Friday, March 30, 2018

Holy Triduum

I wish all my readers a holy Good Friday and Easter Sunday.  Some Triduum-related posts from past years:

No hell, no heaven

As Aquinas teaches, Christ did not die to save the fallen angels, because they cannot be saved.  They cannot be saved because their wills are locked on to evil.  It is impossible for them to repent.  It is impossible for them to repent because they are incorporeal, and thus lack the bodily preconditions for the changeability of the will’s basic orientation toward either good or evil.  An angel makes this basic choice once and for all upon its creation.  It is because we are corporeal that Christ can save us.  But he can do so only while we are still in the flesh.  Upon death, the soul is divorced from the body and thus, like an angel, becomes locked on to a basic orientation toward either good or evil.  If it is not saved before death, it cannot be saved.  It’s game over.  I explained the reasons for all this in a post on the metaphysics of damnation.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Bellarmine on capital punishment

In a recent Catholic World Report article supplementing the argument of By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed, I called attention to the consistent support for capital punishment to be found in the Doctors of the Church.  (See the article for an explanation of the doctrinal significance of this consensus.)  As I there noted, St. Robert Bellarmine is an especially important witness on this topic.  For one thing, among all the Doctors, Bellarmine wrote the most systematically and at greatest length about how Christian principles apply within a modern political order, specifically.  For another, he addressed the subject of capital punishment at some length, in chapters 13 and 21 of De Laicis, or the Treatise on Civil Government.  What Bellarmine has to say strongly reinforces the judgment that the Church cannot reverse her traditional teaching that capital punishment is legitimate in principle (a judgment for which there is already conclusive independent evidence, as the writings referred to above show).

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Divine causality and human freedom

Is the conception of divine causality defended by classical theists like Aquinas (and which I defend in Five Proofs of the Existence of God) compatible with our having free will?  The reason they might seem not to be compatible is that for Aquinas and those of like mind, nothing exists or operates even for an instant without God sustaining it in being and cooperating with its activity.  The flame of a stove burner heats the water above it only insofar as God sustains the flame in being and imparts causal efficacy to it.  And you scroll down to read the rest of this article only insofar as God sustains you in being and imparts causal efficacy to your will.  But doesn’t this mean that you are not free to do otherwise?  For isn’t it really God who is doing everything and you are doing nothing?

Friday, March 9, 2018

The missing links

Feedspot has released its list of the Top 15 Christian Philosophy Blogs and Websites.  This blog is ranked at #1.  Thank you, Feedspot!

At Public Discourse, Fr. Nicanor Austriaco responds to Fr. Michael Chaberek’s book on Thomism and evolution.

At First Things, Matthew Rose on Christianity and the alt-right.

Philosophers Jonathan Ellis and Eric Schwitzgebel argue that philosophers are as prone to post-hoc rationalization as anyone else.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Carrier carries on

Richard Carrier has replied to my recent response to his critique of Five Proofs of the Existence of God, both in the comments section of his original post and in a new post.  “Feser can’t read,” Carrier complains.  Why?  Because – get this – I actually took the first six paragraphs of the section he titled “Argument One: The Aristotelian Proof” to be part of his response to the Aristotelian proof.   What was I thinking?

Sunday, March 4, 2018

It’s the latest open thread

It’s your opportunity once again to converse about anything that strikes your fancy.  From film noir to The Cars, Freud to cigars, set theory to dive bars.  As always, keep it civil, keep it classy, no trolling or troll-feeding. 

Previous open threads linked to here, if memory lane is your thing.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Hart on Five Proofs

At Church Life Journal, David Bentley Hart kindly reviews Five Proofs of the Existence of God.  From the review:

Edward Feser has a definite gift for making fairly abstruse philosophical material accessible to readers from outside the academic world, without compromising the rigor of the arguments or omitting challenging details… Perhaps the best example of this gift in action hitherto was his 2006 volume Philosophy of Mind: A Beginner’s Guide (at least, speaking for myself, I have both recommended it to general readers and used it with undergraduates, in either case with very happy results).  But this present volume is no less substantial an achievement