Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The popes against the revolution

The Church has consistently condemned doctrinaire laissez-faire forms of capitalism and insisted on just wages, moderate state intervention in the economy, and the grave duty of the rich to assist the poor.  Everyone knows these things because they are frequently talked about, and rightly so.  But the Church has also consistently and vigorously opposed socialism in all its forms and all left-wing revolutionary movements, for reasons grounded in natural law and Christian moral theology.  This is less frequently talked about, but especially important today, when much of what is being done or called for in the name of justice is in fact gravely immoral. 

Thursday, June 25, 2020

ACPQ symposium on Aristotle’s Revenge

The American Catholic Philosophical Association meeting in Minneapolis last November hosted an Author Meets Critics session on my book Aristotle’s Revenge: The Metaphysical Foundations of Physical and Biological Science.  The proceedings have now been published in the Summer 2020 issue of the American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly.  In the first essay I provide a précis of the book.  In the second essay, philosopher Robert Koons addresses what I say in the book about the A-theory and B-theory of time, and argues that the latter is easier to reconcile with an Aristotelian philosophy of nature than I suggest.  In the third essay, physicist Stephen Barr puts forward some criticisms of my views about method, space, and substantial form.  In the final essay, I respond to Koons and Barr.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Envy cancels justice

Envy is often mistaken for anger at injustice, because both can issue in hatred.  But the hatred that issues from a desire for justice is righteous, whereas the hatred that issues from envy is wicked.  How can we know the difference?  One telltale sign is the object of one’s hatred.  Is it what a person does?  Or the person himself?  Aquinas writes:

It is lawful to hate the sin in one's brother, and whatever pertains to the defect of Divine justice, but we cannot hate our brother's nature and grace without sin.  Now it is part of our love for our brother that we hate the fault and the lack of good in him, since desire for another’s good is equivalent to hatred of his evil.  Consequently the hatred of one's brother, if we consider it simply, is always sinful.  (Summa theologiae II-II.34.3)

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Apt pupil

Justice Neil Gorsuch was a student of John Finnis, foremost proponent of the “New Natural Law Theory” (NNLT).  Is that relevant to understanding the Bostock decision?  It might seem not, given that NNLT thinkers like Robbie George (here and here) and Ryan Anderson have strongly criticized Gorsuch’s reasoning.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Locke’s “transubstantiation” of the self

Locke’s agnosticism about substance led him to treat the self as essentially a bundle of attributes.  Given his empiricism, he takes it that the most we can say of a substance – whether material or immaterial – is that it is a “something, I know not what” that underlies attributes.  And that is too thin a conception to lend confidence to the thesis that the self qua substance can survive death and be rewarded or punished in the afterlife.  What to do?  Locke’s solution was to ignore substance as beside the point.  What matters for Locke is that one’s consciousness, and in particular one’s memories, can carry over after the death of the body, whether or not there is a soul for them to inhere in.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Great minds on wokeness

If you want to understand woke totalitarianism, I recommend reading Plato on democracy, Aristotle and Aquinas on envy, and Nietzsche on ressentiment.
Or you could just watch a few minutes of John Cleese, Seinfeld, South Park, and Family Guy.   (But do it soon, before it’s all removed.)

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Theology and the analytic a posteriori

Philosophers traditionally distinguish between analytic and synthetic propositions.  An analytic proposition is one that is true or false by virtue of the relations between its constituent concepts.  A stock example is “All bachelors are unmarried,” which is true because the concept of being unmarried is included in the concept of being a bachelor.  A synthetic proposition is true by virtue of something beyond the relations between its constituent concepts.  For example, the proposition “Some bachelors are lonely” is true by virtue of a contingent empirical relation between being a bachelor and being lonely, rather than a necessary conceptual relation between them.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Pod people

With woke fanatics suddenly overrunning The New York Times, the public health profession, peaceful protests, and even the knitting community (!), life in these United States is starting to look a little like the 1978 sci-fi classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  If you’re looking for something timely to watch this evening, I recommend it.  (It’s a great flick anyway.) 

The metaphor is near perfect.  People are transformed into robotic pod people only after first falling asleep and (get this) waking up.  One moment they’re polite fellow citizens, the next they are all gaping maws, shrieking at you so as to summon the rest of the mob over for reeducation or a beat down.  After their transformation, even longtime friends and loved ones suddenly turn on you.  And in a nice touch, much of the focus of the movie is on the pod people’s commandeering of… the local health department.

If you want to turn it into film festival, next rent The Last Emperor and check out its chilling portrayal of the Maoist Red Guard.  (Some of our wokesters have apparently seen it, and thought it a “How to” video.)

And then, to see where this mentality leads if unchecked, The Killing Fields

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

What “the science” is saying this week (Updated)

Andrew Sullivan calls our attention to epidemiologist Tara C. Smith, who moves with that curious herd of “experts” suddenly not terribly concerned about social distancing when the protesters filling the streets are left-wing rather than right-wing.  Writes Sullivan: “The message to normies: going outside is killing grandma. The message to woke kids: never mind!”

So which is it?  Were people like Smith lying before about the danger of spreading the virus, in order to promote a political agenda?  Or being honest about it but now willing to endanger countless lives, in order to promote a political agenda?