Friday, July 22, 2011

Thomas Tallis (1505-1585) - Honor, virtus et potestas

Taverner Consort, Taverner Choir
Andrew Parrett
(via the Chant Cafe)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

TED: Mikko Hypponen: Fighting viruses, defending the net

Edward Feser, Does morality depend on God?

Now that doesn’t mean that God is irrelevant to ethics; far from it. For one thing, only part of the natural law can be known without reference to God. For example, that murder, lying, adultery, dishonoring parents, etc. are contrary to the good for us can be known from an examination of human nature alone. But the fact that God exists naturally has moral implications of its own, and since for A-T the existence of God can also be known through natural reason, there are certain very general religious obligations (such as the obligation to love God) that can be known through reason alone, and thus form part of the natural law. (Indeed, these are our highest obligations under natural law.) Then there is the fact that the natures of things, including human nature, derive ultimately from those ideas in the divine intellect which form the archetypes by reference to which God creates. (In this way morality is for A-T neither independent of God nor grounded in arbitrary divine commands, as I explained in a post on the Euthyphro objection.) Furthermore, for A-T, a complete account of moral obligation requires reference to God as legislator (even if moral obligation can proximately be explained by reference to the natural end of the will). Finally, divine revelation is also needed for a complete account of everyday moral life. For one thing, divine revelation discloses certain details about morality that the human intellect is too feeble reliably to discover on its own. For another, some aspects of the natural law are so demanding that many people are capable realistically of living up to them only given the hope of a reward in the hereafter, of the sort divine revelation promises. (Again, all of these issues are discussed in Aquinas. See chapter 8 of the first volume of Michael Cronin’s The Science of Ethics for a useful treatment of the proximate and ultimate grounds of moral obligation.)

All the same, since to a large extent the grounds and content of morality can be known from a study of human nature alone, it follows that to a large extent morality would be what it is even if human beings existed and God did not. For, again, morality is not based in arbitrary divine commands any more than scientific laws are expressions of some arbitrary divine whim. From the A-T point of view, “divine command theory” (or at least the crude version of divine command theory that takes the grounds and content of morality to rest on sheer divine fiat) is, I would say, comparable to occasionalism, and similarly objectionable. (Cf. my recent post on Ockham.)

Per impossibile... after all we cannot come into existence on our own. The goods of human nature would stay the same, though something would be missing, our ultimate end.

Monday, July 18, 2011

No, It Was Just Plain Old Equivocal by David Werling

A Response to Fr. Cavalcoli’s letter in the on-going debate over the Second Vatican Council and the traditionalist critique
I was reading the comments for Edward Feser's latest. Who has the time and money to be a FT apologist? Because that is what is needed for a proper response to be given to those who are objecting to the proofs for the existence of God, claiming that they understand Aquinas's metaphysics.

But have they been convinced by the argument from motion? Is there a problem with jumping to the metaphysical proofs when the physical proof has been neglected or is not understood? After all, Aquinas believes that it is not possible to prove Creation ex nihilo, and that one cannot argue against an eternal Creation. And yet, the proof from motion would nonetheless be sound. Is this true of the third way (possibility/necessity) as well? I would think so... An eternal Creation does not exist necessarily? But can we know this from reason alone? If we can't, we must show that even if it exists necessarily, it is nonetheless caused by another. Or, one has to show that the ultimate necessary being is not material.

So does this show, once again, that there is a need to study physics before metaphysics?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A return to the Divine authority?

Aquinas' moral theology is not a version of divine command theory in so far as that involves [Divine] voluntarism. But while the intelligibility of moral precepts is tied to "eudaimonism," the intelligibility of the precepts does not mitigate their obligatory character. Do discussions of Thomistic virtue ethics ignore this aspect of the moral precepts, and how their observance is tied to the virtues of obedience and religion (and not just charity, even if that is the highest virtue)? (Similarly, even if we rightly call God "Abba" should we not temper out understanding of Him with an acknowledgment of His Sovereignty and His Superiority?)

In an earlier post I talked about Aristotle's discussion of education for the young and how it should be common, or "public." What happens when the society is corrupt and the mores it seeks to impart contradict the natural law? Liberal tolerance may seem nice and neutral, but it involves a rejection of traditional morality and usually directs its adherents to suppressing those who would uphold it. What are families to do when their community has become hostile to tradition and to God? Does this mitigate the obligation to have one's children participate in the common paideia (and I am not equating this with our public school system, even if proponents of public mass education believe they are identical)? I would think so, precisely the authority of God is greater than that of the polis, and what the polis is doing is wrong in the sight of God.