Friday, July 29, 2022

Confucian hylemorphism

The Neo-Confucian Chinese philosopher Zhu Xi or Chu Hsi (1130-1200) famously posited two metaphysical principles often compared to Aristotle’s notions of form and matter.  James Dominic Rooney defends the interpretation of Zhu Xi as a hylemorphist in his new book Material Objects in Confucian and Aristotelian Metaphysics.  Into the bargain, he does so in conversation with contemporary analytic metaphysics and neo-Aristotelian philosophy.  It’s an excellent and important book.

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Mullins strikes out

My new Philosophy Compass article “The Neo-Classical Challenge to Classical Theism” responds to several criticisms of classical theism and the doctrine of divine simplicity that have been raised by Ryan Mullins.  At Joseph Schmid’s Majesty of Reason blog, Mullins has replied to the article.  What follows is a rejoinder. 

Mullins’ reply can be found in the first part of the post (titled “Mullins Strikes Back”).  The second part is a reply by Schmid.  Because my article was directed at Mullins rather than Schmid, and because Mullins’ reply (and this rejoinder of mine) are already quite long as it is, I am in the present post going to confine my attention to Mullins’ remarks.  I intend no disrespect to Schmid.  But I have been meaning anyway to write up a reply to his recent article on my Neo-Platonic argument for God’s existence (to which he refers in this latest piece).  So I will put off commenting on Schmid until I am able to get to that.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

The neo-classical challenge to classical theism

My article “The Neo-Classical Challenge to Classical Theism” has just been published at Philosophy Compass.  The article is a response to the critique of divine simplicity and other aspects of classical theism developed by self-described “neo-classical” theists like Ryan Mullins. Here’s the abstract: The classical theist tradition represented by thinkers like Anselm and Aquinas predicates several remarkable attributes of God, most notably simplicity or lack of parts of any kind.  Neo-classical theists have recently developed several lines of criticism of these attributes.  But these criticisms are not effective against the historically most influential way of spelling out classical theism, which is Thomism.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Goff’s gaffes

Philip Goff has kindly replied to my recent post criticizing the panpsychism he defends in his book Galileo’s Error and elsewhere.  Goff begins by reminding the reader that he and I agree that the mathematized conception of nature that Galileo and his successors introduced into modern physics does not capture all there is to the material world.  But beyond that we differ profoundly.  Goff writes:

I agree with Galileo (ironic, given the title of my book) that the qualities aren’t really out there in the world but exist only in consciousness. So I don’t think we need to account for the redness of the rose any more than we need to account for the Loch Ness monster (neither exist!); but we do need to account for the redness in my experience. Following Russell and Eddington I do this by incorporating the qualities of experience into the intrinsic nature of matter, ultimately leading me to a panpsychist theory of reality.

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Cooperation with sins against prudence and chastity

Here’s another unpublished talk which I’ve posted at my main website.  It’s titled “Cooperation with Sins against Prudence and Chastity,” and I presented it at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C. in March of 2018, and at Blackfriars Hall at the University of Oxford in January of 2019.  The lecture discusses Aquinas’s account of the nature of prudence or practical wisdom, and of sexual immorality as more corrosive of prudence than any other sin.  It then applies this account to a critique of the pastoral advice given by some churchmen in the wake of Pope Francis’s Amoris Laetitia.  That advice, I argue, amounts to cooperation with sins against chastity, and against prudence more generally.  You can listen to an audio version of the lecture here.

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Problems for Goff’s panpsychism

Panpsychism is the view that conscious awareness pervades the physical world, down to the level of basic particles.  In recent years, philosopher Philip Goff has become an influential proponent of the view, defending it in his books Consciousness and Fundamental Reality and Galileo’s Error: Foundations for a New Science of Consciousness.  He builds on ideas developed by contemporary philosophers like David Chalmers and Galen Strawson, who in turn were influenced by early twentieth-century thinkers like Bertrand Russell and Arthur Eddington (though Russell, it should be noted, was not himself a panpsychist).