Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Hart jumps the shark


In the April issue of First Things, David Bentley Hart takes Thomists to task for denying that some non-human animals posses “irreducibly personal” characteristics, that they exhibit “certain rational skills,” and that Heaven will be “positively teeming with fauna.”  I respond at Public Discourse, in “David Bentley Hart Jumps the Shark: Why Animals Don’t Go to Heaven.”

182 comments:

Geoff said...

Dr. Feser,

Say it ain't so. There are good reasons (revelatory), even if one accepts Thomistic metaphysics, to also accept that resurrected animal life is a facet of the New Heavens and New Earth of Scripture.

Paul:
1 Corinthians 15:37-44 ESV (37) And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. (38) But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. (39) For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. (40) There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. (41) There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. (42) So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. (43) It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. (44) It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.

Paul, uses the importance of distinctions in type of glory and of body, to make distinctions between the current age and the resurrection body. But, he seems to imply that God meant for all of the different kinds of flesh to be in seed form for now. I'm not implying that Paul teaches a resurrection for each discrete animal, but rather the animal kingdom as a whole.

I do not see why, for non-sentimental reasons since I don't like animals, animals who are given Sabbath rest in the Decalogue or who have a special relationship with the righteous in Proverbs 12:10, also probably have a place in the New Heavens and the New Earth.

Are you using "heaven" as a synecdoche for the eschaton?

Thoughts?

Anonymous said...

I bet no one here owns a pet.

Keen Reader said...

Heaven wouldn't be, couldn't be, very heavenly without animals.

Crude said...

A dumb question, perhaps, but - is there a distinction here between 'Heaven' and 'resurrected'?

I can understand how Heaven, conceived as a non-corporeal place, lacks animals, conceived as entirely corporeal. But the resurrected body, in a rejuvenated creation, would have the corporeal - and if the claim is there would be no animals /there/, then I'm missing something.

Anonymous said...

"Even given that Hart is trying to be funny, this is, needless to say, pretty weird"
-Exactly what I thought when I read Hart's article.

Mr. Green said...

Anonymous: I bet no one here owns a pet.

Yeah, like anyone who denies the Cartesian view of animals as furry robots must not have a computer.


Geoff: [Animals] also probably have a place in the New Heavens and the New Earth.

I am inclined to think that animals will indeed be present on the New Earth (though of course not "resurrected" and not in Heaven in the sense of communion with God), though as I recall Aquinas didn't agree. Certainly there is no necessity for there to be animals, but it just as surely possible for a new physical creation to include animals (and plants) if God so wishes.

Matthew N. said...

I, too, am troubled about Dr. Feser's potential elision of a potential distinction between a state 'in heaven', in which the saints are said to enjoy the beatific vision even now, after their deaths; and between the resurrection, the eschaton, the end of all things, a new body, a new heaven and a new earth. It seems right to me that Thomists would wish to speculate that animals do not enjoy a current state of blessedness in heaven; I believe that Thomists would wish seriously to consider the role of nonhuman animals in the resurrection and the new earth. And I do agree with everyone; we wish to avoid sentimentalism here. But we also wish to avoid gnosticism. After all, God did go to all the trouble of creating the animals in the first place...

Daniel said...

Question for those up on Sacred Theology:

What part can the body or indeed the physical world play in the hereafter understood as the Beatific Vision? To be immortal is not to exist for endless duration but to transcend time.

Graham Oppy, in his usual enthusiastic way, once suggested Christians are committed to a 'Maximally Great Island' in the form of their Heaven. Leftow responded quite correctly that Heaven just is perception off and participation in the Divine Essence. Heaven, as a number of theologians have stressed, is a state not a place. So where does a physical hereafter fit into all this?

Btw at one point Hart bemoans the intellectual nature of the Beatific Vision as the 'triumph of Rationalism'. This cheap and pointless little wordplay can be turned on its head though as one could just as easily claim that, being the ultimate 'Given', the Beatific Vision is in fact the 'triumph of Empiricism'.

Anonymous said...

The non-humans are not connected to the world via conceptual mind, and, therefore they have no problems about Realizing the non-dual nature of Reality Itself. The egoless nature of Reality is perfectly obvious to the non-humans.

On the basis of of point of view, human beings construct space in which they confine themselves. They thus live as narcissus in the virtual space of mind, rather than in actual space. Narcissus does not move about but only sits staring at himself in a mirror. Like Narcissus, human beings do a great of "living" in mental space, staring at their own minds. In such a condition, it does not make any difference how much you may hike in the woods, or how much fancy metaphysics you spin. You are always sitting in front of a mirror, experiencing spatial confinement through your own droning mentality.

Human beings "live" in a domain if self-consciousness and self-projection through self-imagery, to such an extent that they do not exist otherwise and Reality Itself is lost to them.
Non-humans suffer dissociation to one degree or another, even more so the more that associate with fundamentally insane human beings. But they exist in an eco-sphere, not in an ego-sphere.

In the self-possessed ignorance debate the question "are animals conscious?". What is the real question. Obviously animals are conscious. Clearly, they are aware in exactly the same fundamental way as humans are, apart from all of self-possessed thinking and self-projection. What are people suggesting when they wonder whether or not animals have consciousness? They are asking "do animals have self-consciousness? Are they aware of themselves as an independent individual?" As if the grossly reductionist normal kind of humanly defined self-awareness is the primary, if not the only, proof that one is aware, that one exists.

That focus on self-consciousness is human propaganda - the measure human beings are making on other entities. If human beings decide that an entity is not self-conscious, human beings think that this somehow gives them the right to control, exploit, and murder beings that are deemed non-human or non-self-conscious. Therefore, human beings have established a vast, terrible, cruel industry of killing non-humans all over the world. The justification for this is a false view of non-humans.

By contrast, in some cultures at least, the traditional view was/is based on sensitivity to the non-humans, feeling their state, and feeling how human beings can benefit from being and doing likewise. In such cultures, where animals were killed it was done in a ritual manner - not obsessively , all day and night.

For human beings, just being around non-humans, observing and feeling them is a lesson. What is the difference between animals and humans? Fundamentally, the non-humans are not existing in an ego-sphere. They exist in an eco-sphere, a space-time domain without ego-consciousness. A space-time domain of universal contemplation.

The ego-consciousness of human beings is a mental fabrication, an invention of human beings for their own unconscious reasons. In the present time there exist seven billion human beings who are adapted to the falseness and insanity of ego-culture and all the aberrations and exaggerations that result from it, including the abuse of the non-humans.

Anonymous said...

When an animal begins to enter the death process, there are some simple things that we can do to assist and support the animal. Because of their already deep level of contemplation, most non-humans have much less difficulty than humans do with releasing themselves into and through the death process. Sometimes the best help is to simply leave them alone. Set them up in a comfortable, safe, quiet place and allow them their space. Once the death process is underway, and soon after the death has occurred, minimize physical contact with the animal. At this point, physical contact, although perhaps reassuring to the grieving person, can become disturbing and distracting for the one who is involved in the actual process of letting go of the body.
if it is a natural death, whether through old age or a long illness, hopefully one will have time to express your love and gratitude to ones animal friend well before the actual death process is fully underway. Both leading up to and at the time of death, it is most helpful to the animal if you too have come to the point of acceptance, release, and letting go. In your feeling, allow the animal to freely relax its attachment to the body. Because many animals form such strong loyalties towards the humans they love, if they feel that you are not ready for them to die they may resist letting go, and may also linger after death, all of which compromises their ability to transition smoothly.
After death, let the body rest in place for 12 or 24 hours and then bury or cremate it. It also serves to do a simple burial ceremony on the body or ashes. Take up all the animals "belongings" - bedding, bowls, leashes, toys and so forth. Clean them all and put them away.. All of this helps make conscious and tangible the process of fullest release.

E.Seigner said...

Daniel,

Graham Oppy, in his usual enthusiastic way, once suggested Christians are committed to a 'Maximally Great Island' in the form of their Heaven. Leftow responded quite correctly that Heaven just is perception off and participation in the Divine Essence. Heaven, as a number of theologians have stressed, is a state not a place. So where does a physical hereafter fit into all this?

Heaven just is perception of and participation in the Divine essence, but can you say you are aware of participating in it right now? So, Heaven is perception of and participation in the Divine essence, and lack of perception of and participation in what could deter and diminish it.

It's the animal and material tendencies that form an obstacle to perception of and participation in the Divine Essence. When one thing is on top of another, and you want to get to the other, the first thing has to be removed (in an appropriate way of course). Both the here and the hereafter fit in.

Daniel said...

Ed wrote,

That’s the thing about the beatific vision: it rather leaves everything else in its dust.

Not that I deny this but I think there must be a sense in which the Beatific Vision, the direct intuition of the Ground of all Reality, must encompass the rest of Reality as opposed to render it irrelevant. Boethius famous statement about Eternity containing the fullness of Time in a single instant comes to mind.

@ E. Seigner,

Thanks for your response.

Heaven just is perception of and participation in the Divine essence, but can you say you are aware of participating in it right now? So, Heaven is perception of and participation in the Divine essence, and lack of perception of and participation in what could deter and diminish it.

No, but does not Thomas and Catholicism in general deny that Man has any natural capacity for the Beatific Vision and that this is what is granted to us supernaturally by Grace? Even if one grants the natural end of man is the Beatific Vision it doesn't seem unreasonable to say that as they are few men are ready for that end (perhaps one could give Plotinus and some of the mystics are those of have achieved the Beatific Vision 'naturally').

It's the animal and material tendencies that form an obstacle to perception of and participation in the Divine Essence. When one thing is on top of another, and you want to get to the other, the first thing has to be removed (in an appropriate way of course). Both the here and the hereafter fit in.

I'm not sure I understand this - are you claiming that the animal and material nature of Man is what prevents us from direct perception of the Divine Essence?

E.Seigner said...

Daniel,

No, but does not Thomas and Catholicism in general deny that Man has any natural capacity for the Beatific Vision and that this is what is granted to us supernaturally by Grace?

The first version of my comment, which got lost in the webscape, said something about grace too. I used it because it felt appropriate and Christians are big about it, but as said, the first comment got lost, and I am not so big about grace myself, since I am neither a Christian or a Thomist.

Anyway, whichever way grace is said to be bestowed, there have to be certain faculties to receive it. In theory, every human has the relevant faculties, but in practice most people have them in an atrophied state, and they further atrophy them by negligence, (wilful) ignorance and by wallowing in sin.

I'm not sure I understand this - are you claiming that the animal and material nature of Man is what prevents us from direct perception of the Divine Essence?

These are difficult things to put briefly and accurately, but I'll try. There are two directions one can look towards: 1. towards what the senses (our animal/material nature) present to us, namely the world or the universe 2. what the divine grace presents to us, namely beatific vision of Divine Essence.

We can look at just one of these things at a time, not at them both at the same time (not without relevant practice anyway). Insofar as this is so, yes, animal and material nature of Man is what prevents us from direct perception of the Divine Essence.

E.Seigner said...

For completeness' sake I must add: Inasmuch as animal and material nature prevents from direct perception of the Divine Essence, it's advisable to make increasing use of spiritual nature.

Ismael said...

@Crude

"""A dumb question, perhaps, but - is there a distinction here between 'Heaven' and 'resurrected'?

I can understand how Heaven, conceived as a non-corporeal place, lacks animals, conceived as entirely corporeal. But the resurrected body, in a rejuvenated creation, would have the corporeal - and if the claim is there would be no animals /there/, then I'm missing something."""



The difference between Heaven & Resurrected is this:

Usually "heaven" is meant the place where the blessed are NOW, without a body. The place is not strictly "physical" as only spiritual beings dwell there (God, angels, souls).

AFTER the "Final Resurrection", those who are saved will live in a PHYSICAL, since the Resurected, like Jesus will have a physical (glorified) body.

Now after the final resurrection you might and probably will have animals and plants, but it will not be your dog, cat or your cactus you own now.

The world shall be made "anew".

Since animals do not posses and immortal soul they cannot be resurrected either.

Daniel said...

Quick response:

I am not so big about grace myself, since I am neither a Christian or a Thomist.

I share that sentiment and for the same reasons.

I think though that worldly entities must point beyond themselves and be symbols for the Godhead. Of course one can focus to a greater or lesser degree on the symbols themselves though if one were to do so consistently they would lose their very nature and identity (Nietzsche or Rorty might be the only atheists who come close to doing this consistently).

FM said...

@Geoff

here are good reasons (revelatory), even if one accepts Thomistic metaphysics, to also accept that resurrected animal life is a facet of the New Heavens and New Earth of Scriptur

I do not thik there are really any serious arguments in the scriptures for animals to go to heaven.

"I do not see why, for non-sentimental reasons since I don't like animals, animals who are given Sabbath rest in the Decalogue"

Becuase the work of animals is tied with the work of men. Animals do not work on their own... bulls do not plow a field out of their own volition but do so because men drive them to do so.

Basically if the decalogue was written now God would command to "rest your tractors and factory machines", but this does not mean toasters go to heaven.

Also making the animals rest is also good for their health, hence preserving them, since they are a precious good (also in an economical sense, certainly in pre-industrial cultures).

Also since men is the "caretaker" of creation in a sense, it is our right to use it but not to abuse it.

This is what Proverbs 12:10 points to.

--


1 Corinthians 15:37-44 points to the corruptibility of the human body, which dies and turns to dust like any other animal, plant or even inanimate object, but indeed Pual points out that our resurrected body will not be perishible like the one we have now.

This does not however say anything about animals nor does Paul at all teach resurrction for "he animal kingdom as a whole."

This is clear from what Paul writes after the passage you quoted, ie verse 45-49:

"If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”[f]; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we[g] bear the image of the heavenly man."

Bilbo said...

Hi Ed,

I haven't read any of the material, but I find myself responding to "animals don't go to heaven" in the same sort of way that I respond to "there is no self." Anyone who has had a pet knows that that it has its own personality, distinct from others. That means there is a unique identity that God could sustain and re-embody. And that suggests that there is something profoundly wrong with your philosophy.

Crude said...

Ismael,

Since animals do not posses and immortal soul they cannot be resurrected either.

I am ever the amateur, but this is probably the best place on the internet to get corrected if I'm wrong here.

If animals are wholly "Aristotle-material" - just to differentiate it from what materialists mean by material - then it seems that while they may not be in Heaven, resurrection is possible for them. You'd just be reconstituting their material as it was (forget all those damn thought experiments for a moment) when the creature died.

Now, that is definitely utterly unlike what happens with a resurrected human - there's that intellect to account for, etc - but still.

Lee said...

@FM

"1 Corinthians 15:37-44 points to the corruptibility of the human body, which dies and turns to dust like any other animal, plant or even inanimate object, but indeed Pual points out that our resurrected body will not be perishible like the one we have now.

This does not however say anything about animals nor does Paul at all teach resurrction for "he animal kingdom as a whole.""

Well, it's true that Paul does not speak of the resurrection of animals here or elsewhere, at least explicitly. Yet Paul does speak of the freeing of creation from corruption in Rom. 8:21-22. The renewal of the world in the age to come was a common idea in Second Temple Judaism and it often included plant and animal life.

It doesn't require Resurrected Fido in heaven, but neither does it preclude it.

Scott said...

@Crude:

"If animals are wholly 'Aristotle-material' - just to differentiate it from what materialists mean by material - then it seems that while they may not be in Heaven, resurrection is possible for them. You'd just be reconstituting their material as it was (forget all those damn thought experiments for a moment) when the creature died."

I think the counterargument to this would be that an animal thus "resurrected" would be a duplicate, not a continuation of the original.

If there's a vulnerability in the Thomist view, it's surely in the claim that non-rational animals are wholly material in the first place. The argument for the immateriality of the intellect is basically that it can receive the form of (say) a cat without becoming a cat. But why isn't the same true of sensory perception?

DNW said...

" Anonymous said...

The non-humans are not connected to the world via conceptual mind, and, therefore they have no problems about Realizing the non-dual nature of Reality Itself. The egoless nature of Reality is perfectly obvious to the non-humans. ...
human beings do a great of "living" in mental space, staring at their own minds. In such a condition, it does not make any difference how much you may hike in the woods, or how much fancy metaphysics you spin. You are always sitting in front of a mirror, experiencing spatial confinement through your own droning mentality."



and

" Anonymous said...

When an animal begins to enter the death process, there are some simple things that we can do to assist and support the animal. Because of their already deep level of contemplation, most non-humans have much less difficulty than humans do with releasing themselves into and through the death process. Sometimes the best help is to simply leave them alone. ... "



Good parody. Almost too good. I nearly took it seriously.

DNW said...



What do you bet that within a few years Hart drops Christianity completely. Becomes one of those "I used to believe this" A+ types.

Daniel said...

What do you bet that within a few years Hart drops Christianity completely. Becomes one of those "I used to believe this" A+ types.

Given his Neo-Platonism he would be more likely just come straight out and endorse reincarnation.

seanrobsville said...

Since having or not having an immortal soul is an all or nothing situation, it seems to require a fairly radical discontinuity in the evolutionary process. One moment the apemen are soulless, but next instant they're all given souls.

Scott said...

@seanrobsville:

"One moment the apemen are soulless, but next instant they're all given souls."

Yes. You've at least heard of the book of Genesis, right?

DNW said...

"Consider this. Christ tells us that there will not be marriage in Heaven, and the clear implication is that there will not be romance or sexual intercourse, either. Young people find it difficult to understand how we could fail to miss all of this, and anyone with an amorous disposition can sympathize. But, in fact, we will not miss it. That’s the thing about the beatific vision: it rather leaves everything else in its dust. And I submit that if you won’t miss sex when you’re in Heaven, it’s a safe bet that you’re not going to give much thought to Fido either."


Bloody snuffling emotionalists, LOL

When I was a boy in the "Vietnam Era" there were a number of famous Mainline Prot clerics whose process of going over the psychological edge was featured in the (soon to be extinct) weeklies and major photojournals.

One of these was (no not William Sloane Coffin) Bishop Pike, an Episcopalian heretic who tried to channel his dead son who had killed himself.

Although I didn't know anything substantive about it or him till many years later, a vague recollection of a name and face seen in Life or Look or Time sufficed to put 2 and 2 together.

Apparently one of the good bishop's concerns, as was reported in a book of Pike's own, was to find out if there was sex in heaven.

He was reassured that yes there was - of a sort.

How fair these joys would register on a Santimeter, is something we are left to speculate on. They seem to have been described as a kind of spiritual or ghostly merging.

Would HIV be necessary to add a necessary fillip of piquancy to the quality of the experience? Perhaps Andrew Sullivan could best comment.

seanrobsville said...

@ Scott
My understanding of the Book of Genesis is that men were created 6000 years ago complete with immortal souls, whereas apes were created at the same time but either had no souls or just temporary souls. In any case, the resemblance between humans and apes was purely coincidental, since they shared no common ancestry.

However this won't work in a Darwinian world. We either have a situation where apemen are suddenly equipped with souls, or their pre-existing temporary souls suddenly undergo a complete qualitative change from temporary to permanent, with no in-between stages.

So maybe 6000 years ago all babies conceived or born after a certain date had immortal souls, whereas their older siblings weren't so lucky. Or maybe the entire living population underwent a simultaneous soul mutation from temporary to immortal varieties. It would be hard luck for Granny if she missed this unique opportunity by shuffling off her coil a couple of days before the big event.

Crude said...

sean,

Since having or not having an immortal soul is an all or nothing situation, it seems to require a fairly radical discontinuity in the evolutionary process.

Only if someone views the introduction of the soul to be part of the evolutionary process. And if we're going to be that loose with the term, then radical discontinuity with the evolutionary process is relatively common - there's calamities, mass extinction events, sudden explosions of technology, cultural change, and who knows what else.

Scott,

I think the counterargument to this would be that an animal thus "resurrected" would be a duplicate, not a continuation of the original.

Well, counterargument sure, but not a decisively settled matter on the part o the Thomist, right? I'm more dispassionate about the animal question than most, so the conclusions here don't concern me. It just seems like it's swinging too far in the opposite direction here, and most people aren't going to make the distinction between 'Heaven' and 'our future lives' as far as Christianity goes.

Scott said...

@seanrobsville:

"However this won't work in a Darwinian world."

Your understanding of Genesis lags the Catholic understanding by at least some fifteen hundred years. At any rate, even if Darwinism is true (as I think it is), that doesn't rule out special creation.

"We either have a situation where apemen are suddenly equipped with souls, or their pre-existing temporary souls suddenly undergo a complete qualitative change from temporary to permanent, with no in-between stages."

Or some of the apemen are endowed by God with rational souls. That's the unambiguous teaching of the Catholic Church; why are you ignoring it and assuming that only evolution is involved?

Scott said...

@Crude:

"Well, counterargument sure, but not a decisively settled matter on the part o[f] the Thomist, right?"

To be honest, I'm not entirely sure. Anybody else want to weigh in here?

Matt Sheean said...

I wouldn't bet Hart would drop Christianity. He's of the Eastern persuasion, so naturally he sounds a bit weird to those who tend in a westerly direction, but I think it's important to distinguish between different brands of Christianity and out and out apostasy.

Matt Sheean said...

"'Well, counterargument sure, but not a decisively settled matter on the part o[f] the Thomist, right?'

To be honest, I'm not entirely sure. Anybody else want to weigh in here?"

Say we have two dogs, what makes this dog here distinct from that dog there? (this isn't a rhetorical question, I'm trying to sort something out here, and I thought it might do something for this conversation)

Crude said...

Matt,

If it helps, this isn't a question I'm looking to settle here. I'm more asking whether it's considered settled from a Thomist standpoint. I'm getting the impression it actually isn't, though the 'dogs in heaven' question is, for obvious reasons.

DNW said...

I don't really know much about this religious dogma stuff, and I realize that this whole line is a somewhat tongue-in-cheek way of approaching a different issue but ...

What interest would a cat have in "Heaven"?

What would cats or pet turtles add to "the Beatific Vision"?

Suppose that you found out that your favorite hunter or hound, despite your attachment to it (one more powerful than to your favorite English double) really was a meat mechanism with no real or persistent self-awareness?

This was linked from here was it?
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/mental-mishaps/201005/dogs-dont-remember


What is it then that you would be seeking to preserve?

Matt Sheean said...

I see.

New dogs in the new earth seems to be a different issue from your dog being made new, let alone your dog's soul flying off to be with God in the interim.

I was just thinking that if there is something more that distinguishes your dog from my dog than the matter, then there might be some reason to think that your dog and my dog could be made new. It's a pretty inchoate thought, though.

Crude said...

DNW,

Judging by Genesis (the other parts, that apparently no one talks about because they're less controversial), God created a whole lot of things and regarded them as good. Considering our new Earth is at corporeal to some degree, that leaves me wondering about the other corporeal things and what role there may be.

DNW said...

By the way, so as not to mislead.

The "English double" was mentioned as an example of an object to which one might reasonably become very attached. Or covet.

I definitely do not have a sidelock case colored English double with splinter fore end. For those of you who would like to pick one up, I will gladly step out of the way. http://www.gunsinternational.com/James-Purdey-Best-O-U-SLE-28ga.cfm?gun_id=100536558&CFID=52140001&CFTOKEN=a183cb39d7015343-097840EA-90B1-1C33-4613066999DEAF97

Ruger Red Label and the usual Remington suffice for me.

Brandon said...

I'm more asking whether it's considered settled from a Thomist standpoint. I'm getting the impression it actually isn't, though the 'dogs in heaven' question is, for obvious reasons.

I would say it isn't. But Aquinas's basic reason for taking the position he does -- that the new heaven and earth will be incorruptible and animals as we know them seem entirely corruptible, not having anything clearly incorruptible -- would weigh heavily and require some sort of answer. A lot of the standard arguments on the other side pretty clearly assume that resurrection is to a world just like ours but better, whereas Aquinas points out that everything pointing to resurrection in the first place strongly suggests that it would be resurrection into a physical existence that in some ways would be very different, and that would have to be factored in.

Crude said...

Thanks Brandon. That's exactly what I'm wondering, and the impression I had, at least if I interpreted you correctly.

Daniel said...

One thing is certain: Heaven will contain Gilbert Ryle.

Hart’s latest anti-Thomistic salvo is a showy exercise in firing blanks, all shock and no awe. Hart’s piece is long on rhetoric and short on argumentation, riddled with sweeping assertions, attacks on straw men, and failures to make crucial distinctions.

No offense to Ed since he was not the one to bring it up but if people wish to avoid the latter characterization perhaps they should stop quoting Ryle's 'ghost in the machine' rubbish whenever Cartesianism, or Substance Dualism is discussed.

Anonymous said...

Scott,

If there's a vulnerability in the Thomist view, it's surely in the claim that non-rational animals are wholly material in the first place. The argument for the immateriality of the intellect is basically that it can receive the form of (say) a cat without becoming a cat. But why isn't the same true of sensory perception?

Sensory perception is a different animal* from abstraction of universal forms. Mike Flynn talks about this in his article on free-will: http://tofspot.blogspot.com/2010/10/mindless-machine-tries-to-convince-us.html?m=1 Hope this helps.

*Yes, pun intended.

Scott said...

"Sensory perception is a different animal from abstraction of universal forms."

Indeed. But is it not the case that in sensory perception we receive the form of the object of our perception? If not, why not?

Anonymous said...

Of that object, sure. And that resides in the corporeal organ of the animal that receives it. However, form qua form can't be explained by that particular object, or by any collection of the particulars, whether physical or mental.

A bit busy, so I'll keep things brief. I'm sure Prof. Feser has talked about this elsewhere on his blog.

Tom Larsen said...

Ed, you write,

// Hart is correct to note that Thomists deny that there will be non-human animals in Heaven. //

What do you mean by that? I think it is fair to say that there will be no resurrected non-human animals in the new creation; but that is not to say there will be no non-human animals in the new creation whatsoever.

Lee Faber said...

Do the pets of the dammed accompany them to hell? Or is it part of their punishement that their pets will be saved? So can we embrace a qualified universalism in which all pets are saved but not all humans?

Mr. Green said...

Clearly on a Thomist (/Aristotelian/Scholastic) view, animals cannot be resurrected in any way like a man can be. When Rover dies, his form is separated from his matter; and likewise for Fido. But as material beings, it is only their matter that individuates them: the soul of Rover on its own, his caninity, just is the Form of Dogginess, but so is Fido's (former) form. There is nothing that could be Rover's soul apart from Fido's soul (other than a materially-individuated instance, i.e. the living animals). God could of course create a new Rover and a new Fido, each with the same material properties as the original, the same look, the same memories, the same "personality" — but they would, as Scott said, be duplicates, not resurrected originals. Then again, if Fido II is indistinguishable from the original, it presumably doesn't matter, so God could re-create all our pets if He wanted to.

A more interesting question is what would we get out of it? Heaven in the spiritual sense is indeed a triumph of rationalism — that is, a triumph of the rational, the triumph of the Logos — and obviously applies only to rational beings (men and angels). Communion with God is a rational filling (overflowing!), by which we appreciate not only God, but everything else in creation. Indeed, even the Old Earth we will be able to be fully appreciated by those sharing the Beatific Vision, which means that everything that it is possible to get out of knowing Rover will be present in that participation in God's fullness. I would conclude that having Fido (or his clone) reconstituted in the New Earth may not necessarily add anything that you would not have by virtue of your previous connection to him being glorified with the rest of your being.

On the other hand, for animals to exist in some perfect sense in the New Earth is surely not impossible, and thus would seem to be a fitting addition or complement to the glory of the new creation (just as creating everything in this world was — the principle of paradisical plenitude). That is, it can't subtract anything, so even if having animals (and plants) in paradise doesn't "add" anything vertically (so to speak), it would at least add something "horizontally", so why should that aspect be missing? (And although it makes for a good quip, animals surely have goodness as existing living substances, both their own and in relation to man, in a way that carnal appetites do not.)

We must also not fall into the trap of reading descriptions about Heaven too literally — as Brandon notes, the New Heavens and New Earth will somehow be radically different from the Old, and almost any passage can (and often should) be taken as poetic descriptions suitable for our present understanding. On the other hand, I would expect that kind of poetry to be revealed on multiple levels (not merely on a different level) — the new creation cannot be too completely different, or it won't be recognisable (and Jesus's resurrected body was obviously recognisable as a human… it looked like a human body, moved like a human body, ate fish like a human body (at least to some extent — I never quite got Aquinas's view on [not] eating in heaven)).

Anyway, animals' being able to be corrupted surely doesn't entail that they must be corrupted — why can't a perfectly formed animal in a perfect world live indefinitely? And earth and minerals are corruptible, too, and surely there is something more to the New Earth than just human bodies floating around. There is incense in Heaven, so it has to come from somewhere. (Well, OK, it doesn't, of course, but it would perhaps be strange if it didn't.) And burning incense consumes it, though I suppose we can account that metaphorical or operating in some alien fashion that we can't imagine. In which case we could just as well hypothesise that there are animals in the afterlife in some form which we cannot now imagine either. But I should stop trying to talk about the unimaginable…

Anonymous said...

It is a wonderful condition about us humans that we can never - ever - be correct about literally EVERYTHING. I thank God that Edward Feser is wrong on this subject. God is ALL good, and evil is the absence of good. My pets are good (at least they contain goodness). God will not destroy good. Therefore, when my pets die, they will not be destroyed.

God put animals in paradise for a reason - not just as a food source. They are good. They will not be destroyed. The end.

Scott said...

"Of that object, sure. And that resides in the corporeal organ of the animal that receives it."

And the argument that the faculty of perception must therefore be immaterial doesn't apply because…?

I'm already well familiar with the argument(s) for the immateriality of the intellect, and I think they're sound. What I'm asking is why similar arguments don't show that sensory perception is likewise immaterial, if a "corporeal" organ can receive the form of an object without becoming that object.

Mr. Green said...

Scott: What I'm asking is why similar arguments don't show that sensory perception is likewise immaterial, if a "corporeal" organ can receive the form of an object without becoming that object.

It's an issue I'm not clear on either. As you say, perception takes on a form different from materially becoming that form — experiencing green isn't the same as being green (and it's not easy, let me tell you!). I think the idea is that sensing is a different mode of matter; for the familiar reasons, intellect just can't be the same kind of thing as matter, so it has to be something immaterial, not merely a different mode, whereas as sensory experience is the kind of thing that can be a mode of matter. But just because it might be possible doesn't mean that's what it is — why not posit that we have three parts, a body, an intellect, and an "imagination"? Is it just parsimony, because a body could apparently do double duty?

Of course, there is the issue of taking on the form materially; that is, actually taking on the quality that is being sensed. When I touch my finger to something hot, I don't merely "perceive" heat — my finger actually becomes hot. And as I understand it, this was at one time thought to apply to all the senses, so that when I see red, my eye actually does itself become red. (Which is why the eye itself must be clear — a jaundiced eye would "contaminate" my perception and cause things to look yellow.) But we know that it's possible to stimulate the brain so as to cause the appearance of coloured lights when there is nothing coloured in sight, and Aquinas knew that too. Yet zapping the visual cortex doesn't turning it different colours, so I don't see that taking on qualities in that obvious way can be maintained. That leaves us with the mysterious "mode" of holding a form that is not the usual material way of simply being/having that form, but is not some "third way" or third "part".

monk68 said...

Scott,

“I'm already well familiar with the argument(s) for the immateriality of the intellect, and I think they're sound. What I'm asking is why similar arguments don't show that sensory perception is likewise immaterial, if a "corporeal" organ can receive the form of an object without becoming that object.”

Perhaps I can help shed a little light . . .

Thomists generally acknowledge that sense knowledge, imagination and memory participate in, or approach, immateriality in that they are not tied down to matter in the way of an inorganic substance, or even a plant. In sensate knowledge below intellection, the form of another indeed exists within the knower “as other”: the more complex the substance (i.e. highly developed senate life short of intellection), the more supple and rich the properties that emerge. However, the immaterial-esque features of sensation, imagination and memory remain tied to matter in some way as evidenced by their intrinsic uni-formality or particularity (lack of universality). The fundamental source or cause of particularity or individuation is the quantitative-extensive-dimensive character of matter (at least secondary matter). Hence, it is argued that although sensation, imagination, and memory approach immateriality, they never succeed in entirely breaking free of the extensive-dimensive influence of mater intrinsic to the organs upon which their production and sustenance depend. Perhaps in modern terms one might regard sensation, imagination and memory as something like emergent properties or epiphenomena of matter (which of course entails the richer non-reductionist scholastic understanding of “matter”).

Intellection on the other hand, is understood to be immaterial full-stop, with no *intrinsic* dependence upon a material organ whatsoever (of course, the intellect is extrinsically dependent upon the phantasm and the organs producing and sustaining the phantasm). The traditional arguments for the intrinsic immateriality of the intellect have to do with the universality of the concept (showing freedom from particularity and therefore from the individuating influence of matter), as well as the self-reflective nature of intellection wherein the knower not only knows, but simultaneously knows that he knows. The intellect has the ability to wholly bend back upon itself and be present to itself in the very act of knowing. Such ability seems to amount to a sort of plura-form capacity wherein the same act involves possession of the form of the thing known as subject *as well as* the form of the thing known as object - *simultaneously*. Material things never exhibit the capacity for simultaneous pluraformity, being everywhere limited to reception of one form at a time due to their intrinsic extensive-dimensive quantities. Of course, Dr. Feser, Ross, and others have advanced additional arguments for the *intrinsic* immateriality of the intellect.

In short, the ability to receive the form of another as other is indeed a sign of immateriality common to both sense knowledge and intellectual knowledge. However, it takes more than that fact alone to establish the absence of any *intrinsic* dependence upon matter, which is why the arguments for the intrinsic immaterial nature of the intellect require additional steps.

In the end, I think a Thomist should readily admit the immaterial aspects of sensation, imagination and memory. However, I do think the case remains strong that such emergent realities remain in some way intrinsically tied to matter and therefore cease to exist when the material organs upon which they intrinsically depend cease to exist.

Pax

monk68 said...

Of course, part of the reason that we even have to speak of the immaterial-esque features of sensation, imagination and memory as if somehow contrasting with, or opposed to, the "material" organs which produce and sustain them, is because we are too influenced by the desiccated view of matter common within modernity.

An old scholastic would simply have held a richer concept of matter to begin with and thus found nothing surprising about the fact that matter can produce a hell of lot more than the modern understanding of that term would allow.

monk68 said...

oops . . . "highly developed senate life" should be "highly developed sensate life". Clearly senate life is not highly developed!

Phil Melton said...

I went to Public Discourse today (4/9) to print out "Hart jumps the shark" and it is no longer there. Can you give the reason why?

Daniel said...

Doesn't Hart realize that the Fathers clearly taught that having a mind and having free choice is the Image of God in us? That it is what separates us from the brutes?

So is he rejecting Thomism by abandoning the Fathers? Why is it then that Catholics are always accused as refusing to "sit a the feet of the Fathers?" and other mindless polemics?

Christi pax.

Timocrates said...

Great article Professor Feser.

I was wondering, if the "clockwork"/mechanistic theory of the universe reduces everything to essentially how a clock works (i.e., physical pushing, pulling, spinning or turning), then doesn't this above all naturally lead to problems with living (especially sentient) creatures in terms of desire and appetite? I mean, in the case of desire especially, it hardly seems reasonable to reduce even animal desires to something like a pulley. Reducing even that to a mechanical operation would seem too much to confide the animal kingdom to a kind of determinism that is simply not apparent. No doubt, non-rational or strictly animal desire does attract or repulse animals; however, it would seem that equating this to the physical forces and processes acting in and on machines would exaggerate what is going on. At best, reference to "clockwork" or machines - to levers, pulleys and the like - could work as an analogy.

Now how an idea could act on a human mechanically to draw or attract him to it (or to repulse him) seems even more clearly to be an exaggeration if described no differently than the way physical forces act on things.

Granted, in the case of all animals, one might argue for the clockwork or machine equation by describing the choices of animals in terms of competing desires with the strongest one being the deciding factor. But it is still hard to see how an apple somehow exerts some irresistible physical force on even a hungry animal that likes to eat apples - much less a human being. The problem being, of course, that in machines such forces really are irresistible - hence they always work "like clockwork." But they do not seem to be properly irresistible even in non-rational animals, but contingent also on something else or further. This seems especially the case when motivating factors really include pleasure and pain. In animals, instinct can override these at times; in humans, we can override them at will. There is nothing corresponding to that in machines.

Timocrates said...

@ Scott,

Something tells me you are trying to stir on some philosophical speculation, so I will indulge :-)

I think to receive a form properly speaking is to also to some extent grasp its nature in the abstract. A non-rational animal sees a red thing; however, it doesn't come to grasp redness. It feels something soft but it doesn't grasp softness. These things are at most committed to memory in animals; but that memory in its turn is fleeting. What human beings grasp is at once something unchangingly true and to that extent more real. Thus, the animal's knowledge/knowing is through-and-through temporal and totally dependent on material operations. But a man's understanding and knowing and his capacity for it is not thus contingent. Consider that even when unconscious the body still feels and even reacts to external stimuli. We can wake people up by shaking them or making a loud noise; this side of things, however, is obviously dependent entirely on having a living, material body. Absent that it would not work (shaking a corpse will not resurrect an animal from death).

To be sure, I agree that in sensing the sensory organ is somehow modified and altered by its object. Sensing can easily be described as impression. This is how sensing as such is removed from the realm of subjectively; there is something external acting and, indeed, making its impression on our senses. But exactly because sensing requires the organ that is thus impressed or altered by the object, sense-knowledge requires a healthy sense organ; and again, to the extent that sense-knowledge can be committed to -and as it were impressed in- memory, it also requires a healthy brain. Some animals can thus acquire experience but not science. Further, what they acquire knowledge and experience of is strictly limited to temporal and changing things; however, as man can grasp the underlying reality of things -their unchanging nature- he grasps their form immaterially.

Timocrates said...

Correction:

"This is how sensing as such is removed from the realm of subjectively..."

Should read:

"This is how sensing as such is removed from the realm of subjectivity..."

George LeSauvage said...

Interesting. I am one of those who would like to think my late dogs are in heaven, but then, I cannot come up with any reason to believe that they are. It's just a feeling, and I dismiss it as such.

But what does interest me here is a side issue which was glanced at in some comments. What is the relation of spirit and body in the resurrected spiritual body? Much of the talk about Heaven, and the Beatific Vision, and the like does seem to leave out any role for the bodily nature of the resurrection. I can see how that works for a Cartesian or Platonist, but not for a Thomist.

Can anyone help me here?

Anonymous said...

Are there now two (or three) Daniels here?

Craig Payne said...

When I read the article in First Things by Hart to which Feser refers, I had a very odd feeling; call it an intuition. There are some people with whom I engage on a professional and social level, but I no longer argue with them, not even good-naturedly, because I am concerned for their own well-being and stability. Even the thought of losing a rational argument makes them rather shrill and erratic. I have the same sense with Hart.

I wish Hart well, may God bless and use him in the future as He has used him in the past, and for both of our goods I am no longer reading him.

Crude said...

Craig,

The one thing I'll say about Hart is that I find it pretty odd that as of late, what seems to animate him more than anything is a distaste of Thomism and Natural Law arguments being deployed to defend and promote orthodox Catholic teaching. Is this really the biggest threat on the intellectual horizon for Christians? It reminds me of the ID issue, where Ed's lack of interest in ID went from a point of disagreement to "Ed is a Darwinist, in the pocket of the Darwin lobby, that's just crazy modern liberal thought in a cheap suit he's offering" with some people.

seanrobsville said...

@ Timocrates

There are two kinds of processes in the world, mechanistic and mental.

Mechanistic processes explain the working of all machines including computers, and all the classical laws of science including biology, chemistry, and physics. All mechanistic processes can explained, modelled and simulated by Turing machines; the Turing Machine being the archetypal 'mechanism'.

Mental processes cannot be explained mechanistically. They arise out of the 'mental continuum', a process that knows its objects (generates intentionality) and experiences qualitative states such as aversion and attachment, pleasure and pain.

Thoughts about things, and minds of attachment and aversion arise as subprocesses of this primary mental continuum, and then dissolve back into it, a phenomenon that can be observed in mindfulness meditations.

Mental processes can continue to operate when the mechanism of the brain has shut down (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/11144442/First-hint-of-life-after-death-in-biggest-ever-scientific-study.html)

These mental processes consist of irreducible aspects of consciousness that have no mechanistic isomorphism, for example neither qualia (qualitative experiences), nor intentionality (the power of minds to be about, to represent, to give meaning or to stand for, things, properties and states of affairs) can be modelled, simulated or explained in terms of a Turing machine or combination of Turing machines.

Mental processes do not appear to be physical, for when we seek to bridge the gap from the processes taking place in the brain to those the mind, we inevitably reach a point where the methods of investigation, explanation and simulation pursued by mechanistic science (in the form of Turing machines) are exhausted, and 'physical' understanding comes to an end. Logical continuity between matter and mind disappears, and we are left in a perplexed contemplation of mysterianism.

Daniel said...

@Craig,

I know what you mean. I wonder if part of the problem stems from Hart's primarily being a theologian and Ed’s being a philosopher. The former is keen to point out the supposed inadequacies in any account he believes fails do justice to the truth of his Christian-Neoplatonism but doesn't present many positive arguments for an alternative. I mentioned this before but in his Experience of God he talks about Hylemorphism being a step in the right direction to explaining soul/body relationship but that he finds in insufficient on its own - nowhere to my knowledge does he set out and argue for an alternative though.

(Of course I freely admit to being guilty of this myself when it comes to NL theory)

@Anon,

There are certainly at least two Daniels here. I'm the one whose conversation more often than not finds a way of slipping back modern Analytical questions of Possibility and Universals, the Ontological Argument or Phenomenology. The Daniel who signs his messages 'Christi pax' has a far greater knowledge of Catholic theology and medieval history than I.

I may begin signing my posts 'Daniel C' to differentiate.

Craig Payne said...

Part of it may be the polysyllabic opacity, too: using many long words without expressing a clear thought. However, that might be an Orthodox thing, since I've encountered it in other Orthodox writers.

Can anyone point me toward an Orthodox writer who in your judgment explains Orthodox theology clearly? The writing doesn't have to be simple--after all, most Thomistic writing is not simple. It just has to be CLEAR. I would appreciate the help.

Daniel D. D. said...

@Anon

Platonism: "Daniel" is a form in the immaterial realm, and so every post is an imperfect Daniel trying to participate in the form of Daniel.

Aristotelianism: There are two Daniels, and their forms are their own. They are essentially the same in respect of their humanity, love of Philosophy, etc., but, as far as I know, that's it.

Nominalism: Every single Daniel post is a different Daniel.

I'm the Daniel who is apparently knowledgable in Medieval history and Catholic theology (who would have thought I would be knowledgable in something?), and my name is now Daniel D. D. Yes, all three initials of my name are D's!

Christi pax.

Scott said...

Thanks for the several replies on the question of sensory perception.

I think they key point is probably that sensory perception positively requires material sense organs in order to take place even though it has immaterial aspects. I also agree that in perception, a non-rational animal doesn't receive the form of the sensed object in the same way that an intellect would.

But I'll have to give it some more thought. In the meantime, maybe we can get all these Daniels sorted out. Two have been accounted for; are there more? ;-)

Daniel D. D. said...

@Craig Payne

The problem with your request is that Orthodox theology does not enjoy the conformity that Catholic theology does (and even Catholic Theology is not that solid: see Thomists vs Augustinists vs Scotists).

If I were you though, I would just jump straight to the Eastern Fathers, such as the Cappadocians (especially St. Gregory of Nyssa), and St John Goldentongue. You can find them in New Advent under "Fathers."

The important post-schism Father to read for the East is St. Gregory Palamas. He's the one who came up with the energy/essence distinction to avoid pantheism. The Thomistic way of avoiding this problem is the uncreated/ created Grace distinction, I believe (Grace is, materially speaking, a finite accident of a soul, but formally it is participation in Deity as Deity, not participation in Deity analogically). For a Catholic, he is also an influential Easterner who believed in the Immaculate Conception, and preached many sermons on the Theotokos (it's funny: in Medieval times, the East affirmed the Immaculate Conception while some in the West (like St. Thomas himself) denied it. Now the roles are reversed). St. Gregory and St. Thomas are some of my favorites, because they both defend a realist view: they both defend a real participation in Deity without falling into Panentheism.

Eastern theology in general is more focused on the Fathers' ways and language in interpreting theology, while the West in general tries to ground the Fathers' ideas in Scriptural terms (there's a reason "sola Scriptura" appeared in the West and not the East. Luther might have thought that, since the Scholastics were able to put theology in Scriptural terms, there was no need for Tradition. Of course, the text alone can have multiple theologies read into its language, so Protestantism fragmented very quickly. This also ignores the fact that Luther read William of Ockham's volunteerism into the text anyway: he claimed "Scripture before Tradition," which really meant "my novel views read into Scripture before Tradition"). The East doesn't really separate Scripture at all from Tradition, while the West will more likely consider Scripture a "special" form of Tradition.

They are heavily diaphysical in their Christology, as I learned from studying Coptic Christianity (the Latin Church is more lax and actually accepts as orthodox the miaphysicist interpretation of the Alexandrian school). They are also less "hierarchical" regarding Church governance.

To be continued...

Daniel D. D. said...

Historically speaking, the East had to deal with the Jihad far more, and the influence of caesaropapism (cool word, huh?) from the Byzantine Emperor, the Turkish Muslims, and the Soviets (if you think the selling of indulgences was bad in the West, you should know that the East at one point was selling Absolution :shock:). Sadly, the See of Constantinople is now rather small, with only a couple hundred members (I refuse to call New Rome by that new, modern name that starts with an "I" >:-( ).

Unlike Western theology, Eastern theology never had to deal with the Enlightenment straight on. Now, Eastern thinking (at its worse: I'm not trying to pick on them. I LOVE Eastern theology) might be blindly accepting of teachings, because they come down from Tradition. They might not try to rationally examine Traditions, but just claim faith (which is probably why Hart sounds like a fideist sometimes). The West has been forced to examine and reexamine its doctrines due to Scholasticism and the Enlightenment. The East has not, and as Enlightenment ideals have spread to their part of the intellectual world, they are currently in a theological mess of sorts.

Many Orthodox Anglophones will also object to the Western interpretation of Original sin, thinking that the word "reatus," universally translated as "guilt," means what the English word "guilt" means: they think we think that we all committed Adam' sin or that we think God is punishing us for something someone else did. However, they do not understand the difference between the Latin "reatus" and "culpa." Adam had both, while we have only "reatus." And Original sin is the lack of Grace anyway.

Theology is not separable from mysticism in the East (I know St. Thomas himself would meditate on hard philosophical and theological problems in Adoration, prayer, and fasting. He would even, for very difficult problems, put his head on the Tabernacle). One must be purified by Grace before reason can be used to search and clarify Truth. Faith must come before reason (in the first article of the Summa St. Thomas agrees with this), and virtue must be in practice before the mind can contemplate the eternal Truths, otherwise sin will cloud the mind (I think Dr. Feser just recently discussed this regarding sexual sin in his "Two Faces of Tolerance" post).

The cool thing about St. Thomas is that his thinking is deeply influenced by the East, far more than many Western theologians acknowledge. St. Thomas was popular in some parts of the East for a time because of his ability to synthesize Platonism, Aristotelianism, and the Church Fathers. He was even privately venerated!

I will warn you that once you read post-schism writings, you will find the polemics.

I'm not Eastern rite myself, but my family is traditionally Ukrainian Catholic/Orthodox. If a practicing Easterner sees any error or wants to add more, please do.

Christi pax.

Daniel D. D. said...

@Craig Payne

One of the best and clearest comparisons between Western theology and Eastern theology that I have ever found was by a layman on Catholic Answers, surprisingly. The username is "Ghosty":

http://forums.catholic.com/member.php?u=3197

He studied under Dominicans apparently, and considered joining, but ultimately got married instead. He's an Eastern rite Thomist.

Look up phrases such as "energy essence," "created grace," and the like:

http://forums.catholic.com/search.php

Christi pax.

Bill McEnaney said...

This article may interest Dr. Feser because its author, Robert J. Siscoe, believes that animals, plants, and buildings will be in Heaven (http://www.christianorder.com/features/features_2012/features_may12.html)

Daniel D. D. said...

@George LeSauvage

Actually, it seems to be pop-Christianity that views Heaven as a "place." To a Catholic, though, Heaven might be better described as a relationship.

The Beatific Vision is where sanctifying Grace gets you to. Sanctifying Grace is the same as the Eastern "theosis," and it is a share in the very Life of the Trinity Itself. Grace is the Holy Spirit being "infused" with us (infused Grace). Since it is Personhood that allows the Persons to do this, the creature must have intellect and will.

We actually receive santifying Grace in this life through Baptism ("...reborn in water and the Spirit;" through baptism, the Holy Spirit is received: we become "Temples of the Holy Spirit"), but, as we are still tied to sin, we must work to purify ourselves, which continues after death in a process called purgatory. St. Catherine of Genoa describes purgatory as an "inner fire" that burns outward, cleansing our entire being ("he will baptize you with fire"). The Beatific Vision is the end of this purification, which has its seeds in this life.

Original sin is the lack of Original Grace, which is not having the Holy Spirit in you. How can you expect to live without the "Lord and Giver of Life?" Mortal sin, which removes sanctifying Grace from our souls, is then literally casting out the Holy Spirit from us, as if He were a demon...

When we practice the supernatural virtues, the Holy Spirit is actually working with our "operations" and making them Divine Operations. When we believe with the virtue of Faith, we know with Divine Knowledge, and when we love with the virtue of Charity, we love with Divine Love (this is why those experiencing this Vision can't sin: their intellects and wills are one with God's. The Saints can love so recklessly, says Dr. Peter Kreeft, because they are not loving with their own love, but with God's). The Beatific Vision is not just seeing God face to face, eye to eye, but it is also looking with God's Face, seeing with God's Eyes. We view everything as God does, and love everything as God does. To see the face of the Saint is to see the reflection of the Face of God. God became Man so that man could become god.

This makes sense, as the closest intimacy between two people is to share the same thoughts, feelings, hobbies, worldview, activities, etc. in a sense, they become each other (Aristotle writes that friendship is one soul in two bodies). We just experience that with GOD. Married couples have the added bonus of sharing all that i wrote above, as well as sharing their own bodies: "and they became one flesh." The Mystics' favorite metaphor for God's relationship with us is that of a passionate married couple (read the Song of Solomon for details).

To be continued...

Daniel D. D. said...

Now, after the End, the New Earth will have a resurrection, where we will be given our bodies renewed. We will experience the Beatific Vision and will have a body on Earth, as Heaven will have descended to Earth (He already has, actually). The animals cannot have such an experience as the Vision, but I can't see how God cannot resurrect the body and material soul of your pet. The animal won't be "in Heaven" because he will not have Grace, but he will be in the New Earth, where there is no death. The Gospel is to be preached to all Creation, and that means that God plans to save all of it. It's just that Man is the "priest" of Creation: he is the intermediate between Heaven and Earth: he is an animal of the lower world, but a spirit of the upper world too. There is a reason God became Man instead of becoming something else: man is the beginning and the intermediary of the rebirth of the whole Earth. Who knows, maybe it is because of your intercession that your pet will be renewed? We are the Earth's stewards: we on Earth intercede for the lower aspects of Creation, just as those in Heaven intercede for us.

Of course, it seems like the New Heavens and New Earth will exist with an entirely different metaphysics. And since metaphysics begins in sense experience, we can only imagine a world based in our own metaphysics, and not another kind. The New Heaven and Earth God tells us of is literally unimaginable. "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him."

Christi pax.

Craig Payne said...

Dear Daniel Da Dialectitian: Thanks for the help. On a side note, I actually remember Ghosty; I hung around Catholic Answers a few years back. Best regards, Craig

Anonymous said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Guinefort

rank sophist said...

Two years later, it seems that Hart is still stinging.

Kind of a ridiculous assertion, given that none of his critics even understood his argument, let alone rebutted it. Likewise the claim that Hart blatantly misunderstands hylemorhpic dualism, given that he's expressed his respect for it in the past. He even cited Prof. Feser's Philosophy of Mind in the process. This talking-past-each-other business is getting boring.

Bill McEnaney said...

St. Thomas may be right about animals and mortal souls. But to me, this video suggests that some animals reason.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cO6XuVlcEO4

Glenn said...

Daniel D. D.,

A slight nit-pick, if I may:

Faith must come before reason (in the first article of the Summa St. Thomas agrees with this),

Naturally, St. Thomas does not expect his readers to take it on faith that "faith must come before reason".

So, he provides an explanation for the antecedence of faith in its relation to reason.

And his explanation for the antecedence of faith in its relation to reason pertains to:

a) those things which surpass the grasp of reason; and,

b) those things which, while not surpassing the grasp of reason, might be known only to a few after a long time, and likely with errors mixed in.

Daniel D. D. said...

@Scott, monk, etc.

I have been somewhat uneasy with the distinction between material and immaterial, as my modern mind tends to think of them as two different substances, while Aristotle generally thought that they were two aspects of one substance. Platonism goes this way as well.

(Those damned moderns have brainwashed me! I have to literally reprogram myself all the time! Ahhhhhhhhh. The worse thing is that my philosophy professor is a Marxist/"everything is a social construct"ist/"the Theory trumps the facts"ist).

Maybe if we stopped using the word "matter" things might become a bit easier. Back to "hyle" anyone? Maybe we could use the word "wood" or "lumber"? "Stuff"? Wouldn't it be funny if we present Aristotle with a completely new lingo, and the moderns, not knowing that it is Aristotle, accepted it as the most obvious philosophy?

Matter, on its own, doesn't exist. It is potential anything, but not a thing. It is no-thing, and therefore doesn't exist (take that Blessed Scotus :-) ). However, matter does exist if form exists with it. Aristotle called form divine, if I recall correctly, but maybe we could us the term "spirit"? Form comes from God (puris actus) and "gives itself" to matter. In other words, matter doesn't exist without form.

However, St, Thomas taught that matter was a finite creation that, like all creation, tries to reach towards the infinite height of God. In a way, matter is trying to become pure form, climbing up the latter. It becomes atoms, then cells, then plants, and then animals: it tries to imitate form more and more, and seems to become more and more immaterial. Animals are just the highest matter can reach in imitation, and they clearly have important immaterial aspects, like the senses. However, since it is only matter, the form it tries to become is still ultimately dependent on matter. In other words, matter "evolves" to become more like form. However, because it is only matter, it can never actually reach its goal, unless form descends to it, which is what happens when a human is created. Matter takes on a imperfect form, trying for a perfect one. This might work really well with explaining evolution from a Aristotle point of view: matter building upward, and reaching its peak, non-rational man, which God then breaks through the divide and gives name rationality.

I know, I know, this sounds a little too much like Plato (in fact, the more I read it, the more I think I just rethought Plato all over again), but Aristotle was Plato's student, and it's not like St. Thomas was a pure Aristotelian...

This view also seems more anti-Christian.

Christi pax.

Daniel. D. D. said...

You could say that becoming is nothing until the light of being illuminates it as something.

Christi pax.

Daniel D. D. said...

@ Glenn

I agree. Let me clarify: What I had in mind was the last point (b).

Certain Truths are known through reason, but can also be known through faith. However, due to man's fallen nature, man is prone to ignorance, and due to sin, man is prone to error. I was particularly thinking about how sin can lead the intellect astray, and how Grace through faith helps "straighten" the path of the fallen intellect.

I always imagine that, pre-Christ, fallen men were in a maze, where some would get really far to the end of the maze (Aristotle, Plato) and some, well, not so much (Epicurus, Lucretius). Those who got far might have not gone all the way, and they might have taken a longer route then needed.

However, from revelation, we, although still in the maze with our fallen facilities, now have a map! With the map, we know from a birds-eye view where the end of the maze is, and we can now work to map out the best route, so that, in part, others without the map might be able to make their way to end, and be convinced.

Christi pax.

Daniel D. D. said...

@ Glenn

Not to get too off topic, I often refer to the passage, as I often run into those who believe in the modern flat earth theory: the theory that medieval people didn't know the earth is round.

In the first part, of the first question, of the first article, St. Thomas shamelessly throws down the idea that the earth is round, which, in context, he considers a commonly known and noncontroversial fact (he uses it as an example to prove his bigger point: he picked an example that wouldn't be controversial so as to avoid argument over the example instead of over the topic of the article in question).

St. Tommy, don't ya no that everyone in your time thought the world was flat? Are a hipster or somethin? Yes, there might not be any evidence that any educated person at that time thought the world was flat, and there might be way too much evidence against this, but we already "know" a priori that the big bad Catholic Church destroyed Western Civilization and burned learning for a thousand years, so if the facts don't fit with the Theory, which we "know" to be true, the facts are obvious products of social constructions that are left over from the Medieval period, with such constructs being designed by those in power (specifically that jerk the Pope and other Men) to subject women, blacks, Muslims, Jews, LGTBs, and all other minority groups of the 20th century to oppression. In other words, facts be damned!

Those Catholics are so stupid, with their logic, and their evidence, and their reasons, and their arguments! Can't they just look at the "Big Picture" and see how stupid they are? Who needs to argue against such ignorants anyway? They just live in the past with their dumb ideas that have been easily refuted by David Hume, modern Historical Critics, and Dr. Richard Dawkins.

Christi pax.

John West said...

Daniel D. D.,

I often run into those who believe in the modern flat earth theory: the theory that medieval people didn't know the earth is round. [...]

Infuriating, isn't it?

The original Mr. X said...

Daniel D. D.:

Wouldn't it be funny if we present Aristotle with a completely new lingo, and the moderns, not knowing that it is Aristotle, accepted it as the most obvious philosophy?

I gather that something similar is in fact happening in the philosophy of science. ;)

Bill McEnaney said...

The article by Robert J. Siscoe clarifies the idea that Heaven is a condition, not a place. In that article, he explains the difference among what he called something like "the abode of the Holy Trinity," the Empirian Heaven, a physical place where Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary live now, and the state a disembodied soul is in when he or she sees God face to face. Our Lord's mother Mary needs to be in a physical place because her body occupies space. Our Lord's body does, too.

John West said...

Mr. McEnaney,

Our Lord's mother Mary needs to be in a physical place because her body occupies space. Our Lord's body does, too.

Wouldn't the latter breach divine simplicity? If not, why?

Daniel D. D. said...

The original Mr. X:

Two words: emergent properties.

Christi pax.

Daniel D. D. said...

Mr. John West:

What you speak about is not really about divine simplicity, but rather concerning the hypostatic union.

Christ has two natures, and the human one and the divine one. The divine one is simple: while the human one is not.

I don't know much of the Blessed Mother one though. I could point out that in a sense Christ and Mary (the New Adam and New Eve) shared the "one flesh" union, like Adam and Eve (and before this gets out of hand, the way Adam and Eve were one flesh was in the sense of man and wife: intercourse, while Christ and Mary were one flesh in the sense of a mother and child: the womb). So you could argue that this is why Mary was Assumed in the first place, and her body would be connected with hers (He did receive his humanity from her). This problem deserves a trip to Adoration, in my opinion.

Christi pax.

John West said...

Daniel D. D,

What you speak about is not really about divine simplicity, but rather concerning the hypostatic union.

Christ has two natures, and the human one and the divine one. The divine one is simple: while the human one is not.


Thank you for your reply. Was the human part of Christ ever considered "part" (I know part may be an inappropriate word here, hence scare quotes) of God then?

Billy said...

What about in the case of aliens? How would we know if they have an intellect? How could we tell the difference between possessing reasoning and appearing to possess reasoning? what kind of soul are you to assume they have?

Anonymous said...

Hello,Dr.Feser, this may seem off topic, but I'm new to your blog and I have a question which I would like to ask regarding intentionality and meaning. It is stated that mental states have this,and physical states do not, but could it be said that since some physical states such as nerves serve a purpose in the body such as stimulating pain, they do have meaning and intentionality as they are intended to do this. I'm not sure about this objection and I was wondering if you could help me with it.

Daniel said...

@Anon,

Ed is talking about the Cartesian/Modern concept of Matter where material objects possess no inherent 'aboutness' or immanent teleology. If you listen to his video lecture on the philosophy of nature you'll see he makes the same point as you do about biological features being irreducibly teleological, in which case so much the worst for the Cartesian/Modern concept of Matter.

@Billy,

How would we know if they have an intellect? How could we tell the difference between possessing reasoning and appearing to possess reasoning?

We cannot tell infallibly whether something reasons or not since we only infer presence of another mind through analogy. There may be some species of intelligent organism the lifestyle of which is so different from our own we never realise that they are in fact intelligent.

what kind of soul are you to assume they have?

Whichever is applicable. If they're Rational (even if we never know it) then they will too have Rational Souls.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how professor Feser would account for the ability of animals ro use tools. If a crow uses a stick to fish ants out of a jar that it can't reach with it's beak, isn't the crow conceptualizing and thinking rationally to some degree?

Scott said...

If a crow uses a stick to fish ants out of a jar that it can't reach with [its] beak, isn't the crow conceptualizing and thinking rationally to some degree?

No more than a dog that crosses a field diagonally to run toward its master is doing geometry or "conceptualizing" the fact that a straight line is the shortest distance between two points.

I do think that "reason," understood very broadly (in particular, more broadly than in the phrase rational animal), is in some way involved even in sensory perception, but there's a world of difference between a crow using a handy stick and a human making or choosing a tool specifically suited to a task.

Scott said...

To clarify a bit: I'd say the difference lies in the fact that the non-rational animal is in some way using the intelligibility of the world but isn't using abstract understanding to present that intelligibility to itself.

Somewhat similarly, a dog that recognizes (say) the color red is using universals but not thereby abstracting, conceptualizing, or understanding them.

Grace said...

@Billy,

How would we know if they

Pope Francis: [quote] “The world proposes that we put ourselves forward at all costs, that we compete, that we prevail,” he said. “But Christians, by the grace of Christ, dead and risen, are the seeds of another humanity, in which we seek to live in service to one another, not to be arrogant, but rather respectful and ready to help.” [unquote]

Per ipsum, et cum ipso, et in ipso, est tibi Deo Patri omnipotenti in unitate Spiritus Sancti, omnis honor et gloria per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen

Ave Maria

Anonymous said...

Thanks Scott. You say there is "a world" of difference between a crow using a handy stick and a human making or choosing a tool specifically suited to a task. But in choosing the stick, isn't the crow choosing a tool specifically suited to a task?

I'm more inclined to Hart's view the the difference is not in kind but in degree. It can be argued that the crow is engaged in a sort of systematic thinking that Feser claims is impossible for animals. I believe crows can fashion hooks from wires to lift objects from an enclosure.

I'm going to re-read Professor Feser's post. My gut reaction is to be more inclined to Hart's view on what some refer to as animal souls. Thanks



Daniel D. D. said...

@Scott and all

Have you read Willam Wallace's (not THAT William Wallace) lectures on Natural Philosophy. He explains Aristotle's theory of knowledge, natural powers, teleology, and the like, with some modifications due to modern understandings.

You can find it here: http://home.comcast.net/~icuweb/c02001.htm

Christi pax.

Daniel D. D. said...

Billy and Anon might want to look at it too. There is a difference between what I would call individual forms and universal forms. Individual forms are known through the senses, while universal forms are known through the senses and abstracted by the intellect. Rover the dog's form can be known just through the senses, while the form of dog can only be known through the intellect.

Christi pax.

Daniel D. D. said...

Oh, and for the user(s) that are looking for a better understanding of Thomistic Telology, read this: http://realphysics.blogspot.com/2008/07/four-levels-of-teleology.html

Christi pax.

Anonymous said...

I would like to thank Daniel for his responses and links, as they really allowed me to understand this topic more, but I saw something by an atheist which raised some more issues for me a bit.
"This is a complete failure. I can write a computer program that observes objects or concepts and gives them symbolic representations, and then uses those symbolic representations to convey meaningful information (e.g. the symbolic representation of the bat has just been observed to strike the symbolic representation of the baseball.). I can represent this entirely in a physical setting (a computer) with physical processes. And when I melt the computer to a bubbling pile of slag, the meaning of those symbolic representations is lost.
But even more compelling, I can go to the bookshelf and pull down my copy of “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat” and demonstrate that physical damage to the human brain has demonstrably altered or damaged the ability to turn electrical impulses in the brain into coherent symbolic representations.
There is simply too much evidence to demonstrate that EVERY part of what people call “mind” can be altered/enhanced/reduced/destroyed by purely physical stimula (stroke, drugs, electrodes, mental exercises like meditation, etc.)."
Does anyone know how to respond to these claims, I'm still new to the philosophy of the mind.

Toodles said...

I have a sticking point. The argument seems to be that the aspect of the human being that continues after bodily death is the intellect, the intellect being the ability to grasp abstract concepts and put them together in complete thoughts and ability to reason from one thought to another in accordance with principles of logic (volition being a product of this capacity and so distinct to humans also). The way that we tell if something has these 'human being' capacities is through its language (descriptive function and argumentative function in addition to more general characterstics).

I understand that in the case of children that dont meet these language requirements we can say that they could have a capacity/potential that is not yet manifest, so if they died before its manifestation it could still be there as a potential that could have manifested at some point during maturity, but some human beings will never meet this capacity for language (theyre born with conditions that mean they live and die without ever manifesting it in maturity) so how can we assume they have the intelllectual capacity and if they dont have the intellectual capacity, doesnt that mean that some human beings wont live on after bodily death? if we say that it doesnt matter that they never had the capacity, that by virtue of being given a human incarnation they must have/have had the capacity even if it can never manifest in the incarnated experience, cant we say that this is possible of animals too? (that they have capacities that by virtue of their incarnation will never manifest).

Toodles said...

Couldnt animals have these intellectual capacities too that never manifest in the world yet continue after bodily death?

Daniel D. D. said...

Which Daniel? There are two. :-)

"This is a complete failure. I can write a computer program that observes objects or concepts and gives them symbolic representations, and then uses those symbolic representations to convey meaningful information (e.g. the symbolic representation of the bat has just been observed to strike the symbolic representation of the baseball.). I can represent this entirely in a physical setting (a computer) with physical processes. And when I melt the computer to a bubbling pile of slag, the meaning of those symbolic representations is lost.

"I can write" is the key here. Unlike natural things, like a human, the computer only manipulates symbols. Computers do not "understand" meaning. The meaning is "projected" onto the computer. If you ran a program in front of a person who did not understand the program, the program would be entirely useless, as the person couldn't get anything out of it. Are you aware of Dr. John Stearle's Chinese Room? An Anglophone, with no knowledge of Chinese or German, is given a book on how to translate between them. He is placed in a room where people place German writing in, and he is asked to translate it out to Chinese. The man, while translating, isn't actually understanding either languages: he is just following directions mindlessly. You could say he is just manipulating the syntax, without any knowledge of the semantics. When the Chinese copy comes out, the Chinese reader would understand it, by the translated would not. This is what a computer does, just very fast.

He doesn't even have to melt the computer, all he has to do is have everyone leave the room in order to have the meaning of the information disappear.

"But even more compelling, I can go to the bookshelf and pull down my copy of “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat” and demonstrate that physical damage to the human brain has demonstrably altered or damaged the ability to turn electrical impulses in the brain into coherent symbolic representations.
There is simply too much evidence to demonstrate that EVERY part of what people call “mind” can be altered/enhanced/reduced/destroyed by purely physical stimula (stroke, drugs, electrodes, mental exercises like meditation, etc.)."

He isn't arguing against any serious dualist, especially St. Thomas's ideas. A dualist doesn't claim that the mind and body are entirely disconnected. He claims that the mind can't be explained entirely in terms of the body. In fact, I would say that the body can't even be explained in terms of a computer! The ancients were well aware that dropping a baby when he was young would result with mental damage: the ancient weren't stupid, as this person seems to suggest. In fact, I would say that the ancients had better thinking skills, but were ignorant of modern scientific facts, while the moderns have access to more facts, but have terrible critical thinking skills (and I mean terrible, I'm 20 years old and my generation doesn't know the first thing about logic. I'm tempted to think the writer (the atheist: btw, atheists can be dualists) is apart of said generation).

Anyway, as Dr. Feser has explained before, the biggest problem with materialists is that they don't define "matter." What the hell is matter? If you agree with Descartes' definition, dualism follows. Now, scientists have stepped away from the early modern conception of matter (which is particles with common sensible/ primary qualities), but they haven't yet defined a new one. So in other words, when the person says the mind can be reduced to "physical stimula," ask him to define "physical."

I'll pull up some of Dr. Feser's articles regarding this in a bit: it's dinner time!

Christi pax.

Daniel D. D. said...

@Toodles

It is in the nature of a rationa being to have an intellect: we know that the baby has intellect because the baby is human. If the human was hurt in the brain, the potential for intellection (the power/ active potency would be the better term) is still there, but it is not actual. Act/potency is key. A human doesn't stop being rational when he is asleep!

Now that I think about it though, the intellect is immaterial, so it doesn't have to stop working if the body is damaged. However, apart from direct knowledge put into it by the Grace of God, the intellect can only abstract information from the senses, so it might be better to say the intellect can be actual in this case. It would be the senses (the brains are a part of the senses) that would be in potency. Since there is no sense data, the intellect can't work properly.

Christi pax.

John West said...

Daniel D. D.,

Which Daniel? There are two. :-)

There's also the Daniel who signs his posts, "Cheers", or is that also you?

Scott said...

@Daniel D.D.:

"Are you aware of Dr. John Stearle's Chinese Room? An Anglophone, with no knowledge of Chinese or German, is given a book on how to translate between them. He is placed in a room where people place German writing in, and he is asked to translate it out to Chinese. "

For the record, it's Searle, not Stearle, and the thought experiment doesn't involve any German: it's not about translation but about answering, in Chinese, questions posed in Chinese. But the general point you make is sound.

Scott said...

@Toodles:

"[H]ow can we assume they have the intelllectual capacity and if they dont have the intellectual capacity, doesnt that mean that some human beings wont live on after bodily death?"

Strictly speaking, it's an empirical question whether any specific member of the biological species homo sapiens is metaphysically human—possessed, that is, of a rational soul. Ed and others have theorized that there may have been a time when biological homo sapiens had not been endowed with such rational souls and Adam and Eve were unique among their biological contemporaries in having been thus endowed.

But no, that doesn't mean that any metaphysically human beings won't survive bodily death. It simply means that there's a remote possibility that someone who, to all appearances, is a member of the biological species homo sapiens is nevertheless not metaphysically human. (Examples like Terry Schiavo wouldn't qualify because they've already evinced human rationality and then lost the ability to manifest it.)

"if we say that it doesnt matter that they never had the capacity, that by virtue of being given a human incarnation they must have/have had the capacity even if it can never manifest in the incarnated experience, cant we say that this is possible of animals too?"

That's an empirical question as well. For all we know, there could be other biological species that have rational souls and thus qualify as metaphysically human. I agree with Ed that none of them have yet actually demonstrated the possession of such souls, but we can't just rule out the possibility a priori.

Alan said...

@ Scott/Anon & all: I would suggest the man/animal distinction more as the difference between engineering and physics. Aristotle & Thomas grant that animals have imagination. Imagination is sufficient to employ, even construct tools, but would be unable to form a Theory of tools, materials force or energy for example. Imagination can be quite powerful, but different in kind from reason or intellect.

Scott said...

@Alan:

"Imagination can be quite powerful, but different in kind from reason or intellect."

Agreed. That's pretty much what I was trying to get at in my earlier reply.

Daniel said...

My namesake is right on the money with Searle though I say why stop with the Chinese Room? Let's go for the throat with:

http://users.ecs.soton.ac.uk/harnad/Papers/Py104/searle.comp.html

(When the atheist in question starts talking about symbols to explain mind they basically admit to having smuggled mind into the picture again)

John West said...

Daniel D. D.,

Have you read Willam Wallace's (not THAT William Wallace) lectures on Natural Philosophy.

Absolutely. Wallace's work, in general, is something of a standard recommendation here, I find (I think it was Scott who first recommended Wallace's work to me).

Scott said...

@Daniel D.D.:

Just echoing John West's comment. You'll find a lot of Wallace admirers here—many actual, some perhaps as yet only potential.

Scott said...

@Daniel not-D.D.:

I agree completely that that's the Searle paper to go for if you want to cut to the chase.

Daniel D. D. said...

@Scott

I changed it up again, partly from bad memory (I'm better at remembering the general idea rather than the details), and also I think it is better understood if you make the person inside the room not use any languages he is familiar with.

Anon, I haven't forgotten you!

Christi pax.

John West said...

The original Mr. X,

I gather that something similar is in fact happening in the philosophy of science. ;)

Though there are differences, the method employed by some naturalists is also sometimes very remniscent of Aristotle, if not overtly so. A comment made during a conversation on here about Penelope Maddy's Second Philosophy comes to mind.

John West said...

The joy of writing first, I guess.

Scott said...

@Daniel D.D.:

"I think it is better understood if you make the person inside the room not use any languages he is familiar with."

Searle's original thought experiment did exactly that; that was pretty much its point. It was just Chinese-only on both ends rather than German-input-and-Chinese-output. And in recasting it you turned it into a question of translation rather than intelligible conversation, thereby losing a crucial feature of the original scenario.

Daniel D. D. said...

@Scott

Oh well, maybe I'm just too used to Google translate. I remembered the details wrong I guessed :shrug: My mistake.

Thanks for the link, btw.

Christi pax

Scott said...

@Daniel D.D.:

Not a big deal; again, your main point was spot on.

Toodles said...

@ Scott

'That's an empirical question as well. For all we know, there could be other biological species that have rational souls and thus qualify as metaphysically human. I agree with Ed that none of them have yet actually demonstrated the possession of such souls, but we can't just rule out the possibility a priori.'

Wouldnt it be wonderful if animals did have rational souls and live on after bodily death. I imagine those conversations as potentially fascinating (we'd find out what dogs really think about their owners) and also potentially very boring (worms may not have many tales to tell). On balance i hope Mr Feser is wrong on this one.

Scott said...

@Toodles:

"Wouldnt it be wonderful if animals did have rational souls and live on after bodily death."

I for one would certainly be very pleased, despite Ed's suggestion that in the throes of the Beatific Vision we wouldn't miss the little beggars. I hope he's mistaken too.

Scott said...

(And again, I think that as a matter of argument the question turns on whether there's something about sensory perception that isn't dependent on material sense organs. I think there's something irreducibly, ineradicably, ineluctably different between what crows do and what humans do; we have intellects and they don't. Nevertheless I'm open to the possibility that what crows do even sans intellect also involves something that doesn't vanish when their material bodies die.

None of the foregoing, by the way, means that Ed was wrong in his criticism of Hart. Hart is clearly just mistaken about what Thomists think.)

Tony said...

Wouldnt it be wonderful if animals did have rational souls and live on after bodily death.

Yes indeedy.

Except, of course, that we would be forbidden to kill them and eat them. Which would make it hard for us omnivorous meatatarians to get our proper nutrition.

And we would be forbidden to make of them beasts of burden, which would have been awfully hard on farmers, and carters.

And we would be forbidden to make pets of them...which would kind of diminish our joy at having Fido in heaven, wouldn't it?

seanrobsville said...

@ Daniel D D
...the computer only manipulates symbols. Computers do not "understand" meaning.

Strictly speaking, computers - being glorified Turing Machines - cannot even manipulate symbols. They can only manipulate characters from a defined 'alphabet' or character-set (which may be as simple as 0 and 1).

Symbols make reference to something beyond themselves (they have semantic value, or exhibit derived intentionality, or evoke a qualitative state of mind.)

The representation of these qualities is imposed on the characters by the user, and is inaccessible by the machine.

Daniel D. D. said...

@seanrobsville

Sorry, bad terminology I guess. When I used the term "symbol," I meant the term "character" or "graphic" and so forth.

A computer just manipulates characters very fast due to directions given to it by the programmer.

Christi pax.

Scott said...

@Tony:

"Except, of course, that we would be forbidden to kill them and eat them. Which would make it hard for us omnivorous meatatarians to get our proper nutrition.

And we would be forbidden to make of them beasts of burden, which would have been awfully hard on farmers, and carters.

And we would be forbidden to make pets of them...which would kind of diminish our joy at having Fido in heaven, wouldn't it?"

Well, yeah, there's that. ;-)

But in all seriousness your astute observations have forced me to clarify something that hitherto hasn't, I think, been made sufficiently clear. The proposition that I, at least, am entertaining (and that I suspect captures what Toodles has in mind as well) isn't that nonhuman animals have rational souls but that there might already be something immortal even about (some) sensitive souls.

Daniel D. D. said...

@Scott and the rest

I just had a realization between the differences between Intellection and sensation. It is true that both are immaterial, but one understands a form apart from any matter, while the other understands a form with a different kind of matter.

What I mean is this: Aristotle says that the senses become the thing they are sensing. I would say, in more transitional language, this: the senses become the same formal cause as the the individual form they are perceived. However, although the formal cause is the same between the two, the material cause is not. The senses "translate" (or "transmaterial"?) the material cause of the thing being perceived into the material cause of the organ of the brain. Literally, when you see an individual thing (I stress the term "individual" here), you literally become the thing.

For example, let's look at a computer (since everyone reading this is doing so). The form, the computer, stays the same in both the thing on your desk and the thing in your head, but the material changes: the material goes from being metals to being electro-chemical synapses in the sense organs aka the brain.

In others words, the senses don't see a form as immaterial in itself, unlike the intellect, but instead they see the form with a different material. That's why sensation can't ever be separated from material, as it is still working with a form in matter, just different matter (brain stuff) than the the thing being seen.

The intellect, on the other hand, abstracts the form as it is in itself, and can understand it apart from matter altogether. Since the senses are just using a different material cause for the same form as the thing seen, they can't separate the form into parts without destroying the form, as the form can't exist without the material, just as you can't separate "redness" from "ballness" from a red ball with your hands. The senses can only view an individual form immersed in matter, and thus can only understand an individual form, rather than an universal one. An immaterial aspect of the mind is needed to view the immaterial form without matter, so that aspects of the form can be abstracted into universals, without the worry of destroying the form because the matter was destroyed.

Just as eating is removing the form and "chewing" the matter, intellection is removing the matter and "chewing" the form. You can't break or pull apart the matter in eating without removing the form first, and you can't break or pull apart/ abstract the form in intellection without removing the matter. The immaterial form in itself that the intellect deals with, though, first changes from the thing seen's matter to electro-chemical matter, and then the intellect removes that same form from the electro-chemical matter to consider it in itself, apart from any matter, neither matter of the thing perceived, nor the matter of the senses (the brain).

Christi pax.

Scott said...

@Daniel D.D.:

Thanks very much for your thoughts. I'm going to focus on just one of them here, largely because it's been a bugaboo of mine ever since I wrote my book on Ayn Rand's epistemology and found her systematically wanting on this very point:

"That's why sensation can't ever be separated from material, as it is still working with a form in matter[.]"

This is no doubt true of sensation. But notice that you pass from sensation to intellection as though there were nothing in between. What happened to perception?

William Wallace's talks, to which you've previously referred, are quite good on this point. He puts across well the Aristotelian-Thomistic idea that there is a "common sense" that in some manner assembles or constructs our "sensations" into what Wallace and others have called percepts.

A "percept" is not (contra Rand and others dating from at least the time of Locke) a mere cluster of associated sensations; a percept is that by which we perceive an object (let's say an apple) before us in three-dimensional space. The percept is not the object of our perception, nor is it a mere "re-presentation" of the object as a congeries of sensory qualities like redness and roundness. The object of our perception is the real object; our percept is a means only. What we see is the apple itself.

This being the case, our percept isn't reducible to mere sensation. When we sense the color red, the color red is the "object" of our sensation. But when we look at an apple, we don't just see a splotch of red in our visual field; we see (perceive) an independently existing object.

So my question is: granted that we don't receive the form of an object in sensation in any way not ultimately reducible to the material, what about in perception? When we perceive an apple, the form of the apple enters into our experience in a way that it would not in mere sensation. Why does the immateriality implied by this ability to receive a form not indicate a kind of immortality?

Daniel D. D. said...

@Scott

I use "sensation" to refer to both the external and inner senses. The "common sense" as Arsitotle likes to call it, is based in the brains and integrates the proper sensibles into a single image. I was just using short hand.

Christi pax.

Scott said...

Fair enough, but I still don't think the elision of the distinction between "sensation" and "sensory perception" is warranted even in Aristotle. Sensation, sensory perception, and intellection are three different things/processes, not two.

Daniel D. D. said...

"What we see is the apple itself"

This is why I meantioned that the formal cause is the same. We don't see a reflection or a copy of the form, but the form as form. What I'm saying is that the material which has that form is different.

Although I would say that the raw sense data is an abstraction itself. Although the senses pick up different parts of the object really and directly, the senses might not pick up on some other aspects. Dogs have better senses than us, so their sense images might have information that ours do not.

Christi pax.

Daniel D. D. said...

It might be better to say that we actually become the thing the external senses perceive by means of the inner senses. All of this requires matter though.

Christi pax.

Daniel D. D. said...

I didn't try to elison the distinction. Without the common sense, the external sense information is not intellegable at all. What I'm trying to say is that the external and internal senses all operate with the same form as the object, but the form, which is the same form as the object (I'll keep saying this so the idealist and indirect realist get the point ;-) , is in a different material. Both sensation and perception is what I meant above, and they are separate, but they both deal with the form in matter; the precept is still a form in matter, which is what I was trying to say.

The precept, image, etc do not exist as forms without matter, but as forms with a different kind of matter. The intellect, on the other hand, knows the forms without matter.

Christi pax.

Daniel D. D. said...

I'm tempted to say that a reason moderns went for conceptualism is because they abandoned formal cause: without formal cause, since the material that the object is made of is different then the material the mental image is made of, it is impossible to say that they are the same, unlike with formal cause, where we can, since, although the matter is different, the form is the same. Therefore, our perception "builds a model" of the thing perceived, because the object and the image are different materials.

The formal cause of the image and the object is the same, which is (in part) what Aristotle might mean when he says the "mind is all things." He doesn't mean that the image is actually made of the same stuff as the object, just that their form is the same. Otherwise, a plant should grow in my brain when I see a plant ;-)

Because of this, I can see why you might first think that I might be expressing indirect realism. I too am very much again any sort of non realist view of knowledge. I find that any philosophy that Denys realism is not even worth dealing with: it can ultimately justify any philosophical view possible. Philosophy should start in reality and move to our minds, not the other way around.

Christi pax.

Scott said...

@Daniel D.D.:

"What I'm saying is that the material which has that form is different."

I think this is coming very close to the heart of the question at hand, so I hope you don't mind if we pursue it for another round or so.

I'm very much in favor of the view that, in some not altogether figurative sense, we become the individual things that we see/perceive (a view, which, by the way, would gladden the heart of many an idealist). I also certainly concur that when we perceive (say) an apple, our perceptual experience is formally identical with the apple. The question is why, since this sort of formal identity doesn't (as you correctly note) result in our literally sprouting plants in our brains whenever we see plants, we shouldn't take the "common sense" to be immaterial in some respect that confers immortality.

The argument for the immateriality and thus immortality of the intellect is that the intellect can receive a form without literally becoming a substance with that form. The question is why the same argument doesn't apply to perception.

Sure, as you say, when we perceive an apple, the form of the apple is in some way "in" matter. But since you also acknowledge that the matter doesn't thereby become an apple, the question seems to remain.

Anonymous said...

The argument for the immateriality and thus immortality of the intellect is that the intellect can receive a form without literally becoming a substance with that form.

Do you mind citing this? I would like to read the source material.

Scott said...

"Do you mind citing this?"

Not at all. What I take to be the basic bit is here, and I know you can find more on the subject by searching Ed's posts.

Daniel D. D. said...

The intellect is immaterial because it deals with forms without any matter.

A precept is the same form as the thing seen, but is a different material. A precept can be said to be the same as the thing formally speaking, but not the thing materially speaking, which is why my head is not full of vines when I imagine them. A precept, in this view, is a form/matter composite, with the matter being electro-chemical synapses rather than plant stuff. Because it is a form/matter composite, the form, which is the same as the object, still can't exist without the matter of the brain.

A concept is a form that exists without any matter at all. Since forms do not exist without matter normally, the form, if it exists without matter, if it exists in a pure immaterial state, must exist in a immaterial organ.

The concept is formed by taking the form of the precept and separating it from all matter, being made of neither that of the object nor that of the brain. Because this form is now separated from the matter, it can be ripped apart, which is what we call abstraction.

A precept's form can't be ripped apart like this because it is still a part of matter. My hands can't rip universals out of a cat, and my brain can't rip universals out of a cat, even though the cat and the image are the same formally: both can only manipulate the matter of the things. However, my intellect can in fact rip apart the form to find concepts, so it must be immaterial in some way.

So, I guess to sum it up, the individual form of an object is transferred from the material of the object to the material of the brain (via the external and internal senses), and the individual form is then removed from the material of the brain into the intellect, which needs not material to mediate it, where the intellect can rip apart the individual form and discover concepts. The intellect must be immaterial because the individual form can only be ripped apart to find universal forms if it is separated from all matter, as matter can only contain individual forms. Universal forms can't be mediated by matter, so the inner senses alone cannot get them. Only a immaterial organ can "mediate" the universal forms. That organ is the intellect.

Christi pax.

Scott said...

@Daniel D.D.:

Okay, thanks. I'll give the matter some further thought in light of your remarks.

I appreciate your taking the time to address the question. It came up on this blog a year or two ago and I don't recall that we were able to arrive at a conclusion that everyone found satisfactory.

Daniel D. D. said...

It makes no sense to think of the brain as becoming "cat" as the universal is not material. However, the brain can be thought of a becoming "that black, fuzzy cat" formally, not materially, as the individual cat's form can be separated from the individual cat's matter and placed in another set of matter, the brain's. Thus the form is the same, but the material is different, but the intellect considers the form without matter altogether, and thus can abstract universal forms from the individual form. The universal forms can only exist in the intellect, but the individual form can exist in the inner senses, and the object itself.

Christi pax.

Daniel D. D. said...

Object Both senses Intellect

form A -> form A -> form A
material A material B

Because form A exists without matter in the intellect, it now can be broken up into pieces and those pieces (called universals) be consider without reference to form A. The intellects first stage in exercising its powers is illumination: it looks for at all the universals in form A. It then abstracts them and considers them apart from form A through the nicely named Abstraction stage.

Form A while in the Inner senses can't be broken into universals separate from form A, for the same reason my hand can't break the object into universal: my hand has powers to activate potentials, to change a form into another form, not break a form apart without changing it. The brain is physical as well, and thus can only change forms to different forms as well. The powers of the brain change the matter of perception (electro-chemical signals) into the same form as the object: those powers, however, can't actually consider the form captured, it can only change the material into different forms. The intellect, because it is immaterial, can, when exercised, actually consider the form in itself without reference to the matter of perception, and can pull out of the form concepts.

Christi pax.

Daniel D. D. said...

That diagram was butchered when I posted it.

Christi pax.

Daniel D. D. said...

Maybe another way of summing up what I mean is this: a precept and a concept are both immaterial, but the precept is also material, and can't exist without the material (electro-chemical signals), unlike the concept, which can and does exist without matter, as a concept is universal, and can't even in principle be a form/matter composite, or else it would be individual, which is a contradiction. A concept can only exist in a immaterial organ. Since humans have concepts, they must have an immaterial organ.

Now, I have tied my brain in knots with thinking about his all day, so I might be asking silly questions: can you have a concept of an individual: like, can I have a concept of myself or can I only have a precept of myself?

Here's another question: is there a difference in the way a mere animal uses the imagination, and the way a human uses it? Can an animal take the image of a green mug and the image of the sky, and imagine a sky blue mug and a green sky? It seems to me that a brute cannot, as to do so would mean that the animal can abstract the universals "green," "mug," "blue," and "sky," and manipulate them to create mental images of things that they have never seen (like a blue mug) or do not exist (like a green sky).

Christi pax.

Daniel D. D. said...

And if animals can use the imagination like I have mentioned, doesn't it mean that they can also create art? And if they can, why don't they do so?

I have Chesterton's Everlasting Man and J.R.R. Tolkien's On Fairy Stories in mind here.

Christi pax.

Scott said...

@Daniel D.D.:

"Now, I have tied my brain in knots with thinking about his all day, so I might be asking silly questions: can you have a concept of an individual: like, can I have a concept of myself or can I only have a [percept] of myself?"

I don't think that's a silly question at all; in fact it's a pretty deep one, and it goes straight to the heart of why I think the Aristotelian account of concepts is so vastly superior to the modern empiricist account due largely to Locke.

Locke's account is basically that we form a concept like man by considering two examples and focusing on or abstracting what they have in common. Now, since Locke also holds that two men literally have nothing "in common," he has a problem here anyway. But the bigger problem, I think, is that his account requires there to be two of something in order for us to form a concept of it, and even then it's not obvious how we can recognize that the two things are of the same kind without already having the concept in the first place.

The Aristotelian account doesn't have any of those problems. When I encounter a "man," my intellect receives the relevant form. When I encounter a second "man," the same thing happens, and I can recognize that the two men are formally identical because my intellect receives the same form in each case. But the encounter with one "man" is sufficient to form the concept in the first place.

On this account, it seems to me that we can indeed form a concept from a single instance, and it also seems unproblematic for us to have a concept of a single instance—this man, say, or this horse.

Daniel D. D. said...

@Scott

Here's my understanding:

When an object is seen, heard, touch, etc., an aspect of the thing's individual form is moved through the senses to the imagination (in the loose sense of imagination, unifying sense, memory, estimating sense, etc.), where the aspects picked up on by each external sense is unified to one image or precept in the unifying sense.

The external senses pick up on the individual form of a thing, and the imagination creates a precept of it. We do not see the precept only, and see the thing indirectly, rather, we see the thing direct by means of the precept.

So here's the problem: the individual form of a thing is seen through the imagination, but the individual form is immaterial. So that would mean that, like the intellect, since both deal with the immaterial purely, both must be purely immaterial. The intellect is immaterial and immortal, and the imagination is also immaterial and immortal. By this route, we can say that the imagination can become the individual form of the thing, say a plant, without my head growing roots.

I claim that the imagination is, like all mere animal organs, composite (both form and matter, rather than purely form), and that, without the matter of the imagination organ, the organ cannot exist. I solve the problem above by claiming that, like the above situation, the individual form in the imagination is the same as the individual form in the thing, but instead of proposing that the imagination operates with individual forms purely like the intellect, I claim that the imagination operates with the same individual form as the thing but with a different matter than the thing. Instead of the individual form of plant being combined with water, sugar, etc., as in the thing, the individual form of the plant is being combined with "imagination stuff" which modern science suggests is the brain, specifically electro-chemical synapses. In this way, I can claim that the imagination operates with matter, and cannot exist without it. A precept, which is a form/matter composite, specifically with the form of the individual form of the thing and the material of brain synapses, cannot exist without the brain synapses. Therefore, the imagination, even though it works with individual immaterial forms, operates with the individual forms in matter (although different matter than the thing), and needs the matter to operate. And since the precept is not materially the same as the thing, but formally the same, we humans and all animals, on this sense, become the thing sensed. We do not grow vines in our brains when we sense vines because the matter of the vine precept is different from the matter of the vines, even though the form is the same.

To be blunt, the plant is a composite of the individual plant form and sugar, water, etc., and the precept is a composite of the same individual plant form, but with brain synapses instead. Since both are composites, both forms can't exist without matter, and if the brain synapses are destroyed, say in a car accident, the precept is destroyed. This also explains why memory is destroy through brain damage as well.

Christi pax.

Scott said...

@Daniel D.D.:

"[T]he [percept] is a composite of the same individual plant form, but with brain synapses instead."

So when I perceive (say) a cat, I'm receiving the cat's form not into my immaterial intellect but into my material organs. If I then go on to abstract the form, I can "keep it" in my intellect even when I'm not still perceiving or imagining the cat. But when I'm neither perceiving nor imagining the cat, I don't have a percept of the cat either. Likewise, if I simply had no material sense organs at all, I couldn't have any percepts.

Yes, I think that does the job. Thanks.

Daniel D. D. said...

The senses pick up on individual form, right?

I'm still trying to understand matter. Why is matter the principle of individualization for Aristotle? It seems to me that would be form, as form is what a thing is. I know the difference between my cat and another cat based not on what she is made of, but on what she is.

Also, if men are differentiable by their matter, what makes us individuals when separated? If the principle of individualization is matter, then, since the intellect is immaterial, all intellects must be the same. But I can hear Averroes laughing in the background and the inquisitors at my door with the wood piled up and ready...

And matter alone can't differentiate between anything, pure potential is not a thing period.

I can't wrap my head around "individual matter," "sensible matter," and "intellegable matter."

Cursed be the modern understanding of "matter!"

I really wish there were Dominicans in Pittsburgh...

Christi pax

Daniel D. D. said...

Is there a distinction between an individual thing's form and an universal form? What my that pet in my house is is Peanut, but what Peanut is is a cat. If Peanut's form is nothing but the universal cat, than all cats share the same form, and, since the form of a living thing is it's soul, that seems to make all cats have the same soul. And if all cats have the same soul, humans should as well. And if our souls are the same, then our intellects would be the same, and Averroes' laughing just got louder. I think I thought too hard and confused myself.

I would avoid this problem by saying that an individual has an individual form, but that an individual form has qualities, etc. in common with other individual forms which we call universal forms. But what differentiates between two salt moleculars, would it be the different actaulizations in space?

Christi pax.

Daniel D. D. said...

I think the difference is that I am trying to show how individuals can share qualities, while Aristotle was trying to show how qualities could be individualized.

I'm starting with the separation of all things, and trying to show that things have qualities in common: I'm trying to refute nominalism by saving universals. Aristotle is starting with the unification of all things, and trying to show that things can be separate: Aristotle is trying to refute Paramedies by saving individualization.

Christi pax.

Daniel D. D. said...

If a concept is a universal, then, if I can have a concept of myself, that means "Daniel" is a universal. Aren't universals a buildup of other universals? Daniel has the universal "man," but also "arm," but "arm" is only understood when "man" is referenced. Are most universals just build ups of other universals, like "man" is a build up of "arm," "leg," "brain," etc.

Christi pax.

George LeSauvage said...

Daniel D:

1. "Also, if men are differentiable by their matter, what makes us individuals when separated?"

But isn't this wrong? When dealing with an immaterial substance, is not the answer, not matter, but an act of existence? At least, that's what I though Thomas believed.

I do agree that if something of this sort is not true, Averroes does seem more plausible. And presumably there is no individual soul of dogs. (Note: when I referred earlier to my desire to believe dogs go to heaven, I didn't mean it to be taken too seriously; it was just the emotion of a dog lover. Perhaps it is a bit like my discomfort with - but not disbelief of - the fact that my wife will not be my wife in heaven. Not to be taken as a serious argument, or even the motive for such an argument. Just a feeling.)

2. "I would avoid this problem by saying that an individual has an individual form, but that an individual form has qualities"

How do you avoid the third man?

Daniel said...

I think what Daniel D is getting at is the notion of a Leibnizian essence, an individual essence. Alternatively a principle of individuation akin to Scotus haecceitas.

@George,

As a Scholastic Daniel D would claim that Universals are grounded in the Divine Nature so the problem would not arise. The Third Man rests on a Category Mistake at any rate - it's true that Man is of his nature alive e.g. an animal but need not be true that the Universal nature of Man is itself alive.

Glenn said...

seanrobsville wrote,

Strictly speaking, computers - being glorified Turing Machines - cannot even manipulate symbols. They can only manipulate characters from a defined 'alphabet' or character-set (which may be as simple as 0 and 1).

1. Strictly speaking, a character is a symbol.

Thus, if a computer cannot manipulate symbols, then it also cannot manipulate characters.

But if a computer can manipulate characters, then it also can manipulate symbols.

(Certainly, not all symbols are characters. But just as certainly, all characters are symbols.)

2. Nonetheless, it is neither characters nor the symbols that are characters which are manipulated by a computer.

What a computer manipulates (i.e., 'manages') are voltage or current levels.

3. As to the larger point, when it is said that a computer can manipulate characters but cannot manipulate symbols, apparently an attempt is being made to call attention to a distinction.

This distinction, however, might be better made by calling attention to two different things: that which signifies, and that which is signified.

That which signifies is the signifier, and that which is signified is the signified.

4. Of course, just as a signifier may point to something, which something is the signified (signifier --> signified), so too may the signified, if itself in turn serves as a signifier, point to something else.

So, something like this may obtain:

4.1 Signfier1 --> signfied1.

4.2 Signfied1 may itself in turn serve as signfier2, in which case signifier2 --> signified2.

4.3 Signified2 may itself in turn serve as signfier3, in which case signifier3 --> signified3.

4.4 Etc., etc.

(cont)

Glenn said...

5. Although further development is required, in light of 4. above the following appears to be interesting:

o To understand the term 'word,' it should be known that according to the Philosopher, "things in speech are signs of those states that are in the soul." Now it was customary in Scripture for the things signified to be named by the names of the signs, as in I Corinthians 10.4: the rock was Christ. Necessarily, however, that which is intrinsic to our soul, which is signified by our external word, must be called a word. It makes no difference for now whether the term 'word' applies primarily to the thing expressed by external speech, or to the conception of the mind. It is clear at any rate that the thing signified by speech, existing internally in the soul, is prior to the word expressed in external speech, inasmuch as it serves as its cause. So if we want to know what the internal word of the mind is, we should see what is signified by what external speech express... -- Pasnau, Robert, The Treatise on Human Nature

o The meaning of an external word is the nature or formal character of the thing; but this meaning is mediate, because what is directly signified is what the mind conceives about the thing. The external word is but a sign of the internal word or conceived intention. -- Schmidt, Robert W., The Domain of Logic According to St. Thomas

o The author of Holy Writ is God, in whose power it is to signify His meaning, not by words only (as man also can do), but also by things themselves. So, whereas in every other science things are signified by words, this science has the property, that the things signified by the words have themselves also a signification. ST 1.1.10

Daniel D. D. said...

@Daniel

The more I hear of Leibniz, the more I think I need to read him. I was aware that I was suggesting something like Blessed Scotus was. If I recall correctly, he wrote quite a bit on individualization.

Anyway, here's what I see as the problem: The senses (both outer and inner) are receiving something from the object. It obviously isn't receiving the object's matter, so it must be receiving something else. If that something else is the object's form, and an object's form is just universal (all lions share the same form), then it seems to follow that the senses are receiving universals, and, like Scott has been pointing out, would make them immaterial AND it would make every animal able to comprehend universal, which is possible but strange: brute animals don't act as if they know universals.

I avoid this problem by making a distinction between individual form (which the senses pick up) and universal form (which is what the intellect abstracts from the individual form). The universal forms don't exist on their own, but only in an intellect (mine, yours, or God's) or as a part of an individual form. I'm imagining individual form as a whole made from interrelated universal forms.

Some individual forms are simple and almost the same as the universal form, like sodium atoms, as the form of each sodium is the same except with position, while some are complex, like animals and humans.

I'm seeing this view as God making from nothing both the matter of things and the universal forms, and then combining the universal forms to make individual forms, and finally combining individual forms to make individuals. I suggest that individual forms can only exist in matter, and apart from individual forms, universal forms don't exist (except in our intellects as abstractions).

However, I'm still trying to understand individual matter, sensible matter, and intelligible matter, as well as just matter. Matter is a very strange thing for me to understand. I can't see how matter can be the aspect that makes individuals, as matter, by itself, has no individualization: it is potential, not actual. It becomes individual only when it becomes actual. So it would seem to me that unless I follow Blessed Scotus, and claim that prime matter does really exist on its own, which I don't agree with (for reasons Dr. Feser has pointed out), both potency and act/ matter and form individualize things.

Christi pax.

seanrobsville said...

@ Glenn

(Certainly, not all symbols are characters. But just as certainly, all characters are symbols.)

A symbol is a mark or character used as a conventional representation of an object, function, or process, e.g. the letter or letters standing for a chemical element or a character in musical notation. Thus 'H' can be a symbol for hydrogen, but doesn't necessarily have to be so, or even be a symbol for anything. It could be a character on a typewriter.

A Turing machine can only manipulate characters drawn from a pre-defined set (say 0 and 1). It cannot manipulate 'symbols' outside this set except when they are encoded by pre-defined combinations of those characters (eg ASCII)

The characters 0 and 1 can signify numerical values, truth values, characters of any alphabet, audio samples, pixels etc. What they happen to signify in any particular instance is determined by the user, not by the attributes of the character. Of themselves they signify nothing.

Anonymous said...

I would like to thank everyone for contributing to helping me better understand why the mind is immaterial, but regarding intentionality once again, since thoughts are about something, couldn't it be argued that a book, or a computer program, a material thing is also about something. I'm not sure if this objection works, but it is still giving me issues a bit.
God Bless.

seanrobsville said...

@ Anonymous

A mental phenomenon is characterized by reference to a content and/or direction toward an object, which is not necessarily a real 'thing'.

Each mental phenomenon includes something as an object within itself. That object may or may not refer to something in the real world. That is why these indwelling mental objects are said to be 'inexistent'.

The word 'inexistent' refers to two attributes of mental objects:
(i) They exist as indwelling images within thoughts.
(ii) The actual physical existence of the objects referred to is irrelevant. They can be either existent, or non-existent, or somewhere in between.

The mind can grasp images of non-existent objects, including objects of its own creation. These objects can be potentially existent, such as a new device in the mind of its inventor, or formerly existent such as the Dodo, or they can be completely non-existent such as a unicorn.

Only minds possess intrinsic intentionality. All symbols, signifiers, signs, words, books, computer inputs, outputs and internal states have merely derivative intentionality originating from a mind.

Anonymous said...

Thank you sean for your response.
So to understand this fully, matter on it's own has no intrinsic meaning, as a neuron in a brain on it's own is not directed towards anything, and is just a neuron. Even though it has a certain purpose in the body, this does not give it any intrinsic meaning as it's purpose is for something outside of it such as transmitting messages to receptors, while mental states refer to objects within themselves and are directed towards them, thus possessing intrinsic meaning.
Is this the correctly grasped meaning of why intentionality only belongs to mental states?

seanrobsville said...

@ Anon

Yes, that sums it up quite neatly

Glenn said...

seanrobsville,

Thanks for the clarification.

Turing himself described a computing machine as being capable of manipulating symbols. ("We first construct a choice machine L1, which, if supplied with a W.F.F. [well-formed formula], M say, and suitably manipulated, obtains any formula into which M is convertible.")

Also, if what a symbol "happen[s] to signify is determined by the user," and a Turing Machine (TM) is employed as a symbol, would it not follow that the significance of that TM is a something determined by the one employing it, and not an inherent feature of it?

seanrobsville said...

@ Glenn

"would it not follow that the significance of that TM is a something determined by the one employing it, and not an inherent feature of it?"

True

It's possible to think of the architecture of a general purpose computer as consisting of about 20 dedicated single function Turing Machines configured to implement the Opcodes needed to run all high level programs.

A High Level Language chains multiple instances of these mini Turing machines together to perform whatever sequence of operations are necessary to run a spreadsheet, control a space probe or implement a computer game.

Timocrates said...

@ seanrobinsville,

”A mental phenomenon is characterized by reference to a content and/or direction toward an object, which is not necessarily a real 'thing'.”

I disagree. The mind’s content is populated by real things. The unreal is unreal most especially when the thing in question can’t be thought. Hence a non-reptilian reptile is unreal and cannot be thought. In such cases the mind is thinking of two different real or possible (the possible is also real) things or some third thing. “Sense content” is also real insofar as it goes. Feeling cold even in the midst of a fever and surrounded by heat doesn’t change the reality of coldness. Similarly when sick something sweet tasting rather bitter doesn’t change either bitterness or sweetness. It is an exaggeration to claim that the sensation of coldness or bitterness, even when wrong, is “unreal”. Seeing blue everywhere because the eye is sick doesn’t make blue unreal.

Scott said...

@George LeSauvage:

"But isn't this wrong? When dealing with an immaterial substance, is not the answer, not matter, but an act of existence? At least, that's what I though Thomas believed."

It is. Nevertheless that won't solve the problem as far as Daniel D.D. is concerned: Aquinas doesn't think there can be more than one angel (or other immaterial substance) with any given form. He does think matter is the principle of individuation between material substances of the same form.

Scott said...

…with the partial exception of intellectual substances, i.e., those of us with rational souls. In this case he does hold that, having once been associated with matter, even our immaterial intellects remain individuated after our deaths even without any matter to individuate them.

Scott said...

(Material intellectual substances, that is.)

Glenn said...

seanrobsville,

>> "would it not follow that the significance of that TM is a
>> something determined by the one employing it, and not
>> an inherent feature of it?"

> True

Thank you.

Anonymous said...


seanrobsville said...
@ Glenn

"would it not follow that the significance of that TM is a something determined by the one employing it, and not an inherent feature of it?"


True
---

"would it not follow that the significance of that ™ is a something determined by the one employing it, and not an inherent feature of it?"

However, a truer sense might
depend on intellect-ual property based on 'natural code'; whereas one can express virtuously by true profession, perhaps natural law code.

The quality is in the profession.

Daniel D. D. said...

@Daniel

Yeah, so I went over to The Smithy and posted what I have been trying to say. Let's see what the Scotists think: http://lyfaber.blogspot.com/2015/03/principal-conclusions-of-scotist.html

Christi pax.

Daniel D. D. said...

@Scott

As far as I'm aware, St. Thomas sees the principle of individualization in material things as matter, but in spiritual things an act of existence. Our souls each have an act of existence that is taken on by the body as well. The soul doesn't need the body to exist, like animals; the soul does however need the body in order to operate its rational facilities, as we gain knowledge from the sense, which are bodily. The body then is more of a power of the soul, one which can be removed without destroying the soul, instead of being a direct composite with the body, which would make it lost with the body.

The soul of a cat, according to St. Thomas, is the same as every other cat. My problem I see is this:

The senses pick up the form of the individual cat;
The individual cat's form is the same as every other cat;
Therefore, the senses pick up the form of every cat.

The form of every cat is the universal "cat;"
Therefore the sense pick up the universal "cat."

The senses would then be the same as the intellect. But that's wrong.

My way out of this is to say that the individual cat's form is different from every other individual cat's, even though each form shares the universal form "cat." An individual form can't (normally) exist without matter, and an universal form can't exist without being a part of an individual form.

I do think I don't understand the whole Thomist position, however, and I especially still have trouble seeing how matter alone can be the only thing that individualizes.

Would accidents also be principles of individualization for Thomists? This cat has black fur and that cat has white fur? In that case, I could say that the senses do pick up on the cat's form, but that the different accidental forms and substantial form can't be distinguished when in matter. The inner senses transfer the cat's form from the cat's matter into the inner sense's material, meaning the precept is a composite with the cat's form but with the matter of electro-chemical brain signals instead of the matter of flesh and bone like the cat. And since the precept is still form and matter, the accidental and substantial forms can be distinguished. However, the intellect, being immaterial, can take the cat's form out of the precept, and since the cat's form is now out of matter in the immaterial intellect, the intellect can rip apart that form, finding the substantial form and each accidental form in the cat's form, and contemplate each concept abstracted from the cat's form alone, as the concept is in itself.

To recap, the intellect is need to abstract between each accidental forms and substantial form in a precept, as the precept is a matter/form composite, and the accidental form and substantial form are not separable in the cat itself, but only in the mind, even though they do really exist. By separating these aspects of the cat in the intellect, we can generate concepts and know universals such as "cat" in themselves, and apply that to any cat.

Christ pax.

Daniel D. D. said...

Here's an idea: humans are not only distinguishable by matter, but also by their quissitas, with "quissity" being unique to humans. Only spiritual beings have quissity and it is what makes them an individual in the true sense, even without matter. Each man's quis is free: he can define himself here. A man can't define his quiddity, for he is born a man, and can't choose not to be one ever. But he can, using his free will, determine his quis.

The intellect and will is the Image of God, which Adam didn't choose to have, but Adam was also made in the Likeness of God, which was in Adam's control. The Likeness of God, which is based in choice, is related to quissity. God created those in His Image to take on His Likeness, and each quis has a different way of expressing that Likeness: each quis has a particular way in which he can know and love God and neighbor. Each quis has the potential to love God and his neighbor in a way that no other quis can. "I will feed him with the hidden manna, and give him a white stone, on which stone a new name is written, known to him only who receives it." That's quissity.

I could also say that angels and demons also have quissity, and, as each quis is different inherently, this is the way we distinguish them from each other.

Mr. Scott, mr. Daniel, Daniel D. D., Dr. Feser, etc. all possess quissity, and each one of their quis is different.

A quis is what makes an "it" be a "he/she," and a "what" a "who." Quissity is what it means to be a person.

Is this interesting, or is it just another dumb idea?

Christi pax.

Anonymous said...

I'M STARTING TO BETTER UNDERSTAND INTENTIONALITY, BUT THERE ARE SOME OBJECTIONS I HAVE THOUGHT OF, THOUGH I'M NOT SURE IF THEY REALLY WORK
1. COULD IT BE ARGUED THAT THE NEURON IS DIRECTED TOWARDS SOMETHING INSIDE IT SUCH AS THE MESSAGE IT IS CARRYING AS IT'S PURPOSE IS TO TRANSPORT THE MESSAGE, LIKE RED BLOOD CELLS TRANSPORTING HAEMOGLOBIN
2. could it be argued that the reproductive system points toward something non existent as it's purpose is to produce an offspring and is always meant for that situation even when the offspring does not yet exist
sorry if I'm being a pest, but i really want to grasp intentionality as i have seen many people say that it is a strong argument against materialism and i want to understand exactly why.

Daniel D. D. said...

@Anon

"could it be argued that the reproductive system points toward something non existent as it's purpose is to produce an offspring and is always meant for that situation even when the offspring does not yet exist"

The reproductive systems doesn't point to something that doesn't exist. It points to something that potentially exists. The reproductive system is a power of the soul which, when in operation points to actaulizing a potential, which in this case, the power of reproduction (from a male's prospective) is working to make actual the potential of his wife's fertility.

The key to understanding intentions is to understand powers, the key to understanding ends is to understand sources, the key to understanding final cause is to understand efficient cause, and vise versa.

The efficient cause actualizes the potential; it works toward the actualization of that potential, and that potential is the final cause of the effiecent cause.

Before approaching intentions, you must, MUST, understand act and potency. That is the starting point where all of Aristotle moves from. The early moderns never bothered to define motion, and thus Aristotle became confusing to them.

Christi pax.

Daniel D. D. said...

Act is the principle of static, permenance. Potency is the principle of dynamic, change. The world can't be all being, as our senses sense change. The world can't be all changing, for the intellect only knows permenance. There must be being and becoming. Being is act, while becoming is potency.

There is two principles of a thing's being:
1. What is it made of? This is matter. (Potential)
2. What is it? This is form. (Act)

There are two principles of a thing's becoming:
3.What made it? This is source. (Act)
4.What is it for? This is end. (Potential)

The principles of being together make the thing, and the principles of becoming together change the thing.

Christi pax.

Anonymous said...

@Daniel D,
was it Aristotle that first came up with the intentionality argument?

Daniel D. D. said...

@Anon

"was it Aristotle that first came up with the intentionality argument?"

If you mean the Fifth Way, then no. St. Thomas did.

Both Aristotle and St. Thomas thought that telos in nature was obvious. St. Thomas, however, thought going from "that for the sack of which" to God was hard, which is why he made it the last one in the group: he thought it was the weakest.

The First Way, on the other hand, is first because St. Thomas thought it was the strongest. It is just simply amazing because it proves just so much. I converted basically because of my studies of the First Way and its relationship to "I Am," as well as from studying Orthodox Judaism and the History of the Jewish people. Pascal, when asked to demonstrate a miracle to the king of France, answered: "the existence of the Jews!"

Christi pax.

Anonymous said...

I often tell people when they lose a loved one, (preferably face to face) that I never knew their mother or father, but in sense do - because I am looking at them.

After a while I notice that people generally look and sound the same, as whom are relatives, and those I have met over time.

My children once met some other children in the pool that looked in appearance like their twin second cousins. The level of communication instantly grew deeper, more because of the growth and intimacy - as if they already knew them.

OTOH, I have not had this sense with animals, barring the short-lived feeling that a past pet who gave me 'bounce in my step.' I later recall finding that Jazz improvisation can likewise put bounce in my step.

That others speak of morphic resonance and conscious entities, takes me to a place that question my place/purpose in Creation, and the abundance of life that we cannot see but feel. All of the octaves of Creation were created for a purpose. Everything has life. We reflect that to a degree that we can. Because it is reflected to us through these mysteries on our journey.

In the end, it is what we do with this sense that matters.

Timocrates said...

@ Daniel D.D:

In what sense can a form be individual? I don't think form is ever properly individual. If that were so, it could not be repeated or multiplied. Generally speaking, what individuates is more closely associated with matter or the material principle of things than the form is.

As Aristotle notes, the individual man is a primary substance; but "man" (the basis of all your sensations about the individual) is not present "in" the individual, with the individual acting as the subject. The individual man (i.e. the primary substance) is the subject of whatever might be said of him.

If someone were to ask why this man eats and that stone does not, the reason is not because of their individuality, but because the one is a man and the other is a stone; that is, having to do with their nature as man or as stone, not as individuals. Indeed, individuality as such does not seem to be the cause of anything.

The senses most definitely do not abstract the essences of things for us. The desire to know and understand what these things the senses reveal to us are is an intellectual one. The answer is in a way partly self-evident (insofar as it is usually there or before the senses and the mind) and partly not, insofar as we must infer to things not apparent from the senses to explain or understand something. Thus when I behold my dog, there is a definite body (three dimensions) there; but it requires comparing my dog to other bodily things for me to come to a better or more accurate understanding of what a body is.

It is especially in our differentiating what is essential and what is accidental that we come to understand the nature of things. Thus, for example, while bodies are given to the senses, the mind has to learn or understand that the accidents associated with all these varied bodies are not part of what it is to be a bodily thing. A body is just anything that can have three dimensions posited in it: colour, texture or feel, smell, size, change, increase or decrease, taste, etc., are not necessary to being a body. But three dimensions are there in every body we come across. This conclusion is made by the power of the intellect and not given by the senses. We never find a body as being just a three-dimensional thing absent any sensible characteristic whatever. Even when we do geometry we must learn that the visual figures and those present in our imaginations are imperfect insofar as they will necessarily include accidents, such as colour or definite or determined limits or dimensions. Clearly here we are moving further and further from the senses.

George LeSauvage said...

@Daniel D D:

1. 'St. Thomas, however, thought going from "that for the sack of which" to God was hard, which is why he made it the last one in the group: he thought it was the weakest.'

Weakest? Is this correct? If he thought all 5 were demonstrations, would that not make them all equally strong?

Would not "least manifest" be a better description - all the more so as it parallels the actual description he gave to the 1st.

2. How does quissity differ from haecity?

@Timocrates: Thank you for putting my questions better than I could.

Daniel D. D. said...

@George

The fifth way was most prone to counter arguments, IIRC.

Quissity is an idea I tossed around one night. I was basically proposing that each person has an individual form, sort of a universal all to himself. In other words, what we all is individualized to our very being.

Anyway, it helps better fill holes in St. Thomas too, as he thought, if I'm understanding correctly, that we were beings with rational powers and a body, with the body being a sort of power of the soul itself. Or to put it another way, we arent animals with rational powers, or spirits with bodily powers, we are some undefined substance with both rational and bodily powers. Quissity is an attempt to define what that undefined substance might be.

Christ pax.