Thursday, June 30, 2016

Prior on the Unmoved Mover

William J. Prior’s Ancient Philosophy has just been published, as part of Oneworld’s Beginner’s Guides series (of which my books Aquinas and Philosophy of Mind are also parts).  It’s a good book, and one of its strengths is its substantive treatment of Greek natural theology.  Naturally, that treatment includes a discussion of Aristotle’s Unmoved Mover.  Let’s take a look.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Aquinas on capital punishment

Audio versions of many of the talks from the recent workshop in Newburgh, New York on the theme Aquinas on Politics are available online.  My talk was on the subject of Aquinas on the death penalty (with a bit at the end about Aquinas’s views about abortion).  I say a little in the talk about the forthcoming book on Catholicism and capital punishment that I have co-authored with political scientist Joseph Bessette.  More on that soon.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Nagel v Nietzsche: Dawn of Consciousness

While we’re on the subject of Nietzsche: The Will to Power, which is a collection of passages on a variety of subjects from Nietzsche’s notebooks, contains some interesting remarks on consciousness, sensory qualities, and related topics.  They invite a “compare and contrast” with ideas which, in contemporary philosophy, are perhaps most famously associated with Thomas Nagel.  In some ways, Nietzsche seems to anticipate and agree with points made by Nagel.  In other respects, they disagree radically.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Adventures in the Old Atheism, Part I: Nietzsche

Atheism, like theism, raises both theoretical and practical questions.  Why should we think it true?  And what would be the consequences if it were true?  When criticizing New Atheist writers, I have tended to emphasize the deficiencies of their responses to questions of the first, theoretical sort -- the feebleness of their objections to the central theistic arguments, their ignorance of what the most important religious thinkers have actually said, and so forth.  But no less characteristic of the New Atheism is the shallowness of its treatment of the second, practical sort of question.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Four Causes and Five Ways

Noting parallels and correlations can be philosophically illuminating and pedagogically useful.  For example, students of Aristotelian-Thomistic (A-T) philosophy are familiar with how soul is to body as form is to matter as act is to potency.  So here’s a half-baked thought about some possible correlations between Aquinas’s most general metaphysical concepts, on the one hand, and his arguments for God’s existence on the other.  It is well known that Aquinas’s Second Way of arguing for God’s existence is concerned with efficient causation, and his Fifth Way with final causation.  But are there further such parallels to be drawn?  Does each of the Aristotelian Four Causes have some special relationship to one of the Five Ways?   Perhaps so, and perhaps there are yet other correlations to be found between some other key notions in the overall A-T framework.