Monday, January 30, 2012

Contemporary Aristotelian Metaphysics

The long-awaited anthology Contemporary Aristotelian Metaphysics, edited by Tuomas Tahko for Cambridge University Press, is now available.  The good news is that you can save over $7 by ordering it from Amazon.  The bad news is that it will still set you back $91.49.  (Hopefully a paperback version will appear at some point!)  Anyway, you can find the CUP page for the book here, and you can check out a preview via Google Books here(Gotta love the symbolism of the cover: A new days dawns as the sunlight of sound metaphysics illuminates the barren wasteland of modern philosophy. Well, that’s my take anyway -- I don’t know if that’s what Tuomas intended!)

36 comments:

MetaMLK said...

Good lord, why are the best gateways to knowledge almost always so expensive to pass through?

Poor people are doomed to mental squalor, yet they are the ones that desperately need such knowledge the most!

I have a dream...that one day the metaphysical secrets of reality will not be so secret...that they will become as free and as accessible as the air we breathe, so that all peoples of all economic statuses may live a mentally refined life!

Syphax said...

Meta: The way I've experienced it, when I first started reading A/T metaphysics, it was like being "reintroduced" to it. 20 years of formal education had slowly caused me to forget what my observations had told me since I first gained awareness of the world around me.

In other words, I am guessing that the "average" poor person is in less need of an A/T book than a person who is "highly trained," since the former relies on what intuition has told them from the beginning, while the latter has rejected this, thinking that it was archaic, false, and primitive. It doesn't take a rocket scientist or brain surgeon to recognize purpose in nature - in fact, not being a rocket scientist or brain surgeon might actually help.

Alyosha said...

I think your interpretation of the cover is appropriate, even if unintended. One of the glories of being a Christian is the ability to recognize the tragedy of death and the beauty of resurrection. While the Moderns have killed the wisdom of our tradition in many modern minds, it will not and cannot remain dead, if for no other reason than the mind cannot live with an infertile philosophy.

Anonymous said...

lol I very casually mentioned this book to one of my TA's during a conversation and guess what his response was?

"Aristotle is ancient. He is not contemporary and philosophy has long since evolved past him. So the title is an oxymoron."

Bobcat said...

Do all the contributors to the volume identify themselves as neo-Aristotelian? If so, there's quite a lot of firepower there.

some kant said...

"Aristotle is ancient. He is not contemporary and philosophy has long since evolved past him. So the title is an oxymoron."

Nice way to say "I have never read Aristotle but let me get away with it by saying the he's wrong because he's old."

radp said...

@MetaMLK

I dont know how the American library system works, but in Germany you can access almost any decent book by an interlibrary loan.

BeingItself said...

Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.

some kant said...

Hume was fat and so are you.

Edward Feser said...

Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.

BeingItself, surely you know the standard retort to that old chestnut. Hume's Fork (which you are quoting) itself neither contains any abstract reasoning concerning number nor any experimental reasoning etc. Thus it commits itself to the flames. And good riddance.

BeingItself said...

Yes, I am aware. It's still hilarious. But not as hilarious as Dara O'Briain "get in the sack!" routine.

Pattsce said...

A mere---brilliant---sophist.

Inky said...

''Aristotle is ancient. He is not contemporary and philosophy has long since evolved past him. So the title is an oxymoron.''

Your friend sounds like an ignorant fool.

Anyway, this looks like a great book. I'll be sure to buy it (one of these days!).

Gyan said...

Dr Feser,
I am looking for arguments against the Hindu belief of rebirth and reincarnation.

In particular, I am looking for metaphysical arguments that show that the Hindu concept is incoherent and does not make sense in the first place.

Can you refer me to these arguments
Thanks.

21st Century Scholastic said...

@Gyan,

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/05/two-four-six-eight-who-do-you.html

;)

Tom said...

""Aristotle is ancient. He is not contemporary and philosophy has long since evolved past him"

I love the non sequitur from a "TA"

Buckeye said...

Doc Feser,
Could you address this issue by Karl Denninger?
http://market-ticker.org/akcs-www?singlepost=2854573

I think he makes a good point.
Curious as to your thoughts on the whole thing.

goddinpotty said...

Speaking of reincarnation, you might be interested in this demonstration that there is exactly one person and we are all him/her/it.

some kant said...

That sounds like Averroes.

jhall said...

That would be a great collection to own, but (price aside) by reading the preview of the first chapter, I can tell it's over my head (much the same experience as trying to read parts of "The Waning of Materialism" - I made it through the first chapter, a splendid critique of functionalism, but not very far after that).

Just curious about terminology: are these contributors mostly "analytic" philosophers, then? Or is that term usually not attributed to philosophers of the neo-Aristotelian bent?

Thanks

Buckeye said...

Doc Feser,
not to keep pushing the point.
But, regarding the Church's position now against Obamacare.... are Catholics and the Church complicit in the fact that the have for years paid employment taxes to the govt that went to fund things like abortion, contraception already?

Tony said...

Gyan, among other problems, I have been partial to noting the problem of identity. If a person, "Bill", comes back as a horse, and then as a human, and then a cow, and a dog, and another human, then _what_ Bill IS cannot be said of any of them, but of something more basic, like "he is a separated soul" which may inhere in a human or a cow or a horse body.

This poses ALL SORTS of problems. For one thing, what is moral / proper behavior to Bill must be the moral, proper behavior of a separated soul. But what about when he is a dog, is his moral behavior to act as a dog, and since dogs do not mate for life, there it is appropriate for him to mate with many female dogs serially? Then, when he is a human, mating with many human women would be promiscuity and wrong. But Bill is Bill, not dog nor human. In the end, it is impossible to even ascribe to Bill some kind of "proper" behavior that is right for him, because there is no saying what his nature is. Morality falls into nonsense, for there is simply no basis for attempting to say what kind of behavior is "appropriate" to Bill qua separated soul.

Secondly, if Bill is a separated substance, either his actions as a man form habits in "him" distinct from his current body, that remain with him after this body dies, or they do not. If he does form such habits that carry, then a baby isn't really a clean slate with respect to forming new habits, but is rather an already formed slate, picking up where he left off last life. But this is not consistent with experience. Knowledge is a habit, and babies do not know things, like how to talk etc. If, on the other hand, the man does NOT carry his habits with him after death, then Bill is a wholly fresh, clean, empty slate and then the whole point of reincarnation into a new form based on your actions in the old is an irrelevancy.

Reincarnation doesn't actually _account_ for anything that needs to be accounted for in terms of what man is and what he ought to be. It is kind of like the description of the world resting on an elephant, resting on a turtle, etc.

Richard said...

The idea that children, or even adults, can even potentially possess memories from other people seems to put a stake through the heart of classical theisms understanding of the human soul. And yet we keep getting evidence of people who seem to experience this phenomenon. The memories, when experienced, seem to be deeply personal and mostly free of a third person observer perspective. "They were MY family, I died by drowning, I lived there," etc. Since those memories are subjective, and are part of the essence of an individual, they cannot in principle be part of another persons experience of the world. And yet...

DNW said...

goddinpotty said...

Speaking of reincarnation, you might be interested in this demonstration that there is exactly one person and we are all him/her/it.

February 1, 2012 6:54 PM"


That's funny ... I don't feel hungry.

Anonymous said...

Gyan,

the doctrine of reincarnation depends on the doctrine of the pre-existence of the soul. so, if the latter is false, then the former is false as well. but the latter is false. therefore, etc.

proof of the minor: cf. ST I, q.90, art.4.

some kant said...

That's funny ... I don't feel hungry.

Uh. Harsh.

Anonymous said...

Just so everyone here is aware, the ancient Indians had a complex and vastly developed system of physics, not just metaphysics. Karma and reincarnation deal with both, if it is interpreted as a literal truth at all (it often is not). To argue against reincarnation without taking into consideration the system of physics that backed it up is either intellectually lazy or dishonest. It is the same move that atheists pull when they know nothing about Aristotelan conceptions like form, substance, essence, virtue... but then proceed to "disprove" one of Thomas' proofs for the existence of God. They end up bringing in all sorts of irrelevant conceptions that they don't even realize.

Not to say that reincarnation is true, but to show that it is not would take a lot more work than anyone is doing.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, that above post assumed we were talking about Hinduism and not Platonism or whatever the Pythagoreans believed...

Tom said...

" To argue against reincarnation without taking into consideration the system of physics that backed it up is either intellectually lazy or dishonest. It is the same move that atheists pull when they know nothing about Aristotelan conceptions like form, substance, essence, virtue... but then proceed to "disprove" one of Thomas' proofs for the existence of God. They end up bringing in all sorts of irrelevant conceptions that they don't even realize."

I think the opposite is true for Thomistic and Aristotelian metaphysics. Their metaphysics is independent of the physics of the day but they often presented examples using the physics of the day to demonstrate the metaphysics. The physics of the day has been proven false but since Thomistic metaphysics is independent of the physics Thomism doesn't fall with the physics de jure. Yet critics often erroneously asset otherwise.

James said...

“since Thomistic metaphysics is independent of the physics Thomism doesn't fall with the physics de jure.”

You write this as if Thomism were distinctive in this respect. Do you think Platonic, Cartesian, or Hegelian metaphysics dependent on falsifiable physics? To attempt to falsify any metaphysical opinions in the light of physics is in principle insufficient for the fall of the former, since those opinions, qua metaphysical, proceed ‘ex definitione’ (cf. ST I, q.90, art.4, alluded to above). But what of a demonstration that they are theologically arbitrary and/or redundant? To the extent that Thomism has authority in the Church, for example, it is, theologically speaking, neither sufficient, nor necessary. An authority in iubendo, not in dicendo because it is held, if at all, with ordinary, not theological assent.

Tom said...

James wrote " You write this as if Thomism were distinctive in this respect. "

The previous comment was making a specific point about comparing the "ancient Indians" metaphysics to Thomism, not the others you mentioned.

I'm didn't assert that Thomas was distinctive in this respect, nor did I try to imply it. I was simply juxtaposing Thomism to the position stated about the "ancient Indians".

Anonymous said...

Oh Professor Feser, I like you and Aristotle, but give modern philosophers a break. We're talking about Leibniz, Kant, and Wittgenstein.

Anonymous said...

Oh Professor Feser, I like you and Aristotle, but give modern philosophers a break. We're talking about Leibniz, Kant, and Wittgenstein.

Anonymous said...

Oh Professor Feser, I like you and Aristotle, but give modern philosophers a break. We're talking about Leibniz, Kant, and Wittgenstein.

Anonymous said...

Oh Professor Feser, I like you and Aristotle, but give modern philosophers a break. We're talking about Leibniz, Kant, and Wittgenstein.

Anonymous said...

Oh Professor Feser, I like you and Aristotle, but give modern philosophers a break. We're talking about Leibniz, Kant, and Wittgenstein.