Sunday, August 10, 2014

Around the web

Back from a very pleasant (but exhausting!) week in Princeton.  While I regroup, some reading to wind down the summer:

Andrew Fulford at The Calvinist International kindly reviews my book Scholastic Metaphysics.  Stephen Mumford tweets a kind word about the book.  Thanks, Stephen!

It’s bold.  It’s new.  It’s long overdue.  It’s The Classical Theism Project.  Check it.

At NDPR, Thomas Williams reviews Thomas Osborne’s new book Human Action in Thomas Aquinas, John Duns Scotus and William of Ockham.

Our buddy Mike Flynn on medieval science fiction.  (By the way, when you click on the post, take note of the link on the left to Mike’s fine anthology Captive Dreams.  I should, perhaps, have been especially keen to call attention to this book when it first came out.  The reason why is the same reason why I didn’t.  In his short story “Places Where the Roads Don’t Go,” Mike has a character appeal to my work in arguing with another character about AI.  Very flattering, but also a little embarrassing!  Thanks again, Mike!)

Speaking of science fiction, BuzzFeed considers why the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack is so shamelessly unhip it’s hip.  (As Mordecai on Regular Show would say, sometimes you gotta go insane to out-sane the sane.  Know what I’m sayin’?)

Edmund Burke’s influence on politics is examined at Standpoint magazine.

Is your soul Short, Tall, Grande, or Venti?  James Chastek suggests a very useful analogy at the always interesting Just Thomism blog.

At another always interesting blog: The Smithy alerts us to some forthcoming books on Scotus. 

Uncovering the mysteries of Steely Dan.  A pseudo-interview with Becker and Fagen.

I somehow missed this one back in January.  Philosopher Stephen Asma explains how teleology has risen from the grave.


  1. If we are recommending interesting links and volumes may I throw in Allan Bäck's Aristotle's Theory of Abstraction which (if it's anything like the blurb suggests) deal with Aristotle's epistemology with a focus on Relations and the status of Universals qua abstracta. It came out in June and I don't think has been yet mentioned here.

    The Classical Theist project looks most promising, particularly with regards to its invitation Classical Theists of other religions. A Classical and broadly Scholastic trend still continues to the present day in Islamic philosophy with issues like the Real Distinction (between Existence and Essence) still earning a great deal of scholarly and suitable work. If I’m still recommending books I think Toshihiko Izutsu’s The Concept and Reality of Existence would be of great interest to the Thomist on this score.

  2. Mumford's possible description of himself as an atheist Thomist is bizarre. The Quinque Viae are right there! Right there!

    How anyone can accept the whole Thomistic apparatus except for its most central doctrine is baffling.

  3. I would be interested to know what his objections are. It seems like he might find at least the Fifth Way interesting. Maybe the general system just need to work on him a bit. Seasoned philosophers need time to marinate in the School.

  4. Ed, it recently occurred to me that we, your handsome readers, are familiar with the exhausted Ed Feser that regularly presents, teaches, researches, writes and posts at this blog. But we're less familiar with the Ed Feser that fathers six kids -- and rightfully so. But this latter fact lead me to the following observation: you have an incredible wife. Props to her from all your readers.

  5. No need to be embarrassed, Dr. F. There is a long tradition in SF of Tuckerization. Each of the folks who gave me advice on the story gets a bow. Let all of your rabid fans purchase a copy of the book and judge for themselves whether embarrassment is warranted for anyone other than the poor, inept writer.

  6. I mainly read Feser because of his slams on others (Torley, Parsons... others).
    Some of the funniest stuff I've read.

    Ed, were you a class clown in school?

  7. "Aristotle’s teleology is uniquely difficult to appreciate because hundreds of years of Medieval theology misinterpreted it as mental and theological (e.g., Aquinas’ famous view that God’s mind put the goals into nature — Ergo est aliquid intelligens, a quo omnes res naturales ordinantur ad finem, et hoc dicimus Deum.)."

    I'm surprised you still recommended the link.

  8. Kiel,

    Amen! Rachel thanks you for the props.


    Yes, I know, that's a very stupid remark on his part. But I assumed that it went without saying that my linking to an article does not entail that I endorse everything said in it -- and that one needn't agree with everything in an article to think it worth calling attention to. Surely any philosophical essay that takes teleology seriously is bound to be of interest to readers of this blog, no?

  9. Yes, of course. I should probably have followed my comment with an emoticon, or a /joking tag. I just wanted to express my frustration, and rib you for posting a link to an article that attacked Aquinas as a poor Aristotelian.

  10. Ed, why don't you have The Underground Thomists blog linked to your page anymore?
    The one by J.Budzwerski (or something like that)?

  11. No prob, Matt.

    Hominy, I think I originally posted that in a "Links of interest" post, but neglected to put it on the blogroll -- I'll add it.

  12. Is there a A-T position on AI? How strong can it get and such.

  13. Osborne's book looks interesting, but at 56 bucks a pop it'll have to stay on my wish list for the moment.

  14. May I suggest a link to an article on History. Excerpts:


    The question is, why didn’t those « good » kingdoms last for ever ? Why were there « bad » kingdoms as well ? That’s a hard one to answer. But, interestingly, history gives us some clues.

    Many of the things we use today were invented by different peoples in different places at different times. Bronze, for example, was invented by the Chineese, glass by people in Mesopotamia, paper by the Egyptians, alphabet by Phoenicians, and so on. Each people learned from the other peoples and made their own inventions, thus expanding Man’s knowledge of the world. This knowledge spread through trade and conquest. The conquerors inherited the knowledge of the vanquished people and took it home or spread it to other places. At the same time, the conquerors brought in their own way of life, their thoughts, their arts and their religion.

    The interaction between so many powers, so many civilisations and so many ways of life made it necessary for each people to defend their own existence. Each people had to defend everything that was at stake for them. That included their culture. So those who happened to believe in God had to defend their own faith by using all the tools available, including those that had been invented or developed by non-believer nations. Such tools may have included Phoenicians’ alphabet and Greeks’ logic. Thus non-believer nations were not « redundant ». They were just as useful as believer nations in that they contributed to the spread of belief in God.