Saturday, June 27, 2009

James Chastek, Aristotle, essentialism, and evolution

When we simply plow through Aristotle’s text changing every “what is” to “essence” we will be prone to fall into exactly the sort of error that is thoroughly discredited by the insights of evolution. In Aristotle’s system, the “what”, when said of a natural thing, refers to a compositeof matter and form; when said of a being without matter thing, it refers to form alone. The first “what” is inseparable from a change and flux so far as it is defined with matter, and so if we say that “the what” means “essence” than the essence of natural things is changeable. Changeability is not the whole of its essence (for form is essential to its essence too) but it is inseparable from it. In this sense of essence, the essences of the things the natural scientist studies are changeable. The difficulty is that “essence”, because of its absolute character, cannot mix with the idea of being changeable. The mind recoils from the idea of “changeable essence” as a contradiction, or at least an extremely poor choice of words. This is why when we find various good reasons to say that essences (or what we thought were essences) are not fixed, it is better to junk the idea of essence altogether. This is fine, but even after we junk the word “essence” we are still left with Aristotle’s “the what”, which, when applied to natural things, includes matter and is therefore capable of change.

But Aristotle also says that nature is more form than matter, does he not, even though it is made up of both? And matter is proportioned to form -- so how much change can a thing tolerate before its potencies are affected, and it no longer has the same potencies as before?
Continuum/T&T Clark has an edition of Fr. Bouyer's The Christian Mystery that is currently in print.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Zenit: Holy Father's Address to French Seminary
"The Task of Forming Priests Is a Delicate Mission"

Thursday, June 25, 2009

James Chastek:

It would be interesting to develop St. Thomas’s notion of logic as a manual like “the proper use of a human intellect”.

int.) Human powers can function well or poorly. Digestion can happen either effortlessly, or with difficulty and pain; vision can be either 20/20 or obscured by glaucoma, nerve damage, etc; the endocrine system can work or be impaired by diabetes; our ability to make a jump shot can be trained and coached, etc.

1.) Intellect: a power which knows what things are. We pass over any consideration of the nature of this power, unless we need to know it in order to use the intellect properly.

2.) We come to know by learning. So intellect learns what things are. Like other human powers, sometimes this development is automatic, other times it must be trained or coached. We are only interested here in the part that can be trained or coached (that is, educated).

3.) Learning involves getting a more perfect knowledge of something, and so begins with what is more imperfect. Learning simply speaking therefore begins with a concept that is most imperfect, simply speaking.

4.) The learning in question is of what something is. The most imperfect grasps of what something is, is our awareness that it is at all in some way. One the one hand, this is a real awareness of what something is; on the other hand it is so imperfect and indeterminate that it tells us almost nothing, and is always taken for granted in our thought.

(more examples)

The logic from names to definition(s)
The Death of an Interesting Theory
Edward Feser, Hume, science, and religion and James Chastek, Hume's critique of causality as applying to exterior things
Are the unitive and procreative ends of marriage really "co-equal"? Can we explain the traditional precept of the Church to marry a Catholic if they are? Or is this precept better understood of the procreative end is the primary end, and the unitive secondary to it? That is to say, we should marry someone Catholic for the sake of the children and their proper upbringing as Catholics and so on. After all, Catholics have an obligation to raise their children as Catholics, even if their spouse is not Catholic.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

As I read through The Underground History of American Education, I am reminded of the criticism of bureaucratic management by Alasdair MacIntyre and others. Perhaps it is time for me to re-read and re-evaluate After Virtue. The question: can the causal links between the rise of certain political and social forms and the development of new theories of morality be maintained?

Monday, June 22, 2009

John R. T. Lamont

B) Problems with the Neo-Scholastic Approach to Doctrine, and Their Remedy

The ideas about the interpretation of Church teachings that have been criticized so far emerge from "progressive" theological currents that have become widely accepted only since the 1950s. Immediately before this period, the predominant approach to the interpretation of Church teachings was that of neo-Scholastic theologians, itself a development of the views of baroque Scholastics. Although this approach is still the one generally used by theologians who reject the heterodoxy of the progressive notions, resorting to the neo-Scholastic approach is not a satisfactory method for evaluating certain conciliar teachings, such as that on religious liberty. While this approach is not heterodox, it nonetheless has serious shortcomings. Remedying them requires some constructive work on the issue of the interpretation of Church teachings.

One class of shortcomings arises from its dependence on a mistaken theory of revelation, which I have dubbed the "magis-terial" theory of revelation, and criticized elsewhere.(41) This theory underlies the neo-Scholastic system of theological notes, which divides teachings into the categories of de fide divina, de fide divina et catholica, de fide catholica, de fide in genere, theologice certa, doctrina catholica, and proxima fidei. The falsity of the magisterial theory and of the theories of the development of doctrine that are associated with it means that these classifications are mistaken or inadequate.(42) However, since most of these notes are intended to be applied to teachings that are infallibly taught, we need not go into their shortcomings in detail. The feature of the neo-Scholastic system that does concern us closely is its general approach to Church teachings, which conceives of assent to these teachings as primarily obedience to a command.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Christopher West gives an interview for OSV, but does not really address Dr. Schindler, as far as I can tell. (I gave it a quick glance.)