomas’s Scholastic Predecessors

2.2 – Thomas on God and Creation

2.2.1 Thomas’s Method for Investigating God and Creation

2.2.2 – Thomas’s Arguments and Argumentative Strategy for Creation

2.3 – The Philosophical Meaning of Creation

2.3.1 – Creation Presupposes Nothing

2.3.2 – Non-being is Naturally Prior to Being in the Creature – Thomas’s Debt to Avicenna – The Existential Dependence of all Things on God

2.4 – The Nature of the Creator


Chapter 3: Aquinas on Which Philosophers Taught Creation and Their Errors [60 pages]

3.1 – Introduction

3.2 – Who Teaches the Doctrine of Creation?

3.2.1 – The Textual Riddle

3.2.2 – A Survey of Thomas’s Judgments

3.2.3 – A New Interpretation of ST I, q. 44, a. 2

3.2.4 – Who Teaches the Doctrine of Creation?

3.3 – The Errors of the Philosophers

3.4 – The Philosophical Meaning of Creation


Conclusion to Part II


  1. phillipcary says:

    Looks interesting indeed. And more than enough to make a dissertation already. Are you saying you already have written 230 pages? That’s nearing the maximum that some philosophy departments will accept. Wouldn’t that be good news?


  2. Sounds like real dissertation work to me; you are blessed to have someone who will guide you through with great care. I continue to expect great things from you. You won’t have a problem on the job market, and the chapter that was eliminated may serve as a foundation for future writing projects. Keep up the good work; you and your blessed family will remain in my prayers. Next time you are in the states, perhaps you can pay me a visit st Andover Newton Theological School and facilitate a Hot Topics Lunchein discussion on your research.
    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,
    Rev. Satcher (Mikel)



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