Sunday, June 7, 2015

Neo-Scholastic Essays

I am pleased to announce the publication of Neo-Scholastic Essays, a collection of previously published academic articles of mine from the last decade, along with some previously unpublished papers and other material.  Here are the cover copy and table of contents:

In a series of publications over the course of a decade, Edward Feser has argued for the defensibility and abiding relevance to issues in contemporary philosophy of Scholastic ideas and arguments, and especially of Aristotelian-Thomistic ideas and arguments.  This work has been in the vein of what has come to be known as “analytical Thomism,” though the spirit of the project goes back at least to the Neo-Scholasticism of the period from the late nineteenth century to the middle of the twentieth.
Neo-Scholastic Essays collects some of Feser’s academic papers from the last ten years on themes in metaphysics and philosophy of nature, natural theology, philosophy of mind, and ethics.  Among the diverse topics covered are: the relationship between Aristotelian and Newtonian conceptions of motion; the varieties of teleological description and explanation; the proper interpretation of Aquinas’s Five Ways; the impossibility of a materialist account of the human intellect; the philosophies of mind of Kripke, Searle, Popper, and Hayek; the metaphysics of value; the natural law understanding of the ethics of private property and taxation; a critique of political libertarianism; and the defensibility and indispensability to a proper understanding of sexual morality of the traditional “perverted faculty argument.”




Metaphysics and philosophy of nature

1. Motion in Aristotle, Newton, and Einstein

2. Teleology: A Shopper’s Guide

3. On Aristotle, Aquinas, and Paley: A Reply to Marie George

Natural theology

4. Natural Theology Must Be Grounded in the Philosophy of Nature, Not in Natural Science

5. Existential Inertia and the Five Ways

6. The New Atheists and the Cosmological Argument

7. Between Aristotle and William Paley: Aquinas’s Fifth Way

8. Why McGinn is a Pre-Theist

9. The Road from Atheism

Philosophy of mind

10. Kripke, Ross, and the Immaterial Aspects of Thought

11. Hayek, Popper, and the Causal Theory of the Mind

12. Why Searle is a Property Dualist


13. Being, the Good, and the Guise of the Good

14. Classical Natural Law Theory, Property Rights, and Taxation

15. Self-Ownership, Libertarianism, and Impartiality

16. In Defense of the Perverted Faculty Argument


  1. In light of recent events, I'm wondering if I should have titled it Baroque Neo-Scholastic Essays.

    Sorry, couldn't resist...

  2. It will be extremely convenient to have all these essays together in one place. Congratulations, and looking forward to future publications.

  3. Dr. Feser,

    I had the privilege of hearing you speak, etc., this weekend at Mount Saint Mary. What a fantastic three days of lectures, discussion, and booze...go baroque or go home trying! Congratulations on the new book. Mine is due to arrive this Wednesday. Can't wait to dive in.

  4. Glad to see this. IIRC, some of the papers have been behind paywalls.

    Any plans for an ebook version?

  5. Can't wait to get my hands on this....thanks and congratulations, your work has become a very important part of my life. Thank you Dr. Feser.

  6. Congrats! Is the "perverted faculty" argument in here the excerpt as it appeared in NCBQ, or the full deal? Great to meet you this past weekend!

  7. Thursday,

    Yes, an ebook version is planned.


    The "perverted faculty" paper in the book is the full deal -- not merely the short excerpt that appeared in NCBQ nor even the longer excerpt I presented in Princeton recently, but the complete paper (at last!)

  8. No chapter where you share some of your free style rhymes?? Back when you still hoped of being the 4th Beastie Boy??

  9. Well in this case, if it ain't Baroque - fix it! Eager to get my hands on this - esp the Between Arostotle and Paley article!

  10. I think this is a thinly disguised manual.

  11. Great news, Dr. Feser. Vive le baroque!

    Now, this faithful reader of yours will be very disappointed if he's fated to discover in the book the deplorable lack (unfortunately common nowadays) of illustrations featuring dozens of fat putti (ah, just try to imagine the Apotheosis of Teleology!.. the Triumph of the Rational Faculty over the Perverted!..), and the failure of the book to broadcast oboe concertos into the mind of the reader...

  12. Professor Feser:

    I attended the MSMC workshop. What a wonderful experience. Thank you for the thought-provoking presentation, and insightful contribution that you made throughout the workshop--both "in class" and during the after hours banjo and whiskey sessions. Although I did not approach you (though we bumped into one another in the coffee line a couple of times), I just wanted to drop a line to say "thank you" for all that you do. You have been a great influence on my (late-blooming--i.e., second-career) scholarly ambitions and direction. I look forward to reading "Neo-Scholastic Essays." I wish you the best.

  13. Great! No sooner do I take delivery of my copy of Scholastic Metaphysics than there is another Feser book to buy. Ed stop writing so fast!, well at least faster than I can read.
    Oh well good problem to have I guess :)

  14. Looks good. I appreciate that you so far always publish in paperback, affordably. Thanks for that.

  15. Dr. Feser,

    Thank you for your continued work which has greatly influenced my own academic career.


  16. Looks good. An excellent complement to your earlier works. Includes stuff on all the aspects of your work that I find most interesting: critiques of physicalism and the New atheism, a defense of Aquinas' Fifth Way, and some articles on Scholastic metaphysics to complement your earlier work on the subject. Only thing its lacking is a more detailed essay on the Aristotelian-Thomistic cosmological argument to complement your lengthy essay on the Fifth way and your overview of the cosmological argument. That would make the book complete, in my view.

  17. Where did the original article by Marie George to which you're responding appear? I ask because she's a professor at my school (St. John's).

  18. @Isaac Smith,

    What about a lengthy essay on the Fourth Way to go with it? (The one no-one remembers)

    Still roll on Five Proofs I say!

  19. Tom: The Marie George article that Feser responds to is here:

  20. P.S. Off topic but is The Irish Thomist still around here?

  21. Got my copy today. Big book! Look forward to reading it.

    Warning - no photoshopped comics are included.

  22. My copy's here too—arrived bright and early because I'd preordered it. I haven't had a chance to read much of it yet, but I've had a look at the essays that used to be available only behind paywalls and they are of course excellent. Much of the other content I'm already familiar with (from this blog and links therefrom), but it's great to have it assembled into one handy volume of well-chosen topical pieces.

    But yeah, the lack of Photoshopped comics is a minor drawback.

    Seriously, though, congratulations to Ed. Nicely done.

  23. @Daniel:

    P.S. Off topic but is The Irish Thomist still around here?

    Hmm, I just tried to check his blog and it appears to have been removed.

  24. He put up a notice he would take down his blog in a month, and then did so. His most recent post here as Irish Thomist was on May 15, at the bottom of the Animal Souls, Part II thread (it was, as I recall, around the same time he took his blog down).

  25. @John West:

    Ah, good, I missed that; thanks. No reason to think anything has happened to him, then. I was just surprised to see that a week or so after Daniel's question, he still hadn't responded.

  26. Scott,

    Yeah, he seemed alright -- just didn't think the internet was the right medium for him for writing at that length in that format.

  27. @John and Scott,

    Yes, I knew about him taking his blog down (I wanted him to send me something from the the achieves). I don't know the exact reasons behind it- I hope it wasn't due to any kind of online hostility. I assumed he was still posting here regularly though.

  28. I don't know the exact reasons behind it- I hope it wasn't due to any kind of online hostility.

    I don't know anymore than you do. Sorry.

  29. By the way, Daniel, I've decided that if you argue for a certain notion of possibility (or everyone accepts it but disagrees on the ontological details), you can get around the criticism of Scotus's modal argument I raised back there and a while ago here (I think you said something along these lines when you brought it up here). Whether or not we ought to, abductively, ground that possibility in God can be left as a subject for other arguments.

    If this isn't possible, no one can even implicitly refer to notions of possibility without implicitly begging a bunch of questions in a lot more than Scotus's OA. And that doesn't seem reasonable.

  30. @John,

    What notion of possibility do you have in mind? Trying to remember whether this was the discussion on the Irish Thomists blog or the more recent one with Greg.

    (Btw apropos that last discussion I was thinking of your remark about OAs being less informative than Five Ways type arguments - I think this is probably a feature of A Priori type arguments generally, if successful either way they map out a limited portion of the modal landscape and not much more than that).

    Sorry for the brief post

  31. Daniel,

    What notion of possibility do you have in mind? Trying to remember whether this was the discussion on the Irish Thomists blog or the more recent one with Greg.

    Well, my complaint was that anyone grounding possibility, possible worlds, or what-is-possible in God implicitly begs the question when trying to prove God exists based purely on notions of possibility. We say, “Well, what's possible?” and they say, “Anything within God's power to actualize.” The OA then asks, “Is God possible?”

    But it seems perfectly fine to declare that possibility is a self-evident feature of reality, like change. If that's so, then we don't need to assume God exists to argue from that feature of reality to God's existence anymore than we need to assume God exists to argue from the reality of change (or contingency) to God's existence. We do need to figure out the details of that feature of reality and if necessary argue for them, but that need not translate to assuming God exists. At least, so long as we're talking about logical or metaphysical possibility.

  32. Hi, first time poster-I've learned a lot from this blog - including the comments section.ive enjoyed Ed's previous books and was interested in his latest two books - especially this one. I don't have a background in philosophy and to be frank the fact that this book contains 'academic' essays scares me a bit! There's no 'look inside' option on Amazon and I was wondering if this book is as accessible to someone without any academic background in philosophy as Dr.Feser's other books?( exc. Scholastic Metaphysics')