Thursday, August 22, 2013

Out on the links

I called attention recently to the special issue of the National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly devoted to the theme “Critiques of the New Natural Law Theory.”  The issue is now available for free download.  (Keep in mind that my own contribution to the issue is an excerpt from a forthcoming longer article.)

I notice that Aristotle on Method and Metaphysics, the anthology I edited for Palgrave Macmillan’s Philosophers in Depth series, is at the time of this posting selling at a whopping 40% discount on Amazon -- $57, down from the steep $95 list price.  Prices may change, so buy now!

The Catholic Center at New York University will be hosting a symposium this November 9 on the theme “Thomas Aquinas and Philosophical Realism.”  The speakers are James Brent, OP, John Haldane, William Jaworski, Candace Vogler, J. David Velleman, Edward Feser, and Thomas Joseph White, OP.  The event begins at 11 am.

David Oderberg will be delivering the George F. Hourani Lectures in Ethics at the State University of New York, Buffalo, on September 23 - 27.  The theme is “The Metaphysics of Good and Evil.”  He will also be debating Patrick Toner on September 26 on the subject of survival and immortality.  More details about both events are available through David’s website.

In a piece for The New York Times, Thomas Nagel offers a summary of the argument of his book Mind and Cosmos.

Gods, Heroes, and Monsters: A Sourcebook of Greek, Roman, and Near Eastern Myths in Translation is just out from Oxford University Press.  Mark Anderson, whom longtime readers will recall from his book Pure: Modernity, Philosophy, and the One, is among the translators.

Finally, given the uptick I’m noticing in emails asking for detailed commentary on philosophical and theological matters, here’s a friendly reminder about correspondence sent to me.


  1. Would it be okay if people posted their theological/philosophical questions here? Though they would have to keep it simple, so the combox doesn't explode.

  2. Sure, since if I don't have time to answer (and I usually don't) someone else may either have something to say in response or know of a blog post in which I address it.

  3. Edward,

    Correct me if Im wrong, but I dont think you've ever specifically outlined arguments that things have essences or natures as such; is this because if they dont we have no way of stating what things are?

    Also, how does the discovery of atoms (and hence every is composed of such things) not conflict with formal causes? Thanks.

  4. There is a bit about forms in this post that might be relevant.

  5. Anonymous,

    Thanks for that; very helpful, though I think a little too technical for my level.

  6. Ed, When is the longer article on the "perverted faculty" argument coming out? Where? I'd like to read it NOW!

  7. how does the discovery of atoms ...not conflict with formal causes?

    As I understand it, and especially as regards the inanimate, the atoms are a part of the formal cause. Sodium and chlorine are made of the same matter: protons, electrons, and neutrons. What gives them different powers and potencies is the number and arrangement of those parts; i.e., their form.

  8. Atoms are part of the material cause, not the formal cause.

  9. It is broadly speaking the arrangement that makes up the formal cause; the 'pattern,' if you will.

    My understanding is that atoms are the material causes of molecules, whose formal cause lies in the number, kinds, and arrangement of those atoms. An example would be the double helix form of the DNA molecule.

    For atoms, the material causes are the protons, neutrons, and electrons, and the formal cause is the number and arrangement of these.

    For protons and neutrons, the material causes are believed to be quarks, and the formal cause is the number (always three) and kind (top, bottom, etc.) and we don't know enough about their arrangement.

    In any case, 'atoms' do not eliminate formal causation, but only provide another example of it.

  10. Ed,

    There's another materialist explanation for consciousness getting some minor press, in case you ever tire of beating up on Rosenberg and company and want a new view to criticize.

  11. Crude,

    Someone in that combox referred to any interesting point that I have been ruminating on. They mentioned the ineffability of consciousness, the fact that all we experience, all sense, all we think is, in some sense, not the ultimate 'I', as these are all an object of this 'I'.

    This is a Platonic perspective, and I'm a Platonist, so it quite interested me. It seems to not only shed important light on consciousness, but to have the potential of another argument against naturalism. That is, if all we perceive is in some sense not the ultimate 'I' then that might cause problems for the contention that the 'I' could be reduced to the physical brain - a brain it can perceive and contain. Such a suggestion would seem to try and place the container within the contained.

    But, obviously, this is just ruminations - but I think there is matter in it, so to speak!

  12. Jeremy,

    I think the Maverick Philosopher had something similar to say. If I remember right, it was that some people were trying obsessively to find the 'subject' of subjectivity under a magnifying glass, and when they fail to find it there, conclude that it doesn't exist.

  13. Hello Edward, to my mind the thought experience of Nagel "What is it like to be a bat?" is one of the greatest argument against the truth of atheism, would you agree?

    Materialists generally try to evade the question while granting that the scientist cannot know what the bat feels, but as I explain here, there is no way they can do so:

    I think that if someone says that a scientist knowing everything about the physics of the bat's brain would know its experience, he or she is very close to eliminitavism.

    Would you agree with that assessment?

    Lovely greetings from continental Europe.

    Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son

  14. Ed,

    Vjtorley has written an incredibly long criticism of your fifth way over at ud, in case you care to comment. It seems like your twin sins of dissing id generally, and torley in particluar, has won you eternal attention.

  15. I already have Takho's Contemporary Aristotelian Metaphysics anthology. If I do, is it worth it to purchase Dr. Feser's Aristotle anthology?