Saturday, February 06, 2010

James Chastek, Maurice Dionne on a critical text concerning analogy

Since Cajetan, the central text in considering St. Thomas’s doctrine of anally has been the Scriptum super Sententiis I d 19 q.5 a. 2. Interpretations of this abound, along with refutations of all of them. Dionne’s explanation of the text is so simple I found myself wondering how there was ever a dispute over it. All one has to do is distinguish the order of names of the order of being.

I cut out two sentences that seemed clunky, and cleaned up some of the syntax to make it more English like. So if you are reading this in the post-apocalyptic world where this is the only version of the text, put me in a footnote somewhere.

3. Super I Sententiarum d. 19 q. 5 a. 2.

Before examining this text, we note that St. Thomas here responds to a difficulty. The difficulty involves the passage from the level of the intentional to the real.

It [the objection] involves asking whether there is only one truth, the uncreated truth. It seems there is. One has said in the previous article, in effect, that that truth is an analogous term. But there is only one health numerically, from which the animal is called healthy since it is the subject, from which medicine is called healthy, since it is the cause, and urine is called healthy, since it is the sign. In the same way, it seems, one needs to say that there is one truth from which all things are called true. We note that in the minor of this argument one treats of predication: true is an analogue. In the major, one treats of reality: the analogue only exists in one. Only the first analogue is possesses the form intrinsically, from which it is denominated. Of all that is called healthy, for example, only the animal possesses health intrinsically. From these two premises, one infers the unity of truth one says that there is only one real truth, just as there is only one real health.

In order to deal with this difficulty, St. Thomas needs to treat of analogy not only in intention, but also analogy secundum esse. He will gather the term analogy in all its possible senses.

St. Thomas distinguishes three ways in which something is said analogously. The first is secundum esse and not secundum intentionem. Since one here excludes the analogy according to being, one could here speak of extrinsic denomination. This happens when the intention relates to many inferiors according to a certain order, but which has being only in one. This is the case of health, which relates to the animal, the medicine and the urine in a certain order, but exists only in the animal.

The second kind of analogy is secundum esse and not secundum intentionem. This happens when many inferiors relate to some common intention. The being is nevertheless not common in all. For example, we can consider body as it is said of corruptible and incorruptible things, according to the understanding of the ancients. Logically, it is a univocal name. But with respect to the natures, there is not question of considering them wholly univocal.

Last, the third way of speaking about analogy is secundum esse and secundum intentionem. There one has equality neither in the intention of the name, nor in being. This is the case with the word being, which is said of substance and accident. One has a common nature that has some existence in any of its inferiors, but is different relative to whether there is more or less perfection. We nevertheless note that for the logician the fact that the analogy secundum esse is imposed on the analogy secundum intentionem does not make the word analogous. The moment one has a non-equality in a common intention, one has an analogous term; this inequality on the level of representation suffices for the doctrine of analogy as such. In the case of health and of being, the word “analogy” is said indifferently. But if one is forced to consider conditions on the side of things, he needs to use the example of health being an analogy secundum intentionem only and being being secundum esse and secundum intentionem.

See the original at Just Thomism for all of the italicizations.

Friday, February 05, 2010

The Succession of Masters

American graduate programs are disinclined to accept applicants who attended the same university for their undergraduate education. The same sort of mentality exists when it comes to hiring faculty -- American universities are reluctant to hire graduates. The alumnus candidate must be truly exceptional to be admitted or hired. The reason? It looks bad on the quality of the program or school if they accept or hire too many of their own. It is expected that a university will admit students from other instutions and regions, as this sort of diversity is supposed to reflect well upon the school or program. Most schools or programs want to avoid the appearance of not being good enough to attract students or teachers from elsewhere (in particular other schools with a reputation for excellence). Of course, such thinking encourages rootlessness and mobility.

From an East Asian perspective (or what I imagine it would be)... such admission policies go against the stability of the master-student relationship. It resembles a purely commercial relationship more than anything else. A teacher might permit his student to find another teacher if he knows he is not qualified or he cannot teach him any more, but this is not what American professors believe about themselves.

As to the selection of new faculty members, for a faculty to not consider one of its own graduates for a position may not mean a lack of confidence in his ability to teach their students, but it may give that impression. Let us suppose that the choice is between a graduate and a non-graduate. If everything else is equal and the non-graduate is hired solely because he is not a graduate of the program, then doesn't appearance take precedence over loyalty? It is more important for a school to base its reputation on its ability to attract faculty from diverse educational backgrounds (from institutions within a certain range of quality, with the proper recommendations -- the right pedigree) than it is to be loyal towards one's own.

There seems to be an excessive concern with appearances and the opinion of others guiding the decision-making for both processes. What is the criteria for judging the quality of a school or program? The quality of the faculty is primary, but this is evaluated through the opinion of others, their peers or reputed experts in that field, and surveys, and perhaps by what is produced by the faculty. Given the avoidance of most important truths, the modern university or college can consider only minor truths as objective evidence of someone's qualifications for an academic position -- whether they are good scholars and exegetes, if they can make a "good" argument regarding a text and provide sufficient evidence to back up their judgment. There is no expectation of or requirement for that scholarship to be in service of some higher truth.

An East Asian scholar would ask what other confirmation of his ability or honor can there be than for a student to succeed his master? Similarly, what teacher does not want want one of his students to replace him? He may naturally also wish to see his students given [important] positions elsewhere, or starting their own schools. But why would he want an outsider to replace him, rather than one of his own? This is especially important when one is passing on some sort of tradition, and not just generic skills of scholarship. Confucians, Taoists, Buddists at least agree that they are cultivating wisdom and pursuing truth, even if they disagree on the particulars. (Some Buddhists may dispute that there is truth, but they are being contradictory for the sake of appearing wise.) How many teachers today aspire to be the bearers of some intellectual tradition, as opposed to being "impartial" scholars who can dissect texts and give a proper exegesis?

The smaller, younger Catholic schools look for who is most qualified and who best fits the purpose of the college; they don't have to worry about the opinions of members of larger institutions. (Especially since few analytic philosophers consider medieval philosophy to be philosophy and so on.) As a consequence, they do not have any problems with hiring alumni, and as a result they have a stronger communal identity.

I should look into how appointments were made in the medieval universities, and what sort of criteria were used to judge candidates. The practices of religious houses of study, such as those operated by the Dominicans, appear to be somewhat similar to the East Asian ideal as I briefly lay it out here, in so far as the religious orders developed their own intellectual traditions which they passed on to each generation, and they raised members of their own orders to be teachers within their houses of study. Is the same true of the universities? (I'll have to confirm what I just wrote about the Dominican houses of study; I should read "First the Bow is Bent in Study": Dominican Education Before 1350.)

I had started this post last Thursday (1/28/10), while I was thinking about the dismal state of American universities. With Dr. McInerny's passing on Friday, it seemed appropriate to write a few words about one of the giants of his generation, and a master who taught and influenced so many. (His funeral Mass was this past Monday, at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. A ND press release was given on Monday.) May his students be his legacy.

The Big Mac


I referred to Dr. Ralph McInerny as the "Big Mac" when I talked about him with my sister KK because his son Daniel McInerny was also at Notre Dame, as associate director of the Center for Ethics and Culture. (The Little Mac got a position at Baylor last year.) Dr. McInerny's wife died several years ago and the Big Mac had been in semi-retirement, still offering some sort of class every now and then. I believe he also helped out with the (Thomistic) reading group. I believe Dr. McInerny was a Third Order Dominican, which would not be surprising since he took St. Thomas Aquinas to be his master.

I didn't really study Aquinas until I was at OLGS, and even then I did not read his works. I can't say that I read Dr. McInerny's books right away, but he quickly became one of my early favorites. (His brother Dr. Dennis Q. McInerny still teaches at OLGS.) I became more and more aligned with Dr. McInerny, as opposed to the existential Thomists like Etienne Gilson and Jacques Maritain.

It was through Dr. McInerny (and one of his students who was a professor at Christendom) that I learned of the Laval School and Dr. Charles De Koninck. After I entered graduate school, I had the honor to make his acuqintance and the opportunity to be near him when he permitted me to spend part of a summer at the Maritain Center going over the papers of Dr. De Koninck. Towards the end of my stay, I had the opportunity to talk with him in his office for a bit, and he was quite helpful. He also told me of his studies at Laval. (I have a photo of him with me from that Summer, taken shortly after I first asked him to sign his books. I should look for it and upload it onto FB.)

While I am not competent to judge his personal sanctity, I can attest to his helpfulness and his display of the virtues proper to a gentleman and a scholar. Generous with his time and resources, he was always welcoming and friendly when I would see him at the Center for Ethics and Culture Fall conferences. And he was always happy to sign his books for me whenever I asked him. His humor, smile and gentle laugh were easily noticeable, as well as his humility and friendliness. I admire him greatly, and though I do not consider myself to be one of his students, except in so far as I have learned from his books, I pride myself as being a "fan" or a "follower." If I were to construct an intellectual lineage (or "family tree") as East Asians did in the past, I would definitely reserve a place for him on it.

One might not think of Thomism as a tradition by its own tenents concerning logic and the intellectual virtues. But the passing on of these habits from one generation to the next is a form of tradition. Beliefs are said to be "handed down" metaphorically, and this can also be said of scientiae and artes. The Laval School of Thomism* can also be distinguished from other contemporary schools of Thomism (analytic, existential, transcendental, platonic, etc.) by certain characteristic positions or teachings held in common by its members. Dr. McInerny was editing the collected works of Dr. De Koninck for UND Press. The first two volumes have already been published, and I think Dr. McInerny was working on a third. I don't know if that has been completed, or if someone else will now be taking up the work.

Dr. McInerny was a great bearer of this tradition and he will be missed; may we be as devoted as he to the service of Christ and truth and to the study of Aristotle and St. Thomas and strive to follow his example in teaching others. May he rest in peace.

*The two prominent schools of Aristotelian-Thomism in North America were the Laval School and the Dominican River Forest School. I do not know much of Aristotelian-Thomism as it existed in Europe, though Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P., while he has been called a "Thomist of Strict Observance," was also an Aristotelian-Thomist with respect to philosophy. I suspect that Aristotelian-Thomism was strong in some of the Dominican houses (Toulouse, for example, and maybe in Spain as well), but not so in others. What of its existence at Louvain? How quickly did it disappear after Dr. De Koninck completed his studies there? Did it disappear before Vatican II or afterwards?

From 1/30/02.
Zenit: Ralph McInerny Dies at Age 80
Inside Catholic: Ralph McInerny passed away this morning
I suspect some sort of notice will be published for The Catholic Thing.

Ralph McInerny (1929-2010)
By Robert Royal, Michael Novak, Bruce Fingerhut, and John O’Callaghan

Zenit: Funeral Held for Ralph McInerny

*Cross-posted at The New Beginning.
I see that M. Michèle Mulchahey, the author of "First the Bow is Bent in Study ...": Dominican Education before 1350 was appointed the first holder of the Leonard Boyle Chair in Manuscript Studies at the PIMS in 2007.

(Google Books)

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Monday, February 01, 2010

Dominican Friars: Dominican Moral Theology
Fr. John Corbett, O.P.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Dominican Friars: The Importance of the University--Fr. Kurt Pritzl, OP on the Feast of St. Thomas and Feast of Saint Thomas Aquinas--Dominicans Celebrate the Angelic Doctor.