Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Gonzaga lectures online


Back in February of 2011, I gave a pair of lectures at the Faith and Reason Institute at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA.  I had no idea until just the other day that the lectures are available on YouTube and apparently have been for some time.  (I thank the anonymous reader who called this to my attention.)  You can view them here:



A Q & A session follows each lecture.  These talks are related to, but differ in content from, the talk I gave in December of last year at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, which is also available at YouTube:

51 comments:

Christian Daru said...

Even though you refer to your lecture as dry and boring, I find it infinitely better than the philosophy lectures I have to sit through at my school, sound metaphysics is priceless. A rare commodity in most places nowadays, I'm glad your lectures are online.

Anonymous said...

salam good Profeser,

I noticed you walk from side to side when lecturing. is that because of your Aristotelianism?

Joe K. said...

Anon,

I laughed.

Anonymous said...

Joe, lol serious question though.

Edward Feser said...

I noticed you walk from side to side when lecturing. is that because of your Aristotelianism?

Ha! Well, it's a habit I've had probably ever since I started teaching. It only occurred to me a couple of years ago or so that it was an appropriate one for an Aristotelian to have...!

Edward Feser said...

Christian,

Thank you!

Mr. Green said...

Anonymous: I noticed you walk from side to side when lecturing. is that because of your Aristotelianism?

Indeed. Some modern professors are reduced to standing there mechanically. But what's he gonna do? He could lie down, but then his students couldn't see 'im! (Lie, see 'im! Form-ULA!!)


Joe K.: I laughed.

Ah, well, that sounds more like you were reading Plato. Or maybe some of Suuuper-Genius Scientismamists we get here.

Thursday said...

RE: higher levels of teleology

In certain circumstances, hearts or genes do this. In different circumstances, they do that.

For example, in evolution something X that originally did A will now also do B, and sometimes after a long period will cease to do A. So, it would seem that X doesn't have any inherent tendency to do A. It only does A in certain circumstances.

So, even if we do use the language of function isn't that function relative to context.

I have never heard how Thomists explain this.

Thursday said...

And I am genuinely curious to hear what they have to say.

Anonymous said...

Was fun watching, even though I'm busy in the middle of finals week.

A lot the lecture unfortunately had to deal with setting the stage (making the necessary distinctions about philosophy of nature) and not much on God. I would like to hear more on divine essence, how you get to personal God and so on. It felt like you were out of time and not a lot of time was spent on that.

Thursday said...

Also, evolution also does raise another point.

Species X is in a certain environment. One member of that species, A, has a mutation B that makes that animal less able to do some act which is necessary for the animal to survive and reproduce in that environment. An Aristotelian can say that he is a poor specimen of species X. He is a deficient example of the kind of thing he is.

Now, the environment suddenly changes. In this environment, the same animal with mutation B now is better able to survive and reproduce. The Thomist said he was a poor example of species X, but now he's an exemplary member of the same group of animals. He is now an exemplary example of the kind of thing he is. And nothing has changed except the surrounding environment.

Again, isn't it all relative?

Thursday said...

So, do we simply add a qualification at the end of everything, like "In this circumstance, the function is X. In that circumstance, the function is Y."

And obviously there are certain things that say thing A can never do. Does everything have a range of functions, but no one definite thing that it is for?

Anonymous said...

Now, the environment suddenly changes. In this environment, the same animal with mutation B now is better able to survive and reproduce.

Can the environment change an herbivore digestive system into a carnivore digestive system?

And, have you ever read Real Essentialism by David Oderberg? It's highly recommended around here, and gets into evolution questions along these lines in greater detail than is usually suitable for a combox.

For example, in evolution something X that originally did A will now also do B, and sometimes after a long period will cease to do A. So, it would seem that X doesn't have any inherent tendency to do A. It only does A in certain circumstances.

X couldn't be a particular creature, for obvious reasons. It would have to be a set of various related creatures.

Eduardo said...

I know there is a pre-visualization of real essentialism in google books, just in case you wanna do a preview Thursday XD.

Thursday that is fun nickname.

Eduardo said...

Chapter 8, 9 and 10 Oderberg seems to talk more about evolution.

Man google books is really useful when I think about it.

Thursday said...

X couldn't be a particular creature, for obvious reasons. It would have to be a set of various related creatures.

I was thinking of, say, a particular bodily organ.

Eduardo said...

I think as the organ change it's form due to mutation, so it's natural ends change.

Apparently natural ends could be hidden *I mean not acknowledgable*, to the observer, like someone wathing a stomach that never eats would probably never conclude that the organ is meant to digest something.

Although this is personal opinion of mine based on what I could understand or think I have understood so far.

http://books.google.com.br/books?id=O0pqmkvkhtIC&pg=PA219&dq=real+essentialism+evolution&hl=pt-BR&sa=X&ei=YPS-UOGHD4XE0QHO_oGYBA&ved=0CDIQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=real%20essentialism%20evolution&f=false

Here Thursday, come back and tell us what you thought about it, if the pages you wanna read are available that is n_n.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking of, say, a particular bodily organ.

Sure, but it would still be organs in a series of creatures. Not just a single organ. Otherwise you're not even getting evolution.

Thursday said...

The organ itself doesn't change, but does something different.

Eduardo said...

Well like a spear that use kill someone and now it used to hold the ceiling of a barrack XD?

Don't know if that escapes it's ends though.

Perhaps thursday we are falling to the an idea that something once it's form has been "created" (evolved in this case), it must SHOW all it's natural ends. Well that doesn't seem to be what Aristoteleans have in mind, like I said, certain end might be hidden at first.

BUT in order for an object to perform it's natural endings the environment must be there, or other objects I mean.

So perhaps, dunno if this is the right way to think about this, but the natural ends are already in the object, but the natural ends are only instantiated when the correct conditions are met. (I sort of sound mechanistical don't I XD)

Maybe you and I should try reading the Real Essentialism XD.

Thursday said...

I supposed one might say it has many (but not an infinite number of) potential functions, which are then actualized by circumstance.

Thursday said...

Sure, but it would still be organs in a series of creatures. Not just a single organ.

But it would still be the same kind of thing according to Aristotelian theory.

Eduardo said...

Yeah that is what *I* think it would be the interpretation from Aristotle's metaphysics while analysing evolutionary pathways and biological entities in general.

I still haven't grasped the meat of Aristotle teleology but it is WAY different, I mean WAYYY different than Paley's. Paley's is really easy to get because it is a machine analogy, so you get it pretty quick what he means, but Aristotle's teleology is intrinsic (paley's teleology always come from outside), and that concept is rather hard for me to get it most likely because of my mechanistical way of thinking... about everything XD.

Eduardo said...

Yeah I think in Aristotle's metaphysics, many of the species we find a nature would be inevitably just a variation of the same kind. Like biologists analysing genes of snakes and discovering that they are 3 different species because fo their DNA make-up. I guess it is just different emphasis, Aristotle seems to be more about essence/forms/ends, while some definitions tend to be more about reproduction/isolation/DNA make-up.

Although our definitions of species are really weird, some of them might lead you to conclude that not having sex with your neighbours means that you and your neighbours are of a different species... So much for the human race being of a single especies XD.

Another Anon said...

"The organ itself doesn't change, but does something different."

You'll have to provide an example here, I'm not seeing how this is plausible.

Let's say a mutation occurs in some cells that compose the organ/tissue. The mutation could lead to the production of new proteins, which would have (potentially) novel functions. But the mutation and production of a new protein are certainly changes from the original/parental organ.

Anonymous said...

The organ itself doesn't change, but does something different.

Here was the example you gave.

For example, in evolution something X that originally did A will now also do B, and sometimes after a long period will cease to do A. So, it would seem that X doesn't have any inherent tendency to do A. It only does A in certain circumstances.

This will necessarily happen to a population over time. Not the same organ in the same creature. That's what I'm saying.

Thursday said...

Not the same organ in the same creature.

You're right that it isn't the same creature, but it is the same organ.

Tony said...

many of the species we find a nature would be inevitably just a variation of the same kind. Like biologists analysing genes of snakes and discovering that they are 3 different species because fo their DNA make-up.

Yes, I think that's right. Probably, for example, all of the great cats would constitute just one species. The fact that tigers and lions can mate and get ligers and tigons strongly suggests that they are the same species properly understood. I guessing the same would go for elk, carribou, mule deer, and even moose.

Tony said...

You're right that it isn't the same creature, but it is the same organ.

Thursday, you have a conceptual problem. If it is an organ in a different individual but (you think) an individual of the same species, then you have to justify that it is indeed "the same species" because you cannot know a-priori that the two individuals have the same species. Conceptually, though, once you establish that the organ performs a different function in the different individuals, you thereby establish the initial basis for the possible conclusion: different function implies that they are different species. Then you have to backtrack on what constitutes species differentiation, and that's very sticky. It is much more sticky in darwinian theories, because Darwin basically said "species" is just a name we put on enough differences that we are willing to categorize differently: it's subjective.

Anonymous said...

Wow, the doc is over 7 ft tall!

Cale B.T. said...

Audio versions of the Steubenville lectures are available here:

http://www.monergism.com/mp3/2012/01/can_science_inform_our_underst.php

Thursday said...

As best I can tell Tony you're conflating two separate questions that I asked.

Johan MÃ¥rtensson said...

I agree with most of what you say in those lectures but it worries me that I find your (Oderbergs?) examples of inorganic teleology in the rock and water cycles somewhat unconvincing.

You say that teleology is needed to distinguish those effects that belong to the cycle from effects that don't. For example, in the case of the water cycle: Both pain in someones toe and condensation are supposed to be effects of evaporation, but only condensation seems to belong to the cycle.

Your explanation of this inclusion/exclusion from the cycle is that condensation is one of the (characteristic?) goals (teloi) of evaporation but this pain is not.

It strikes me that for those two examples you could explain the difference not involving the concept of a telos: The "effects" that are contained in the cycles are states of the individually same basic stuff: this water and this rock respectively, whereas the other effects you mention seem to be states of some other individual substance if you like.

Anonymous said...

Johan, it seems to me that there can only be an objective process intrinsically related to "the same basic stuff" if one thinks about it in terms of essential teleology.

Essence is what restricts the scope of the process to water, and the teleology appropriate to that essence describes the directedness of water throughout the various stages, in virtue of which we have a "process" at all.

Johan MÃ¥rtensson said...

Granted that we are Aristotelians, it seems also effects external to the water cycle can be determined by the essence and a telos determined by that essence.

It seems to me that for example liquid water does not have a telos in an absolute sense. It seems not to be the case that it has as its goal to evaporate unconditionally, rather, its essence determines a set of conditional goals. For example when warmed it will cook and evaporate, when cooled it will freeze to ice, when mixed with soap it will produce bubbles and so on, when drank it will quench thirst and so on, all of this by virtue of its essence.

So how does the essence determine the cycle by itself. Is in not more true to say that given the environment of the earth and the requirements of the ecosystem, water, thanks to its essence, fills an important role that can be described in terms of the water cycle?

Eduardo said...

It would be pretty cool if you more nerdy about philosophy were to engage Monsieur Johan!!!

Damn me for being so s***ty at everything. Except mocking trolls...

Ismael said...

Dr. Feser, you ought to really debate in the Intelligence Square debates.

Lately D'Souza and Hutchinson debated Krauss and Shemer... and although Krauss and Shemer really gave the same old faulty answers (like 'the one god further' argument), D'Souza and Hutchingson did not really do a good job at all at debunking the 'Last Superstistion' perpetrated by Krauss and Shemer.

I think you would have done a much better job!

Eduardo said...

Quite sincerely I like written debates, or maybe read books with opposing views XD.

Most debates out there, I feel like each side could have strenghten their position way more and you could have seem 2 titans fighting each other!!! wouldn't that be great?

But no... what you get is one side acting naughty and the other side trying to be smart, so you have to go on about digging stuff see if you find anything useful on both sides and sometimes the arguments are just presented to shallow so you have to either put your head to work or read the person's books or work, which in the end make the debate useless, since you could have just be more efficient and just read the books!


Anonymous said...

I prefer written debates as well. I feel as if the exchanges are better, since there's less pressure and it gives both sides to proofread and evaluate what they are about to say.

"Lately D'Souza and Hutchinson debated Krauss and Shemer... and although Krauss and Shemer really gave the same old faulty answers (like 'the one god further' argument), D'Souza and Hutchingson did not really do a good job at all at debunking the 'Last Superstistion' perpetrated by Krauss and Shemer."

I agree that the who created god objection is a weak one, but some day, someone should just go "Gee, I guess there must be in infinite regress of creators! You sure showed me! Now instead of having to refute one god, you have to refute an infinite number of gods. And don't forget, infinite causal regresses are (apparently) ok."

Eduardo said...

LOL ... that is kind of cruel don't you think.

Ismael said...

Well D'Souza was particualrly weak... Hutchinon was better.

Krauss was a complete ass. His phrases like ' We now know exactly how the universe came to be' made me cry as a scientist!

Maybe Krauss should know that how the big bang came about it's still under heavy debate.

Krauss also criticizes String Theory, yet ST is one of the main players in trying to solve the question on how the universe started.

So much for his scientific integrity.

I really dislike scientists who propose a theory based on other theories and talk about it like it's a fact.

Sincerely I like Susskind much more. he's an atheist as well, yet in his lectures I have seen he never aced stupidly as Krauss does.


Shemer was a complete ignoramus as well... phrases that imply that morality is better without religion or that can be based on science would make atheists like Nietzche or Freud cry...


Yet they stole the show... I think that if WL Craig was there instead of D'Souza it would have gone much better (even if I often disagree with Graig theistic personalism)

Eduardo said...

Krauss is really fun because he doesn't like Strings, but damn he will shove them up there good if that means XD saving him from G*d... or anything spooky.

Anonymous said...

"Krauss also criticizes String Theory, yet ST is one of the main players in trying to solve the question on how the universe started.

So much for his scientific integrity."

I would cringe at "We now know exactly how the universe came to be." as well, but I don't think it's fair to attack his scientific integrity in terms of his quote about ST. If his criticisms are honest and cogent, then it’s perfectly fine for him to disagree with a mainstream theory. Also, didn't Krauss refute the whole atheist soundbyte "The matter/energy of the universe (+), when added to gravitational energy (-), equals zero so we are actually nothing that came from nothing." I mean, it was a pretty bad argument in the first place, but Krauss actually explained why it’s bad from a scientific standpoint. This is from Maudlin's review of Krauss's book:

“Krauss’s main argument for denominating the initial state “nothing” arises from considerations of energy. He argues that according to a certain way of quantifying the total energy content of the universe, including the gravitational energy, the entire present universe might have zero energy. Wouldn’t that mean that we could get the universe “for free”: something from nothing?

Well, no. As Krauss acknowledges, the calculation of total energy in Newtonian gravitational theory uses an arbitrary choice of gauge for the gravitational potential energy. The amount of potential energy can be changed at will without affecting the physics, and can in particular take negative values by choosing one particular state as the “zero potential energy” state. Given this freedom, one can make a choice that sets the total energy to zero, but one can also just as legitimately set it to any value one wishes.

Shouldn’t we be using the General Theory of Relativity rather than Newtonian gravity in any case? But, as Krauss also admits, there is no accepted method for ascribing a gravitational potential energy in the General Theory, much less a precise value of negative energy. Krauss does argue that we have good reason to think that the present universe is (nearly) flat, but this is not the same as “zero energy”.”

Eduardo said...

Anon

I think Ismael means, Krauss won't accept String Theory but he will use when it suits him got it?

Eduardo said...

By the way reading that comment that Krauss refuted that idea...

woah, some pop science site I was reading said that Krauss was defending exactly what you just mentioned him refuting.

... but since I am no fan of pop science, maybe the guy was just wrong that is all.

Yusaf Akerman said...

When you were describing the difference between accidentally and essentially ordered causal events you described the latter as simultaneous.

I was wondering if there was a specific definition here or if it was a more relative description. Of course, the hand moving happens very fast from when the thought that triggered it to the neurons firing it isn't exactly simultaneous. By definition simultaneous implies no order, thus no chain of causal effect.

Anonymous said...

Yusaf,

If you haven't done so already, read this post, and maybe the comments as well:

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2012/11/the-incompetent-hack.html

Yusaf Akerman said...

@Anon

Thanks.

From a Scientific perspective using the word "simultaneous" has a specific connotation. I was just trying to form my thoughts around not using it. Just wanted to make sure I fully understood the essence, so I could replace it. (I know it would be a point of contention at people I may frame it to and would rather avoid it) I understand the sentiment from Dr. Feser. I do think it might be helpful to replace or clarify why simultaneous is being used in his description of causal effects.

Regardless, great stuff Dr. Feser!!

Glenn said...

One day Mr. Kasparov wondered en passant, "How can the claim of 'simultaneous' be made when 'tis clear and obvious that events transpire in succession?"

The thought was still present in Mr. Kasparov's mind when he awoke the following morning. He was puzzled. "How can this be? The narrator said the thought was en passant. No matter. I will head to Zurich in search of an answer."

At about 0:44 local time there Mr. Kasparov mimed, "Hm, what might 'simultaneous' mean?" Some six seconds later (at about 0:51 local time), and as confused as ever about the matter, he pantomimed, "No, it can't mean that."

When later leaving the country, a customs official said to Mr. Kasparov, "We hope you have enjoyed your stay in Switzerland."

Checked by this innocent remark, Mr. Kasparov let loose with a crushing combination of criticisms. "How could I have? You Swiss pay no interest on large deposits, and take no interest in important definitions. I make a move on one board, move to the next board and make a move there. Then I move to the next board, and make a move on that one. Again and again, round and round in a circle. Yet you guys call it a simultaneous exhibition. Makes a man dizzy it does. I have filed a letter of complaint with the organizers, and insisted that from now on such displays be called Successive Exhibitions."

Glenn said...

Oh darn, messed it up.

s/b "...insisted that in the future such events be called Successive Exhibitions."

Glenn said...

Dear Mr. Kasparov,

We are in receipt of your recent letter of complaint, and take note that you exhibit therein the same intensity of energy you so ably displayed in the event about whose name your complaint is in reference to.

Our use of 'simultaneous' in labeling the events we organize as Simultaneous Exhibitions is loosely patterned on the template established by The Philosopher some while ago.

We take it as a given that you know to whom we refer when we say, "The Philosopher". And we likewise take it as a given that you will recall his having written that, "[T]hose species which are distinguished one from another and opposed one to another within the same genus are said to be 'simultaneous' in nature."

We view each event organized by ourselves as corresponding to a 'genus', and each game of a particular event as corresponding to a 'species' of that 'genus'. This being so, it is only natural that we should also view the individual games of a particular event as being ‘simultaneous’ in nature. Since our events are exhibitions of a number of games all of which are ‘simultaneous’ in nature, we label our events as Simultaneous Exhibitions.

We thank you for your correspondence, and appreciate the opportunity afforded thereby to clear up any confusion regarding the naming of our events.

Sincerely yours,
The Organizers

PS Our intention is to organize yet another event, tentatively scheduled to take place six months hence. This event will be held in the Cayman Islands, and we would very much appreciate your willingness to participate. As with all our prior events, this event too will be referred to as a Simultaneous Exhibition.

In the event that you continue to find the naming of our events to be troublesome, however, we are willing to accommodate your concern by considering a slight modification to the naming of this particular event. One possibility which comes to mind is: A Simultaneous Exhibition, Wherein Mr. Kasparov Will Display His Chess Playing Prowess In A Successive Manner.

Please advise at your convenience.