As an exercise in comparative philosophical theology, our approach is more concerned with conceptual strategies than with historical “influences,” although the animadversions of those versed in the history of each period will assist in reading the texts of each thinker. We need historians to make us aware of the questions to which thinkers of other ages and cultures were directing their energies, as well as the forms of thought available to them in making their response; but we philosophers hope to be able to proceed without having to arm ourselves with extensive knowledge of the surrounding milieu, trusting that others more knowledgeable will correct and extend our efforts. Our contribution should then be one of offering perspectives within which further discourse may profitably proceed, suitably challenged and amended in the course of a common inquiry. Since my familiarity is with Aquinas, and since he comes chronologically first, I shall begin with him, though there is no discernible connection between the two thinkers other than their preoccupation with establishing the primacy of existing in a metaphysical discourse which had hitherto obscured its significance.
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