Thursday, December 27, 2018

The sexual revolution devours its children

In two recent posts, we looked at philosopher Alex Byrne’s criticisms of claims made by some transgender activists to the effect that sex is not binary and that it is socially constructed.  Byrne is by no means the only philosopher alarmed at the increasingly bizarre claims being made by such activists – and the shrillness with which they are making them.  Kathleen Stock worries that such ideas will cause harm to women.  Daniel A. Kaufman warns that they threaten nothing less than the end of civil rights.  Nor are these philosophers conservatives who are hostile to the sexual revolution.  They are progressives concerned about extremism and anti-intellectualism in their own ranks.  And as if to prove the critics’ point, some of the activists have in response tried to get the critics fired and otherwise to silence them.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Christmas every day

A Protestant friend once asked me what the point is of the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation.  Why is it so important to think that Christ is really present under the accidents of bread and wine?  What is the cash value of this idea?  The answer I gave him is best understood in light of the meaning of Christmas.

Christmas is about Emmanuel, God with us.  In particular, it is about the second Person of the Trinity entering the material world by taking on flesh.  He did so by entering into Mary’s womb, and that is why Mary had to be without sin, whether original or actual.  She was, in the most intimate way possible, the tabernacle of God.  And the tabernacle of God must be spotless. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Immateriality in Rome

Earlier this month I gave a talk on “The Immateriality of the Intellect” at a conference on neuroscience and the soul held at the Angelicum in Rome.  Video of the talk has now been posted at YouTube.

Links to other recent talks of mine can be found at my main website.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Byrne on why sex is not a social construct

Recently we looked at philosopher Alex Byrne’s defense of the commonsense view that there are only two sexes.  In a new article at Arc Digital, Byrne defends another aspect of sexual common sense – the thesis that the distinction between male and female is natural, and not a mere social construct.  Let’s take a look.

As is typically done these days by writers on this topic, Byrne begins by distinguishing between sex and gender.  Sex has to do with the biological distinction between male and female, whereas gender has to do with the way the difference between male and female is shaped by culture.  In the article in question, Byrne does not challenge the claim that gender is socially constructed.  He is concerned only to rebut the more radical claim that sex is socially constructed.  We’ll return to the gender question later, though, because the claim that sex differences are natural is relevant to it.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

COMING SOON: Aristotle’s Revenge (Updated)

My new book Aristotle’s Revenge: The Metaphysical Foundations of Physical and Biological Science will be out early next year from Editiones Scholasticae.  More information forthcoming, but to whet your appetite, here are the cover copy and the detailed table of contents:

Actuality and potentiality, substantial form and prime matter, efficient causality and teleology are among the fundamental concepts of Aristotelian philosophy of nature.  Aristotle’s Revenge argues that these concepts are not only compatible with modern science, but are implicitly presupposed by modern science.  Among the many topics covered are the metaphysical presuppositions of scientific method; the status of scientific realism; the metaphysics of space and time; the metaphysics of quantum mechanics; reductionism in chemistry and biology; the metaphysics of evolution; and neuroscientific reductionism.  The book interacts heavily with the literature on these issues in contemporary analytic metaphysics and philosophy of science, so as to bring contemporary philosophy and science into dialogue with the Aristotelian tradition.