Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Aquinas anticipated everything


So notes a friend who sent me this image of the cover of a dissertation from the 1950s.  (No doubt the author was using the phrase in a different sense than has now become familiar.  Any guesses as to the true subject matter?)



UPDATE: Dave Lull sends the following:

From page 1:

“Social distance may be thought of either as an attitude of mind or as those acts flowing from this mental state. An attitude of social distance is an erroneous bias unreasonably held by the individuals of one group against another group. Acts of social distance are unjust differential treatment of individuals considered to belong to a particular group. It will be the task of the following section on the psychology of social distance to explain these definitions according to Thomistic philosophy.

“Prejudice is a broader term than social distance. It is the genus of which social distance is a species. For that reason much of what is said of prejudice or prejudicial attitudes pertains to social distance. Prejudice may be defined as an attitude of mind towards persons or things producing a bias in favor of, or adverse to, such persons or things and a judgment on them before adequate knowledge of the facts has been obtained.”

See also the explanation from Brandon in the comments below.

30 comments:

  1. It's about the moral psychology of discrimination (he describes social distance as "an erroneous bias unreasonably held" in which you have or act adversely with respect to someone simply because of the group to which they belong; Rawley Myers treats it as a species of which prejudice is a genus, and classifies it as a habitus of imprudence that also violates justice, and he argues that the remedies for it are social justice (understood as giving others their due in light of common good) and social charity (understood as benevolence based on the universal brotherhood of man).

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    1. I was going to guess that as a society (socially) we have grown distant from true Charity, both of God and our neighbor, and therefore lack that Divine Friendship which is our final end, but I like yours way better haha

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  2. My guess in what "Social Distancing" means in this work... how sin (privation of being) causes one to be separated from the true society which is the Catholic Church; this does not have to be physically but in spirit as well.

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  3. As I always say, any argument that begins "Aquinas couldn't have known…" is bound to be wrong!

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    1. Indeed, Aquinas could have known that objects do in fact move themselves, since Aquinas moved himself.

      Thus, Aquinas could have known that a critical premise in his First Way is false, invalidating the First Way as an argument for the necessity of an unmoved mover.

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  4. And here I thought it was the amount of distance required between a man and a woman when they are dancing in public.

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  5. Not about telling people not to socialise with trolls?

    “Keep a social distance between you and trolls when responding to comments”

    Lol

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  6. The love that dare not speak it's name.

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  7. Too much reading is bad for one's eyes.

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  8. It may be true that "the author was using the phrase in a different sense than has now become familiar"--at least as it regards the Corona virus. However, there is another current sense in which the expression is appropos: various echo chambers--whether they be social media sites, college campuses, or whatever--where any contrary opinion is shouted down and its adhearents are pelted with insults rather than allowing the competion of ideas where the good arguments win and the bad arguments lose.

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    1. That's a good point: political correctness being used to forbid ideas from being discussed, not because they are wrong, but because they violate preferred opinions.

      On the other hand, there would seem to be also a vice that goes to the other extreme, that of never shutting down, and not allowing the shutting down of ideas and hypotheses that are wrong and have been proven wrong, i.e. leaving ALL opinions open as if nothing had been determined, nothing decided, nothing proven, nothing established. This is (in part) what leads to the extreme skepticism of part of academia, and allows for the eventual re-surfacing of bad ideas merely because people are too young to remember that the idea was tried and disproved. (Communism, circa 1992, anyone? Students on college campuses today (well, last week) seem not to be aware of even recent history.)

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    2. @ Tony

      Yes, that's true. As Chesterton said "An open mind, like an open mouth, is made to shut on something solid".

      The purpose of "dialog" is to reach a conclusion, not to just dialog forever. But the word has come to mean "let's talk until you do it my way". Certainly a person can dig in their heels and just decide to be obstinate. I guess it's part of the unfortunate human condition and when it comes to navigating these problems, we'll have to earn our bread by the sweat of our brow.

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  9. So many kids at home (seven kids for me)! Its hard to concentrate on work or anything! :)

    Hope you are doing well Ed.

    God bless,
    Daniel

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    1. @ Daniel

      House arrest with seven kids? Sounds brutal. You have my devoted admiration Good Sir!

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  10. Should the Church close her churches and suspend masses?

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  11. Maybe Aquinas anticipated things but not knew. It is as a rule better to assume that scholastics in the Middle Ages were a million times more deep than people give them credit for. But not that they were infallible. But it is always a rule to search for hidden deepth in them as it is usually there.

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  12. Hi, Dr. Feser. St. Thomas Aquinas definitely predicted what would happen in the modern age. It reminds me of Light Yagami, who had magnificent prediction skills. Yagami was also a character who existed in the modern world, who held very weird views due to the social distancing which Aquinas describes.
    It's a very interesting connection. This is another high class article from you! Thank you so much!

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  13. Funny you bring up anime, it's just like Joseph Jostar when he goes "and your next line is", I'm a lot like him you know

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    1. ya know it also reminds me of another anime character. In Toradora, Ami was really good at predicting what was going to happen. It's kinda sad she didn't get Ryuji, but it all made sense with Taiga winning his heart, something the show was geared towards. Ami kinda reminded me of Aquinas in that they both could anticipate everything from the start, with Ami essentially being our eyes into Toradora.

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    2. Would you say Aristotle is the Taigo to Aquinas's Ami?

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    3. I really wouldn't that it's like Joseph Jostar's taunt when he predicts his adversaries' next comment. I would say its more akin to Shinji, who reminds me of myself, who faces the hedgehog dilemma in the anime Neon Genesis Evangelion. Shinji discriminates in how he interacts with other, a mode of emotional social distancing, which shows his unjustice towards his fellow man. Really makes me think

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    4. idk, none of the characters really reminded me of any of the philosophers, except Ami in this scenario. Honestly though, I legitimately enjoyed Toradora. That being said, the show reflects what Aristotle talks about in book 10 of NE, that being the virtue of friendship.

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    5. You know what else relates to book 10 of NE? One punch man
      Saitama and robot are good firends, the theme is friendship.

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    6. I feel like I know a lot about Saitama, I am a lot like him after all. He could probably say a lot about Aristotle's philosophy with all he's been through, especially on excellence
      The show isn't really just about friendship, it's a commentary on excellence after all

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    7. I'm a lot like him you know

      I feel like I know a lot about Saitama, I am a lot like him after all.

      Shônen characters are designed to represent the typical teenage boy or young man. That just means those characters are working as marketed and you got manipulated.

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    8. I have unironically used One Punch Man to think about God's power and the notion of perfections, and Leibniz's idea of perfections as simple positive properties. Saitama is a good example of how we can intuitively grasp how "power" is a perfection that allows for many degrees, and how it is at the same time simple. Just think of Saitama's power and resistance and extend it even further - make it so that Saitama's power can affect more and more things, even far away from him in space, etc. You can get to the notion (and prima facie possibility, in my view) of a Perfect Being quite easily like that.

      It also shows how "power" is recognized as an intrinsically good and awe-inspiring thing. Part of Saitama's appeal is that he is likable, good-natured, heroic, etc. But part of the reason why he is admired, awesome, etc. comes from the sheer fact that he has so much power. There is an identity between simple power and Greatness. Again, relevant.

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    9. Talking about fiction and a Perfect Being reminds me of these gods in fictions who can destroy multiverses or megaverses just by existing or something like that. It reminds me of Aquinas idea of the intellect aways being able to imagine a bigger quantity of something.

      But seeing people arguing about the gods of different stories is kinda stupid. The caracter can be ominipotent in his universe and he will lose to one from another because the second lives in a multiverse and all. Kinda like in mathematics where the series 2, 2.1, 2.2 etc is potentially infinite and still can't have a number bigger that 3.

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  14. Talmid,
    2.0,2.1,2.2,2.3,2.4,2.5,2.6,2.7,2.8,2.9,3.0,3.1,3.2...

    Sorry, what was your point exactly?

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  15. Wow, that was a pretty big mistake. Pretends then that i said something like "where the series of odd numbers is potentially infinite but still is smaller that the series of all numbers".

    Maybe this can work better.

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