Saturday, July 29, 2017

Cartesian angelism

Angels, as Aquinas and other Scholastic theologians conceive of them, are purely intellectual substances, minds separated from matter.  An angel thinks and wills but has no corporeal operations at all.  Naturally, then, popular images of angels – creatures with wings, long flowing robes, and so forth – have nothing to do with the real McCoy.  For a modern philosopher, the easiest way to understand what an angel is is to conceive of it as a Cartesian res cogitans – though as we will see in what follows, in a way this actually gets things the wrong way around.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Capital punishment on radio and TV

Tomorrow, Thursday, July 27 at 1:40 pm PT, I’ll be on The Ed Morrissey Show to discuss By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed.  On the same day, my co-author Joe Bessette will be on Meet the Author with Ken Huck at 12 pm PT.  On Thursday, August 3, Joe and I will appear on The World Over with Raymond Arroyo on EWTN.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Msgr. Swetland’s confusions

Msgr. Stuart Swetland is a theologian and the president of Donnelly College.  You might recall that, almost a year ago, he gained some notoriety for his bizarre opinion that having a positive view of Islam is nothing less than a requirement of Catholic orthodoxy.  As that episode indicates, the monsignor is not the surest of guides to what the Church teaches.  If there were any lingering doubt about that, it was dispelled by his performance during my radio debate with him last week on the subject of capital punishment.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Essence and existence

Recently, Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, NY hosted a workshop on the theme Aquinas on Metaphysics.  I spoke on the topic of “The Distinction of Essence and Existence.”  Audio of the talk has now been posted online at the Thomistic Institute’s Soundcloud page.

McCaffrey and Murray on By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed

At Catholic Media Apostolate, Roger McCaffrey and Fr. Gerald Murray discuss my book (co-authored with Joseph Bessette) By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed: A Catholic Defense of Capital Punishment.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Aquinas watches Glengarry Glen Ross

David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross is a thing of beauty.  This assertion is bound to shock some readers who have seen the movie (originally a stage play).  It is notoriously foul-mouthed.  The dialogue is in other ways idiosyncratic, characterized by unfamiliar slang and incomplete sentences (a Mamet trademark).  None of the characters is admirable; indeed, most of them are to some degree or other positively repulsive – ruthless, lying, manipulative, arrogant, weak, cruel, incompetent, thieving, vindictive, corrupt.  The irony is that the movie is beautiful in part because of these features, rather than despite them.  How can that be?

Friday, July 7, 2017

Briggs on By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed

[A] book so thorough and so relentless that it is difficult to imagine anybody reading it and coming away unconvinced by the lawfulness and usefulness of capital punishment…

Experts on this subject may be assured that Feser and Bessette have covered every facet with the same assiduity of a lawyer preparing a Supreme Court brief.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Capital punishment on the radio (UPDATED)

Joe Bessette and I will be doing a number of radio interviews in connection with our new book By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed: A Catholic Defense of Capital Punishment.  Yesterday I appeared on Kresta in the Afternoon, and you can find the interview here.  Today I appeared on The Mike Janocik Show to discuss the theological side of the issue.  Joe will appear on the show next week to discuss the social scientific aspects of the issue. 

Many further radio appearances are scheduled for next week and beyond.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Taking Aquinas seriously

At First Things, Connor Grubaugh interviews me on the subject of Thomas Aquinas and Analytical Thomism.