Saturday, August 29, 2020

Open thread (and a comment on trolling)

We’re long overdue for another open thread.  Now is the time for you to post that otherwise off-topic comment I’ve had to delete.  From Being Itself to mental health, from Mickey Spillane to John Coltrane, from Dada to Prada, in this post everything is on-topic.  Naturally, the normal rules of decency and civility still apply.

I see from some drama in the comments section that I once again have to comment on the tiresome topic of trolling.  As longtime readers know, I try as far as I can to let the comments section police itself.  There are two reasons for this.  First, in the interests of free discussion and in order to make all readers feel welcome whatever their level of knowledge of the subject matter of a post, I think it is better to err on the side of letting some lower-quality comments stand and leaving it to readers to decide what is worth responding to.  Second, I am extremely busy and simply don’t have time to read through, let alone micromanage, most combox discussions.

To be sure, I’m not some Democrat mayor; I don’t let lunatics run riot.  There are a few especially psychotic trolls who I consider banned forever and whose comments I always delete because they have proven themselves to be utterly obnoxious and irrational – routinely posting little more than insults, unhinged rants, personal obsessions, obscenity or blasphemy, etc.

But there are others I have banned for lesser offenses and whose return I have tolerated because they have shown themselves willing to curb their more unpleasant tendencies.  That does not mean that I think their comments are of high quality.  But it does mean that I have judged that, if other readers would simply follow the rule of not responding to people they regard as trolls, these people will not pose a serious problem.

Think of it on the model of a party.  Some of your fellow guests will be so interesting that you could talk to them for hours; some will be good for maybe ten or fifteen minutes of conversation before you run out of things to say to one another; some will be total bores; and a handful will be completely obnoxious – getting drunk, starting fights, acting lecherously, etc.  Now, a good host should throw out people in that last category, but should let all the others stay and leave it to the guests to figure out who is who.  And of course, a person who is boring to one guest may not be to another.  There’s no need to go on and on about how boring some fellow guest is.  If you don’t want to talk to him, don’t.  If others do, that’s their problem.

Finally, please remember not to post off-topic comments.  Other than the nastier troll comments, there’s nothing more annoying than a comment that begins “This is off-topic, but…”  If it’s off-topic, don’t post it.  I will delete it and all responses to it.

312 comments:

  1. Prof. Ed we need a productivity and a reading strategies post from you.

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    1. Hi Ava, well, one thing that I can say is that helps to be a workaholic.

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    2. Next, your reading strategies😉

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  2. Dr. Feser, do you have an estimate for the release date of your next book? I can't wait!

    Also, IIRC you had planned to write a book on the human soul, one on sexual morality, another on the truth of the Catholic Faith, and then another on the topic of modernism. Is this still the roadmap or have there been any change of plans?

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    1. Hi Greg, yes, those books in that order is still the plan. There are so many secondary irons in the fire at any one time (book reviews, articles for books or journals, conference papers, etc.) that the current book project (on the soul) is taking longer than I would like, and I don't have an ETA on that. But it is in progress.

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    2. asking an author for the release date of the book he's currently working on is quite dangerous, no?

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    3. Well, not all authors are as bad as Patrick Rothfuss. As he nears completion, he can pose likely time-frames.

      On the topic of Rothfuss, I am seriously contemplating not only not buying his third book in his 13-years-and-waiting trilogy when it comes out (if ever), but organizing a general boycott of it to punish him for his nonsense.

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    4. Dr. Feser, thank you for your reply. Definitely looking forward to all of those books and to any others you might write as well!

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    5. Hi Dr. Feser. Either I'm unable to start a new thread or I don't know how this works (it's most likely the latter), so I will post in this reply thread.

      Why do analytical philosophers tend to ignore postmodernism rather than tackling it head on? I seldom see the likes of Foucault, Baudrillard, or Rorty, for example, mentioned let alone discussed.

      Considering this is the prevailing dogma among the intelligentsia, why not focus some attention on engaging their philosophically dubious claims?

      Now I haven't searched far and wide, but nothing seems to be readily available. Correct me if I'm wrong.

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    6. Will,
      Just for a moment, imagine that you are an analytical philosopher, and that you have just read Rorty's,"Contingency, irony, and solidarity".

      What in the world would you say to an Ironist that was worth your time to say to him?

      The fact is, insofar as Rorty is a representative, these are people and their followers, who are - substantially on their own account - psychologically beyond any disposition to engage in argumentation concerning values arbitration and groundings, and beyond "reason" except in some instrumental sense of a calculation leading to the satisfaction of urges which they hold to be incapable of objective evaluation.

      Chance is a "worthy master"?

      Rorty is explicitly at war with 'the meta-physician' and the entire project of grounding ethics in more than sentiment.

      He's not interested in reasoning about values, nor in the process of analyzing values and judging them against an objective standard; he is interested in rhetoric, persuasion and emotion.

      What would you say to Rorty or to one of his admirers?

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  3. Does Aquinas believe we have one concept of being that is unequally participated, or multiple concepts that are correspond to different analogates?

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    1. As I understand it, the latter: the term "being" is used not-univocally with respect to being in the different categories, and is used at best analogicaly when used of God as "other" beings.

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    2. " ... your obsession with homosexuality as a form of 'perversion' that you would like to see much lesss of ( and ideally non at all ) in the world, but masterbation must surely be by far the most common form of sexual 'perversion' ..."

      The obvious reason for holding such practices in contempt is that they evidently, as we see instanced above, lead to various degrees of mental confusion, moral enervation, and eventually, to a form of
      feeblemindedness manifesting as a pathological outlook called "nihilism".

      Freud, as we all know, spoke disapprovingly of religion as " ... the self-consolation of life's losers". A similar surmise, I think most would agee, seems to be appropriate with regard to the practices which you mention.

      Furthermore, as regards buggers and their fecally focused fascination, and though the analogy may be imperfect, it is nonetheless clear on some level that a male that seeks to be sodomized by another male, or that seeks as either primary actor or passive recepient the violation of his or another's physical integrity, is nothing like a trustworthy ally for those who seek to avoid being buggered by overreaching, no-limits government bureaucrats and their client class.

      But, you speak of sin, and of Aquinas, and of a Christian interpretation. And with this I can help you only to the extent of observing the reason Aquinas gave for viewing the perversion of sodomy as worse than the perversion of self-abuse, was that the former involved two parties in the damnable act, where as the latter, only one.

      I sincerely hope that this helps to clear away some of the confusion you are experiencing.

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  4. Hi Dr. Feser,

    I've been devoutly following your blog for many years now, and I'm happy to say I'm now going to Church (well, corona got in the way real fast) and really do feel transformed.

    A half dozen of my friends read your stuff too, and we're all under 20, so you might very well have a large young fanbase!!!

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    1. Forgot the very important thank you so much for your work. You're a huge, very positive influence in my life.

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    2. Extremely gratifying and humbling, Anon, thank you!

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    3. I second that post. Many thanks for your works.

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  5. No doubt Ed will cover the topic in his book about sexual morality when it appears , but in the meantime a comprehensive post about masterbation from a Thomistic and Roman Catholic perspective would be welcome.

    I gather that you people consider sexual activity which cannot by its very nature result in conception to be perverted and sinfull, or at least it is when it involves male ejaculation. That being so, I presume that male masterbation to completion is , in your account, perverted and sinfull, and so sure to consign the unrepentant practitioner to hell.

    I note your obsession with homosexuality as a form of 'perversion' that you would like to see much lesss of ( and ideally non at all ) in the world, but masterbation must surely be by far the most common form of sexual 'perversion' , practiced by almost all males ( at varying frequencies through their life ), and considered to be quite normal ( indeed, often desirable as a form of sexual release ) by the secular world. As such, I would have thought that its perils would be a gravely important matter to you, yet I can find no proper discussion of it on this blog. Certainly , when considered by the number of souls this practice might lead to hell, homosexual copulation pales into insignificance by comparison. So why the obsession with the one, and silence about the other?

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    1. Unknown,

      It's not that I buy all of Thomist natural law theory, but anyone familiar with it can tell you that yes, they do prohibit any non-procreative sexual activity including masturbation, contraception, tubal ligation and all that.

      Homosexuality (along with same-sex marriage) has been a political hot topic in the 21st century (I recall it picking up traction even earlier in the nineties) and this likely explains why it gets what you probably see as excessive coverage by natural law theorists.

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    2. "So why the obsession with the one, and silence about the other?"

      As far as I can see, there is no obsession.

      It's just that Feser often discusses topics that relate to some specific event happening in society or philosophy circles or what have you at the given time. With homosexual behaviour, legislation related to same-sex "marriage", The Israel Folau controversy, the church abuse scandals, and other such specific events have occurred that Feser has expressed thoughts on.

      I'm sure if it was suddenly made legal to masturbate in public, or whatever crazy thing, Feser may be inclined to write something about it.

      What is there to say about masturbation specifically that can't be said in a post about sexual perversion in general?

      Feser has barely discussed pornography either, which isn't recognised as inherently bad in secular society either.

      You're basically wondering why Feser discusses topics that relate to specific events at the given time, and not just a particular general topic you think is worth discussing.

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    3. In practice, in think that the thoroughly grounded Christian sexual ethics will be grounded in how it is that human sexual love is meant to be an analogate to, and to point toward, divine love. The human sexual love was (from the beginning, by design) meant to be unique, permanent, and fecund in reflection of God and of our proper relationship with God: our love for God should be unique and permanent, and His love for us is fecund. Masturbation, in addition to being physically un-fecund, is also psychologically and socially deforming so that a man's proper sexual love of a spouse is impeded. Natural law statements about its being inherently contrary to fecundity are true and sufficient to point to its inherent wrongness, but leaving it there is incomplete. Because it damages the practitioner's capacity to fully love, it is harmful to the self as well as wrong.

      I have seen this kind of explanation of the problem of masturbation in Catholic literature for at least 20 years, probably longer. I don't know why Unknown hasn't seen them. But the fact is that most people who object to Catholic natural law object MUCH more vociferously about many other points of the teaching than that on masturbation, so that's what Catholic responders mainly deal with.

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    4. You write: "...to be perverted and sinfull, or at least it is when it involves male ejaculation." I think women can masturbate too, and the moral situation would be the same, but I am happy to be corrected if I've missed something.

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    5. Obviously I can't speak for anyone's practice but my own, but it is certainly the case that a Catholic educator should (and in my experience does) focus on things like pornography and masturbation as the most immediately pressing concerns of sexual ethics for young people, with fornication and adultery being the next runners up.

      I suspect you would find a fairly significant disconnect between this supposed "obsession" you find in public writings and the typical Catholic educational experience. But then again, many people are quite squeamish about the funniest things and find it difficult to teach or talk about them.

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    6. Surely, if a male ejaculates other than inside a vagina, that is inherently to thwart the possibility of conception, so to do this intentionally would be wrong. However, a male masterbating, but not to completion, or a woman masterbating to orgasm, would not thwart any inherent teleology pointing to conception, as such does not exist in these cases. So presumably, these acts would not be immoral.


      Is the above correct, and if not, why not?

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    7. Unknown,

      Just for laughs, I went back and did a quick survey of how many posts I've written about sexual morality in the 12-year history of this blog. It comes to roughly 20 posts. That's not even two a year on average, and I post between 4 and 8 posts a month. So, the vast, vast majority of posts on this blog have nothing to do with sexual morality.

      Second, of these 20 or so posts, maybe 3-4 are directly related to homosexuality, and even then by way of the same-sex marriage debate. Of course, the general natural law approach to sex has obvious implications for homosexuality, and sometimes those are mentioned in passing in other posts. But it just isn't a theme of very many posts at all. So this "obsession" you refer to exists only in your mind. (Which, of course, is typical of accusations of this kind.)

      Third, I did in fact write a post a few years back about precisely the topic you claim I haven't addressed:

      https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2017/02/mired-in-roiling-tar-pits-of-lust.html

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    8. Regarding sexual immorality, including masturbation, I find it helpful to think of the matter in terms of Aquinas' point about the soul at the moment of death latching onto whatever it took as its main good in this life, whether that be God or something else. Now sexual activity (understood broadly to include things like masturbation as well as "real" sex) is a source of very great physical pleasure, and so it's consequently very easy for the soul to get fixed on that as its main good. In the context of marriage, this is counteracted by sex's role in bonding the two spouses together, and also by its tendency to produce children, for whom parents naturally have a very great love and whose well-being they naturally take to be a very great good, both for the children themselves and for the parents. When you masturbate, however, you get the pleasure and corresponding pull towards viewing that as your main good, but you don't get any of the things which counteract this pull in a regular marriage. The same is true with pornography use and casual sex as well.

      As for Ed's alleged "obsession" with homosexuality, that's because the culture is currently trying to push all things gay down our throats. If there were "w*nker's pride parades" marching down the streets of major cities, businesses observed a special "masturbation month" to celebrate the joys of self-abuse, and expressing moral opposition to masturbation were treated as a form of bigotry in official circles, no doubt you'd be seeing more posts on the topic of masturbation.

      -- The original Mr. X

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    9. I find myself agreeing with Feser and Billy et al. that due to the high profile and political nature of the homosexual agenda being forced upon us, it makes sense to address it with some frequency on this blog and in natural law writings. However, the issue that I think needs more engagement is the issue of pornography and its use in conjunction with masturbation. This is THE major problem facing Western Civilization wrecking any hope of overcoming either the sexual revolution or modern man's lack of religiosity. I'm not sure how much Ed has addressed this, so I won't venture a guess there, but the pervasiveness of porn in the culture and how it is robbing almost all our young people of their innocence (the average age of first-time viewing porn is now under 10 yrs old) any healthy sense of sexuality or how to relate to members of the other sex cannot be overstated.

      I know there are popular movements to end porn and its widespread use, but are there sufficient academic output surrounding the morality of its use, and cultural and legal strategies to curb this monster?

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  6. One comment piggybacking on "don't feed the trolls"--it is rarely helpful to comment under trollish comments "so and so is a troll; ignore him." For this tends to clutter the thread: the troll argues he isn't a troll, there may be a fruitless discussion of what constitutes a troll, a third party may jump in defending the troll, etc.

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    1. Indeed. I am already regretting responding to Stardusty in the previous thread. Nothing but huge walls of text half-filled with mockery, guaranteed to get any debate lost in the weeds.

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    2. I find it remarkable that he has the sheer time and effort to vomit out wave after wave of misguided garbage on almost every post on this blog. Wonder what he does that gives him that time lol.

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  7. From now on I'm gonna call trolls on this site Ulik in honour of this posts picture

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  8. Ed I found your scholastic bookshelf posts incredibly helpful. Of course, they were primarily Thomist in orientation. Do you have any recommendations on introductions and beyond to Scotist thought? I have found some myself but would very much value your opinion

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  9. Are there ano resources on people who question the authority of Vatican II?

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    1. While there are many notable others, these two are invaluable:

      https://mostholytrinityseminary.org/

      https://novusordowatch.org

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    2. Novus Ordo Watch is sedevacantist. Their account should always be taken with a grain of salt.
      - John

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    3. Their account stands or falls on their argumentations and their use of the theological method. No salt is needed.

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    4. I don't think I was clear. I meant any resources to rebuke people who question the authority of Vatican II.

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    5. I apologize. I misread your question. There are a plethora of those sources available (regardless of their intrinsic worth). Fr. Chad Ripperger would be a good place to start; although, obviously, the opposing position should be consulted.

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  10. What is the reason we are morally obligated to worship God? This atheist blog made this argument I couldn't really think of an answer beyond the fact that God is all-knowing and perfectly good, and so if He tells us to worship Him, we should, even if we don't know the reason.

    https://philosophicaldisquisitions.blogspot.com/2011/03/problem-of-worship-aikin.html

    What do you think?

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    1. Not to be rude, but who takes these arguments seriously? Seems characteristic of contemporary publish-or-perish philosophy. "God doesn't exist because no being can be worthy of worship", really?

      And I mean, God just is the absolute Good, so of course we should worship him. Anything else presupposes an anthromorphic conception, probably.

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    2. People want to be happy. Therefore we should want to do that makes us most happy. But worshipping God just is the act that brings us the most happiness. Therefore not worshipping God is the most perverse act you can commit because you are rejecting the very thing that would bring you ultimate happiness.

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    3. It's a matter of (inter alia) justice. God gives us everything we have, including our very existence, and so we are obliged to thank him as best we can.

      -- The original Mr. X

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  11. Jay Dyer, an orthodox youtube, made a video commenting on chapter 3 of his book Five Proofs for the Existence of God objecting that if God is absolutely simple then the necessary, universal truths, abstract objects and etc. that exist in his thought (Divine Conceptualism) are identical to their essence: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xEEIMrrXSbo&t=4516s

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    1. Yes, I've heard this objection to the Augustinian proof--the claim is that it's in conflict with conclusions of divine simplicity. I think Dr. Gregory T. Doolan helps sort it out here: www.classicaltheism.com/doolan

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    2. Dyer is a nutjob who also thinks that Norh Korea is a some sort of US conspiracy.

      That said There are many replies out there to problems like modal collapse and similar.

      https://philpapers.org/rec/TOMCTM

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  12. Also, I have another question, this one for Roman Catholics.

    A common argument against Protestantism is that they have no way of telling which books belong in the biblical canon and which don't. This is a very good question, but I also think the Catholic has a problem as well.

    Early in Christianity's history, there were lots of debates about what did and didn't belong in the biblical canon. Some books like Hebrews and Revelation were not unanimously accepted for several centuries. If there was so much debate and if Catholicism is true, why didn't one of the Popes just come out and say, "I infallibly declare that these books and only these books belong in the biblical canon." That way, everyone would just stop debating and everyone could agree on the contents of the Bible.

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    1. The Church existed prior to New Testament writings/books. Just like how the Old Testament scriptures grew out the Jewish people. The Church did determine which books are canonical and which weren’t. It this canon isn’t infallible, e.g., New Testament books, on what basis can Protestant rely on the NT canon? The Church determined pseudopigraphal works (Gnostic gospels, NT apocrypha) are not canonical. How the Protestant, whose religion was founded in the 16th century, determine the Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of Mary

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    2. Surely your observation has more general application jay-dog.

      Roman Catholics believe that their church is ordained by God, and that the pronouncements of their magisterium regarding doctrine and morality are guided by the Holy Spirit, so that under certain circumstances, they are binding upon believers. The declarations of a Pope on such matters is believed by them to be infallible, given certain condituons.

      The above being so, any disagreement or uncertainty regarding morality or doctrine could easily be resolved through an appropriate declaration, following God given inspiration of the magisterium, Pope or whatever. God is of course omnipotent, and so could certainly arrange for this process to yield correct, infallible and binding results, just as Roman Catholics believe. This would short circuit endless debate , disagreement and uncertainty about all manner of things , and by its very nature produce an impressively coherent and consistant body of pronouncements, both internally and with the existing corpus of The Church. The process should be relatively quick, and could be used frequently, guaranteed by God to yield the correct result each time.

      Do we see the above process in operation in the Catholic Church, other than very exceptionally, when it has delivered up suvh bizarre offerings as The Assumption? No , of course not, and this strongly suggests that The Pope and Magisterium are not at all confident that it would generate desirable ( let alone 'correct' ) results. Instead, when applied to resolve any any contentious issue, it would likely generate interminable debate at the highest level, and the supposed deliverances of The Spirit would reduce the church to a laughing stock, so easy it would be to discover philosophical and theological problems with them, or discover problems of consistancy, both internal and external.

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    3. Unknown,

      Are you suggesting that we don't "really" believe in papal infallibility because we don't use it to resolve every contentious issue? That doesn't seem to work to me. Firstly, only matters of faith and morals can be defined, and they are usually only defined when they are being widely denied or questioned. Most doctrines simply don't need to be infallibly defined, even if they fall within the scope of things that can be so defined. And in addition, some people will obviously reject even an infallibly-defined teaching. This doesn't imply anything about papal infallibility - the existence of the Old Catholic schismatics doesn't imply anything about Vatican I.

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    4. Early in Christianity's history, there were lots of debates about what did and didn't belong in the biblical canon. Some books like Hebrews and Revelation were not unanimously accepted for several centuries. If there was so much debate and if Catholicism is true, why didn't one of the Popes just come out and say, "I infallibly declare that these books and only these books belong in the biblical canon." That way, everyone would just stop debating and everyone could agree on the contents of the Bible.

      Partly because, strange as it may seem to us, people generally seemed quite relaxed about the existence of different canons. This being before the idea of Sola Scriptura was invented, people were much more likely to appeal to the universal tradition of the Church to back up their points, rather than picking out Bible verses.

      -- The original Mr. X

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    5. God is of course omnipotent, and so could certainly arrange for this process to yield correct, infallible and binding results, just as Roman Catholics believe. This would short circuit endless debate , disagreement and uncertainty about all manner of things , and by its very nature produce an impressively coherent and consistant body of pronouncements, both internally and with the existing corpus of The Church.

      Better yet, Jesus could have hung around after his resurrection, teaching and doing miracles etc. That way there would be no reason to trust a pope and some bishops.

      We don't know all of why God didn't do something he didn't do, but in this case the saints and Fathers and Doctors have told us it's because God intended to leave room for the act of faith. Jesus himself implied something like that, before he ascended into heaven. Secondarily, God also intended to make room for us humans to participate in the salvation of souls, through the Church and our works. So, to answer your question: it seems that God intended that we work out our faith by believing in what we have heard through the voices of men telling us of God, as St Paul says: "faith comes through hearing". It is not given to men to decide for themselves what God will inspire them to say in support of the Truth he teaches them.

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    6. why didn't one of the Popes just come out and say, "I infallibly declare that these books and only these books belong in the biblical canon."

      Pope Paul IV did exactly that when he confirmed the decrees of the Council of Trent, including its Decree Concerning the Canonical Scriptures (April 8, 1546).

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  13. Re: "If there was so much debate and if Catholicism is true, why didn't one of the Popes just come out and say, "I infallibly declare that these books and only these books belong in the biblical canon." That way, everyone would just stop debating and everyone could agree on the contents of the Bible."

    On Catholicism, the reason is that the Holy Spirit did not guide any of the Popes to do that. Just because the Holy Spirit can move a Pope or Council to infallibly declare something does not mean that God will do that in every case.

    Additionally, if sola Scriptura is not the paradigm upon which the early Church was operating, then there's not as much of a pressing need to hammer out the canon definitively from the beginning. Instead, one follows Christ by belonging to his Church which transmits the Apostolic revelation.

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    1. Hi John! Thanks for the answer! I love your podcast!

      In response to the second point, if they were trying to carry on the faith of the Apostles, wouldn't it be important to know which books were from the apostles? Of course, they still have the oral tradition, but wouldn't the writings also be important?

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    2. Thanks, I hope the podcast serves you!

      Yes, it would be important to know that. My point is I think it's more important and more pressing to know that on a sola Scriptura paradigm, since there would be no visible, hierarchical Church formed in succession with the Apostles and instituted by Christ to safeguard divine revelation.

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    3. Additionally, if sola Scriptura is not the paradigm upon which the early Church was operating, then there's not as much of a pressing need to hammer out the canon definitively from the beginning. Instead, one follows Christ by belonging to his Church which transmits the Apostolic revelation.

      I think this is it. The issue riding on a book's inspiration wasn't so much "Is this one of the books which we can cite to determine doctrine?" as "Is this one of the books which are suitable for reading out in church?" In which case, of course, there's much less urgency in agreeing to a single canon for everybody. If the Church in Naples doesn't include any readings from Revelation in its lectionary and the Church in Rome does, it doesn't follow that they're going to disagree in which doctrines they teach.

      -- The original Mr. X

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  14. There is a new book out that claims to address natural theory and mentions Feser by name in the description: The Unnecessary Science: A Critical Analysis of Natural Law Theory by Gunther Laird. I have not been able to find anything on who Laird is.

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    1. Yes, I brought this up on another post. It would be interesting to see him tackle this.

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  15. The Classical Theism Forum is back!!
    Join us at https://classicaltheism.createaforum.com/

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    1. If people were serious about having a scholastic forum, they would pay for hosting and get real forum software like XenForo. People stick to Dr. Feser's combox because nobody seriously wants a forum.

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    2. Well, there are several *Serious* facebook groups which work as forums for Thomism and other philosophical school.

      I think people do want a forum, but they might be too lazy to log in into different sites.

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    3. BalancedTryteOperators

      We're planning to get a domain name, you can vote on it here: https://classicaltheism.createaforum.com/chit-chat/domain-name-ideas/

      And I do think people want a forum (and not necessarily need to have a Facebook account), since the previous forum was very popular with around 700 members.

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  16. I have taught a critical thinking class once and have the chance to do it again this spring. I am interested in more on cognitive traps (bandwagon effect, confirmation bias, etc.) or pretty much anything relevant, but the real challenge is to not just identify lapses in critical thinking but to say something meaty about them. Anybody got anything meaty to say? I've got some great material but am always ready for more!

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    1. X,
      I have found the danger of confirmation bias is greatest at the beginning of an investigation because the sample space is small, coincidences are more likely within that sample space, and one does not have a fully developed methodology early on.

      So, repeat the same basic process but using different methods and continue to do your best to analyze as objectively as possible, frequently asking yourself if the data could possibly be accounted for by bias.

      Read your work aloud because that requires a different set of internal processing networks to be exercised and greatly increases your self-criticism capacities.

      Also, present your idea to those you think are likely to disagree or be harshly critical. Posting among those who might share your biases is unlikely to expose your own biases.

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  17. Pat Flynn mentioned on one of his podcasts having Dr. Gaven Kerr discuss with Dr. Feser when Aquinas proves the essence/existence distinction in the De Ente.

    Dr. Kerr said he would enjoy such a (informal) discussion. I would love to see more inter-Thomistic style debates between excellent Thomists. I think it really helps people understand the nuances of the metaphysics. And in a world where virtually every debate-style discussion is between Christians and atheists, a good old Scholastic disputation would be great to listen to

    Would anyone else here like to hear a discussion between Dr. Feser and Dr. Kerr?

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    1. Yes, absolutely. I wish we had more podcasts that involved theists discussing with other theists. Coming together to experiment new arguments, discuss issues such as divine simplicity, the positions they are the surest of (as well as those they are less sure of), and so on.

      Delete
    2. Thanks for the mention, Scott.

      I would, of course, be delighted to host this conversation, if Dr. Feser is interested and has the availability.

      Feser and Kerr have both been on my podcast previously (though separately), and so a round-table discussion with the two of them, I'm sure, would be (since I just watched Bill and Ted) a most fruitful exchange!

      Delete
    3. I’ll have to search for the Dr. Feser interview. I don’t think I have heard that one. Got a link?

      Delete
    4. Yep, right here: https://www.chroniclesofstrength.com/ed-feser-of-proofs-for-the-existence-of-god/

      And, for those interested, series with Kerr on 5 Ways here: https://www.chroniclesofstrength.com/do-the-5-ways-of-st-thomas-aquinas-prove-the-existence-of-god/

      Delete
  18. Hello, Dr. Feser. Longtime fan here. I was wondering if you've ever heard of C. A. Bond and his book on Bertrand de Jouvenel, "Nemesis." I mean, considering you are a political philosopher by trade, perhaps such a book would be right up your alley?

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hi professor, do you think that the position on religious freedom as elucidated in the Vatican II represent a innovation or a breakup of centuries of old doctrine that regarded religious freedom as merely Prudential as in only subject to a cost-benefit analysis? Do you think that heretics and apostates should be executed by a catholic state if they refuse retraction, a course of action prescribed by Aquinas ?

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hey Ed,

    I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for your work. I am a 22 year old convert to Christianity from nihilism and having your books on philosophy have made this an easier process. God bless.

    ReplyDelete
  21. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Calm down, bruv. The facts aren't all in, and you hardly need to be a KKK member to support Rittenhouse. I don't see this as a race issue.

      Delete
    2. Rittenhouse went out of his way to drive from Antioch, IL to Kenosha, WI with a gun. That means nobody can claim he brought the gun for the purpose of self-defense. Nobody in Kenosha called him for backup. That means nobody can claim he brought the gun to defend the lives of others.

      So why did he bring the gun?

      Delete
    3. Feel free to prove me wrong as this is from reddit but there are photos of him cleaning graffiti from a school on the day of the incident and the idea that he brought the gun with him has been questioned with some saying he got his hands on the gun in Kenosha. Im not american so how gun control works I have no idea

      Delete
    4. Uh, Tryte, I dunno how your understanding of self defense works, but if you go into a dangerous place where you expect your life to be threatened, then it is absolutely reasonable to bring a gun with you from the outside, intending to use it only for self-defense. I don't see how bringing it in from outside is relevant to the discussion.

      Delete
    5. "Rittenhouse went out of his way to drive from Antioch, IL to Kenosha, WI with a gun."

      They're 21 miles from each other...that's like a trip downtown in Houston (and you better believe I WILL be packing).

      Delete
    6. Uh, Tryte, I dunno how your understanding of self defense works, but if you go into a dangerous place where you expect your life to be threatened, then it is absolutely reasonable to bring a gun with you from the outside, intending to use it only for self-defense.

      Did he have an errand to run in Kenosha? If he had to pick up dry-cleaning and took a gun for "just in case" then sure, he's innocent.

      But if he had no business doing there but brought a gun then he was looking to start trouble/a lynching.

      Delete
  22. I sent this as an email to Prof. Feser a little while ago, but he hasn't responded yet, I'd like to ask it to the readers here as well:

    I was having a conversation on the topic of something like "why should an atheist accept Natural Law as moral framework." My train of thought went something like this:
    -an atheist can accept an Aristotelian metaphysical framework because Aristotle's four causes offers a better explanation of reality than materialism.
    -such a framework doesn't necessarily commit you to theism since Aristotle didn't believe the formal or final cause needed divine grounding.
    -Natural law follows closely from the formal cause of the human person as their human nature.
    -Once you have human nature, I feel pretty comfortable heading off the common objections about why certain things are allowed and others aren't.

    The part that I'm struggling to grasp myself is how we know that human nature is what we say it is. My interlocutor was making the objection that we can't really know what human nature really entails without appealing to an authority like the Church.

    I feel sort of stuck because I think that the Aristotelian or Thomist would argue that we can use observation and reason to figure that out. You can probably guess that the specific contentious example is the sexual faculty ordered towards procreation. It doesn't feel like a very forceful argument to appeal to biology when most scientists don't have a problem with birth control or the psychiatric community doesn't consider same sex attraction as a disorder any more.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's an Aristotelian-inspired tradition of Virtue Ethics in Anglo philosophy in the last several decades.

      But do you think it's a problem within Aristotelian-inspired ethics to derive your "allowed" from nature?

      Delete
    2. Joe,
      “-an atheist can accept an Aristotelian metaphysical framework because Aristotle's four causes offers a better explanation of reality than materialism.”
      Except for 2300 years of work culminating in the Standard Model and the clear fact that causation is a mutual interaction process.

      Aristotle argued against motion in the void, although he had the great insight that if there could be a void then once an object was set in motion it would continue to move ad-infinitum. Unfortunately, Aristotle instead asserted that all sublunary motion is in a medium such that an object in motion will slow and stop and its motion will be lost.

      That thinking lead to the false premises used in the First Way, and make the First Way fail as an argument for the necessity of an unmoved mover.

      “-Once you have human nature, I feel pretty comfortable heading off the common objections about why certain things are allowed and others aren't.”
      Right, on atheism each of us has an innate sense of ought, which is an evolved mechanism in a social species that generally tends to a reproductive advantage for the population. Some call that a herd morality, which is about right.

      “My interlocutor was making the objection that we can't really know what human nature really entails without appealing to an authority like the Church.”
      The church has no authority and little value on matters of morality. The present state of human nature is vastly complex and highly variable between individuals, but scientific study is one means, and you may form your own opinions just by living your own life and making your own observations.

      Delete
    3. Aristotle thought he had a good handle on "human nature" without any church backing him on it, or telling him so. 350 years BC.

      As C.S. Lewis often said, the critical thing is to establish firmly, solidly, the first premises. Then, when a debatable secondary conclusion comes along (that sex is for reproduction), it can be recognized as doubtful only from the standpoint of premises LESS CERTAIN than the foundational ones that establish "man is a rational animal".

      I would suggest that you work through the idea that "man is a rational animal" from the perspective that rationality actually re-defines the meaning of the lower faculties: man's faculty for food isn't merely a faculty for sustaining the body, but also a faculty by which he can sustain friendship, which is a rational good. Same with sexuality, which is why fidelity is a foundational piece of marriage.

      Delete
    4. StardustPsyche,

      I would look at Dr. Nigel Cundy’s work for an analysis of QFT in an Aristotelian metaphysical backdrop.

      I think Dr. Cundy destroys all mechanistic alternatives. Also, I would be very hesitant to consider space a void. If it is a void (e.g. nothingness), then how can it expand? It may not be a fluid of substances, but as I understand QFT, the fundamental force fields permeate all of space.

      Delete
    5. Scott,
      " I would be very hesitant to consider space a void."
      Indeed, space is material, space is something. One cannot rationally equate space, the vacuum, with absolutely nothing at all, if what is meant by the void is absolutely nothing at all.

      Aristotle was active some 2300 years ago, so, obviously, he did not have the benefit of modern science at that time.

      That is why I say that space is, for motion, the functional equivalent of what Aristotle called the void.

      Aristotle reasoned very well that absent an impeding medium, in what he called the void, motion would continue ad-infinitum. Space, as we now understand it, the vacuum, is the functional equivalent, for motion, of the void, that is, in space motion continues ad-infinitum, just as Aristotle said motion would continue in the void.

      There is something, for motion, that is functionally equivalent to the void, which is space, the vacuum, in which motion continues ad-infinitum, invalidating the First Way as an argument for the necessity of the first mover.."
      Indeed, space is material, space is something. One cannot rationally equate space, the vacuum, with absolutely nothing at all, if what is meant by the void is absolutely nothing at all.

      Aristotle was active some 2300 years ago, so, obviously, he did not have the benefit of modern science at that time.

      That is why I say that space is, for motion, the functional equivalent of what Aristotle called the void.

      Aristotle reasoned very well that absent an impeding medium, in what he called the void, motion would continue ad-infinitum. Space, as we now understand it, the vacuum, is the functional equivalent, for motion, of the void, that is, in space motion continues ad-infinitum, just as Aristotle said motion would continue in the void.

      There is something, for motion, that is functionally equivalent to the void, which is space, the vacuum, in which motion continues ad-infinitum, invalidating the First Way as an argument for the necessity of the first mover.

      Delete
    6. Stardust,

      Can you quote the exact passages in Aristotle that you have in mind? My understanding is that motion in a void is a non-sensical concept in Aristotle. That is he believed objects would move infinitely fast. Granted objects that do not interact with matter at all or the Higgs field seem to move at the speed of light, not infinitely fast. But given relativity, from the perspective of the object (a photon for example), the object does move infinitely fast. That is, a photon, from its perspective, goes from point A to point B in exactly zero seconds. To me it sounds like Aristotle tracks quite nicely with QFT. And by that logic, Newtonian inertia, which is false if conceived in mechanistic terms (because there is no void) is not an objection to the Principle of Causality (every potential, in order to be actual, must be actualized by something already actual.

      Delete
    7. Scott,
      Aristotle Physics Book IV

      - 215a19-215a21
      But in a void none of these things can take place, nor can anything be moved save as that which is carried is moved. Further, no one could say why a thing once set in motion should stop anywhere; for why should it stop here rather than here? So that a thing will either be at rest or must be moved ad infinitum, unless something more powerful gets in its way.

      Delete
    8. Stardust,

      If you read further on in part 8, he also says that any object moving through a void must travel at infinite speed because something traveling through a true void has no relation to any other body. Furthermore, earlier bin part 8, Aristotle says that an object moving through a true void will move in all directions, because there is nothing to determine which way it is to go.

      Aristotle is essentially arguing that the Principle of Causality renders motion through a void non-sensical.

      Do you actually believe that when the Voyager craft travels through outer space, it’s potentials first different location are actualized by themselves or by nothing at all?

      If you believe that, then you are denying PSR. If you deny PSR, how do you explain why Voyager’s potential to be at the location of Earth, Houston, TX back at NASA (which is a real potential considering it once was there) is not actualized today? Such a situation would truly be a possibility if PSR and PC are false.

      Therefore, the premises of the First Way are not threatened.

      Delete
    9. Scott
      “If you read further on in part 8, he also says that any object moving through a void must travel at infinite speed because something traveling through a true void has no relation to any other body.”
      Yes, I realize that, Aristotle got that part wrong.

      “Furthermore, earlier bin part 8, Aristotle says that an object moving through a true void will move in all directions, because there is nothing to determine which way it is to go.”
      Right, Aristotle got that wrong too.

      “Do you actually believe that when the Voyager craft travels through outer space, it’s potentials first different location are actualized by themselves or by nothing at all?”
      No external force is required. An external force is required for acceleration, but such forces always arise from mutual interactions.

      “If you believe that, then you are denying PSR.”
      One of the very few good ideas Aristotle had about motion was *Further, no one could say why a thing once set in motion should stop anywhere; for why should it stop here rather than here? So that a thing will either be at rest or must be moved ad infinitum, unless something more powerful gets in its way.*

      The sufficient reason an object in motion does not stop is there is no reason to say if it should stop here or there, and there is nothing to get in its way, so motion does not stop, why should it?

      To stop a moving object is a change calling for a changer, so it is apparent that you have this situation back to front.

      “ how do you explain why Voyager’s potential to be at the location of Earth, Houston, TX back at NASA (which is a real potential considering it once was there) is not actualized today?”
      A rocket moves itself, contrary to the claims of Aquinas. That is another defect in the First Way, but I simply did not cover them all in my original post.

      Recall, Aquinas used the examples of macro objects, such as a hand, staff, and wood. Aquinas claimed that such objects cannot move themselves, but he was wrong about that too. Aquinas moved himself, as we all do. A rocket moves itself perhaps most clearly of all because a rocket can move itself through space.

      The reason certain macro objects can and do move themselves is that at base submicroscopic particles move each other.

      “Therefore, the premises of the First Way are not threatened.”
      Acceleration is a change that calls for a changer, inertial motion is not, leading to a false premise in the First Way.
      Macro objects can and do move themselves, leading to another false premise in the First Way.
      Change is fundamentally circular, not linear, leading to a false dichotomy in the First Way.
      Aquinas also begs the question late in the argument.
      His final assertion is both false and a non-sequitur.

      The First Way is unsound because of its invalid logical structures and its false premises.

      Delete
    10. Stardust,

      The example of the hand, stick, and stone is merely to unpack the concept of an essentially ordered series. Aquinas would say the human soul is a self-moving entity in a qualified sense. It still would need to derive its powers for self motion from something else (since it a combination of essence and existence). Are you suggesting there are no essentially ordered causes? Are you suggesting there is no such thing as action and passion? I do not see how an electron being changed (jumping to a higher energy level) by a photon, and a photon corrupting in the process (annihilating in physics jargon) is not an example of action and passion. It is not the same as mutual interaction that you see when two billiard balls bump into each other.

      Motion from place to place is a change. Being at point A and then at point B is a change. If you are suggesting it is not a change, then there is no actualization of a potential that needs to be explained. That is not a counter example to the Principle of Causality. It just shows that nothing has been caused in this particular instance (in which case stopping the motion would be a change requiring an explanation).

      But if motion from place to place is a change (as I would argue that it is), then you have the actualization of potentials (for new locations). My question to you is: What actualizes those potentials?

      Is it nothing (brute fact), the thing itself (circular causality), or something outside the thing (Classical causality)?

      Delete
  23. There are three strange phenomena that seems to happen to people that just puzzles me:

    - Near-death experiences

    - Supposed memories of past lifes

    - Experiences of absolute unity with a Absolute or something like that by meditation or drugs.

    As a thomist, i don't think that these things prove that, say, Pantheism or Rencarnation are true, since i find these impossible. But i don't know very good explanations of these, they are very strange experiences.

    Do you guys happen to know some sort of reasonable explanations to these strange phenomena that fit with Thomism?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have no problem with NDEs.

      I would have a problem with "past lives", but I find the evidence for those are generally much weaker than, say, the case for NDEs. Though I'm not very well-informed on it.

      I have no problem with experiences of absolute unity with the Absolute; I think these might be legitimate religious experiences. They don't entail pantheism, and there is a distinction between God *not* being experienced as personal and God being experiences as impersonal. Even the mediation of drugs might (perhaps in some special cases) lead to veridical religious experiences, though it is of course far less compelling when drugs are involved.

      Delete
    2. I think Stephen Braude approaches past life memories by asking how we could explain them outside of reincarnation and then seeing if the reincarnation hypothesis is any better.

      The gist seems to be that should a putative example rule out any ordinary, natural explanation, theres nothing in and of the evidence itself that points towards reincarnation. Youre really explaining information which the person shouldn't be able to know (or just incredibly unlikely to know) by normal means. He says ESP, super psi, demons or whatever could explain that. Some will find problems with some of those more than others but the point is its going to be reasons *outside of the direct evidence for putative past life memories* that will settle the issue. The direct evidence just won't favour one over the other.

      Delete
    3. Talmid,
      - Near-death experiences
      The brain under stress malfunctions, A little like all those goofy characters your computer puts out as it is dying, or all the sputtering and jerking your old car does before it dies. Dreams and hallucinations can be a part of even a normal brain’s functions, it is no surprise people dream all kinds of bizarre fantasies when they are close to death.

      - Supposed memories of past lifes
      There are lots of nuts in institutions who think they are Napoleon or whoever. So what? Lots of people crazy that way, but those with milder cases of this sort of delusion can lead otherwise normal lives.

      - Experiences of absolute unity with a Absolute or something like that by meditation or drugs.
      Drugs distort brain function chemically. Meditation can be a sort of self induced dream or hallucination.

      Delete
    4. Experiences of unity with the Absolute have a long history in meditation. Christian saints have recounted such experiences. In their cases they have experiences of God in a way that Christian revelation leads us to expect is possible, and that private revelation from dead saints confirms is magnified and perfected (but not wholly other) in heaven itself. Hence I would say that such experiences are not in any way a difficulty for Catholicism. St. Theresa of Avila and St. Thomas Aquinas are examples of saints who had such experiences. In Theresa's case,for example, she quite clearly re-affirmed Catholic teaching after such experience, so the experience did nothing to persuade her to think her theology had been wrong.

      Delete
    5. @Atno and @Tony

      The problem i have with NDEs is that it seems that some would not be the sort of thing God would show to people if He wanted they to convert they or something, i would espect something more direct. In fact, most do not convert, i believe.

      And most buddhist, hindu or perenialist mystics do feel that these experiences entail Pantheism, but you can make the case that they are just interpreting things wrong because of their more pantheistic presupositions and that someone like St. Theresa who got things right.

      @Callum

      Thanks, was thinking in something like that. Yea, there are several possible explanations to these informations. Now i remember that a aproach i used before was just to say something like that and them argue against the possibility of reencarnation.

      @SdP

      I believe that there are some NDE where people brains are extremely weak, so intense experiences would be bizarre, and some where people knew things they should not know. I believe Kastrup and Habbermas had several interesting cases.

      And on reencarnation there are too some cases where people remembered things that truly happened to ordinary people they had not way to know. Ian Stevenson saw a lot of these.

      Delete
    6. Hi Talmid,

      Perhaps God allowed the existence of past-life memories, non-theistic mystical experiences, and some types of NDEs that contradicts Christianity, for similar reasons as why God allowed the flourishing of non-Christian religions/worldviews.


      Cheers!
      johannes y k hui

      Delete
    7. Talmid,

      I don't think God necessarily would give NDEs for people to convert. If he wanted to, he could just give them special revelations apart from death. Maybe he is just being merciful. Or maybe he does intend their conversion, but, like with other experiences and occurrences he might give us, it's very subtle - God favors subtle messages, perhaps to give us a wider range of choices (at least before our real final moments of life). A lot of people do at least change their lives for the better from the experience, though.

      On pantheistic experiences, check out Kai-Man Kwan. His "argument drom religious experience" in the blackwell companion, or his "rainbow of experiences book", he talks about that.

      Delete
    8. @reasonable

      Yea, i did not thought of that, that is sure possible too, we know so little about why He do things the way He do...

      @Atno

      There is a pretty big article(i think this is the word?) from him about the subject of reluligious experience, i will take a look to see if he touches that there. Thanks!

      Delete
  24. Archbishop Vigano's letter to Trump was a bit of a worry. He compared the next election to the battle of Armageddon. The Children of Light (he said he was deliberately using biblical language) are the greater part of the world's people. How can this be reconciled with the fact that even nominal Catholics are a minority, yet the biblical language originally had the Church in mind?

    Beware of false shepherds?

    ReplyDelete
  25. Trump has stated more than 20,000 clear lies.
    It went past 20,000 in July 9, 2020.
    Lying is listed as a sin in the Ten Commandments: "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor" (Exodus 20:16).
    Trump has lied not just against his neighbor but against tens of millions, hundreds of millions, and against billions of people.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Millions of Turkic people, especially the Uighurs, are in concentration camps in China.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Former National Security Adviser John Bolton claimed that the president told Chinese President Xi Jinping the camps were “exactly the right thing to do”.
    In his upcoming book, The Room Where it Happened, Mr Bolton claims the president backed the camps during a conversation with Mr Xi at a 2019 G20 meeting in Osaka, Japan. “According to our interpreter,” Mr Bolton writes, “Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which Trump thought was exactly the right thing to do.”

    ReplyDelete
  28. The most immoral and evil action writ large is taking place in China at a level of millions of people.

    If someone don't speak out on that, then that person has no moral standing.

    ReplyDelete
  29. As a Muslim who is disappointed at many of my brother and sister Christians who are not taking this genocide as it should be taken, I appeal to each of you to read
    https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/07/15/uighur-genocide-xinjiang-china-surveillance-sterilization/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I take it very seriously and I think that the CCP is a danger people of all beliefs (even atheists who are agaisnt communism).

      Muslims and Falun Gong are probably the ones most persecuted right now by the CCP, but Christians have also been persecuted, as well (but not as systematically).

      Frankly Muslims should be mostly disappointed in OTHER Muslism, since most Muslim countries have either ignored the Uighur persecution or even praised it (like Saudi Arabia).

      Delete
    2. FM,

      I agree that CCP is a danger to all. But to Muslims, they are engaged in outright genocide and we need to speak up if we are to be morally upright.

      I agree that most Muslim countries have been worse...some have been far, far worse as you state. As you know many of those Muslim countries are not representative of their populations...some are kingdoms. Still it is morally reprehensible of Muslims to allow this. Sadly, many of them are not fully aware due their corrupt state media of the govts who are bought off by Chinese money and protests of any kind are not allowed in some of the countries. But ignorance is not an excuse nor is passivity an excuse for the Muslims in those countries in in the presence of this genocide.

      I am addressing my mostly Catholic and Christian brothers and sisters and hence I was talking to them in my post. I am more disappointed with Muslims. But we should not let our moral obligations by regulated by how we compare with others. We should act on independent and absolute moral standards.

      Delete
  30. “The unspeakable oppression that Uighurs and other ethnic minorities have suffered at the hands of China’s authoritarian government is genocide and Joe Biden stands against it in the strongest terms,” Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates told Axios.

    ReplyDelete
  31. I appeal all to please read
    https://bitterwinter.org/uyghurs-yes-it-is-a-genocide/

    ReplyDelete
  32. Let's not just wax philosophical but let's also speak out when the greatest crimes this 21st century is happening before our eyes.

    ReplyDelete
  33. If anyone has any contact with Trump Administration or anyone who does, urge them that if they have any moral standing and any real respect for the Bible and belief in God and any humanity to urge them to call on the Trump Administration to call what is happening to Uighurs and the other minorities in Xinjiang as what it truly is: Genocide. Call it Genocide NOW.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Read your link. This is extremely alarming. What else can we do to help?

      Delete
    2. First of all, thank you so much PIO!

      1. I would recommend to contact those who are running this country and it's policies based on representing you--in the House and the Senate and President Trump and to urge them all in a polite but with a sense of urgency to call what China is doing what it is--Genocide.

      Please be mindful to not bring up any criticism of President Trump...that would be counter productive and harmful to the cause we want...which is for what is going on to the Uyghurs to be called out as what it is--Genocide and for genocide to immediately stop.

      I would just make it simple and say that it is about time we call what China is doing as genocide.

      2. Before you contact them, please also read the following document and two articles below it. The very recent article that just came out about a week ago explains that up to nine million Uyghurs are unaccounted for and that New research published last month by the (highly respected) Jamestown Foundation shows that the published natural population growth rates in Xinjiang fell dramatically in 2018, falling by 84% between 2015 and 2018 in Kashgar and Hotan. Also, a source identified in the article claims that the Chinese President Xi Jinping took a “top secret” decision in 2014 to “kill one-third of all Uyghurs, lock up one third, and convert one third [to Chinese Communist Party ideology]”. This is in the last article in this point #2 below with the link before point #3.

      https://www.saveuighur.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/UighurGenocideReport.pdf

      https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/nov/17/show-no-mercy-leaked-documents-reveal-details-of-chinas-mass-xinjiang-detentions

      https://bylinetimes.com/2020/08/24/death-is-everywhere-millions-more-uyghurs-missing/

      3. Please share your outrage at what the Uighurs as an entire people are being subject to...to your family and friends and co-workers and educate them about it by sharing the above document, the articles, and this appeal by an American Uyghur whose relative died in the concentration camps....

      https://twitter.com/aydinanwar_/status/1071249822450114560

      and the article on the previous post

      https://bitterwinter.org/uyghurs-yes-it-is-a-genocide/

      4. And please pray to God about it....God hears our prayers to Him and God will help.

      Delete
    3. Dear PIO, in addition to the recommendations I put in your response to your kind post, I can also provide you with an email address if you want to do more such as involving Aydin to speak to your community...if she is free...of course in a virtual way like through
      "Google Meet" or another meeting platform.

      If so, please let me know.

      Delete
    4. This is communist China. They do what they want, certainly within their own borders. No one can stop them. They're too powerful. They did the same to the Han Chinese, didn't they? Are they not just cracking down on a rogue group within their borders? That's what I gathered from the foreignpolicy article. Communist China is brutal as a matter of course (forced abortions aren't limited to Uighurs), but if "imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group" counts as genocide, well gee, there's genocide all over the place in this world of ours, isn't there? By that definition, genocide is quite fashionable these days and there is a large industry devoted to it which most people accept as perfectly legitimate.

      Delete
    5. Theresa, no idea what you are attempting to communicate.

      Grateful to God, thanks for the links. Is Aydin in the US by chance?

      Delete
    6. She seems to be communicating that writing some emails and having some conversations isn't going to change communist China's mind anytime soon. Ironic since "consciousness-raising" is a Marxist term.

      Delete

    7. PIO,

      Yes Aydin is in the US. I can send you her contact email address if you want it.

      There is a lot we can do to pressure Communist China to stop Genocide since so much of their wealth comes from us.

      Delete
  34. Hello! I read The Last Superstition and enjoyed it a great deal, and wanted to ask if anybody has any other recommendations for detailed defenses and arguments for the existence of Universals.

    I am not yet fully convinced by the classical worldview, but I am leaning towards it heavily, and would like to explore things more in-depth.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Check out David Oderberg's "Real Essentialism"

      Delete
    2. Thank you! Is Oderberg particularly challenging? I'm a bit of a newcomer, so ideally I'd like to dive into something that focuses on the idea but is relatively friendly to a stranger on the topic. I like Feser's work for this reason, but I'd like to see a full book on this particular topic.

      Delete
    3. You might want another intermediate book to bridge between Oderberg's Real Essentialism and Feser's The Last Superstition. Oderberg's is an academic treatment of the topic, one you will eventually want to read.

      Delete
  35. I urge all my Christian and Catholic brother and sisters to see this presentation by the American Uyghur Aydin Anwar. Her relative died in the China concentration camps. https://twitter.com/aydinanwar_/status/1071249822450114560

    ReplyDelete
  36. I know Aydin and can arrange for her to talk in your church or other gathering. She will be happy to share what is going on. Let me know if you want to do something. I can provide you the email address for you to contact her.

    ReplyDelete
  37. I don't mean to physically come to church but virtually to reduce the exposure to Covid.

    ReplyDelete
  38. hello, where do you get those illustrative comics pics for your posts? :)

    ReplyDelete
  39. I posted this on Strange Notions, too. I may not have expressed these questions well.
    what neuroscientific research programs does Thomistic faculty psychology predict will be fruitful? Does Thomistic faculty psychology make predictions that can be tested empirically? In particular, does Thomistic psychology predict avenues of brain research that may shed light on the operations of the human active intellect? Or is brain research irrelevant for understanding how the possible intellect and the active intellect operate? does brain research only help us better understand the passive intellect, how phantasmata are formed from sensory data?

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    Replies
    1. ficino,
      Scientific research into brain structure in relation to brain function, along with cognitive studies, scientific psychological research, AI, and neural modeling techniques provide realistic answeres to how we think.

      Just philosophizing on the subject of mind based on one's own thoughts is not going to lead to a realistic explanation for how and why we think what we do.

      Delete
    2. @SDP: thanks, but I am really asking for an A-T explanation from someone who may be well versed in the "intellectus passivus," the "intellectus possibilis" and the "intellectus activus" and the question of the first's relation to a bodily organ, when the second two operate through no bodily organ, acc. to Aquinas.

      Delete
    3. In the end, I don't think scientific research is going to be very fruitful in answering the deeper questions about consciousness. Maybe here and there it might help us to understand where things go wrong, but that's about it.

      Delete
    4. DrYogami,
      What deeper questions are there, specifically, that you think scientific research will be able to answer?

      Do you have an alternative method for truly answering those questions?

      Doesn't it stand to reason that if non-scientific methods could answer those questions, whatever specific questions you have in mind, such methods would have already? People have been philosophizing about the mind for thousands of years. If that line of analysis had the potential to answer such questions why do they remain unanswered to this day?

      Or do you think some new non-scientific philosophy of mind will be developed that will finally answer the unanswered questions you are considering?

      Delete
    5. "What deeper questions are there, specifically, that you think scientific research will be able to answer?"

      Huh? I said not fruitful. Which is obvious since the methods of science only really work for stuff that's empirically discernible, quantifiable and so on. So the really intriguing issues simply aren't scientific.

      "People have been philosophizing about the mind for thousands of years. If that line of analysis had the potential to answer such questions why do they remain unanswered to this day?"

      So..there isn't widespread agreement on the topic. So what? Materialism is thousands of years old and there isn't widespread agreement on that view either.

      Delete
    6. DrYogmi,
      " So the really intriguing issues simply aren't scientific."
      Can you be specific?

      Exactly what issues simply are not scientific?

      Delete
    7. Well, the meeting of minds on this blog for one. There are all sorts of arguments about God, causation, change, minds, morality and so on. All peculiarly human interests. I just don't see neuroscience as offering much of interest here.

      Delete
  40. I’d love to get your thoughts on this:

    https://philpapers.org/rec/MCNHOD

    In this essay, we engage with Graham Oppy’s work on Thomas Aquinas’s First Way. We argue that Oppy’s objections shouldn’t be seen as successful. In order to establish this thesis, we first analyze Oppy’s exegesis of Aquinas’s First Way, as well as the counter‐arguments he puts forth (including the charge that Aquinas’s argument is invalid or, if deemed valid, forces one to adopt determinism). Next, we address Oppy’s handling of the contemporary scholarship covering the First Way. Specifically, we lay out Edward Feser’s most recent formulation of the argument and analyze Oppy’s main objection to it.

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    Replies
    1. Mike,
      The First Way fails because it uses false premises and invalid logic.

      Because the First Way is a present moment argument “Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another” means that whatever is in motion now is being put in motion now.

      That false premise is an artifact of the fundamental error of Aristotle, that sublunary motion is in a medium such that an object in motion will slow and stop and it’s motion would be lost. If that false premise were true then absent a first mover everything would eventually grind to a halt.

      But this core essential premise of Aquinas is false, because motion is never lost, only transferred and transformed. All motion continues ad-infinitum in this manner, because all motion is in space, which for motion is the functional equivalent of the void.

      That false premise leads to this false conclusion “Therefore, whatever is in motion must be put in motion by another”, which asserts that whatever is in motion now is being put in motion now by another, clearly falsified by inertial motion.

      Now, some argue that the First Mover could be the mechanism that drives inertial motion, but recall, Aquinas asserts “Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover”, so an idle speculation about a potential underlying mechanism does not constitute an argument for necessity, hence the First Way fails.

      Here Aquinas commits blatant question begging:
      “If that by which it is put in motion be itself put in motion, then this also must needs be put in motion by another, and that by another again. But this cannot go on to infinity, because then there would be no first mover”

      He cites as a premise the very thing his is seeking to prove, the first mover.

      Further, that passage is a false dichotomy. There is a third choice. The choices are not limited to a finite linear regression or an infinite regression. The third choice is in fact how modern physics is formulated, as mutual interactions, such that the causation of motion is fundamentally circular, not necessarily linear as Aquinas invalidly asserts.

      Hence, the First Way is an incredibly bad argument, riddled with false notions and unsound reasoning.

      Delete
    2. Stardusty, of course, is quite wrong about the First Way, because ‘motion’ in the Aristotelian sense does not mean locomotion, but any form of change whatever. Conservation of momentum therefore has no bearing on the question one way or another. This is the pons asinorum, and Stardusty refuses to cross it.

      Delete
    3. Tom,
      “‘motion’ in the Aristotelian sense does not mean locomotion,”
      No, actually, motion means just that, the motion of objects through space, as can be seen clearly from the examples used both by Aristotle and Aquinas such “as the staff moves only because it is put in motion by the hand”.

      A hand moves through space. A staff moves through space.

      There are words for change and there are words for motion. Aquinas chose words for motion through space and Aquinas chose an example that is clearly motion through space.

      Aquinas said “For motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality.” So, for Aquinas motion of the staff through space is a change. And because “motion is nothing else than” according to Aquinas any argument from change must hold true for motion, since according to Aquinas all motion is a species of change, and that is the critical error where both Aristotle and Aquinas failed to make use of the observation by Aristotle that motion in the void will continue ad-infinitum, because nobody can say why the object should stop here rather than there, clearly another example of motion as meaning just that, an object moving through space.

      So, your assertion that the argument from motion isn’t really an argument from motion is simply false, and merely a red herring.

      “Conservation of momentum therefore has no bearing on the question one way or another.”
      Besides the several reasons for your errors pointed out above, you have compounded your misunderstanding of the First Way by failing to realize that all change entails motion of material through space, and therefore inertial motion always has a bearing on all change.

      The distinctions of various sorts of change that are typically asserted by Thomists are false. In every case the asserted sort of change requires motion of material through space, there are no exceptions beyond idle speculation.

      The First Way fails because of its fundamental errors regarding motion, change, and causality.

      Delete
    4. Tom Simon is correct. The Latin "motus" does not necessarily mean locomotion. For Aquinas, a rock in the sunlight that is progressively getting hotter is in a form of motion, just not the kind of motion that is a change in place.

      Delete
    5. It's also worth noting that even if Aquinas DID mean motion in the modern sense (which he didn't), it would bear no relevance to the validity of the argument with motion = change.

      Delete
    6. Craig,
      "For Aquinas, a rock in the sunlight that is progressively getting hotter is in a form of motion"
      Indeed a rock that, in our parlance, "heats up" is indeed motion, although not in the manner Aquinas would have realized.

      Heat is motion, translation of material from one position in space to another position in space. But of course, not simply one such motion, but a trillion trillion trillion motions.

      "just not the kind of motion that is a change in place."
      Incoherent.

      All motion is a change in place.

      The First Way is unsound because of its false premises and its invalid logic as I have shown above.

      I appreciate the responses of Mike, Craig, and Tom, but the failure of The First Way as an argument for the necessity of a first mover remains, as I have clearly shown above.

      Delete
    7. All motion being cased by change in place isn't same as motion just being essentially change in place. So that won't prove what you want it to.
      Plus it doesn't seem like that all motion can be characterized as change in place,maybe if space is some static substance but I am not sure if that is true.

      Delete
    8. Is there a way I can get a copy of that paper Mike?

      Delete
    9. Red,
      "All motion being cased by change in place isn't same as motion just being essentially change in place."
      There is no such thing as a motion that is not a change in place. What would that even mean, to move yet not change in place? I am quite sure you cannot provide an example of something the moves yet does not change in place, can you?

      "Plus it doesn't seem like that all motion can be characterized as change in place"
      What sort of motion does not entail a change in place, even relative to other things?

      The First Way is unsound for the reasons I have shown above.

      Delete
    10. There is a ddownload link on that page, Callum

      Delete
    11. Sorry thats a typo there. Meant to write caused not cased.

      "
      I am quite sure you cannot provide an example of something the moves yet does not change in place, can you?"

      Well there are lots of familiar examples, pick any quality that isn't a location. One mentioned above is temperature another would be color.
      My point was that these are clearly distinct from change in place even if they are always caused or accompanied by it.

      Plus the view one accepts regarding ontology of space and time would affect the answers here.

      Delete
    12. And this is where Stardusty insists that Aristotle is wrong about motion on the grounds of its "false premises and invalid logic", which he will repeat ad infinitum, simply refusing to accept the definition of motion that Aristotle, Aquinas, and the tradition surrounding them use. It's rather like someone "refuting" the argument that Fall turns to Winter on the grounds that "fall" can only refer to the act of objects being moved towards a larger object by gravity, alongside a stubborn insistence that this is the only possible meaning of the word "fall".

      Delete
    13. Dear SP: You wrote, "There is no such thing as a motion that is not a change in place. What would that even mean, to move yet not change in place? I am quite sure you cannot provide an example of something the moves yet does not change in place, can you?

      Dear SP: You wrote, "Plus it doesn't seem like that all motion can be characterized as change in place"
      What sort of motion does not entail a change in place, even relative to other things?"

      Answer: For Aquinas, three kinds of changes count as "motus" or motion: change in quality, change in size, and change in place. Only the last one (change in place) necessarily involves locomotion.

      For example, if I am just sitting here thinking about motion, and my immaterial thoughts become more precise, that is a change in "quality" and therefore counts as "motion" for Aquinas--without involving change in "place." If I may use the metaphor, my thoughts have "moved" from one place to another, but without "moving" in the spatial sense.

      Delete
  41. Dr. Feser,

    Do you know of any good literature on the philosophy of the social "sciences," especially economics?

    ReplyDelete
  42. Dr. Feser
    What are your thoughts on Heidegger's critique of ontotheology?

    ReplyDelete
  43. I'm planning on reading through the complete works of Aristotle in the next couple of weeks. Is there any specific order that I should read his works in?

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    1. A reasonable order is the traditional ordering of the treatises by topic, as reflected in the printed editions. If you're using ROTA (the revised Oxford translation edited by Jonathan Barnes), you can just go in its order. That way you'll start with the Organon (the logical works) and go on from there.

      But if you are new to Aristotle, you might start with the Nicomachean Ethics. The case has been made that it's one of his earlier treatises and perhaps written when Plato was still alive. Many of Aristotle's fundamental concepts are already in it. Then the first two books of the Physics, where the four causes etc are set out. The first book of the Metaphysics gives Aristotle's description of the work of earlier thinkers. Then maybe go back to the beginning in ROTA and start with the Categories. By then you'll have more of a framework in mind.

      Delete
    2. Should you not start with the Organon? I think you will not understand him very well if you do not understand Aristotelian Logic.

      Delete
  44. Is anyone aware of any resources in the philosophy of natural science on how the thesis that "information is physical" (of Szilard, Landauer, etc) should interact with the Aristotelian concept of a formal cause?

    I am aware of the discussion in Aristotle's Revenge of the computational universe idea, but I'd like to go deeper into how the formal cause factors into the dynamics of a quantum system

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  45. https://youtu.be/xEEIMrrXSbo. Thoughts?

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  46. Hello, Prof. Feser!

    Today Friday I was watching the presentation of Neuralink, a device implant that goes on your skull and interfaces with ones' brain that can help with several things like depression, anxiety, memory loss, motor-related issues, etc., a very promising invention indeed. During the Q&A someone asked if this device could explain consciousness (see https://youtu.be/sr8hzF3j2fo?t=5958 ) in the long term. Musk affirmed that the device could shed some light on the matter and the engineer besides him said that rather the device could explain consciousness and once these tools are in place neuroscientist would be able to make the issue banish very quickly, but he regards the issue to an issue of physics (you can see that on the video timestamped).

    This engineer also did some finals remarks about the philosophy of the mind of the past thousand of years that were outlandish to say at least (see https://youtu.be/sr8hzF3j2fo?t=7089 ), it seems to be a fellow very devoted to scientism.

    What are your thoughts on this recent developments of technology, these remarks made by Musk and his engineer and how this technology could or could not shed some light to scientists about what consciousness is.

    Thanks!

    P.S.: got myself a copy of your book on Philosophy of the mind at Amazon

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    1. This old post fron Dr. Feser can probably help in trying to imagine his answer: http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2008/12/mindreading.html?m=1

      I don't think he would agree that this device can give us much new information.

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    2. I see, thanks

      Would like to get an answer from Prof. Feser tho (maybe eventually I'll get there!)

      Delete
    3. I agree Araya! I heard Elon talking about the nature of consciousness during one of his chats with Joe Rogan, and I was shocked at how little knowledge he appeared to have on the problem of consciousness.Not in a nasty or pompous way, just a kind of naive acceptance of materialist thinking.

      But I wont hold any of that against him if he can achieve half of what he hopes to achieve with Neuralink.

      Delete
  47. Ed, Jazz? Blues? Or both? And who is your favorite artist?

    God bless, and thanks for the blog.

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    1. Jazz. Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk.

      Delete
    2. Anyone else like '60s-style jazz fusion? John McLaughlin, Al DiMeola, Mahavishnu Orchestra, that sort of thing?

      Delete
  48. Sorry I'm kind of late here. I'll repost another time if the thread is dying....

    I'm concerned by some of Ed's passages saying that robots are not "natural kinds," which often refer to something about how they are not in some appropriate sense "self moving."

    Imagine with me a robot that has learned, via machine learning, to recognize gas stations, and to be able to go fill itself up with gasoline whenever it is getting low; and the rest of the time, to go around trimming rose bushes (also via AI/ML). This fairly modest creature seems plausible within our lifetime. But by Ed's own criteria, is it not a natural kind? It is self-sustaining (it may or may not be able to *fix* itself when broken, but ditto an animal.)

    And does it not have a sort of goal? After all, its rose-bush behavior manifests without any human intervention, and does not need any interpreting mind to make sense of it (contra the John Searle argument).

    Discussion appreciated.

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    1. The robot does not seem to be a natural kind because it does not "grow into" its natural abilities (as, for instance, a zygote would). Even its self-fueling capacities have to be allowed for by an outside intelligence.

      Delete
  49. The first three premises in the Aristotelian argument in Feser’s “Five Proofs” are 1) “Change is a real feature of the world.” (obviously), 2) “But change is the actualization of a potential.” (that’s analytic: for something to change it must have been possible to change, and we call that possibility “potential”), and 3) “No potential can be actualized unless something already actual actualizes it (the principle of causality)”. That third premise seems plausible but on closer look is arbitrary and indeed most probably false.

    First of all according to quantum physics many changes occur with no cause whatsoever. Consider for example the following change: a radioactive atom splitting at time 10:05. According to science *nothing* caused that change, it just occurred. Physical law does describe the general order of such changes, but *not* any cause (or actualiser) for that particular change. So we have, an actual physical change which falsifies the so-called principle of causality.

    What’s more we know that even when basic changes occur without any actualiser, order at higher levels of description does obtain. Take for example the idea of a true die. When we throw it nothing causes it to land, say, a four. Nevertheless when we throw many dies causal order does obtain, indeed we have an entire field of mathematics – probability theory – describing this order. In other words causal order can emerge from non-causality. So, in the case of the actual world, the fact that we always observe causal order in our experience of physical objects large enough to be observable does not entail that some causal order must also exist in their smaller parts. What’s interesting to note here is that the denial of Feser’s third premise did not have to wait for the discovery of quantum physics, but could have been achieved on the grounds of what is logically possible. Namely a metaphysics where at the lowest level no change occurs because something actual actualises a potential, even though at a higher level of description there is always such an actualiser.

    (In this context I notice that some philosophers argue that if the so-called principle of sufficient reason is violated once then the whole edifice of explanations crumbles down, which is clearly not the case. High level explanations are clearly possible even at the absence of lower level ones)

    Can one save the Aristotelian argument by restricting it to large scale changes? Perhaps, but then the unactualised actualiser (or “first mover”) will also be large scale and thus complex, which I think defies the classical theist’s purpose.

    I have a second critique: Even if that third premise were true, the Aristotelian argument would fail because it would still not be necessary for an unmoved mover to exist. The reason is that closed causal loops are possible. To explain: An example Feser often uses to illustrate the third premise is the change the coffee in a cup undergoes by cooling down. The idea is that the actual lower temperature in the room’s air actualises the coffee’s potential to cool. But, conversely, the air in the room will change by becoming warmer. Concurrently then, the actual higher temperature of the coffee actualises the surrounding air’s potential to warm up. So we have two actual actualisers actualising each other’s potentials. But if this is the case, then even on Aristotle’s analysis one needs an additional argument to go back to an unactualised actualiser. I am having trouble thinking of such an additional argument; it is not clear to me why high level order cannot arise from a basic level of closed causal loops.

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    1. Dianelos,
      "First of all according to quantum physics many changes occur with no cause whatsoever."
      That interpretation of QM is one of its defects. Just because a model includes a random variable does not mean intrinsic randomness must be a real feature of the universe. The simpler explanation is that human beings remain ignorant of the true nature of the underlying reality.

      "The reason is that closed causal loops are possible."
      Indeed, causation is not linear as AT describes, rather, circular, as the whole of modern physics describes.

      Russell explained this over 100 years ago, and Dr. Feser quoted a very badly written "analysis" of Russell in his book.

      Despite Dr. Feser using in his book the words of an author who merely proof texted Russell the formulation in modern physics of gravity shows that the notion of labeling one object as cause and the other as effect is arbitrary and meaningless.

      In a gravitational interaction all bodies mutually are both causes and effects of each other, causation is mutual and circular, not unidirectional and linear.

      The First Way fails for a number of reasons, one of them being that the notion of unidirectional linear causation is wrong. Causation is mutual and circular, and thus the First Way, among other defects, suffers from invalid logic, a false dichotomy between a finite linear regress and an infinite linear regress, when in fact the regress is finite and circular.

      Delete
    2. StardustyPsyche,

      "Just because a model includes a random variable does not mean intrinsic randomness must be a real feature of the universe."

      Right, but that's neither here not there. In philosophy there is a major epistemic difference between claiming and defeating a premise. To defeat a premise one must not prove that it is false, but only show that it is reasonable to doubt that it is true. And that therefore one must reject it as a premise.

      In his first proof Feser claims the third premise as a principle that always holds. I point out an counterexample, namely a radioactive atom spontaneously splitting at 10:05 without any cause whatsoever. To invalidate my counterexample and thus uphold the premise you must propose what it is that causes that atom to split at that time, and then explain why it is reasonable to believe that what you propose is true. That's the only way to defend a principle: show that it always holds, including in the case of counterexamples others might suggest. But if one cannot defend it then the whole argument goes.

      Delete
  50. Dr Feser, have you considered writing a textbook? I'm thinking something like Daniel Sullivan's "An Introduction to Philosophy" (1957) which I believe is out of print now, something aimed at high school maybe college kids, a general survey of philosophy history and concepts from the pre-Socratics to today. I like the Sullivan book but something like it needs to be written today, which I think you'd do a good job of. Thoughts?

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    Replies
    1. https://www.amazon.com/Introduction-Philosophy-Perennial-Principles-Classical/dp/0895554690

      Sullivan's book is available in a reprint edition from TAN Books: https://www.amazon.com/Introduction-Philosophy-Perennial-Principles-Classical/dp/0895554690

      Delete
    2. Thank you Seamus, I'm glad to see the book is still in print. I recommend it. Nonetheless, I'd still like to see Dr. Feser author an updated version for students today. But, again, thanks!

      Delete
  51. As my own blind spots prevented me from seeing which premise is false or what error there is in logic-structure, I am posting here my version of ontological proof for God, hoping that someone can show me my error either in its premises or its logic-form, even upon a charitable interpretation of it:

    My a-priori 3-step reasoning:

    1. The concepts of One-Entity Reality (OER) and a non-abstract Unconditioned Entity (UE) are both not logically impossible (ie each concept has no intrinsic contradiction) and hence they are both logically possible (ie logically coherent).

    2. The non-abstract entity in a hypothetical One-Entity Reality must necessarily be a non-abstract Unconditioned Entity, because any conditioned entity cannot exist in an OER as there is no second non-abstract entity in OER for it to depend on for existence. So an UE exists in the hypothetical/possible scenario of OER.
    (in possible world semantics, OER is a logically possible world; I use “hypothetical/possible reality” instead of “possible world”)

    3. The actual reality (ie our actual world) differs from OER only in terms of the kinds of conditions present in the actual world, and so if UE does not exist in our actual reality then it means the conditions in our actual world somehow prevented UE from existing. This contradicts the logically coherent concept of UE in that UE’s existence is supposed to be unaffected by the presence or absence of any conditions. So the only logical option left is: UE is existing right now in our actual world. This conclusion is false only if the concept of UE or OER is logically impossible (ie if UE or OER involves contradiction).

    Note:
    A) Because non-abstract entities (such as the “laws of physics” which are merely descriptions of the regular behaviours of non-abstract entities) are casually inert, abstract entities can never be conditions that enable (“enable” is broader than “cause”) any non-abstract entity to exist. Hence the conditions mentioned in the proof refers to non-abstract entities.
    B) If the proof succeeds, then the Unconditioned Entity, upon further analysis, would show us that it is the same God proved in Feser’s book Five Proofs.

    Thank you.


    Cheers!
    johannes y k hui

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    Replies
    1. I can think of two possible objections:

      1. Could not one deny premise 2 and say that a contingent thing just exist by no reason at all in OER?

      2. the argument only shows that the UE is logically possible, but one could say that it is not metaphysically possible because a Empty Reality(ER) where there is nothing is possible and if the UE where possible it would exist in ER, which would be a contradiction.

      I believe the second objection fails by your point on premise 3 about the UE being unaffected by any condition and by the fact that a ER is impossible anyway*, but how would you respond to the first objection?


      *Necessary truths need a necessary truth-maker and there would be none in ER, so there could not be a ER.

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    2. If the argument against a ER is not clear, it goes like this:

      1. Every necessary truth needs a necessary truth-maker

      2. In a ER there would be no truth-makers

      3. So if a ER is metaphysically possible there is not necessary truths

      4. But there are some necessary truths

      5. So a ER is metaphysically impossible


      Another argument against it would need just "Is possible that things exist" and "a version of the PSR is true", from there i think you can attack the possibility of a ER.

      Delete
  52. To be sure, I’m not some Democrat mayor

    Sigh. One of the most tiresome practices of the Republican party and its followers is the use of the term "Democrat" rather than "Democratic" as an adjective for members and followers of the opposing party. I saw it explained once as reflecting the Republican position that the Democratic party isn't really democratic, and that Republicans refuse to use the party's actual name lest they be perceived as acknowledging that it is.

    I would have thought that the influx of former Democrats (including the likes of Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump) into the Republican party would have brought an end to that silly practice, but I heard Donald Trump just the other day referring to the "Democrat party" (or maybe it was "Democrat mayors"). As a former Democrat myself (who hasn't voted for a Democrat since 1978), I can't imagine that that's a usage any former Democrat would adopt who hadn't been sat down and trained in the new lingo he was expected to use now that he had joined the GOP.

    OK. End of rant. We now return you to your regularly scheduled program.

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    Replies
    1. I've never heard of any such complaint before. As far as I've ever known, that's what they've been called. In addition, the Democratic party chose the domain 'democrats.org' for their official website, so it's hardly a ridiculous name to use.

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  53. On Audience analysis

    As a tech writer, I have to admire the diversity of audiences that Ed has been able to attract over the years. I can see some of the following groups:

    Beginner:He casts a very broad net with the Last Superstition, Philosophy of Mind, and Aquinas.
    AdvancedScholastic Metaphysics and Aristotle's Revenge seemed to be for much more advanced readers. I would also include his work on Locke here (although maybe others would view it as beginner level intro - I'm not sure).
    Intermediate Five proofs would fit here I think. There is a lot of spoon feeding of various beginner to advanced topics. Very much a potential springboard down or up.

    The diversity of readerships makes for an interesting dynamic here on the blog. I've experienced impatient exasperation from more advanced folks to clueless assertions from the beginner camp. What I cherish the most though are the patient advanced folks, who will take the time to walk through issues with the more open minded beginners. Your hard work does not go unnoticed and unappreciated! And you patient beginners, doggedly trying to wrap your heads around new and unfamiliar ideas - others are benefiting from your questions!

    As a tech writer, I always have to define who my main audience will be before I start writing. What I like about Ed's writings though, are how integrated they seem to be. A beginner can work through the beginner and intermediate books and be prepared to at least profit from the more complex advanced books. I still remember how difficult it was to read Intro to the Philosophy of Mind, Aquinas and then Scholastic Metaphysics. But after having read Scholastic Metaphysics, going back and reading Aquinas and the Philosophy of Mind was amazing. Concepts I had missed and ideas that I had only vaguely grasped suddenly jumped out of the page.

    Anyway, all that to say, I hope that Ed continues his efforts to capture a wide variety of readers, all while not hiding away from the controversies of the day, but engaging with them.

    I will say this though - books like By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed: A Catholic Defense of Capital Punishment are hard and unpleasant to read. As is the topic of eternal punishment of the damned in hell. But such is life - some topics are hard and unpleasant, period.

    I would hope that Ed might give some thought to writing about the implicit Thomism in classical works of Catholic spirituality though. For example, I was pleased to discover a wealth of Thomistic ideas in Saint John of the Cross' books. Also Pope John Paul II's theology of the body and his book Love and Responsibility. Pointing out where you can agree with their thinking and where you think they went off the rails would be very interesting, I think.

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    1. As I recall, both St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross are effectively so Thomistic that one can hardly locate a bone of contention to find between them. It's possible I simply passed over some incompatibilties. And I am not as fully read in either of those two saints as in Thomas, so maybe I just didn't cover the whole gamut.

      JPII is a more complex and difficult case. He has been described as a Thomistic thinker with a phenomenological method. As such, there is often considerable tension in how he approaches questions, with the usual Thomistic approach. For one thing, JPII would often insist on starting from a "state of the question" that is merely the historical state of the question as "gifted" to us by the late EnDarkenment (or Modernist) philosophy, as if that were some kind of necessary beginning point. But many of the thinkers of the EnDarkenment got there precisely by ignoring the Scholastic school that preceded them as if it were obviously empty of value - so why should we grant them any more status than they granted their predecessors?

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  54. Oh, Dear Lord. Now that Prof. Feser hgas given his tacit approval to Stardusty the nightmare will begin again.

    If people want to discuss with him, fine by me, Prof. Feser's house, Prof. Feser's rules. But be aware that any discussion on St. Thomas has already been had and he has learned absolutely nothing at all. He does not understand the argument. He keeps repeating the same tired old, completely stupid objections. He is completely wrong about physics on an elementary level as I have shown to exhaustion numerous times (in the very threads he references no less!) -- wrong as in "not even wrong".

    Warning been given, go on ahead, have fun.

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    1. You really can't help yourself can you, jumping in like a aelf appointed cop and issuing dire warnings about StarDusty? One of the "Anonymous" characters had something to say about this earlier in the thread and it was very wise, basically about the multiple follies of doing this.

      If you wish to interact with StarDusty do so, otherwise do not. What don't you get about this???

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    2. @Unknown:

      "If you wish to interact with StarDusty do so, otherwise do not."

      If I wish to interact with him, I will, if I wish to issue warnings of the folly of interacting with him, I will. About the self-appointed cop bit, I suppose this is case of the pot calling the kettle black. But fair enough, anyway.

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  55. Anyone else thinks that Aquinas's position on intellect might be a little weird? I mean his idea that to be intelligent simply is to be immaterial (at least an immaterial concrete being), such that every immaterial being will necessarily be intelligent. That knowledge is the possession of other forms within oneself.

    Well, that certainly is *part* of intelligence. An intelligent being must be immaterial, and in cognition it must have other things within itself. But this seems to leave out the basic *awareness* or *seeing* of thoughts/forms which appears to be essential to intelligence. The reason I am intelligent isn't simply that I somehow have other things in me, but that I can "see" these things, I can cognize them (the notion might be primitive/further unalyzable, but I get it that most people understand them). I *perceive* the world through ideas. It is this act (which involves a Subject) which is proper intelligence. How could you be intelligent if you weren't aware of your own thoughts? Or aware of what things are? Just saying we have concepts within us doesn't seem to capture what intelligence fully is.

    Aquinas might in fact agree with this, in his opposition to Averroes's view of a single universal intellect, he appears to mention that this doesn't capture how people are individually conscious of objects, etc.

    (Related: is there unconscious thought? While it seems to me that one need not be attentive to all of one's thoughts, there must at least be some basic consciousness for thinking, some basic "awareness" or perception of the objects)

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    1. Atno, what if consciousness is a necessary attribute of a being that is capable of receiving other forms as concepts? So that what you are describing just is as aspect of being an immaterial substance?

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  56. I think it would be nice to eventually hear from Prof. Feser regarding parallels and incompatibilities (maybe even possible resolutions) between Thomas Aquinas and Gregory Palamas

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  57. 1st off, I'm sorry that I'm adding this so late in this thread! I thought of looking to see if Feser had addressed this question before- he might have, but I'm not sure if he did so satisfactorily. Hope someone else can do so, as I am a fan of his Aristotelian Argument for God's existence.

    Ok, then- might the Aristotelian Argument be invalidated by Relative Motion in this way: if an object is moving only RELATIVELY- i.e., at a constant velocity, in a constant direction, unencumbered by any Force (such as Friction); according to post-Galilean Physics, it is NOT moving, according to it's own reference frame- it's just that everything else is moving relative to IT. Now then: if it's moving relative to one reference frame, and not relative to another, then in one reference frame it is moving from potential to actual, and in another it is not.

    (Something similar MIGHT- I'm not sure, but it MIGHT be true- of Quantum Mechanics. All that is jittering and randomness from an outside POV, is a relative stability to the single Quantum Particle in question... so, the rest of this might be true of QM as well as of Classical and Relativistic Mechanics. Not sure if this matters, though, as we'll see below.)

    Anyway: thus, when 2 particles collide, and there is definitely a bringing of potential from actual (not merely relative), we have something of a pair of unmoved movers. They are moving (and changing) relative to one another (from the other's POV), but unchanging in-and-of themselves (from their own POV); thus the Acceleration (or Deceleration) in themselves is caused by the relative steady motion that they "observe" (so to speak) in each other.

    Thus (it might be argued), there needs not be something as exotic as an ABSOLUTELY unmoved mover, when we have purely RELATIVE unmoved movers, in everyday particles and everyday physical objects. And these could (theoretically) have got the ball rolling at the Big Bang, and do ground much of the causes (if not, perhaps, all causes) in the world here-and-now. (This might deal w/ issues w/ QM, if my ideas of Relative changes THERE, don't pan out!)

    Like I've said, hope that people can answer this! The Aristotelian Argument is a very interesting argument, it would be wonderful if it could withstand all criticism!

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    1. I’m curious as to whether relativity has status on philosophy of nature in the traditional sense. Jacques Maritain writes in his Preface to Metaphysics that when ideas are progressing through big substitutive revolutions (Like relativity from Newtonian physics, or many modern “philosophies”) then what you have is a small amount of discovery and a large amount of reconceptualization. (I put philosophy in quotes because Maritain explains that according to St. Thomas, real philosophy isn’t like this, but deepens over time). Thus, what you have is a largely inter-mental science, whereas metaphysics studies being as being rather than being as a concept. So how much weight do I put on the theory that local motion isn’t change? Well take what I said and add on Feser’s good point that physics mostly discovers math equations and then fills in the rest conceptually (notice how this lines up with Maritain), then I doubt any physics could pose a threat to metaphysics. Once I’m more properly educated in metaphysics I would love to take a deeper look into modern physics, but until then I only give my semi-educated opinion.

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    2. Anyway: thus, when 2 particles collide, and there is definitely a bringing of potential from actual (not merely relative), we have something of a pair of unmoved movers. They are moving (and changing) relative to one another (from the other's POV), but unchanging in-and-of themselves (from their own POV);

      Greekiness, I respect the attempt to visualize a simple "system" that allows for only two parties to the movement, but I am not sure it works. In the case of both particles, they are moving through some space or other, and then when they collide they move differently through space. But that "space" I just mentioned exists in virtue of some system of bodies of which their masses and fields and potentials are expressive of extendedness. To be "in motion" in that space is to be moving relative to those other bodies, and thus to be related to them not only qua difference of position but also qua difference of potentials of various sorts (e.g. gravitational pull). Our Newtonian-driven preference for imagining "space" as a neutral background of motion must fall away and be re-concieved as an aspect of (emanation from?) body.

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  58. Question for Catholics on the Canon of Scripture. My understanding is that the Church could not error in including a book of scripture in the Canon. However, is the Canon closed to further additions? The best candidates seem to be books/selections that some Orthodox have which - to my understanding - have an early footing and long use in their liturgical tradition.

    Would the Church be open to admitting these into the Canon if proposed as a condition of re-union? Is that in principle able to happen? Or would the Church just have to broker a deal involving tolerating their being read at Orthodox liturgies while not speaking to their canonicity or inspiration?

    2nd related question: Do any Eastern churches in union with Rome read at their liturgies from the books in question?

    Books in question:
    3 & 4 Maccabees
    Psalm 151
    The Prayer of Manasseh in Chronicles
    1 Esdras

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    1. The comments in this thread have helpful answers to your multiple questions: https://forums.catholic.com/t/eastern-catholic-bible-question/433017/16

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  59. Ed or readers,

    Can anyone give a primary source of the Latin phrase: Concede parum, nega frequenter, distingue semper.

    This is often attributed to St. Thomas and is frequently mistranslated. I have not been able to find an original source. Does anyone know where this actually comes from?

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  60. Ed or readers,

    What is the best response to the argument for B-theory that the philosopher J. J. C. Smart proposes in his paper "The River of Time"?

    Also, what is your view on the evolutionary argument against naturalism as proposed in "Where the Conflict Really Lies"? I've yet to hear a Thomist take on it.

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    1. https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/search?q=eaan

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  61. Dear Ed, have you ever considered moving from Blogger comments to Disqus?? I think it would be a much more pleasant experience for your commenters. I find recently when I type a comment in it just disappears. On Safari, that happens every time. If I use Chrome instead, then most of the time it doesn't happen, but sometimes it still does. I think Disqus is much more reliable.

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    1. I don't think I love the idea of a philosophy blog with upvotes (or downvotes) on each comment....

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  62. This weeks comic at Existential Comics reminded me of some of Dr. Feser's writings on AI:
    http://existentialcomics.com/comic/357

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  63. Very important information on the intersection of science and politics:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpbrvWe3xFk

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  64. Doing statistical analysis? then you may find James Grice's take on it interesting.


    Observation Oriented Modeling employs Aristotle’s more sophisticated notion of causality as well as integrated models for visualizing complex phenomena. Integrated models go beyond using only boxes and arrows to represent the causes underlying the phenomena being studied. Various geometric figures are used to represent distinct structures and processes, and these figures can be connected using any of Aristotle’s four causes.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fgtA9zDUaq4
    https://idiogrid.com/OOM/index.php/why-oom/

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  65. Dear Doctor Feser,
    Thanks very much for your books and your blog, both of which are a source of clear, rational and orthodox knowledge to me, not to mention amusement!
    One thing I find puzzling about Aristotle's ethics is that he doesn't have a notion of a human fall that can account for human imperfection. Do you also find this puzzling, and do you know of any literature on this? Thanks, Maria (from Portugal)

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    1. I don't see it as puzzling: without revelation, how would one realize that man has had a fall that damages him? More significantly, I am surprised at how much he was able to get RIGHT without knowing about the fall.

      Nevertheless, I think he does miss on some because he cannot see how to organize his virtues toward the supernatural good of charity. This leaves his account importantly incomplete.

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