Friday, January 29, 2010

Ralph McInerny (1929-2010)

Resquiescat in pace‏.

7 comments:

The Codgitator said...

I was JUST wondering about/praying for him while working out. And so close on the heels of St Thomas's feast day. I have a feeling his spirit willfully and providentially held out to enjoy the day one last time "this side". Wojtlya, Dulles, Neuhaus, Jaki, McInerny, inter alii. God is great and their lives are a witness.

bgc said...

I have been meaning to read one of his books for the past few weeks - I feel sorry I left it until after he had died. Which book would you recommend for a beginner to start with?

Edward Feser said...

Hi Bruce,

Ethica Thomistica is a good place to start. Clear as a bell, witty, and a nice exposition of Aquinas's ethics. In the first edition there are also a few pages critiquing "new natural law" theorists like Grisez and Finnis, though he removed this in the second edition because he thought it was too much of a digression from the exposition of Aquinas's position.

Eric said...

Brandon at Siris has links to a number of online works by McInerny.

bgc said...

@EF - thanks, I've ordered a copy

@Eric - thanks, this is a terrific resource.

Squirrel Boots McKenzie said...

Act-Potency; Act always precedes potential.

Form-Matter; does form always precede matter?


A materialist would say that matter comes first - but do they deny form entirely? Do they have to?

Kevin said...

Squirrel Boots McKenzie said:

Act-Potency; Act always precedes potential.

Form-Matter; does form always precede matter?


A materialist would say that matter comes first - but do they deny form entirely? Do they have to?

February 1, 2010 11:25 AM

TO ANSWER (requote):
Form-Matter; does form always precede matter?

No. In material substances form is concurrent with matter, per Aristotle's Metaphysics, quote:

ARISTOTLE:
The moving causes (efficient causes KB) exist as things PRECEDING their effects, but causes in the sense of FORMULAE (formal causes KB) are CONCURRENT with their effects. [Metaphysics, BK XII, Ch. 3. 1070a lines 21 - 22]

ANSWER:
So form does not precede matter. It is concurrent with matter, in any sort of material substance. As Aquinas mentions in one of the arguments of the first part of the Summa, God created matter under some FORM which was in potentiality to other forms.

On the act-potency distinction, there is also somewhat of a problem, although, generally, ACT does precede POTENCY, quote

ARISTOTLE: Yet there is a difficulty for it is thought that everything that ACTS is ABLE TO ACT {i.e. has the potentiality to act) but that NOT everything that is able to act (has the potential to act), acts, so that the POTENCY is PRIOR (or has precedence KB). BUT if this is so, nothing at all might exist, for it is possible for all things to be capable of existing, but not to exist as yet. [Metaphysics, BK XII, Ch. 4., 1071b lines 23-27 approximately.

Thus Aquinas's argument for God's existence on the basis of the distinction between possibility and necessity. In other words, some causes are necessary, other causes are contingent and other causes are merely accidental.

FINAL QUESTION:
Materialists do not deny form. In fact their pursuit of the fundamental "form" of matter causes them to build very expensive particle accelerators and "colliders" so that they can find that "fundamental material form" --- which is looking more and more like "light" [a so-called "standing wave"] as they proceed while progressively blurring the distinction between particles (of matter) and waves of electromagnetic energy.

Kevin