Saturday, January 08, 2011

Just found this: "Physics and Philosophy" by Douglas P. McManaman. (part of A Catholic Philosophy and Theology Resource Page)
Zenit: On the New Year
"Religious Liberty Is the Privileged Way to Build Peace"

We are witnessing today two opposed tendencies, two extremes both negative: on one hand laicism that, in an often deceitful way, marginalizes religion to confine it to the private sphere; on the other fundamentalism, which instead would like to impose itself on all with force. In reality, "God calls humanity to himself with a plan of love that, while it involves the whole person in his natural and spiritual dimension, requires that he correspond in terms of liberty and responsibility, with his whole heart and with his whole being, individual and communal" (Message, 8). Wherever religious liberty is recognized effectively, the dignity of the human person is respected at its roots and, through a sincere search for the true and the good, the moral conscience is consolidated and the institutions themselves and civil coexistence are reinforced (cf. Ibid., 5). Because of this, religious liberty is the privileged way to build peace.

Religious liberty as a necessary political condition for evangelization.

Reductionism in contemporary science

I wanted to append one more thought to my most recent post dealing with Stephen Barr -- I'd have to look this up, but it seems to me that if Aristotelian-Thomists allege that contemporary science/scientists neglect formal causes it is done in conjunction with the claim that they affirm that complex entitites can be understood completely through their parts -- their material causes. This is most obvious when they attempt mathematical descriptions and other forms of modelling of complex entities. If they talk about causes which might be deemed formal, then, they are doing so with regards to the parts and not to the whole.

No one can give an explanation of things without giving formal causes -- but what happens is that a committed reductionist who is trying to do good science will end up contradicting his philosophical beliefs.

Edit. I was notified that someone had left a comment, but apparently it has been deleted? I was going to say in response that the common judgment of Aristotelian-Thomists that modern physics is subalternated to physics, this would seem accurate with respect to Newtonian physics or celestial mechanics, but is it an adequate characterization of contemporary physics as it is understood by its practitioners? They may be confusing some beings of reason with real beings, but this may not be true of every cause they posit?

I think I had an actual copy of this book somewhere: Aristotelian-Thomistic philosophy of measure and the international system of units (SI) by Charles B. Crowley and Peter A. Redpath

Friday, January 07, 2011

Thursday, January 06, 2011

VN: The intrinsic evil of slavery and the death penalty?

I think the reader A Sinner provides all of the major points that should be considered, referring to the old Catholic Encyclopedia entry. He adds:
“I use the term slavery to connote chattel slavery, but I most definitely include in this the Roman institution as well as medieval slavery (as distinguished from serfdom). I simply cannot give any credence to an argument that this is one socio-economic arrangement among many in this fallen world, and so a priori ethically neutral.”

Again, I think it really depends on what you are viewing, and what those societies viewed, as essential to the institution called “slavery.”

If included the idea of “owning” a person, reducing them to an object, or in any way reducing on principle (as opposed to just often in practice, as an abuse) what the moral law says is owed in justice and charity towards another human being…of course this is wrong.

But this isn’t necessarily what slavery was in Old Testament Israel, for example, nor in medieval Christendom (even as opposed to “mere” serfdom).

Nothing can be considered a “human right” that is not granted to children vis a vis their parents. If one’s only objection to certain forms of slavery (albeit largely “theoretical” forms) is based on “freedom” or on masters subjecting slaves to the same sorts of limitations to which parents may legitimate subject their children…one should also, then, start arguing against the power of parents over children (on a family farm, for example).

As it stands, as Cardinal Dulles said, “more or less moderate forms of subjection and servitude will always accompany the human condition.”

Some have been critical of Aristotle for his acceptance and justification of slavery in the Greek world. I would just to take this away from what he said: a slave is distinguished from someone who is free or self-directing with respect to domestic/economic matters. He is a tool or an instrument of another. As far as I can remember, Aristotle does not say that the slave does not have any "rights" or that he is mere "property" of the master, or that the master is morally free to do with the slave as he wishes. Aristotle justifies slavery with the claim that some are naturally inferior and incapable of directing themselves; consequently, they should be directed by others. I do not think he talks of slavery as a punishment for a crime or as a consequence of losing  a war. I don't think he talks about those who become deficient in the use of reason through the acquisition of vice or some other character flaw.
Edward Feser, Unconditional surrender

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Sandro Magister, Cardinal Biffi Breaks Another Taboo. On Dossetti

(via NLM)

"The Catholic historian Roberto de Mattei recently published a new history of Vatican Council II that is causing a great deal of discussion, because of its method and conclusions."

Dr. Fleming:
By the way, my friend Roberto di Mattei has just come out with a long and detailed book on the Second Vatican Council. I have only read the opening chapter, but it is quite hard hitting against all the modernists and ecumenists who paved the way for that disaster. I don’t know if there are any plans to translate it into English, but since he has excellent contacts in France, I have little doubt it will be out in French before too long. He is none too kind to messers Chardin, Lubac, Murray, et al, though he has excellent remarks on Msgr. Fenton. I have nothing more to say on this, but I do hope that others will refrain from posting any more links to ipse dixit arguments.